MYTH: Teleworkers Aren’t Working

This topic has been on my mind for a while. I’m a huge fan of teleworking. HUGE. Or rather of giving employees the option to telework. It’s not for everyone and it doesn’t work for everyone- some people need more structure & guidance or don’t work well in isolation. It also won’t work for every job. However, I believe there are few office-based jobs that can’t be done from an alternate work site (AWS) at least some of the time with the right equipment. I have a hard time understanding why more employers aren’t on board with telework as a flexible work option. I’ve noticed some employers, even though they offer a telework option, place expectations on teleworkers that they don’t place on workers who are in the office.

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Every person I’ve spoken with (aka a slightly less than scientific study) who has at least one regular telework day tells me they are much more productive on those days, primarily due to not having to commute and there being fewer distractions. I also think teleworkers have a tendency to “overwork” so people in the office don’t think they’re slacking. This has always bothered me. Just because you may or may not be wearing pajamas doesn’t mean you’re slacking.

Why is there a perception that just because you aren’t at a desk in an office space your employer owns, you aren’t working as hard or as much? Heaven forbid you miss a call or don’t respond to an email immediately. Guess what – people miss calls and don’t respond to emails immediately when they’re in the office too. People play video games and login to Facebook and shop on Amazon and all kinds of other things IN THE OFFICE. I won’t even go into the amount of time wasted on meetings and random chitchat. Yet there’s this perception by many employers that in the office = working and not in the office = probably not working.

I always say the proof is in the pudding. Well, I don’t actually say that. Who says that? My point is, if a person is not performing or is under-performing, it doesn’t matter where they’re located. The proof will be in that they aren’t getting results or meeting their goals. People who aren’t motivated to work from an AWS probably aren’t that motivated to work when they’re in the office either. THAT is the real problem that needs to be addressed.

This is another one of those things that comes down to trust. Trust your people. If you don’t trust your people, think about why that is and what can be done to change it. Allow your people flexibility to the extent that it doesn’t pose a hardship to the business. If someone isn’t performing well outside of the office but performs well in the office, maybe teleworking isn’t for them. That’s OK. At least they were given the option. If someone isn’t performing in or out of the office, a conversation needs to be had surrounding that issue. Just please don’t assume that a person who is teleworking is not really working. Last, but certainly not least, please understand that teleworkers also need bathroom breaks, eat lunch, step away from the desk for a moment, might miss a call or not immediately respond to an email. Just like when they’re in the office. Don’t worry; they’ll get back to you. Just like when they’re in the office.

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Focus on What Matters (#SHRM17 Takeaway)

I had the pleasure of attending Neen James’ Smart Stage session at SHRM17. Nearly two weeks later her words of wisdom still stand out to me. I tweeted my key takeaways, because that’s what I do. See below.

Neen’s directive to only focus on what matters rings true for both personal and professional tasks/relationships. As an HR Department of One (DOO) it is especially important to be mindful of how we’re using our time i.e. where we focus our attention because there never seems to be enough hours in the day when you are responsible for benefits, employee relations, compliance, and on and on. None of which is done in a vacuum – things POP UP all the time.

The statement on email made me immediately rethink how/when I use email. I usually think of how intrusive emails are to receive but I rarely considered the intrusiveness of the emails I send. Not that I ever send emails that aren’t important of course, but it’s the principle. Do unto others and all that jazz.

Neen has written a book, Folding Time: How to Achieve Twice As Much in Half the Timewhich I intend to check out based on the strength of Neen’s presentation. With work, school, parent/Grammy duties, and attempting to have some degree of a social life (limited though it may be) I need to achieve all I can in the time I have. Now what to do with these next 15 minutes?

Your (HR) Voice Matters

This post is inspired by a Twitter conversation – as so many things are. I have an awesome Twitter tribe of HR professionals (#TwitterHR) that I interact with on a regular basis and many of them also have blogs (#HRBloggers.) Some are seasoned bloggers, others are newbies and others, like myself, fall somewhere in between. I’ve been blogging for YEARS in various iterations on various topics, but this blog is relatively new.

So I’m checking the timeline earlier and I see a tweet from Steve Browne asking us to share the HR blogs we’ve been reading. As tends to happen when Steve makes a request, the responses were fast and furious. I’m honored that this blog was mentioned by some along with others I knew about and others I haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading. This got me thinking – Wow. There really are A LOT of HR bloggers out there. It’s overwhelming. Then one of my HR tweeps (Twitter peeps) mentioned she wants to write a blog about everyday HR practitioner struggles as opposed to strategic HR and the other typical HR blog fare. I’m of a similar mindset but I often struggle with thinking “who really wants to read this?

sayitWhen I wrote a lifestyle blog there was less pressure to “inform.” I was just sharing my world and it was fun. However, in the realm of “professional blogs” I find myself wondering “Do I really need to add my voice to this? How many HR voices are too many? Nobody has time to read ALL the blogs; why would they read mine? Is it OK to sometimes just talk, not teach?” Yet when my friend said she wanted to write an HR blog just to vent, I told her every blog is different and everyone has a different point of view worth sharing. I realized I was talking to myself as much as I was talking to her.

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I have so many posts in draft status because I convince myself that it’s not important enough or timely enough or it’s been written about already, etc. I’m writing this post as a reminder to myself as well as to anyone else who may have the same struggle that it’s fine to just do you. Not everyone is going to be a HUGE blogging star. Not everyone even wants to be (though a lot of people probably do. LOL.) It’s SO easy to get caught up in followers and retweets and building your personal brand and trying to be seen as a “thought leader” or “subject matter expert.” Don’t get me wrong, those things ARE important to a degree. But sometimes you just want/need to get the thoughts out of your head and there’s nothing wrong with that. Sure, you could keep them to yourself, but what fun is that?

So my message to you (and to myself) is YOUR HR VOICE MATTERS. They say there’s a lid for every pot, so there must also be a reader for every blog too, right? You won’t get every one but you’ll get the right ones i.e. the ones who find something special/interesting/inspiring about your voice and point of view. Let’s do this!

 

Should HR Pros Be Held to a Higher Standard?

As you know, I attended SHRM17 in New Orleans and had a blast. I’m so glad I took the plunge and invested in my professional development. Luckily I was able to take advantage of a discounted rate because I volunteered at SHRM16.

Screen-Shot-2014-05-15-at-11.54.06-AMThe entertainment for this year’s concert was Harry Connick, Jr. I like HCJ as much as the next person but I wanted to get out and explore New Orleans a bit rather than sit in the convention center after being there all day so I didn’t attend the concert. However, I did see quite a few comments about it on the conference community site. These comments were less about the concert itself and more about the behavior of the concertgoers. Behavior such as rushing the stage, standing in the aisles, taking photos – you know, typical concert behavior.

“Oh my goodness, I can’t believe HR professionals would behave this way!”

“HR professionals shouldn’t rush the stage to take photos! Photos weren’t allowed. How can you enforce rules at work and not follow them here??”

“I’ve never been so disappointed in a group of HR professionals!”

You get the gist. So I’m reading these comments thinking “are y’all serious?” Apparently, they were based on the responses to my query. This got me thinking – is there an expectation that people who work in HR should behave differently than others when outside of work? Are we, or should we be, held to a higher standard in our private/social lives because of our chosen profession? To add another layer to this, if this expectation exists, is it widely held or is it only held in some HR circles?

Don’t get me wrong, I have a couple of concerts lined up this year that I paid good money for and if folks decide to stand in the way and block my view, I’m gonna be peeved, to say the least. So I get that part. I definitely believe in exercising common courtesy and a basic level of decorum. Not because I work in HR, but because I’m a somewhat decent human being. Do unto others and all that jazz. But this mindset that working in HR should somehow influence your behavior outside of work threw me for a loop. Especially because I saw it from multiple people. That has never occurred to me.

So what say you, readers? HR by day, at night we play? HR always in all ways?

Let me know your thoughts.

#SHRM17 – ALL IN(SPIRED)

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Beignets from Sunday brunch at Blake’s on Poydras. DELICIOUS!

SHRM 2017 ended last week and I’m experiencing withdrawal. The people, the sessions, the music, the BEIGNETS! What’s not to love? If you missed it, you missed something big. Literally. It was the biggest SHRM conference ever! Between the concurrent sessions, the Smart Stage, the Take 10s and the General Sessions, you could soak up a wealth of information without even trying.

 

Many of the sessions I attended shared the common theme of building trust, shifting culture, HR influence and putting people first. This was deliberate as these are topics that really speak to me and that I believe in fully. (Full disclosure: I ended up in Richard Fagerlin’s session because I was tired of walking that behemoth of a convention center. It was a great session though and I’m glad I attended it.)

I have a ton of takeaways from SHRM17. (I concur with Steve Browne’s statement that if you leave a session without any takeaways, it’s YOUR fault, not the speaker’s.) Some of my favorites are below.

TRUST YOUR PEOPLE.

laszloIf you believe people are fundamentally good, you will treat them that way. (Laszlo Bock)

How many times have you encountered designated leaders who don’t trust the people they hire to do their jobs? You know who I’m talking about. The folks who want to micromanage their employees to death. Perhaps you are (gasp!) one of those people. If you are, stop it right now! That’s no way to inspire or motivate folks to be productive.

Another great Bock statement: FREEDOM IS FREE. Meaning, it costs nothing for you to allow your employees the freedom and autonomy to be effective. Let’s face it – if you don’t trust the people you hire, that says way more about you than it says about them.

CULTURE IS THE SUM OF WHAT YOU PERMIT AND WHAT YOU PROMOTE.

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Another way to think about culture. Steve Browne said this in his session as well.

Consider the mic dropped.  This comment on culture from Richard Fagerlin’s session, Creating a Culture of High Trust : 10 Things Every Organization Must Do to Experience High Trust was probably my most retweeted tweet from the conference. Obviously it resonates.

 

We’ve all seen it. You have an organization that prides itself on its core values of  <insert  buzzwords of the moment> but in practice it’s a whole different story. They say they believe in diversity & inclusion, but the leadership team looks the same and thinks the same. They say they believe in innovation but new ideas are always shot down. They say harassment won’t be tolerated but a known harasser gets promoted because they are a high performer. They say they believe in work/life balance but pitch a fit if an employee has to leave early. I call shenanigans! Your culture isn’t what you say it is, it’s what it is.

Another good Fagerlin quote: EVERY ORGANIZATION IS PERFECTLY DESIGNED TO GET THE RESULTS IT GETS. Just let that marinate for a minute while thinking about some of your past (maybe present) work experiences. It’s all starting to make sense now, right? #MajorKey

THE KEY TO SUCCESSFUL LEADERSHIP IS INFLUENCE, NOT AUTHORITY.* 

20170626_172813In her session, Influencing Others: 8 Steps to Get Results When You Don’t Have Direct AuthorityValerie Grubb spoke about how to influence others when you don’t have direct authority. Again, this really boiled down to trust. Trust and communication style.

In order to influence someone when you don’t have authority over them i.e. when you can’t say “because I said so,” they have to trust you (see above) and you have to communicate concisely. Speak to the WHY of what you’re trying to accomplish and gain a reputation for getting to the point. This is something I really need to practice. I can get wordy at times. (Don’t say it. LOL. Just keep reading.) WHEN TRYING TO INFLUENCE SOMEONE THEY HAVE TO HEAR YOU FIRST. If they don’t trust you, chances are they aren’t listening.

DON’T KEEP FOLLOWING THE RULES; CHANGE THEM!

20170626_172212You probably guessed this quote came from Steve Browne without me having to say it. He has a bit of a reputation as a rule breaker. In a good way. Make that a GREAT way. Steve is so freakin’ inspirational and his passion for HR and people is contagious.

I attended Steve’s Brand Name HR: Giving Your Function Life & Purpose session. He spoke a lot about pushing boundaries and not letting yourself (and your career) be confined to what HR is “supposed to do” or “should be doing.” We need to challenge the status quo and not be afraid to shake things up for the betterment of the folks we’re here to support.

We can’t be afraid to bring our whole selves to work and we must encourage others to do the same.  We spend too much time at work to have to shut off or hide major parts of ourselves during the workday. For example, I like to change my hair color a lot and I have visible tattoos. Neither of which impacts my ability to do my job. Get over it.

Steve also talked about HR being out and among the people as opposed to always making them come to us. I’m proud to say I do a pretty good job of this. The people are the reason I do what I do. Why would I want to keep my distance from them? I have never been “Ms. Stuffy, Scary, Uncaring HR lady” and I never will be. Let’s not be confined by others’ preconceived notions of HR. IF YOU’RE NOT MAKING PEOPLE UNCOMFORTABLE YOU’RE NOT DOING YOUR JOB. (Thanks for the reminder, Steve!)

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IRL connection w/ @tgweeded – photobomb courtesy of @cescobar78

This was just a small taste of my #SHRM17 experience. There’s no way I can cover it all in one blog post. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how fabulous and fun it was to make IRL connections with the folks I know from #nextchat. (Not familiar? Get into it! Every Wed. 3pm EST on Twitter.) It was so great to put a human-sized face to a tiny Twitter avatar face and take our conversations offline. That was easily one of the best parts of the conference.

 

So SHRM17 has come and gone. Beignet cravings notwithstanding, I’m excited about sharing and implementing what I learned and continuing to connect with other HR professionals, online and off. I went ALL IN and came out truly INspired. Kudos to the entire SHRM team for a WONDERFUL conference!! I hope to see everyone at #SHRM18 next year. (I wonder if there’s any chance of having a batch of beignets shipped to Chicago.) 

BONUS ROUND: If you attended SHRM17, share your favorite part in the comments and/or reach out to me on Twitter @tmrasberry.

*Ken Blanchard quote

#WorkHuman? How Else Are We Gonna Work?

20170605_014829If you follow me on Twitter (and you should 🙂 ) you know I spent the better part of last week attending the WorkHuman conference in Phoenix, AZ. I expected it to be good but it shattered my expectations. The event was AMAZING and I am very much looking forward to being able to attend WorkHuman 2018.

I chose to attend sessions that focused on communication, authenticity, gratitude, recognition, diversity and inclusion. I took copious notes and tweeted some key takeaways. (See below; I was kind of a big deal. Lol.)

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I learned too much and gained too much inspiration from WorkHuman to contain it all in one blog post. Consider this compilation of some of my favorite quotes  as part one of a series.

Have the courage to speak softly.Susan Cain, Author & Lecturer

We all want the same things in life, to be seen and appreciated for who we are.Chaz Bono, Actor & Advocate (The title of this post also references a Chaz Bono quote.)20170605_014136

In a culture where people can only bring solutions, you won’t hear about the biggest problems. – Adam Grant, Author & Professor

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Have people stay in their lanes if that’s where they show excellence.  –  John Baldino, President, Humareso

At the end of the day we’re all humans. Treat everyone as individuals and the workplace will benefit.Dan Schawbel,  Workplace Expert

At the end of the day people want to have pride in what they do.Chinwe Onyeagoro, President, Great Place to Work

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More WorkHuman goodness to come!

Life Lesson: Gratitude

happiness-via-gratitude-quote_daily-inspirationI have a wall hanging next to my bed that reads “Start Each Day with a Grateful Heart.” I placed this next to my bed so that I couldn’t help but see it every morning. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day drama of work, family and other responsibilities that we might forget to be grateful for our life experiences, relationships, lessons learned, skills & talents, etc.

At the WorkHuman conference I attended last week, they had an area called the ‘Gratitude Bar.’ The purpose of this was to recognize other people who were in some way helpful to you during the conference. There were four categories in which you could recognize someone: Happiness, Enlightenment, Inclusion and Authenticity. The idea was to show gratitude by recognizing someone in the moment. This concept was designed to replicate social recognition in the workplace.

How often do you take the time show gratitude in either your personal or professional life? It’s important for our own well-being to BE grateful but it’s equally important for our interactions and relationships with others to SHOW gratitude.

In the workplace, employee recognition has a significant impact on employee engagement and happiness as well as retention.  One of the WorkHuman sessions I attended was titled “Isn’t Thank You Enough?” The answer is no. A thank you is better than no thank you but after a while a thank you alone is meaningless.

By implementing gratitude into company culture, employees are more willing to spread their positive feelings with others, whether it’s helping out with a project or taking time to notice and recognizing those that have gone the extra mile. Employee recognition and appreciation can also create unique company culture and strengthen employee relationships.- The Psychological Effects of Workplace Appreciation & Gratitude, O.C. Tanner

Your assignment today folks, is to practice an attitude of gratitude in both word and deed. Let me know how it goes.

#WorkHuman 2017 – Bring Your Whole Self!

workhuman-2017If you follow me on Twitter (and you should 😉 ) you know I’ve been super excited for the past few months about attending the WorkHuman conference (May 30-June 1.) Ever since I first heard it was a thing – a conference dedicated to creating better work environments through culture & engagement – I knew I wanted to be there. Thankfully the opportunity presented itself for me to attend. Now, in just a few days, I’ll be in Phoenix, AZ, in a nice, air-conditioned conference center listening to folks talk about the workplace of the future – a human workplace – the type of workplace I want to cultivate.

For the past few days I’ve been trying to decide which sessions to attend. There are so many intriguing ones to choose from on my favorite topics like culture, engagement, diversity and recognition. I’m still not 100% sure which ones I’ll choose but I know I can’t go wrong with any of them. The keynote speakers alone are enough reason to attend. Among them are Susan Cain, the patron saint of my people aka introverts, Julia-Louis Dreyfus (Elaine, Old Christine, VEEP) and literally last but never, ever least (Former) First Lady Michelle Obama.  It’s gonna be hot in Phoenix, inside and out (triple digit temps)!

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If any of this sounds interesting to you, there’s still time to attend. You can register onsite! Need more convincing? See below.

“In just three information- and inspiration-packed days, you’ll gain the knowledge and tools you need to unlock the energy of your workforce, increase engagement, and help your company achieve its full business potential. You’ll leave energized and ready to forge a more human work culture in your organization.”

Plus..networking with hundreds, maybe even thousands, of other HR and HR-adjacent professionals. And me. What more could you ask for? Join us!

P.S.- If you can’t make it this year, follow the fun on Twitter: @workhuman, @globoforce, #workhuman and be sure to check out my recap afterwards.

Life Lesson: Affirm Yourself

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I chose this affirmation to post because every day we have the opportunity to share our gifts at work. You may not consider being a great listener, being an effective communicator, having a good sense of humor, or being able to empathize etc. as gifts but they are. Affirm yourself.

If you’ve ever taken a ride in an Uber or Lyft you know that each ride is different. The driver can be a chatterbox or let you ride in peace & quiet. The radio can be tuned to anything from r&b to 80s rock to news radio. The car can be clean & comfortable or quite questionable. It runs the gamut. I’ve certainly met my fair share of characters on these rides and had some interesting experiences. This morning was a good one though. My driver happened to be a certified life coach. As in that was her actual job, not just something she called herself. She told me I was her last ride before she went to work – to be a life coach. As we got to talking, I realized I was in her car for a reason.

Long story short, we got to talking about the universe and energy and affirmations. I know you want to roll your eyes here, but listen. She shared examples with me of clients who had begun using positive affirmations to manifest their destinies and had experienced real change. This resonated with me because I have a habit of focusing on what I don’t have instead of what I have. This is a bad habit to have because as the Law of Attraction teaches us, you attract what you put out. When I got to work a colleague told me she has made the decision to pursue her dreams of helping others live authentically. I felt like the universe was not just sending me a sign but hitting me over the head with it.

I say all this to say, in a world where things often seem out of our control – work stuff, family stuff, state of the country/world stuff – we have to remember to affirm ourselves and speak abundance into our lives. We have to speak as though we already have everything we need. I know this may sound strange to some folks and I have trouble with it myself at times. But honestly, it has worked for everyone I know who does it.

So your mission today folks, is to affirm yourself. Whatever it is you want/need – more money, a different job, better relationships, etc. – create an affirmation for it (you can Google examples if you find it hard to come up with something.) Speak these affirmations daily. And if you really want to do something great, affirm someone else while you’re at it. Show your appreciation for something a friend, co-worker, family member has done for you or that helped you in some way. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it, but even if they don’t, feel good about it anyway.

Life Lesson: Invest in Yourself

investHow many times have you wanted to do something that would you enrich you either personally or professionally but repeatedly told yourself you couldn’t afford it? I know I’ve been in that place SEVERAL times. I look at my bills and my bank account and think “nope- can’t do it.” But if we don’t invest in ourselves, who will?

This year I am attending the annual SHRM conference (paid for completely out of my own pocket – registration, travel and housing) and the WorkHuman conference (thankfully one of my Twitter angels arranged for a free registration for this one so I’m only on the hook for travel & housing.) I SO envy folks whose employers truly invest in their professional development and send them to conferences, etc. I almost decided not to try to attend either conference because it really is a financial stretch for me, but it’s also important to me to learn and grow in my field and to network with my peers face-to-face. Now I may not be eating when I’m there (which will really hurt in NOLA 🙂 ) but I’ll be soaking up great info and meeting great people. I plan to use these experiences (and others) to enrich both myself and my organization. These investments will not go to waste!

When was the last time you invested in yourself? If it’s been far too long ago, I implore you to look into something that will benefit you and figure out how to make it happen. Investment comes in more than one form. It can be money, time or energy (or some combination of each.) Whatever you decide to do, I guarantee you’ll be better off for it – even if it’s a struggle to make it happen.