#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

 

 

#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

 

 

#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.

culture

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

(Posted on SHRM Blog June 28, 2017)

#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)!

whtracks

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.