Join the Movement! #WorkHuman

PrintWe’ve all heard the oft-spoken directive “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” The words are usually attributed to Gandhi but my friend Google tells me this is not actually a direct, verifiable, Gandhi quote. Sounds good though, so let’s go with the sentiment.

When I think about the WorkHuman conference, I think about being the change I wish to see in the workplace. Recently a peer asked me a version of “what does your ideal job look like?” Ideally, I would have a role in which I am able to focus on employee experience – to make work a place folks don’t dread going to everyday or drag themselves to just to pay the bills. I want to create environments in which people are able to do their best work because they are free to be their whole, best selves. I want to help develop cultures in which individuals are valued for their unique backgrounds and experiences and recognized for their accomplishments. I want to help people understand what diversity truly is and that it means nothing without inclusion. I want to train managers to coach and encourage their direct reports. I have no idea if this job exists other than in my dreams but that would be the ideal.

That’s what attracted me to WorkHuman. I first heard about it in 2016, after the second conference was held, and immediately committed to attending the 2017 conference. At the time I didn’t know how I was going to make it happen but I knew it was a must because it was the first time I’d heard about a conference that focused on exactly the areas I’m passionate about. I had to be there. Thankfully I was able to attend in 2017 and 2018 and hope to attend forever and ever. In 2018 I was even asked to participate in a Diversity Means Nothing Without Inclusion  panel discussion on WorkHuman radio. 🙂

From the website:

Globoforce pioneered the WorkHuman movement to galvanize leaders worldwide to harness the transformative power of people for the next generation of HR. We celebrate breakthrough organizations building human-centric workplaces where employees achieve their fullest potential – where people feel appreciated, connected, and empowered for who they are and what they do. WorkHuman recognizes businesses that thrive by bringing humanity and crowdsourcing to the employee experience. WorkHuman is the future of the workplace.

Each year, WorkHuman builds on the content offerings and always has a great speaker lineup. The tracks for the 2019 conference are:

  • Applying the Value of Gratitude
  • Bringing Humanity to Performance Management
  • Creating a Culture of Community
  • Elevating Your Employer Brand
  • Empowering through Diversity & Equality
  • Living Your Best Work Life
  • Merging Humanity & Technology
  • Navigating Employee Emotions at Work

I can’t wait to dig deeper into these topics, particularly ‘Empowering through Diversity & Equality’ and ‘Bringing Humanity to Performance Management.’ In addition to the sessions, I look forward to soaking up wisdom and inspiration from the incredible roster of keynote speakers which includes Kat Cole, Cy Wakeman, Pamela Puryear and Eric Bailey.

Join me in Nashville as we discuss creating workplaces that focus on the whole human being. It’s going to be an amazing time! Use code WH19INF-TRA for $100 off. Don’t say I never gave you anything. 🙂

Hope to see you there!

nashville

 

#SHRMDIV – How Do You Get People to Talk?

brandonDay One of the 2018 SHRM Diversity & Inclusion Conference began with a keynote address from Brandon Stanton, creator of the wildly popular (it reaches 25 million people) blog, Humans of New York. I’m a fan of the site because I like hearing/reading people’s stories. Everyone has one. I care about people so it would follow that I care about their stories.

If you’re not familiar with Humans of New York, Brandon travels the world taking photos of people and on the site he shares those photos along with some part of their story. As he discussed how he is able to accomplish this, something he said really resonated with me as an HR professional. He said one of the questions he is often asked is “How do you get people to talk?” After all, these people do not know him, they have no previous relationship with him, yet they often share intimate details of their lives with him. His response – “I just ask.”

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He followed up noting the importance of getting to a place where a person is examining and unpacking an emotional, impactful part of their life. It involves intent listening, asking follow-up questions and not thinking about himself or having an agenda. This reminded me of what HR professionals are charged with doing when an employee comes to us with an issue/concern. Before we can address the concern, we need to know what it is and what’s behind it. Just as Brandon does with his photo subjects, we need to listen intently and ask follow-up questions without having an agenda. We need to make the individual feel safe enough to share with us. Psychological safety is a key component of inclusion.

The first question Brandon usually asks a person is “What is your greatest struggle right now?” I immediately thought of how helpful it would be to HR professionals to know the answer to this question when speaking with an employee who has a concern. Actually, it would be good for us to know even if they aren’t having an issue. Understanding what people are experiencing is critical to developing and maintaining an inclusive culture. People are often reluctant to talk out of fear of being exposed; however, they will also have a deep appreciation for being listened to and having their concerns validated. At the end of the day, validation outweighs fear. Ask (with genuine concern) and you will probably receive the answer. People have an innate desire to be heard and understood. PRO TIP: Employees are people.

Are-You-ListeningAnother comment that resonated with me was “The world is all about sharing right now; but we’re really not listening.” Between work life, home life, social life, social media, etc., the world is full of noise. Full of it. We hear a lot; but we actually listen to very little. This also relates directly to our roles in HR. On any given day we hear a lot of information and we have to make sure that we take the time to listen to what’s critical, particularly employee concerns and complaints. Not only do we need to listen but we need to ask the right questions, follow-up and check-in. We need to have open lines of communication. To do this effectively, we need to ensure people feel safe enough to be vulnerable.

“Safety is about intent; not content. Learn to monitor and manage safety and you can talk to anyone about anything.” – Emily Gregory, VitalSmarts

 

 

Employee Experience for the WIN! #eXsummit

logo-lrgAnyone who is, or has ever been, an employee understands the importance of employee experience. Where it rates on the importance meter may not be the same for everyone but I think we can all agree that when it comes to the place you’ll most likely spend at least 1/3 of your life, the better you feel about being there, the better you’ll feel all around.  An article in Forbes even called 2018 ‘The Year of Employee Experience.’ Well, it’s about time more employers started paying attention to it!

Employee experience (EX) refers to the totality of every interaction an employee has with their employer including how the employee feels about working there. Whether the experience is positive or negative impacts productivity, happiness, tenure and whether the employee would recommend the employer as a good, or great, place to work – among other things.

IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER:

  • Employee experience is NOT employee engagement. Engagement contributes to experience but they are not the same thing.
  • Employee experience is not just about having fun. Don’t confuse simply providing some fun things to do with designing a complete employee experience.

As an HR professional, an employee, and an individual, I’m very interested in EX, what it looks like in different organizations and how organizations can create the best positive experience for their employees, realizing that it won’t look exactly the same for each organization. It’s also important to remember that individuals experience experience differently. When crafting an employee experience that will make people want to join and stay at your organization, remember that one size rarely fits all. 

In August, I have the honor of participating in the eX Summit in Philadelphia. The eX Summit “brings a different lens to the employee experience: a brand and CX angle, rather than a traditional HR angle.”  The creators of the Summit pose the following questions:

Why are companies focusing more on user experience (UX) and customer experience (CX) than employee experience (EX?) And what can we do about it?

Excellent questions! Employees are the ones who determine and implement what it takes to make the UX and CX experiences positive for others, why would it not be deemed equally as important, if not more so, to make the work experience positive for your employees? Let’s talk about it. Join me in Philly on August 15 to discuss key components of designing an employee experience. Use code TAMARA5 for $5 off the registration fee.

bonusBONUS ALERT: I will be part of a panel discussion on Diversity in the Workplace. Diversity is but one ingredient in the employee experience recipe but it’s an important one. Among other things, diverse teams inspire creativity, promote innovation, are more productive and perform better. Employers must value different dimensions of diversity along every step of the employee experience – from pre-hire to post-employment termination. Interested in how to do this? Let’s talk about it.

To be successful in creating a positive employee experience, employers must change the traditional mindset and adopt more of a consumer approach to engaging with employees. At the eX Summit, we will address the following key topics:

  • Why is it critical for employers to change the their mindset and adopt more of a consumer approach to engaging with employees? (Think of employees as internal customers. Instead of selling a product, you are selling working at your organization.)
  • What organizations should do to create personalized employee experiences. (One size does not fit all.)
  • What part technology, the human element and storytelling play in designing these experiences. (A multi-faceted approach is key.)
  • Why “culture fit” is no longer relevant and why we need to focus more than ever on diversity, inclusion and “culture add.” (This is my favorite part!)

Employee experience is and will continue to be critical not only to business success but to individual success. Let’s make sure we treat our internal stakeholders (employees) as well as we treat our external stakeholders (clients/customers/users/members.) Not only is it good business, it’s the right, and smart, thing to do.

Interested in learning how to design the right employee experience for your organization? Check out the eX Summit in a city near you. Preferably, Philadelphia on August 15. 🙂

PERKS OF ATTENDING THE PHILLY eX SUMMIT:

  • Philadelphia – We’ll turn the ‘City of Brotherly Love’ into the ‘City of Employee Love’ for a day.
  • Discount – Get $5 off registration with the code TAMARA5
  • mj

 

*The IBM Institute for Business Value has developed some easily digestible graphics regarding employee experience. The images below are property of IBM.

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IBV-Social Tiles-BoT_Twitter_V3

IBV-Social Tiles-BoT_Twitter_V3

 

 

 

 

 

 

HR’s Role in Creating a Culture of High Trust: Q & A with Richard Fagerlin #SHRM18

Richard-Fagerlin-Head-ShotI just looked up and realized SHRM18 is about a month away. Wow. Chicago, here we come! As you know, I have the honor of being a part of the SHRM18 Blogger Team and as such have conducted Q & As with three of the speakers who are having sessions. I’ve already posted Karlyn Borysenko and Joe Gerstandt. Last, but certainly not least, I have Richard Fagerlin who gave a FANTASTIC presentation at SHRM17 on the topic of trust and is back for SHRM18 to keep the message going with his session: HR’s Role in Creating a High-Trust Culture: Tips, Tools & Techniques to Increase Your Trust Factor.

Richard Fagerlin is the president of Peak Solutions, Inc. a leadership development firm dedicated to helping companies invest in their greatest asset — their people. Richard travels the U.S. and internationally as a dynamic trainer, facilitator, and keynote speaker. As a leading authority on the topic of Trust he has four times (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018) been recognized as one of the 100 top Thought Leaders on Trust by the organization Trust Across America – Trust Around the World. 

TrustologyAs the author of Trustology: The Art and Science of Leading High Trust Teams, Richard has left an impact on thousands of people through his powerful, poignant, and often humorous talks on trust where he will challenge your long-held beliefs on the issue of trust.

Humorous and challenging – what more could we ask for? Richard was kind enough to take some time to answer my questions. As usual, I will not edit for length but comments I found particularly poignant are in bold. 

TR: What is HR’s role in creating culture (in general and high trust specifically?)

RF: HR’s greatest asset to an organization is in shepherding the alignment of mission, vision, values and objectives of the organization with the human systems that make these all happen. Said differently, HR is the guardian or gatekeeper of organizational culture. The funny thing about culture is that I don’t think you can change it. Culture is a result of what you do. If you want a different culture you have to do things differently. You can’t change culture by the stroke of a pen and with a well crafted memo or email from the C-Suite. We believe that every organization is perfectly designed to get the results it gets so it is HR’s responsibility to make sure that the current culture is what will drive organizational mission and vision and if not, to help alter the design to get different results. Equally important is to make sure that if the culture is in fact what you are looking for and what works for you that HR takes time to examine what is being done (or not done) to achieve this result and to help protect and preserve the culture that is driving high trust, that is driving performance, that is driving impact, etc.

TR: Why do some organizations have a high-trust culture while others do not?

RF: Organizations that have high trust cultures have proven by their actions and areas of focus that it is important to them. Not to oversimplify this complex issue but in every organization we have worked with that has high trust it is something that is valued, worked for and on daily and embodied by the very top of the organization. High trust organizations have significant clarity of purpose and leaders provide clarity and focus to their team members. There is a spirit of openness and vulnerability and there is a sense that others are “for you.” Difficult decisions are made that show a bias for living out high trust values, even when it may slow down progress, cost time and money and make people uncomfortable.

Organizations that don’t have a high trust culture have a bias for speed and performance, sometimes at any cost. Respect for the individual is low and employees make too many decisions based on fear instead of making decisions based on what is the right thing to do.

Bottom line, it starts at the top. You cant have a high trust culture if there isn’t cohesion and trust at the executive level. Period.

TR: What’s the easiest way to determine the level of trust that exists in an organization?

RF: Are people for each other and do they give each other the benefit of the doubt? It’s not blind trust, it is a vulnerable strength that is shown by the way people admit fault, accept responsibility and react to mistakes.

TR: Why is a culture of high-trust so important to an organization? How does it impact other areas of business?

Organizations with high trust have lower turnover, greater productivity, less absenteeism and as an added benefit…employees simply like their jobs more. It touches all areas of the business and puts immediate benefit to the bottom line.

TR: What is the biggest takeaway you want attendees to get from your session?

RF: I want them to walk away with a different perspective on trust and to understand the role they play in creating a culture of high trust.

 

I am so fascinated by this topic because I see the impact trust, or the lack thereof, has on every function of an organization. I feel this particular comment bears repeating –

Bottom line, it starts at the top. You can’t have a high trust culture if there isn’t cohesion and trust at the executive level. Period. 

This is so true. One of my biggest takeaways from SHRM17 is that culture is not what you say, it’s what you do. Not that I didn’t already know that, but hearing it from multiple sources was affirming. Actions must align with words and it all starts with trust. You can’t have an organization that values communication, innovation, honesty, etc. if the trust isn’t there. It will never work. If the trust isn’t there, you can’t even say you value people for real. I’m looking forward to attending Richard’s session this year and taking copious notes. I hope to see you there!

Contact Richard:  Web / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn

Designing the Inclusive Employee Experience: Q & A with Joe Gerstandt #SHRM18

happy dance

My “I get to interview Joe Gerstandt” happy dance.

Full disclosure: I’ve been internet fan-girling over Joe Gerstandt for a while now. Why, you may ask. Well, his Twitter bio says, in part, “I speak, write, advise on issues related to Authenticity, Diversity, Inclusion…and I do it well.”  If you’ve been following me on any social media channel, you’ll know those are the top HR/workplace issues I’m interested in. Finding someone who always has something insightful to say on them, and actually interacts with people, was a treat. Thus, a Joe Gerstandt fangirl I became.

As you know, I was lucky enough to be asked to be a member of the 2018 SHRM Blogger Team. As such, I have been given the opportunity to interview some of the speakers. Imagine my delight when I saw Joe (we’ve never met but I feel I can call him Joe 🙂 ) was on the list and available. 

joe g

Joe Gerstandt is a speaker and consultant helping leaders and organizations to better understand what diversity and inclusion mean to our organizations and communities today. He is an advocate for resetting the diversity and inclusion conversation, and believes strongly that we can ill afford to continue applying a 20th century approach to an increasingly critical set of 21st century business issues. He will be presenting a concurrent session as well as being on the Smart Stage this year. He was kind enough to answer a few questions from me on his session, Designing the Inclusive Employee Experience – something we should all be working diligently to achieve. Inclusion is Joe’s jam (his word) so some of his responses are a little long but I couldn’t bear to cut out anything. It’s all so good. Statements I found particularly poignant are in BOLD.  Don’t be surprised if I BOLD entire paragraphs.

TR: What is inclusion and why is it important to employee experience?

JG: This is a fantastic question and I would suggest that one of the largest reasons companies talking about inclusion are not making more progress is that they still have not answered the first part of this question. In 2018, inclusion is a terribly popular word relative to the workplace, yet in most workplaces it remains a vague, abstract idea. Vague, abstract targets are hard to hit. Most leaders today are quick to let you know that, yes; they are indeed inclusive, but most of them cannot explain what that means in a logical and concise way.

Inclusion is a complex idea and it can mean different things to different people, but for your organization you definitely need your definition. Your definition will be incomplete and imperfect as we are trying to capture something that is intangible and experiential, but you desperately need it. A clear, concise, logical definition of inclusion is quite possibly the single most valuable component in a successful inclusion effort, and it is the most commonly missing component. While organizational definitions can and should vary, I believe there are some fundamental components to this idea of being fully included and I generally spend some time on these components to help organizations, leaders, and teams start finding some really clarity regarding inclusion.

1) Belonging & Authenticity. Belonging is nothing short of an existential need for human beings, and when you feel that you belong in a place or space, you also derive sustenance from being there, regardless of how hard the work is. I am a straight, white, middle-class, middle-aged dude who lives in the middle of the country and I have never experienced discrimination toward myself. I have consistently received the benefit of the doubt (even when I did not deserve it!), but I have had the experience of not feeling that I belonged in an organization and I know that feeling to be mentally, emotionally, and spiritually exhausting. When simply going to work on Monday morning is an act of courage, you are not likely to be your best self at work, you are not likely to be your authentic, creative, collaborative self…you are much more likely to be in survival mode all day long and that invites a drastically different kind of contribution. Can I show up for work on Monday morning, be largely true to who I am and feel like I belong? How much do I have to compromise to fit in at an organization that has chosen me? These are questions that have real consequences in performance.

2) Psychological Safety. Psychological safety is a little bit buzzwordy right now due to the Project Aristotle insights that came out of Google recently, but research on the topic goes back to the 1960s, and in fact there was a really rich meta-analysis on Psychological Safety released in 2017 that pulled from over a hundred different individual studies. I think an incredibly valuable marker of inclusion is whether or not people are willing and able to tell the truth to each other – spoiler alert, they’re not! – and telling the truth to each other (sharing your big crazy ideas, your uncomfortable questions, disagreeing with people, even people who have more formal power than you do) requires a certain amount of psychological safety. If we are going to deliver a more inclusive employee experience (and if we are going to do better around decision-making, problem-solving, and innovation) we have got to make it safer (and in fact, rewarded) to have respectful conflict with each other. Today, that is very hard to find. If we are truly going to aggregate (or include) the human potential we have access to, we have got to make sure that it is safe to be different, to think different, to be (at least temporarily) unpopular, to disagree with people (including your boss and their boss) as long as we do so respectfully, and I see a lot of room for improvement in this area.

3.) Access & Agency. Who has access to what, how is that decided, and is it explicit? Who has access to information? Who has access to decision-making? Who can initiate change and how? These are all really important aspects of an organization and they are almost always unwritten (which makes it hard to evaluate them, learn them, improve them, etc.) and they are almost always informed more by power, privilege, and personality than they are by actual performance related evidence. I am not opposed to different levels of access for different employees, just make sure there is a legitimate justification, that it is reevaluated from time to time and that it is explicit. Unwritten rules make inclusion (and a bunch of other stuff) much harder to achieve, and most organizations are swimming in unwritten rules about some of the most important things. 

TR: How do we know if an organization is inclusive? Does inclusion look the same across teams/organizations?

JG: On a very fundamental level, inclusion is about creating spaces and places where people who are naturally different from each other can be true (belonging & authenticity), tell the truth (psychological safety), and make a uniquely valuable contribution (access & agency). It is likely going to be mean something different to be fully included at The Federal Reserve than it means at Facebook, they have wildly different cultures, but I think that these are three of the more universal components to consider in getting specific about what inclusion means for your organization. One of the beautiful things about having a clear, concise definition in place is that it allows you to take that definition to your employees and ask them whether or not it reflects their experience, and their answers are one of your most valuable metrics relative to this work. I hear people complaining that this stuff is all so hard to measure, and it is, because we are dealing with intangibles, but if you get some real clarity on what you are trying to actually accomplish there are some solid metrics we can use.

TR: Whose responsibility is it to ensure an organization is inclusive? Does the responsibility like solely with HR?

JG: This is about leadership, full stop. HR (and some other functional areas) have a unique role to play in supporting these efforts and may own specific aspects of it (compliance, for example), but this is about leadership. HR has their own work to do regarding diversity and inclusion, and often gets an undeserved free pass on this work, but it should not be their responsibility and I am not in favor of housing D&I efforts inside of HR. HR does not necessarily have the expertise, and they certainly do not have any financial, political, or social capital to spare right now. Inclusion, properly understood, should be the first priority, the first practice, and the first product of leadership. If you do not have an inclusive organization, it is because you have an absence of real leadership. The fact that we are still trying to convince people in management positions that inclusion matters tells me that our approach to leadership is and has been deeply flawed.

TR: What should we do if our organization is not inclusive? How can we change that?

JG:  That depends on a whole bunch of stuff. The nature of the organization, support from others, your own gifts and tolerance for risk-taking, etc., these are all important contextual factors on the individual level. Maybe you should start talking to people about it, maybe you should leave, without knowing more of the context I am not sure what is best to do on an individual level.

On the organizational level, there are a few basic steps that I think scale up or down and are nearly universally applicable. I generally start by injecting new information and new ideas into the organization to prime decision-making and planning. Diversity and inclusion are likely the most poorly understood, most often misunderstood issues relative to the workplace today. Everyone says they “get it,” (as there is that expectation today), but most people do not get it. This is not their area of expertise, they have not explored issues relative to identity, social dynamics, bias, ingroup/outgroup, etc., they are not familiar with the science and scholarship relative to this set of issues. They tend to view “getting it” as simply wanting to be a decent person, which is awesome, but something different than actually getting it. So, we start by pushing on their thinking. You can use speakers, videos, articles, books, discussions…expose them to a mix of information related to diversity and inclusion and get them to really start thinking about what diversity and inclusion mean within the context of this organization and how this organization creates value. Then we start drafting our language and logic. What specifically does inclusion mean here? Why is it valuable to us? How might we capture that value?

While most organizations have poetic and rambling statements of commitment to diversity and inclusion, they are missing this clear and concise foundational language and logic, so they are trying to deliver a product without actually defining it. Good luck with that project. Get informed, get clear on what diversity and inclusion mean for your organization (especially the experience of being included, how do we know when it is happening, what does it look like, feel like, sound like, and smell like…the more specific we can get on this, the easier it is to figure out how we get there and what to measure along the way), and then develop your plan for getting there. Once you have defined what an inclusive experience is in your organization it becomes much easier to identify the behaviors, the practices, the processes that go into it. Most organizations skip ahead and start hanging posters up and launching programs, without the underlying language and logic in place.

This work really is still in its infancy, and as such it remains conceptually and linguistically underdeveloped…tackle that first in your organization. Champion clarity, put a common language in place – that makes everything else easier and more likely to succeed.

TR: What is the most important takeaway you want attendees to get from your session?

JG: Clarity is one of your very best friends. Language is your first intervention. Clear, concise definitions are your first evidence of real commitment. Inclusive spaces, places, and experiences are not the natural by-product of people having good intentions, they happen because we intentionally design them and build them and I have some tools and tips to share toward that effort.

TR: Is there anything else you want readers/conference attendees to know?

JG: I think this is the 7th SHRM Annual that I have presented at and this conference is one of my absolute favorites. There is something uniquely inspiring about sharing space with so many people that are committed to the craft of HR, I always get a buzz from this show. In addition to my concurrent session, Designing the Inclusive Employee Experience (Tuesday, June 19th 10:45-12:00), I am also going to be rocking the mic on the Smart Stage on Monday afternoon (3:20), talking about the importance of conflict done well. See you in Chicago!

So there you have it, folks. Words of wisdom on designing the inclusive employee experience from someone who knows a thing or a thousand about the subject, Mr. Joe Gerstandt. We definitely have a long way to go but with the right guidance, we can do it. It was my absolute pleasure to have him answer the questions I posed. He even asked if we could meet for coffee (tea, for me) in Chicago. Of course! I will try to keep my fan-girling to a minimum in public.

Contact Joe Gerstandt:

Website / Twitter / LinkedIn / Facebook

Joe is also half of the dynamic duo, Talent Anarchy.

Give me an ‘S’! … #SHRM18 Blog Squad

cheerleading-clip-art-13As you may know by now, I have been selected to be a member of the SHRM18 Blogger Team. Members of the team will be sharing information and content about the SHRM 2018 Annual Conference on social media (blogs, Twitter, etc.) before and during the conference. We are basically cheerleaders for the conference, without the matching uniforms and acrobatic stunts. Maybe we should get pom poms though. Because why not?

This is my first year being a member of the blogger team and I’m super excited about it. I even posted a video about it on Instagram which, if you know me, was major. LOL. One of my fellow team members, Michael Vandevort, is doing an interview series for his podcast, DriveThru HR. The point of the series is to get to know each of us a bit as well as discuss the conference and what we’re looking forward to about it. The episode featuring me is below (click image.) Check it out. While you’re at it, check out the other blogger team episodes too. We are one great group of inspired and inspiring HR professionals! When you see us at the conference, be sure to say hello.

See you in Chicago!

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Everything You Need to Know About Managing People: Q & A with Karlyn Borysenko #SHRM18

SHRM18 is right around the corner! Of course by around the corner I mean three months away. But it’s never to soon to start checking out the agenda and trying to plan at least half of the sessions you want to attend. I recommend planning but also allowing room for flexibility because stuff happens.

karlynI have the honor of being a member of the SHRM18 Blogger Team. Yay, me! As such I have the opportunity to select a few speakers to interview and give you a “behind the scenes” take on their sessions. First up is Karlyn Borysenko, PhD, Principal at Zen Workplace. I chose to interview Karlyn because she is an organizational psychologist which I find to be super interesting. I’m intrigued by all things dealing with the mind. Karlyn works with individuals and organizations to create better work experiences that lead to bottom line results and greater career success. Karlyn will be a busy bee at SHRM18. She’s conducting a Preconference Workshop, a Mega Session and appearing on the Smart Stage! I interviewed Karlyn about her Preconference Workshop, Everything You Need to Know about Managing People. (Statements I find particularly poignant are in bold.)

TR: Why is it said that people leave managers, not organizations?

KB: Managers dictate that daily experience that any employee has with their organization. If you have a great boss, you’ll have a great experience. If you don’t, then the organization might be an amazing place to work for people who have different reporting lines, but your experience won’t be so great. No amount of cultural or employee engagement investments can make up for when a person has a boss that doesn’t empower or support them.

On the flip side of this, however, is that you can have organizations that are pretty toxic from the leadership level…but if you have a great boss who makes their team the priority regardless of the example they are getting from above, you will have a better experience than others and probably be less likely to leave, all other things being equal. So, it works both ways.

This is why it’s so critical for managers at all levels to take responsibility for the experiences of their team members. Being promoted into a manager role is not just a more powerful version of being an individual contributor. You are, in a very real way, responsible for people’s lives. Unfortunately, very few organizations ever teach people how to be a great boss on a psychological level. They may teach you how to administer an annual performance review, the process for hiring and firing, but that’s just process. To be a great manager, you need to know how to engage and motivate a team based on how their brain works. That’s why a workshop like this is so important – we’ll look at the topic from the inside out to help you get the most out of your team members while creating an experience that will drive engagement and productivity.

TR: What skills are most needed to be an effective people manager and why?

KB: I believe the most important skill to develop is a service mindset. You may be in a position of technical power over the people who report to you (for example, you can make the case to fire them if you want to), but authoritarian power just gets people to be compliant. It doesn’t help them to embrace being empowered, go the extra mile when it comes to communication, or bring creativity and innovation to the table. To get there, you have to serve your team members, and that involves putting the ego aside and individually giving them what they need to achieve their best work. When they are successful, you will be successful.

TR: What is employee engagement and what role does it play in the success (or lack thereof) of a team/organization?

KB: There are about 1,000 definitions of employee engagement. Last year when I visited the SHRM exhibit hall, I couldn’t go more than a few booths without a company selling a tool proportion to solve your employee engagement problems. I asked many of them what they mean by “employee engagement” and almost every one of them gave me a different answer!

Now, that’s not to say they don’t have some great tools that could help, but fundamentally I don’t see employee engagement as a technological question. I see it as a human problem. That’s why my definition of employee engagement is all about intrinsic motivation: Employee engagement is when your team comes in primed to give it their all, no matter what their role is. They are intrinsically motivated to do their best work. 

It’s the intrinsic motivation piece that trips a lot of people up. Engagement is not about a paycheck or a raise or a promotion…no one is going to turn those things down, but it’s not the psychological driver of long-term high performance (it gives a nice short-term boost but that only lasts about two weeks). People need to feel listened to, they need to feel valued, they need to know that their manager sees the effort they are putting in and positively responds to it. And when they’re trying to improve areas of their performance, they need to hear from their manager that they see the effort and the improvement to keep up their momentum.

engaged

Don’t Be Like THIS Manager.

Now, here’s the thing: A piece of technology like all those vendors sell seems like a quick solution to say that you’re “working on” or “fixing” employee engagement. Connecting on a human level is much harder, and much more uncomfortable for many managers, but it is truly the best way to drive the long-term results you’re looking for.

TR: What does it mean to manage “from a human perspective?” Why is this important?

KB: There’s not a single person that goes to work and leaves their humanity at the door, yet most people try to deny that aspect of themselves when they enter the office. We build up these walls and tell ourselves “it’s not personal…it’s just business.” You’re talking about people’s livelihoods here – their mortgages, their car payments, putting their kids through school. It couldn’t be more personal!

No matter how you try to frame it, you can’t get around how our brain is hardwired to work. Most of our decisions are driven from the subconscious emotional part of our brain, and then we use logic and reason to justify what we’ve already decided to do emotionally. What that means for managers is that you have to appeal to people on an emotional level to get them to do their best work. There’s no getting around it…it’s science.

kumbayaNow, I’m not suggesting that you all need to be sitting around the fireplace singing kumbaya, but you do need to be very mindful of how your employees perceive their experience. Do they think you really listen to them, or do you just wait to talk in meetings (or, worse yet, take notes on your laptop)? Do you give them significantly more positive recognition than critical feedback? Do you take the time to coach and professionally develop them? Do you allow for failure as a natural part of progress, or do you make them believe that any misstep will have consequences on their career? These are all issues we’ll address in the workshop, and how to do them really well to appeal to that human element.

TR: What is the biggest takeaway you want attendees to get from your session?

KB: This workshop will be a crash course in the top four things I think managers need to do to drive productivity and engagement on a psychological level – adapt, communicate, empower, and support. We’ll go high level, and dig down to some very specific, actionable tactics. However, the takeaways that I want people to leave the room with is the responsibility that comes with being in a manager position and developing that service mindset I mentioned earlier. Management is not about process. It’s about people.

TR: Any additional comments?

KB: For those managers thinking about attending, understand that you have a responsibility to provide a great working experience for your team, even if your boss is not doing it for you. So often, I hear from managers, especially at the mid-management level, “my boss isn’t doing this stuff so why do I have to?” I’ll be blunt: You do it because it’s the right thing to do, not only from a work perspective but as a human being. Is it fair that your boss might not put the effort in for you but I’m asking you to do it for you team? No. But change has to start somewhere. You can choose to be the person that opts out and uses your boss as an excuse….or you could be the person that says “I’m doing this regardless, because I know it’s what’s best for my team.”

Connect with Dr. Karlyn Borysenko.
If you’ve ever seen my posts on Twitter or LinkedIn, or had a conversation with me, you can see from Karlyn’s responses why this session is right up my alley. Everything she’s saying is everything I stand for. Humanity in the workplace. Positive employee experience. Managers taking responsibility for their people. The tagline on my site is “Life. Human Resources. It’s All About the People.” Because it is. Full stop.

Be the Change… You Belong at #WorkHuman

betheWe’ve all heard the oft-spoken directive “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” The words are usually attributed to Gandhi but my friend Google tells me this is not actually a direct, verifiable, Gandhi quote. Sounds good though, so let’s go with the sentiment.

When I think about the WorkHuman conference, I think about being the change I wish to see in the workplace. Recently a peer asked me a version of “what does your ideal job look like?” Ideally, I would have a role in which I am able to focus on employee experience – to make work a place folks don’t dread going to everyday or drag themselves to just to pay the bills. I want to create environments in which people are able to do their best work because they are free to be their whole, best selves. I want to help develop cultures in which individuals are valued for their unique backgrounds and experiences and recognized for their accomplishments. I want to help people understand what diversity truly is and that it means nothing without inclusion. I want to train managers to coach and encourage their direct reports. I have no idea if this job exists other than in my dreams but that would be the ideal.

That’s what attracted me to WorkHuman. I first heard about it in 2016, after the second conference was held, and immediately committed to attending the 2017 conference. At the time I didn’t know how I was going to make it happen but I knew it was a must because it was the first time I’d heard about a conference that focused on exactly the areas I’m passionate about. I had to be there.

From the website:

Globoforce pioneered the WorkHuman movement to galvanize leaders worldwide to harness the transformative power of people for the next generation of HR. We celebrate breakthrough organizations building human-centric workplaces where employees achieve their fullest potential – where people feel appreciated, connected, and empowered for who they are and what they do. WorkHuman recognizes businesses that thrive by bringing humanity and crowdsourcing to the employee experience. WorkHuman is the future of the workplace.

I want to be part of that future! That’s why I’m looking forward to attending the conference again this year and in perpetuity. The tracks for the 2018 conference are:

  • Crowdsourcing and the Performance Revolution
  • The Business Case for Social Recognition
  • Thriving through Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging
  • Your Whole Self
  • Humanizing Your Employer Brand
  • HR Leaders as Culture Facilitators
  • The Human Workplace

It’s perfect for me! In addition to the sessions, I look forward to soaking up wisdom and inspiration from the incredible roster of keynote speakers which includes Tarana Burke, Brené Brown, Shawn Achor, Salma Hayek Pinault, Simon Sinek, Amal Clooney and Adam Grant.

Join me in Austin as we discuss creating workplaces that focus on people as human beings, not just as workers. We are only two weeks out from the conference (April 2-5) but there is still time to register. Through April 1, you can save $200 off the onsite registration fee. Use code WH18INF-TRA for an additional $100 off. Don’t say I never gave you anything. 🙂

Hope to see you there!

Previous posts on WorkHuman:

WorkHuman 2017 – Bring Your Whole Self

WorkHuman? How Else Are We Gonna Work?

The Happiness Advantage (I Just Wanna Be Successful)

All I really want, is to be happy...” 

When the Queen of Hip-hop Soul, Mary J. Blige, sang those words in 1994 (when I was but a wee babe,)  she was referring to a romantic relationship but as it turns out happiness also gives us an advantage when it comes to being successful. And who doesn’t want that? Everybody wants that!

“I just wanna be, I just wanna be successful.. – Drake & Trey Songz, 2009

I recently watched Shawn Achor‘s TEDTalk on the happiness advantage (specifically the connection between happiness and success) in preparation for seeing him at the WorkHuman conference in April. He was super engaging and funny and made me really look forward to his keynote address.  I enjoy when people use humor to provoke thought.

You may not know this about me, but I’m lowkey obsessed with psychology. Why we are how we are. Why we do what we do. Why we think how we think. That type of thing. Mental illness, personality types.. the list goes on. I’ve also suffered from a major depressive disorder for the majority of my life. So, while it sounds good, I’ve never really been a fan of the whole “thinking happy thoughts will make you happy” mantra. However, this talk on positive psychology spoke to me. This piece in particular stood out:

“It’s not necessarily the reality that shapes us but the lens through which your brain views the world shapes your reality. 90% of long term happiness is predicted by the way your brain processes the world.” 

Well, damn. 90%!

Of course I’ve heard some variation on this theme before but, maybe it was his delivery, maybe I was more receptive because I was sleep deprived, I don’t know but suddenly it felt like a weight had been lifted and a light bulb had been illuminated. This little nugget nearly took me over the edge:

“The absence of disease is not health.”

It was like free therapy!

Achor posits, based on research, that by doing the following every day for 21 days we can create lasting positive change:

  • 3 Gratitudes – new ones each day
  • Journaling – 1 positive thing
  • Exercise – teaches us our behavior matters
  • Meditation – calms down our brains
  • Random (or Conscious) Acts of Kindness – suggests sending a positive email to one person in your network daily

If you follow me on Twitter, and you should, you already know I’m a huge proponent of the WorkHuman conference and movement. I planned  to attend even before the speakers were announced. Knowing there will be speakers of this caliber makes it that much better. If you’re not there, you’ll wish you were and life is too short for regrets.

Join me in Austin, TX this April! I guarantee you’ll leave uplifted and inspired to not only be your best self but to share what you’ve learned at work and with others so they will feel inspired and empowered to be their best, whole selves as well. Registration rates increase February 1 so don’t wait. Use code WH18INF-TRA for $100 off your registration fee. Happiness, success AND money savings – don’t say I never gave you anything. 🙂

#NotAThoughtLeader

*DISCLAIMER: To be clear, I am in no way, shape or form, saying, indicating or otherwise implying that positive thinking “cures” depression or anything of that nature. I only mentioned it for context.

#SHRMDIV Day 2: Inclusion Paves the Way for Innovation

I nearly filled an entire notepad on day two of the SHRM Diversity & Inclusion Conference, feverishly taking notes on everything from business cases to legal considerations to behavioral science.

tony byers

The day kicked off with Dr. Tony Byers discussing The Multiplier Effect of Inclusion. Engaging us with wit, humor and authenticity, Dr. Byers started by sharing a story from his childhood of being excluded, the lasting impact that feeling left on him and how the experience informs his work. Similarly to Maria Arcocha White, he briefly touched on how D&I work had been done for the past 40-50 years and how it needs to change.  Over time, he stated, counting heads became more important than making heads count. Organizations can be diverse without being inclusive but it’s inclusiveness that really gives them an advantage. To highlight this, he showed us the difference in outcomes between a cross-cultural group that is well-led and culturally competent vs. one that is poorly led. Guess which one performs better?

divinc

Using a 10 question activity he highlighted the implications for innovation and creativity when an organization lacks diversity and inclusion. Hint: There are no elephants in Denmark.  From there he went on to discuss the responsibility each of us doing work in the D&I space has for being a multiplier when it comes to inclusion. We have to take a leadership role in this push for change. How are we helping our organizations become/be/act differently if the answers to questions are always the same? Considering the impact of multipliers, we must ask ourselves what we will commit to doing to implement inclusiveness, not just diversity. My commitment is to develop and sustain an organizational culture in which everyone feels included, respected and valued. What’s yours?

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • The 3 C’s of Inclusive Behavior:
    • Curiosity – Thinking Differently
    • Challenge – Managing Personal Bias
    • Courage – Develop an Inclusive ‘Speak Out’ Culture
  • Diversity x Inclusive Behaviors x Innovation = Increased Market Success (Organizations with inclusive cultures outperform other organizations by 26%.)
  • Different voices lead to different ideas and different solutions.
  • We may not always get it right in our attempts to be inclusive but we can’t stop. (Example: Starbucks’ ‘Race Together’ campaign.)

FAVORITE QUOTE: Why do you have to have a business case to treat me right?

I attended two other sessions on Day 2 but they honestly deserve separate posts. Especially Dr. Steve L. Robbins who I could have listened to for HOURS. Stay tuned.

#NotAThoughtLeader