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.”

hony

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

 

 

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.

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?

#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

 

 

#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.