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.

Looking for a Job – The Full-Time Job from Hell

Over the past few days I’ve had multiple conversations about the job searching process. Some of them have been with myself, some have been with others. One thing me, myself, I and everyone else I’ve spoken with has agreed on is that the process sucks. It’s broken. It’s been left on the side of the road and needs to be fixed. Somebody call AAA.

Non-HR folks are usually surprised when I can commiserate about how painful this process tends to be. In their minds, I’m part of the group of evil sadists who have created the problem.

one of them

But trust me, I know your pain. I know the agony of uploading a resume and then having to complete an application with the EXACT. SAME. INFORMATION. I, too, cringe when having to answer irrelevant questions like when you graduated high school or what your last salary was. Or worse yet, the salaries for all of the jobs you’re listing, along with the name, address and current contact info for each of your former managers. If we aren’t connected on LinkedIn, chances are, I don’t have it.

rebukeLet’s not forget the cover letter requirement. Heaven forbid you just look at a resume and gather why the person is interested in the job. I absolutely suggest cover letters for career change situations. If your job history has been in sales it may not be immediately apparent why you’re applying for a job as a social worker. But if your job history is a long line of social work or social work adjacent roles, it should be pretty obvious. Cover letters should not be required to apply for a job.

We need to stop making it difficult for people to work with us. We want great people but we don’t want to value their time. I can just imagine the number of great candidates who have been lost to a tedious application process. Who wants to spend 30 minutes applying to one job?

Don’t get me wrong. I get that an application is a legally binding document whereas a resume is not. I get that cover letters are often used to assess writing skills. Some employers call themselves weeding people out by not making it too easy to apply. “If it’s too easy, everybody will apply! We only want the cream of the crop who doesn’t mind spending an entire evening applying to our jobs!” Well, that’s a place I’m dying to work at. Not.

The hiring process is a window into what it’s like to work at an organization. This includes the application. If the process is tedious, time-consuming and disjointed it reflects an organizational culture that doesn’t value people. For example,

  • Long, drawn out application process
  • Waiting several weeks to contact people to schedule an interview
  • Bringing people in for more than two interviews

If you don’t value someone’s time when they are trying to work at your organization, that already tells me you won’t value it when they work there. Hard pass. 

job-search-5The job search/application process needs to be fixed. All applications should be mobile-friendly and involve no more than three steps. It shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes.  Sometimes I just want to apply for a job real quick during my commute. Resumes alone should be accepted. Until we come up with something better than resumes. Interviews should be scheduled in a timely manner. Communication should be consistent during the process. It’s really not that difficult to create a more person-focused process.

Value people. Value their time. Value their desire to work at your organization. Value the fact that after they’ve sifted through numerous job postings (another mission from hell) they’ve decided to take the time to apply to your job. Then don’t make them use too much of it. Looking for a job shouldn’t BE a full-time job.

If we really want to make a difference, let’s also have all job postings include salary ranges, realistic expectations and only consider requirements as things that are legitimately required to be able to do the job. What a wonderful world this could be!

 

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Real time image of someone who’s spent the day searching and applying for jobs.

When Did ‘Advocate’ Become a Dirty Word? 

Recently I posed a question on Twitter that stemmed from a comment I received at work.

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I’m not gonna lie. I thought most of the responses would lean towards “Of course not! Who ever suggested such craziness?”  To my surprise, there were quite a few responses of the “Well, yes; it does come off as kind of negative” variety. There was even a suggestion that considering oneself an employee advocate implies a lack of business acumen and ability to be a strategic partner. To that, my initial thought was “Who ever suggested such craziness?”

It appears the word ‘advocate’ is thought by many to mean someone who speaks for the voiceless and incapable. Therefore, being an employee advocate would imply that your employees have no voice or are unable to speak for themselves. I’m right about a lot of things but I’m not right about everything, so I consulted my good friend, Merriam-Webster, to see if maybe I was somehow mistaken about the meaning of the word.

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M-W assured me that I was not wrong. So now my question became, I wonder why this negative connotation of the word has developed in terms of an HR professional being an employee advocate? I think it stems from the outdated belief that HR is “for the employer, not for the people.” #PROTIP – The ’employer’ is comprised of people.

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Sometimes I wonder if I’m living in a fairytale world that doesn’t exist. A world in which everyone is (or at least should be) respected and valued equally at work. A world in which there is no “us vs. them” mentality when it comes to senior executive staff and non-senior executive staff. A world in which being an advocate for employees is viewed as a positive thing because there is an understanding that we are ALL employees. Everyone who draws a paycheck from an organization is an employee, regardless of the number of zeros on the paycheck.

So when I think of being an employee advocate I am not saying I am an advocate for ‘the minion’ against ‘the man’ because I don’t believe in having that type of delineation among staff. It serves no positive purpose. I am saying employee advocate in terms of providing guidance and support and working towards the best interests of the employee group as a whole. I certainly don’t see how being an advocate implies a lack of business acumen or the ability to be strategic. That is honestly just insulting.

I was disheartened to see so many of my peers align with this “advocate is a dirty word” mentality. Some agreed. Some didn’t necessarily agree, but they understood. I just shook my head in disamazement. (Yes; I made that word up.)

There was a speaker at #SHRM17 that said, in so many words, in order to get ahead, we have to speak to people in their language. So I guess that means I have to stop referring to myself as an employee advocate because apparently, it is a vastly misunderstood term that is perceived negatively. But my heart knows. My heart and Merriam-Webster.

#NotAThoughtLeader

 

You Better Recognize! (Giving Thanks)

tgiving quote

Thanksgiving is the time of year when people are given a free pass to overindulge – in the name of gratitude. We sit around the table with family and friends and spend the day eating.* And eating. And more eating. Often before the first bite of food is taken, attendees are asked to take turns saying what they are thankful/grateful for. Responses usually range from “this food” to “my family/friends/health, etc.” It really depends on the family and their culture/traditions as to how “deep” the responses will be, or if the question will be asked at all. It’s the same for organizations. An organization’s culture will determine the extent to which gratitude is valued and practiced. Healthy, positive work environments  will have gratitude and recognition as an integral part of their culture.

We hear a lot about how important it is to have an “attitude of gratitude.” Some people believe being grateful for and recognizing what you have (as opposed to focusing on what you don’t have) leads to you receiving more of the goodness the universe has to offer. Regardless of your belief system, the same holds true in the workplace. Being grateful for and recognizing what we have in our people results in better morale, productivity, engagement, retention, etc. In other words – all the goodness.

recog

Formal recognition programs and web-based recognition platforms are great to have. They really are. But don’t let the lack of either be an excuse for not recognizing your people and showing them gratitude for sharing their unique talents and skill sets to benefit your organization. A simple, genuine “thank you” goes a long way. Another sometimes overlooked way to show gratitude is by investing in your people. Providing and encouraging professional development opportunities shows that you value and appreciate the people who work for you. This is important for every organization but it is vital in organizations that lack upward mobility/promotion potential. If you can’t recognize a person through a raise or promotion, at the very least, they should have other growth opportunities.

Don’t take people for granted and assume that because they show up every day, all is well. Tell people they’re doing a great job. Tell people you’re happy to have them working for you. Tell people you’re glad they chose your organization to work for. Say “good morning” when you pass people in the hallway. Treat people with respect. Always.

I know no one wants to think about work-y type stuff on a holiday. I get it. But when you’re back in the office, after you’ve filled your stomach to capacity, binge watched at least one show on Netflix and thought about what/who you’re grateful for in your personal life, remember that it’s just as important to show gratitude at work.

Be grateful for your work. I’m talking about beyond the basic “I’m just grateful to have a job.” Don’t get me wrong; I’ve been there before too. I’m not talking about that though. I’m talking about the thing that brings you joy that your job allows you to do. I get joy from helping others, so I remind myself to be grateful for the opportunities I have as an HR professional to help people. Whatever YOUR thing is, the thing that brings you joy at work, be grateful for that. Most importantly, show gratitude for the people you work with. To (very loosely) paraphrase Jay-Z, they could be at any job in the world that day, but they’re there with you. Appreciate it. GIVE THANKS. 

BONUS: In case you needed more of a reason. Do it for your health.

Gratitude_Infographic_v3

*Author’s Note: I realize this is not everyone’s Thanksgiving experience. Please don’t take offense if it is not yours. Maybe you don’t even celebrate Thanksgiving. That’s cool too. The rest of the post will still be relevant to you. – TMR

#NotAThoughtLeader

 

Doing the Right Thing: Being a Good (#HR) Person

michael j fox

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the fine, sometimes blurry, line between maintaining confidentiality and being a decent, genuine, HONEST, person in the world of human resources.  I’m not talking about not sharing personal information such as health issues, employee relations matters or pay (although a very strong  argument can certainly be made for pay transparency.) I’m talking about not being at liberty to speak on something that will impact an employee because it would be frowned upon from a business perspective even though from a human perspective it would be the right thing to do. In other words, if it was me, I would want to know. Wait. It IS me. I’m an employee too!

Is it just me or do other HR professionals struggle with this as well?

A while ago I saw the tweet below and honestly, I was offended by it. ben watts tweet

The premise being that HR should be outsourced because internal HR lets emotion get in the way. So…emotion is inherently wrong and/or HR consultants should be automatons with no feelings? I’ve been both and while I can understand why internal HR may be somewhat more invested because actions and policies affect them as well, if you’re a consultant that has no feelings, or doesn’t ever let emotion or empathy enter the picture, I wouldn’t want to work with you.

Image result for do the right thing

How do you/we/I balance humanity and transparency with maintaining confidentiality regarding business matters while still feeling like we’re doing the right thing not only as HR professionals but as human beings? I’d like to think I do a pretty good job of obtaining and maintaining that balance, but I’d be lying if I said some scenarios don’t weigh heavy on my heart at times. It’s important to me to be good at my job; but it’s even more important to me to be a good person. I believe part of bringing humanity into the workplace is treating people how you would want to be treated which translates to how and when you communicate with them as well as what you communicate about. After all, ‘do unto others…’ IS the golden rule. Maybe it should be the ONLY rule.

#NotAThoughtLeader

#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

 

#SHRMDIV Day 1 : Change How You Think About Diversity & Inclusion

Despite having to wake up at the crack of dawn, nearly missing my connecting flight and fearing for my life on the taxi ride from the airport,  I FINALLY made it to San Francisco and the SHRM Diversity & Inclusion Conference in time for the afternoon sessions. At first glance, the two sessions I attended – Creating a Diversity Strategy Map: Converting Intangible Assets into Tangible Outcomes and Results and Inclusion: The Future of Diversity – didn’t have much in common other than both being about diversity. However, a similar idea ran through both sessions which was that we need to change the way we think about diversity and inclusion in order to be effective change agents.

The first session came from a data perspective – what we need to know, what we need to find out and how we need to convey that information to show and prove the ROI of D&I. There was a lot of math and formulas aka the necessary evils. The speaker, Dr. Edward E. Hubbard, stressed the importance of being able to show the impact D&I has on the bottom line (“organizations speak green”) using measurable, evidence-based data. As D&I professionals, we have to know what is needed by the organization from a business standpoint but also what the business needs from a D&I standpoint. He also stressed the importance of completing a needs analysis prior to developing a D&I strategy or initiative because “if there is no need, there is no benefit.”

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • A paradigm shift is needed in how we assess the utility of diversity.
  • Knowing what is important to the organization and what it wants to accomplish is key.
  • Diversity and inclusion initiatives must be measured by results, not activities.

FAVORITE QUOTE: You’re either at the table or on the menu.

The second session tugged more at the heartstrings than the purse strings. The speaker, Maria Arcocha White, started the session talking briefly about her experience growing up being teased because English is not her first language. She went on to discuss why we can’t stop at diversity but must focus on inclusion as well. In fact, her point of view is that the only way to get to true diversity in an organization is by starting with inclusion. Arcocha White gave us a bit of a history lesson on how organizational culture has evolved over time and explained how focusing on individuality is the first step in building the trust required to have genuine conversations.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Think beyond visible diversity i.e. race and gender.
  • Behave in ways that allow true diversity and inclusion to occur.  If people have negative perceptions of ‘diversity’ use different words.
  • Inclusion must be intentional.

FAVORITE QUOTE: Diversity is a fact; inclusion is an act.

Not related directly to sessions but I also had some really great conversations with vendors in the expo hall about the importance of employee happiness, being a straight ally and recruiting people with disabilities. All in all day one was a success. I expect nothing less from day two.

(Posted on SHRM Blog October 24, 2017)

#NotAThoughtLeader

 

 

Let’s Start with Decency

Lately I have engaged in several conversations (online and IRL) surrounding race, racism, diversity and inclusion, as I’m sure many of you have, given today’s political and social climate. These conversations have been with friends, colleagues and fellow HR professionals. Thankfully I associate with some pretty intelligent, thoughtful, decent individuals who can discuss heated topics without becoming heated (passionate maybe, but not heated) and/or resorting to insults or name-calling. Thankfully. But for many, these types of conversations can often devolve into a free-for-all that becomes focused on the individual rather than on the topic. Or facts.

decency4During these conversations I’ve heard many stories of “true colors” being shown by folks people considered friends or at least decent associates. It seems this past presidential election and the current White House inhabitant have made vile and divisive words and actions against the “other” (race, gender, physical ability, sexuality, you name it) more acceptable and folks are feeling free to let their bigotry flag fly. Nowhere does that flag fly higher than online where folks develop superhero levels of courage from behind the keyboard. What does this say about us as a society? What does it mean for us in the workplace? What does it mean for HR professionals? More pointedly, what impact do these beliefs, when held by HR professionals, have on the rest of us?

If you’re a recruiter or hiring manager who believes black people are intellectually inferior, or that immigrants don’t deserve to be here, or that homosexuality is a sin, or that people with disabilities are somehow less than capable, or that women should stay home barefoot and pregnant, that has to affect your decisions in the workplace, right? How could it not?

If you’re a speaker who speaks on HR topics at conferences, or a consultant, or write an HR blog, how do your views not seep into your work? And if they don’t what type of a psychopath are you? I jest. But, seriously.

This topic is heavy on my mind. Not just because I’m headed to SHRM’s Diversity & Inclusion Conference next week (yay!) But also because I feel this pattern of hateful thoughts, beliefs and discourse will only get worse before it gets better. On a grand scale. However on a smaller scale, on the scale that is within my own little sphere of influence, I commit to do my part to make the world, the HR profession and the workplace a better place to be. For everyone.

I’m far from perfect but I know I’m a good, decent person and I truly believe all of this starts from there. Decency, empathy, and compassion are the building blocks of humanity. The more we infuse those into HR, it will in turn have an impact on our workplaces (WorkHuman, anyone?) which are composed of individuals who are a part of the world community. It’s all connected.

I know this was a bit of a ramble but thank you for making it this far. More to come!

(Posted on SHRM Blog October 23, 2017)

 

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?