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Six Reasons Why You Should Make The Most Of Your Vacation Days

Take a vacation this year! We’ve all let those “not this year” excuses  pile up with our workload, but not taking a vacation could actually be more damaging than you might think to workplace satisfaction and productivity.

There are many common reasons people cite for not taking a vacation. Vacations are expensive, time-consuming to plan and employees often fear they’ll miss a promotion or look less committed to the team. However, these common misconceptions are usually ungrounded, and simply holding you back from that much-deserved time off.

Immersing yourself in the culture of another country, soaking up the sun on a faraway beach or simply making yourself comfortable on your own couch are all excellent examples of making the most of your vacation. Not only are they fun and relaxing, they are also proven ways to boost your immune system, increase your productivity and reduce cost for your business.

Six Reasons Why You Should Be Making The Most Of Your Vacation Days

1. You’ll Be More Relaxed, Refreshed And Productive

According to a 2013 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) study cited by Project: Time Off, 75 percent of HR professionals reported seeing better performance from employees who took more vacation days than those who took less.

Vacations are an important opportunity for you to recharge your batteries and refresh your mind. It can be easy to feel that time spent on yourself is not the same as time spent on your career. However, in the case of vacation days, taking a much-needed break can be just the boost your career needs.

2. You Likely Won’t Lose Out On That Promotion

You’re staying late, arriving early and consistently delivering. You’re almost a shoe-in for that promotion — can’t take a vacation now, right? Wrong. As GoGirl Finance states, a USTA study found no evidence that avoiding vacation improves one’s chances for a bonus or raise. Furthermore, GoGirl also points out that taking some time away from work might actually help others see how important your contributions are. Relying on others and taking the time to plan how your duties will be covered in your absence also strengthens your team.

3. It’s Good For Your Health

Beyond simply helping you recharge and reducing your stress, studies suggest that taking a vacation is also key for your overall health and wellness. GoGirl notes that men who don’t take vacations are more likely to suffer from heart disease, while women who don’t take time off are more likely to suffer from depression. As a bonus, staying healthy means you’ll take fewer sick days, saving money for your company. In other words, taking care of yourself is good for your employer as well.

4. Not Taking Vacation Days Can Cost You

According to Project: Time Off, employees in the US alone are letting go of $52.4 billion in combined benefits each year.  So if your employer has a “use it or lose it policy,” you could be losing out on more than you think.

Not making the most of your vacation time means more than just a financial loss, too. Work/life balance may sometimes feel like a buzzword, but it is truly important to step away from your workplace once in a while to spend time with people and hobbies that are important to you.

5. There’s Cost To Your Company

Project: Time Off states that US firms have at least $224 billion in unused vacation time on their books. While that isn’t an immediate worry, it presents a “potential and perhaps unnecessary burden on a business’ financial health and outlook.”

Employees who don’t take care of their health by taking vacations can also cost their company in additional sick days. Plus, taking time off can help companies retain talent and keep turnover cost down. SHRM states that 78 percent of human resources directors found that employees who took more vacation days reported higher job satisfaction.

6. Time Off Can Stimulate Creativity

In addition to promoting productivity and improving employee performance, taking time away from the office can really help get the creative juices flowing. It may even help you come up with your next big idea.

To sum up,  whether it’s camping in Mongolia or binge-watching Netflix, a good vacation is a must for anyone looking to increase productivity and job satisfaction. For employers, it’s vital to have a clear vacation policy that encourages employees to make the most of their vacation days. It will save you and your business time and money while making your team more engaged.

Many companies are innovating on their vacation policies. Hubspot, for example, allows unlimited time off and mandates a minimum of two weeks vacation. TED goes a step further, shutting their offices completely for two weeks each summer to ensure that even their most dedicated workaholics take time off.

However, beware of replacing competitive salaries with progressive vacation policies when trying to attract top talent. According to this article in Inc. Magazine, sometimes offering unlimited vacation can breed resentment among employees, as some are forced to pick up the slack of those taking advantage of the unique work perk.

It’s important to find a vacation policy that’s right for your company. Here’s a handy guide to help with that.

Whatever vacation policy you choose to adopt, what matters is that it aligns your company’s culture and goals and is designed to encourage employees to take the time they need. Sometimes time away from work is just what your team needs to be more present than ever.

Image: Big Stock Images

Unlocking Employee Productivity Without Being An Ogre

Getting the most out of your employees is what every manager wants to do. Some will take the strict route believing that keeping on top of everything their employees do will ensure they use their time effectively and that any problems will soon become obvious.

While some aspects of that can work, it doesn’t exactly foster a positive relationship between the employees and management. So here’s some advice on how to encourage productivity with upsetting your workers.

Allow and encourage flexible working

A rigid regime for office hours might not be the best option, as research shows people are productive at different times and in different ways. What works for some doesn’t work for all and so it’s worth giving your employees some leeway on when they work where possible.

There’s numerous different ways to do this, for example you could let your employees choose when their work day begins, say between 8am and 10am. Or you could be more flexible and allow your team to work whenever they like, as long as they clock their full hours of course.

However far you take it, even granting automony on when lunch can be taken means employees feel like they have more control over their work life and can customise their day around how they work.

Actively look out for their health

It’s obvious that a company with healthy employees is the most effective, but this doesn’t just involve days off for colds and flus. Sitting in an office all day can be bad for you. Whether it an employee’s vision or even increased risk of death, it’s important to look out for the team’s welfare.

Make your employees aware and even encourage them to look after themselves. Ensure they know that if they take a break to get their eyes off the computer screen it’s perfectly okay. Regularly mention that people should get up and go for a little wander once or twice during the day.

The point is to make your employees feel relaxed about taking small breaks away from their work, rather than worrying you’ll be breathing down their neck for it.

Give out regular and creative rewards

Rather than waiting until the end of the month or quarter to give out rewards, do them more regularly. They don’t have to be massive things, but recognition that comes more often will keep your employees engaged.

You should also implement ongoing rewards too. Rather than just sticking to targets, think about objectives that can be ongoing. For example, offer a prize to a person that can significantly optimise a certain company process. This is something that never has to end and will encourage employees to assess how they work and how things can be improved, as well as to take ownership of internal processes.

Finally, reconsider what you reward. Money is, of course, always great, but it doesn’t just have to be that. Off some extra flexibility with the work hours for a week, give them an extra holiday day, or make gifts the prizes. The best bet for this is to get to know your employees properly so you can tailor their compensation to them personally.

Above all, keep listening and encouraging your team to work healthily and productively.

 

#TChat Recap: The Power Of Workforce Culture And Continuous Mobility

The Power Of Workforce Culture And Continuous Mobility

Time and time again, employers and organizations find their talent on the move. And why is that? What drives employees to leave? Instead of finding ourselves asking this question, we should be asking, “What drives employees to stay?” Sometimes before you can go forward, you have to go backwards. Meaning, we have to retrace our steps and find ourselves at the early stages of onboarding to discover the secrets of retaining employees. This week, #TChat was joined by Tracey Arnish, Senior Vice President of Talent at SAP, who understands what managing and retaining talent is all about.

Getting new employees onboard early plays a vital role in the outcome of each employee in your organization. Tracey provides us with a glance of the short and long-term effects of new hire onboarding:

It’s through this glance that employers can visualize a roadmap to their employees’ engagement and development. From here, employers and new hires can build a career path together and:

Because at the end of the day, all employees are valuable assets, that provide your organization with the brain power and muscle to innovate and achieve success. But if you want your talent to stick around, then you have to develop it. You can do this if you:

Employees need to know that their career growth matters to you, as much as it matters to them. Why? Simply put, your employees’ engagement, productivity, and happiness is what’s at stake here. This all factors into the kind of short and long-term success your organization will have. And don’t forget, it shapes the kind of workplace culture you’ll have.

Want To See The #TChat Replay?

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

Thanks again to our guest Tracey ArnishClick here to see the preview and related reading.

#TChat Events: The Power Of Workforce Culture And Continuous Mobility

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#TChat Radio — Are you plugged in to #TChat radio? Did you know you can listen live to ANY of our shows ANY time?

Now you know. Click the box to head on over to our channel or listen to The Power Of Workforce Culture And Continuous Mobility.

Note To Bloggers: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about trends on culture?

We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we may feature it!

If you recap #TChat make sure to let us know so we can find you!

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Sign up for the newsletter to get the scoop on next week’s guest, topic and questions!

Save The Date: Wednesday, June 18!

Next week’s #TChat Topic: Authenticity Is An Inside Job That Starts With Self.

The TalentCulture conversation continues daily on #TChat Twitter, in our LinkedIn group, and on our new Google+ community. So join us anytime on your favorite social channels!

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Ignore The Dream Stealers

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams and endeavors to live the life he imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” – Henry David Thoreau

Do you have dream stealers in your life? You know, those people who think they are doing you a favor by ripping apart your aspirations and sharing their more “realistic” point of view with you? If your dreams are large enough, chances are good that you will make others around you uncomfortable.  Many of the people in your life want you to stay at their level – they want you to do well, just not better than them.

There’s a story about putting crabs in a bucket. If you put one crab in the bucket, it will easily climb out. However, if you put two crabs in the bucket, the second one will hold the first one back so it can’t escape.  Think about the people you hang out with most, do they encourage or discourage you?  Do they hold you back or let you soar? See how blogger Scott Williams shares how he benefits from his mother’s encouragement.

Your goals and desires are yours and yours alone. If you see yourself reaching the pinnacle of your personal and professional pursuits, you can achieve them. How many stories have you heard of people that went against the odds and achieved extraordinary success? How many more people do you know who are stuck in “woulda, coulda, shoulda” land? The “woulda, coulda, shouda’s” will give you every excuse in the book as to why they didn’t make it. Why they HAD to give up. How they just couldn’t continue. They don’t want to admit that they simply gave up.

Sometimes you also have to make difficult choices about the people in your life. If you are not encouraged and supported by others regarding the goals that you are totally passionate about, you may have to leave those people behind. Joe Barton shares helpful “quick and dirty” tips for getting rid of the toxic people in your life. When you are on the path to your destiny, it’s important to associate with people who see you accomplishing your dreams. Your vocation may not be right for everyone, but it’s perfect for you.

Take out a piece of paper and draw two columns.  On the top of one column put a (+) and the other column, put a (-).  Think of the people that you associate with on a regular basis.  Put the names of the people who leave you feeling better about yourself when you are around them on the PLUS side, and those who make you feel worse about yourself on the MINUS side.  Which column has more names?

If you find that you need to change your associations, go where others with your same interests hang out. Meetup.com is a terrific place to start. You’ll find kindred spirits – or at least people who know what the heck you’re talking about.  You can also join your industry association and go to their meetings.  Attend networking events and talk to “friends you haven’t met yet.”  Get out of your comfort zone and consciously look for new ways to meet people.  You’ll be surprised and pleased with the quality of friendships that develop when you meet people on a similar path.

What is your passion? What spurs you on? What will you do TODAY to move closer to your goal? Take a teeny-tiny baby step today, and then one tomorrow. As you inch closer to your calling, you will meet with fabulous success in unexpected hours.

(About the Author: Employee Engagement Expert and Motivational Speaker, Lisa Ryan works with organizations to help them keep their top talent and best customers from becoming someone else’s. She achieves this through personalized employee engagement and customer retention keynotes, workshops and seminars. She is the author of six books, and is featured in two films including the award-winning, “The Keeper of the Keys” with Jack Canfield of Chicken Soup for the Soul. For more information, please connect with Lisa at her website: www.grategy.com or email her at lisa@grategy.com.)

To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more…

TalentCulture World of Work was created for HR professionals, leadership executives, and the global workforce. Our community delves into subjects like HR technologyleadershipemployee engagement, and corporate culture everyday. To get more World of Work goodness, please sign up for our newsletter, listen to our #TChat Radio Channel or sign up for our RSS feed.

Do you have great content you want to share with us? Become a TalentCulture contributor!

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#TChat Recap: Create A Transformative Onboarding Experience For New Hires

Create A Transformative Onboarding Experience For New Hires

There are millions of disengaged workers out there. Working day-to-day in what they feel is a never-ending cycle of the same old routine. But does it have to be this way?

Organizations are now starting to see the “big picture” when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. The process doesn’t just end when employees are hired. To retain employees long-term companies have to build an onboarding process that transforms and innovates the way new employees are engaged and managed.

This week’s guests, Todd Owens, President & COO at TalentWise; & Wendy Matyjevich, SPHR, HR Executive at Entia Ventures & BlackRain Partners, LLC, explain how providing a thoughtful onboarding experience not only keeps new employees around, but it makes them more productive. It builds a culture that can sustain itself.

Todd Owens mentioned:

You keep the candidate in mind during your onboarding process and think big because:

Hiring costs money. Yes, employee turnover is a costly process that ties into how productive and engaged your workforce is, which ultimately, transforms how clients are treated and maintained. It’s vital organizations don’t forget that:

Employees anticipate the same amount of time, attention, and energy from leadership that is expected of them when it comes to how they are treated. It’s a two-way street. If employees don’t receive what they want and demand for, then they may walk and your organization will suffer. Leadership has to remember that:

 

It has to mean so much more, or else employees will feel disengaged and eventually they will walk. Onboarding is about managing new employees and their transition into your community and culture. By providing them guidance and support along the way, leadership will see the results it expects and meet the demands that employees expect. 

Want To See The #TChat Replay? 

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

Thanks again to our guests Todd Owens and Wendy MatyjevichClick here to see the preview and related reading.

#TChat Events: Create A Transformative Onboarding Experience For New Hires

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#TChat Radio Are you plugged in to #TChat radio? Did you know you can listen live to ANY of our shows ANY time?

Now you know. Click the box to head on over to our channel or listen to Create A Transformative Onboarding Experience For New Hires.

Note To Bloggers: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about trends on leadership?

We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we may feature it!

If you recap #TChat make sure to let us know so we can find you!

We Want To See You On TalentCulture. Become A Contributor Now!

Sign up for the newsletter to get the scoop on next week’s guest, topic and questions!

Save The Date: Wednesday, June 11!

Next week’s #TChat Topic: The Power of Workforce Culture and Continuous Talent Mobility.

The TalentCulture conversation continues daily on #TChat Twitter, in our LinkedIn group, and on our new Google+ community. So join us anytime on your favorite social channels!

What Truly Motivates People? Is It Money, Or Something Else?

Dan Pink’s book “Drive: the Surprising Truth about What Motivates us” has thrown a major monkey wrench into how we think about motivation. For years it was assumed– and it certainly seems logical to believe– that the best way to motivate desirable behaviors was to offer cash rewards. But it turns out that there is considerable science that refutes that notion; in fact, offering cash rewards, at least in the realm of creative work and problem solving, actually encourages worse results.

This topic has opened up a broader discussion, of what human beings are. At work we are doing fewer and fewer purely mechanical/ repetitive tasks.  “Value” is coming more and more from personal connections and imagination, so the tradition of seeing people in a simplistic mechanical way, in terms of their “skills” or “function,” no longer works. We are standing on the verge of major historical event, an entry into a new era, where the mechanical/industrial ways of viewing people, education, and work are falling apart. We are struggling to find new paradigms to guide our managerial thinking. For decades, we have suppressed our emotions to make ourselves more appealing in an industrial framework by being more uniform and efficient. We now have re-examine that previously suppressed internal dimension, and find ways to engage with it rather than suppress it.

To that end, Mr. Pink offers three things that motivate people.

These are:

  • Purpose
  • Mastery
  • Autonomy

Given the impact and influence that Mr. Pink’s book is having these days, I felt compelled to question his hypothesis. While it is not wrong, there is something missing. To explain, a story:

When I was a teenage bass player (sounds like a 50’s horror movie), I was tremendously motivated to become a professional player, to the point of obsessiveness. I was practicing eight hours every day, stopping each night only when I had reached a point of mental and physical exhaustion.

My motivation?

I certainly did not do this for the money, since I wasn’t getting any, and the pay for professional bass players is not that spectacular, given the work needed to get there. Mr. Pink was right about some elements of my motivation: Yes, I had purpose; yes, I sought mastery; and yes, practicing is a largely autonomous activity. But there was another element that motivated me, far more than money or any of these other factors:

It was a sense of belonging.

I wanted desperately to be a member of something, in this case, an oh so elegant and elite major symphony orchestra . I wanted to have a sense of belonging and connection. And I believe that a sense of belonging, far more than purpose, mastery, or autonomy, is the primary motivator of human beings.

I confess I don’t have many academic studies to support my thesis, but there is a fair amount of empirical data. Let’s consider just a few of the ways that a sense of belonging (including its synonyms, e.g., social status, acceptance, love, family, membership, and so on) motivates us to extreme effort:

There is all the money and effort many people put into “getting accepted” to an exclusive school, and thus belonging to the alumni network for life; there is the eagerness to spend massive amounts of time and money to “get certified,” and thus belong to a exclusive professional group; there are the fans (a word which is short for “fanatics”) of sports teams, who tout their sense of membership with all sorts of badges, uniforms, and rituals, not to mention paying exorbitant ticket prices; and then there is that warm glow of nationalist belonging you get when the jets fly over during the Star Spangled Banner. And do I even need to mention churches? Rotary Clubs? Street gangs? The plot of “Rudy”? Or the holy grail of social belonging, fame? The need to belong, whether to family, team, social group, or nation, drives people to extreme efforts and sacrifice. People sometimes sacrifice life itself to maintain the survival of a group to which they belong.

“Autonomy” as motivation only has meaning in the context of belonging. The only reason you don’t have autonomy is because you gave it up for something more important, i.e., a state of belonging, e.g., employment.

In my own managerial experience in the orchestra world, I found that the need to belong far outweighed any other motivation, money included. I often had difficulty finding musicians who were willing to act as leaders. Even though they were the best in their group, becoming a leader meant losing their sense of being “part of the gang.” The fun of ensemble playing was in being part of the team, not in bossing the team or otherwise being separated from it. I did not pay my leaders more money to motivate them, and I did not pay them more money because they were creating more value. It was to compensate them for their loss of rank-and-file group belonging.

For most people, not to mention wolves and other social species, belonging itself is key to mere survival. And once people become more successful, they don’t seek exclusion or autonomy; instead, the first thing they seek is ever more group social status and connection. They join the country club or the opera society board, or they run for public office.

There is also the flip side to be considered, which is the “de-motivation” caused by the loss of belonging. People who have had issues of disconnection, such as loss of a loved one, divorce, moving to a new town, or getting fired, experience massive ill effects on self confidence, focus, and every other emotion. At times they lose all motivation, period.

When we speak in terms of rewards as motivators, this typically refers to an inanimate reward, such as money or a cookie. When the “reward” is in the form of greater interpersonal connection, say, a pat on the back from an authority figure you truly admire, or the flip side, perhaps a look of disapproval from someone whose respect and acceptance mean everything to you, suddenly rewards and punishments– in the form of belonging or the lack thereof– come back into motivational fashion in a hurry.

One of the biggest reasons people resist change is the fear that it might threaten their tenuous grasp on belonging. The first thing that goes through the average employee’s mind when presented with a new idea is “belonging loss prevention.” They ask themselves, “Will doing this, or not doing this, get me fired, or result in loss of status in my professional pecking order?” All else is secondary. Consideration of one’s sense of belonging — as well as the fear of the loss of it, is therefore possibly THE most compelling motivational factor in managing people.

I am a big fan of Mr. Pink, and I think he is very much on the right track in challenging the common dogmas of industrial-era management philosophy. I just wanted to respectfully submit that as we enter into a more artistic era of management, “belonging,” as a primary emotional element of motivation, needs to be higher on the list.

(About the Author: Justin Locke spent 18 years playing bass in the Boston Pops, and his musical plays are performed all over the world.  As an author, speaker, and coach, he shares a pragmatic artistic approach to personal growth, “people skills,” and managing “top performers.” For more, visit his website at www.justinlocke.com.)

To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more…

TalentCulture World of Work was created for HR professionals, leadership executives, and the global workforce. Our community delves into subjects like HR technologyleadershipemployee engagement, and corporate culture everyday. To get more World of Work goodness, please sign up for our newsletter, listen to our #TChat Radio Channel or sign up for our RSS feed.

Do you have great content you want to share with us? Become a TalentCulture contributor!

 

 
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#TChat Recap: How To Visualize Real-Time Talent Alignment

How To Visualize Real-Time Talent Alignment 

Managing talent is an art form. It is a delicacy few have mastered, and even fewer, have come to understand. Essentially, managing talent is about managing people, and aligning their goals with your organization’s vision. Employees are a reflection of leadership’s ability to instill and align organizational goals with the goals that employees share. Performance is driven through engagement, communication, and most importantly, transparency of what the organization’s vision is. This week, #TChat’s community was joined by Andre Lavoie, CEO & Co-founder of Clear Company; & Matt Norman, a Dale Carnegie Training franchise president, both whom relayed a vital message about organizational transparency.

They understand and know that managing employees and driving performance is about aligning talent with an organization’s vision through transparency. It starts when:

Leadership has to own the recruitment and onboarding process to begin aligning talent with the organization’s vision. Before you can accomplish this, you must know:

Creating organizational transparency begins when you realize what resources you need to achieve your strategy, then recruiting and the rest can start to fall into place. This matters because:

Here’s the wonderful catch about understanding your talent needs and aligning employees with your company’s vision. It makes your people want to stick around. Employee retention helps drive organizational growth and the vision that fuels it. This is why:

 

If you build a culture that gives employees access to your organization’s vision then your talent grows with you. At the end of the day, it’s not always about the “bottom line,” it’s about your people. An engaged workforce is productive, it’s happy, and it’s most likely to stick around. To achieve organizational transparency leaders have to hold employees accountable and must be able to continuously measure their performance to consistently align talent with your company’s vision in real-time.

Want To See The #TChat Replay? 

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

Thanks again to our guests Andre Lavoie and Matt Norman for teaching us real-time talent alignment. Click here to see the preview and related reading.

#TChat Events: How To Visualize Real-Time Talent Alignment

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#TChat Radio — Are you plugged in to #TChat radio? Did you know you can listen live to ANY of our shows ANY time?

Now you know. Click the box to head on over to our channel or listen to How To Visualize Real-Time Talent Alignment.

Note To Bloggers: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about trends on leadership?

We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we may feature it!

If you recap #TChat make sure to let us know so we can find you!

We Want To See You On TalentCulture. Become A Contributor Now!

Sign up for the newsletter to get the scoop on next week’s guest, topic and questions!

Save The Date: Wednesday, June 4!

Next week’s #TChat Show: How To Have A Transformative Onboarding Experience For New Hires with guests Todd Owens.

The TalentCulture conversation continues daily on #TChat Twitter, in our LinkedIn group, and on our new Google+ community. So join us anytime on your favorite social channels!

Working Remotely: Is Staying Connected 24/7 A Good Thing?

Technology has given us the ability to stay connected 24/7 which is a blessing and also a curse. One of the downsides is that the lines between work and down time have become increasingly blurred. Many companies feel that employees should be available nights, weekends and even on vacation. Some provide employees with smartphones with the understanding that they will be accessible whenever they are needed.

Not all employees object to this. The majority of respondents to a recent Gallup Poll said that being able to work remotely after hours was a good thing. With 42 percent saying that being able to stay in touch with the office during down time was a “strongly positive” development and 37 percent saying it was only “somewhat positive.” However, only about a third of respondents said that they “frequently” connected with work after hours.

Whether they object or not employees who spend more hours working remotely outside of normal working hours are more likely to experience stress. Despite this, for most of us being connected to our job almost constantly is the norm.

Still there are a few leaders speaking out again the current 24/7 work cycle. Earlier this year, Arianna Huffington spoke passionately at the Wisdom 2.0 Conference about the need to step back. She talked about waking up in a pool of blood after cutting her eye and breaking her cheekbone when she collapsed from exhaustion in 2007. At the Huffington Post, she established a policy of disconnecting from the office where employees are not expected to answer email after hours or over the weekend.

Some European countries have made radical changes. The German labor ministry voted in guidelines which prevent ministry staff from being “penalized” for failing to respond after hours. Some German companies, including Volkswagen, BMW and Puma, restrict after hours email. VW even stops forwarding emails to staff shortly after the work day has ended.

In France, employers’ federations and unions signed a “legally binding agreement” that requires employees to disconnect from the office after working hours. This agreement affects the French offices of some non-French companies including Google, Facebook, Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Meanwhile, in Sweden the city council in Gothenburg voted to try out a six-hour workday with full-pay for its staff.

Are these changes a preview of what’s to come in the US? It doesn’t seem likely. Does this mean that employers should be forbidden from contacting employees after hours? In our culture of staying connected 24/7 that doesn’t seem likely either. But there should be some room for compromise.

Is it urgent every time our smartphone bleeps or buzzes? Probably not.

(About the Author: Annette Richmond, MA is a writer, optimist, media enthusiast and executive editor of career-intelligence.com. Having changed careers several times, including working as a career coach, she has a unique perspective on career management. When starting career-intelligence.com over a decade ago, her goal was to provide a one-stop online career resource.

In addition to being a writer, speaker and consultant, Richmond contributes career-related articles to various other sites including ForbesWoman. She holds a BA in English from Sacred Heart University and a MA in Applied Psychology from Fairfield University. She resides in Rowayton, CT, with her husband, Eric, and their four-legged kids.)

To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more…

TalentCulture World of Work was created for HR professionals, leadership executives, and the global workforce. Our community delves into subjects like HR technologyleadershipemployee engagement, and corporate culture everyday. To get more World of Work goodness, please sign up for our newsletter, listen to our #TChat Radio Channel or sign up for our RSS feed.

Do you have great content you want to share with us? Become a TalentCulture contributor!

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#TChat Recap: Inspire Or Retire Leadership Theorem

Inspire Or Retire Leadership Theorem 

Leadership is one of my favorite topics to write about, mostly because; people are so passionate about this topic. Of course, it also relates to recruiting and retaining your most valued talent. And why wouldn’t people be interested in this? Leaders are at the center of every workplace, or at least they should be. As our good friend and #TChat guest this week, Thomas S. Narofsky, Founder and Chief Inspirational Officer for the Narofsky Consulting Group, pointed out, “Leadership is your business and you don’t get a free ride.” For those of you that understand this, take a brief moment to pat yourself on the back, but that’s not what became very clear tonight. What became clear is that leadership development must come from within first and then extend into every organization.

Simply put, if you want to grow leaders and inspire greatness, you need to create a seasoned leadership pipeline that inspires the next generation of leaders you’ll need for tomorrow. If you want to inspire leadership, then your vets have to be able to show compassion, provide mentorship, and guidance towards the leaders of tomorrow. As a leader, eventually, you must learn to pass the torch. If not in Olympic fashion, you must do it with the desire to focus on people and their development.

Thomas S. Narofsky knows that:

Remember, leaders are the center of your workplace, because ideally, an engaged workforce is what surrounds them because they are people focused. Smart organizations know that growing leaders is more than just seeing their financial investments returned. Truly:  

And that’s what we call a win-win scenario. But the journey doesn’t just end there. The reason we develop leaders is because:

If you fail to communicate why leaders are important, then how do you expect to set the pieces to the puzzle where they belong? Yes, leaders are important. They need to be developed. So you start training future leaders by:

That last sentence sums it all up. You can’t expect your organization to grow and flourish if your leadership lacks the selflessness it needs to put ideas that are in the best interest of everyone ahead of their own, and perhaps, their ego. Remember, leadership needs to be nurtured and grown internally through your current leadership.

Want To See The #TChat Replay? 

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

Thanks again to our guest Thomas Narofsky for teaching us about his inspire or retire leadership theorem. Click here to see the preview and related reading.

#TChat Events: Inspire Or Retire Leadership Theorem

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Save The Date: Wednesday, May 28!

Next week’s #TChat Show: How to Visualize Real-Time Talent Alignment with guests Andre Lavoie and Matt Norman.

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Developing The Next Generation Of Leaders

Good Day! I’ll be the guest host this Wednesday, May 21, on the TalentCulture #TChat – show which includes #TChat Radio and #TChat Twitter Chat – Wednesdays from 6:30-8:00 pm EST. The radio show is from 6:30-7:00 pm EST and the Twitter chat is from 7pm-8pm EST. Before I host I would like to share some information with you about myself.

I am passionate about…

developing emerging, enduring, and experienced leaders and teaching them how to develop themselves using a disciplined and deliberate approach. All leadership begins from inside a person and must be developed and grown as they grow into emerging and enduring leaders. I believe that leadership principles are timeless and apply across all spectrums of life. I believe leadership begins inside of you. Leadership starts with a condition of the heart – the desire and passion to make a difference before it moves to the brain to implement a plan to make a difference. It is an inside-out process and is shaped by your values, character, choices, opportunities, experiences, and your worldview. Leadership is about you, the people you influence, and a belief that you can make a difference and have an impact.

Second, my next passion is for developing the next generation of leaders who will be the leaders in the military, in government, in business and globally. These leaders will lead in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous or VUCA world and must be prepared for leading in chaos.

What do I mean by a VUCA?

  • Volatile means that the speed, size, scale of change in the world today has a great impact on events around the globe almost instantaneously. An example is the rate and pace of stock market changes and the effect it has on personal and corporate wealth.
  • Uncertainty means that world events are unpredictable and this unpredictability makes it impossible to prepare for unknown world events. An example is the effects of Arab Spring and governmental changes in the last four years.
  • Complexity means that the chaotic nature of the world combined with the volatility and uncertainty of global events creates an environment of confusion and difficulty for today’s leaders.
  • Ambiguity means that there is a lack of clarity or transparency surrounding world events. It is hard to predict what threats are in the world if you do not know the who, what, or why things are happening.

We will need leaders who can meet and adapt to new challenges, build strategic partnerships, build and sustain human capital organizations, and have the courage to act and react to the challenges. In addition to these requirements, we need to continue to develop leaders who are flexible, adaptive and are globally and culturally aware. This next generation of leaders must understand how to build and maintain trust, keep their integrity, and continue to build their credibility by developing their character.

An authentic character is the outward expression of our purpose, values, and beliefs. Your character comprises your beliefs, motives, values, desires, behaviors, and principles that drive and shape your actions as a leader. Character authenticity is living on purpose, keeping true to your values and beliefs, and not compromising them at the altar of Society. Your character is tested in the crucible of life and is forged through adversity.

I believe authentic leaders…

inspire people to greatness. Inspiration is the ability to breathe life into someone or an organization. Inspiration is a positive influence – a positive reinforcement – we give our people. It ignites desire, ignites creativity, and ignites innovation in inspired people. Leadership is not what I do it is who I am. There is no escaping who I am. My leadership is the embodiment of my heart, mind, body, and soul. It is an amalgamation of my life’s purpose, my values, my ethics, my core beliefs, my life philosophy, and my worldview.

One of the topics we are going to discuss on the #TCHAT show is the Inspire or Retire Theorem.

Inspire Or Retire Theorem

The Inspire or Retire Theorem wraps up my F(X) Leadership framework and my theory of you are the key to your leadership. The function of (x) is you.

InspireOrRetireTheorem

 What If The Leaders In Your Organization

•  Knew the organizational vision, goals, values and the impact their leadership had on the success of the organization
•  Knew success as a leader included knowing themselves, their team and the organization
•  Knew a leader must have high moral and ethical values and that character counts
•  Knew leaders are responsible for their actions and their words
•  Knew they needed to continuously develop, grow and reinvent themselves to meet the challenges of the future
•  Understood their role in developing other leaders
•  Understood character, courage, commitment and communication are key components of leadership
•  Understood they are responsible for their leadership development
•  Understood they are the key to their leadership

The Inspire or Retire Theorem answers all the above questions in a mathematical mnemonic that encapsulates my leadership responsibility to the people I lead and the organization I serve. It was designed as a visual representation for me to remember to always Inspire or Retire.

I look forward to sharing time with and discussing your views on leadership, leadership development, and developing the next generation of leaders.

(About the Author:  Thomas S. Narofsky is the Founder and Chief Inspirational Officer for the Narofsky Consulting Group, a leadership development, team effectiveness, and executive coaching consultancy. He the developer of the F(X) Leadership Model, the Inspire or Retire Leadership Theorem, and author of F(X) Leadership Unleashed!, and soon to be released book, You are Unstoppable!.

He also served on the United States Air Force Enlisted Board of Directors which focused on professional development, training concepts and long-range strategies to provide continuous, career-long enlisted deliberate development by integrating education, training and experience to produce a skilled and adaptive work force. He has conducted worldwide professional and leadership development seminars with U.S, Korean, Japanese, Australian, British, Canadian, Belgian and German enlisted forces. His military decorations include Defense Superior Service Medal and the Bronze Star.

Thom is an adjunct professor at Bellevue University in the Arts and Sciences Department. He holds a Master of Arts in Leadership, a Master of Science in Information Technology Management and a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies.)

To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more…

TalentCulture World of Work was created for HR professionals, leadership executives, and the global workforce. Our community delves into subjects like HR technologyleadershipemployee engagement, and corporate culture everyday. To get more World of Work goodness, please sign up for our newsletter, listen to our #TChat Radio Channel or sign up for our RSS feed.

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#TChat Preview: Inspire Or Retire Leadership Theorem

The TalentCulture #TChat Show is back live on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. #TChat Radio starts at 6:30 pm ET (3:30 pm PT) and the convo continues on #TChat Twitter chat from 7-8 pm ET (4-5 pm PT).

Last week we talked about the talent-centric recruiting experience, and this week we’re talking about the inspire or retire leadership theorem.

Yes, that’s what we said. The first part of this theorem is a reminder that from the junior employee to senior management, leadership is everyone’s business. When organizations are in a VUCA environment (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity), they are usually flatter and everyone must lead.

You’ll learn more about the theorem soon, but until then, inspirational leaders encourage their team by example and allow their people to take the lead in accomplishing the organizational vision.

The most significant contribution we can make as leaders today is to leave a legacy of inspired leaders behind to take care of tomorrow. We can leverage our skills, talents, and experiences to transform our people into leaders.

Join #TChat co-creators and hosts Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman as we learn more about the inspire or retire leadership theorem with this week’s guest: Thomas S. Narofsky, Founder and Chief Inspirational Officer for the Narofsky Consulting Group, a leadership development, team effectiveness, and executive coaching consultancy.

Sneak Peek: Inspire Or Retire Leadership Theorem

We spoke briefly with our guest Thomas Narofsky, to learn a little about the Inspire or Retire Leadership Theorem. Check out our YouTube Channel for videos with other #TChat guests!

Related Reading:

Michael Rogers: Inspirational Leadership – What 5 Things Do They Have In Common?

Jesse Lyn Stoner: How To Give Your Boss Bad News 

Peter Sessum: Military Leadership: Lessons In Military Leadership For Civilians

Kevin W. Grossman: On Finding The Leader’s Way

Meghan M. Biro: Leadership Is About Emotion

We hope you’ll join the #TChat conversation this week and share your questions, opinions and ideas with our guests and the TalentCulture Community.

#TChat Events: Inspire Or Retire Leadership Theorem

TChatRadio_logo_020813 #TChat Radio — Wed, May 21 — 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with our guest Thomas Narofsky!

Tune-in LIVE online this Wednesday!

#TChat Twitter Chat — Wed, May 14 — 7pmET / 4pmPT Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and our guest will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we gather for a dynamic live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: What are the current and best leadership development approaches and why do they work? (Tweet this Question)

Q2: Why is it important to teach leaders of all stages how to develop themselves? (Tweet this Question)

Q3: How can next-gen leaders be comfortable in a volatile and uncertain environment? (Tweet this Question)

Q4: How can we train new leaders to inspire future leaders? (Tweet this Question)

Q5: What technologies improve the delivery of inspiring leadership development? (Tweet this Question)

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, and in our new TalentCulture G+ community. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions. See you there!!

TalentCulture World of Work was created for HR professionals, leadership executives, and the global workforce. Our community delves into subjects like HR technologyleadershipemployee engagement, and corporate culture everyday.

To get more World of Work goodness, please sign up for our newsletter, listen to our #TChat Radio Channel or sign up for our RSS feed.

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Take Action Now To Advance Your Career

If you want to have what others don’t, you must do what others won’t.” – Lisa Ryan

How often do you hear these types of conversations?

  • John: “I’d love to go back to college and get my degree.”
  • Jane:  “So, why don’t you go?”
  • John:  “I’m so tired when I get home from work, and it will take so long for me to get it. I just don’t have the time to do it.”
  • Sally:  “Wow, you’re so lucky that you have such an awesome job.”
  • Dan:  “I started in the mail room ten years ago, and just worked my way up through the company.  I’m pretty happy with where it’s gotten me.”
  • Sally: “The mail room?!  I would never even consider a job like that.  Wow,  it was pretty lucky that you did that!”
  • Charles: “I just got offered this really awesome job, but I’m not sure if I’m going to take it.”
  • Doug:  “Why not?”
  • Charles: “Well, it’s paying $1.00 an hour less than what I’m making now, and I don’t want to take the cut in pay.”

All of these examples are based on real conversations.  The one thing they have in common is a need for instant gratification.  The person going to college after work, giving up sleep and time with friends and family will one day receive his/her degree as a reward for their hard work. John, on the other hand, will stay stuck, never reaching his full potential until the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. (The funny thing is he’ll be just as old with a degree as he will be without one.)

Dan, on the other hand, was willing to start in a menial job to learn the ropes and work his way up through the organization. He knew that the mail room would give him ample opportunities to get to know the people within the organization, by name, department, and title as well as in person when he delivered the mail. He worked hard, made connections, became the very best mail room person he could be.  His tenacity was noticed and his progression within the organization gave him everything he wanted in his career.

Sally believes that jobs, titles and corner offices should be automatically given to her because of tenure alone.  She does what she’s paid to do and no more.  She assumes that she is just not “lucky” and her career is at a standstill. Until she makes the effort and does more than she is paid to do, she will stay at the same level.

What about Charles?  Have you seen people get blindsided by a temporary step backwards and never take the opportunity to move ten steps forward in the long run?  We all have.  When you have long term goals, you are willing to do what’s necessary and invest the time to achieve them.  We generally overestimate what we can do in the short term, but we underestimate what we can accomplish over the long run.

In a time when training dollars are hard to find in an already right budget, human resource professionals have the daunting task of nudging, encouraging and cajoling their employees to take advantage of the opportunities offered for personal and professional development. Here are a few ways take action and communicate the importance of your staff members investing in themselves:

1.  To achieve your dreams and goals, you need to, as Stephen Covey said, “Begin with the end in mind.”  Set your sights on all of the things you would like to accomplish in your life and keep on target. Establish small, consistent steps that move you closer to your goal.

2.  Celebrate your little victories along the way.  Acknowledge yourself for your progress and don’t forget to recognize others for their support and encouragement.  Minimize the time you spend with people that want to keep you where you are, they will only continue to hold you back.  Associate with the people who are already where you want to be and learn from them.

3.  Realize that by doing the hard things now, your life will become easier in the long run. If you take the easy road now, your life will probably get much harder.  The time, money, and effort you invest in yourself can never be taken away from you.

(About the Author: Employee Engagement Expert and Motivational Speaker, Lisa Ryan works with organizations to help them keep their top talent and best customers from becoming someone else’s. She achieves this through personalized employee engagement and customer retention keynotes, workshops and seminars. She is the author of six books, and is featured in two films including the award-winning, “The Keeper of the Keys” with Jack Canfield of Chicken Soup for the Soul. For more information, please connect with Lisa at her website: www.grategy.com or email her at lisa@grategy.com.)

To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more…

TalentCulture World of Work was created for HR professionals, leadership executives, and the global workforce. Our community delves into subjects like HR technologyleadershipemployee engagement, and corporate culture everyday. To get more World of Work goodness, please sign up for our newsletter, listen to our #TChat Radio Channel or sign up for our RSS feed.

Do you have great content you want to share with us? Become a TalentCulture contributor!

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Dating In The Workplace: An Employee Relations Primer

Dating someone you work with is frequently cited by workforce experts as a very bad idea. Yet 40% of workers admitted they did so in a 2013 CareerBuilder survey – and we have no reason to believe that number has gone down since then. As summertime rolls around, inevitably relationships will begin to spring up. After all, the average working American spends one-third of their lives at the office. So, what does the burgeoning office relationship mean for employers? Relationships gone sour have the potential to raise tension in the office. Couples that practice ODA (Office Display of Affection) make other employees uncomfortable. And there are bigger stakes for the employer.  The way you handle a new romance can expose the entire organization to risk or result in a great relationship you helped cultivate.

Rules Of Love

There are no hard rules when it comes to fraternization policies – but it is necessary to have something in place to guide appropriate behaviors.  Yet only 42 percent of companies have intra-office dating policies. These policies protect the company as well as the two individuals involved.  Make sure every person in your office understand the rules and how to report relationships should they become serious.

Some HR departments require written disclosures, making the involved employees officially state their relationship. Other companies “ban” fraternization. This is extremely hard to enforce because the term “fraternization” is difficult to completely define and policies that ban fraternization don’t really work. It seems great on paper, but it doesn’t account for the human condition. Your employees will date someone if they want and assume as long as they don’t display affection, no one would find out. That’s not a safe route for anyone in the office and can disrupt productivity and exclude other employees. It is best to keep HR and the supervisor in the loop to avoid your workers spending all their time trying to “hide” their relationship.

“More and more companies have implemented policies because they realize they aren’t going to stop people from having romantic relationship,” said Christine Amalfe, an attorney in Gibbon’s P.C. litigation and employment and labor law departments. Amalfe is correct, there are very few workplaces wherein HR or any other executives can forbid dating between coworkers. Nor would it be a reasonable policy.  However, if everyone on your employee relations team is briefed on the rules and communicates them to the team, both employees and management can breathe easier knowing how to deal with potential relationships.

“If you’re considering dating a coworker, finding out what the policy is before you initiate a romantic relationship will typically be better than springing it on your bosses six months in,” Eric Ravenscraft of lifehacker.com said.

Conflicts Of Interest

What if the relationship ends? Even if the relationship leads to a marriage, 44 percent of every marriage in the United States ends in divorce. Employers have to deal with couples who can’t work together even though they have to work together. Failed relationships in the workplace damage morale and the individuals risk losing their jobs. Have a contingency plan if the former lovebirds can no longer bear to work together. It DOES happen and it is important to make succession plans and keep performance reviews up to date in case reporting is called into question.

Supervisors Shouldn’t Date Subordinates

If office dating happens, it should only happen laterally. Dating subordinates is a bad idea – period. Some companies allow dating coworkers as long as they are not your boss. But 99 percent of organizations get it right and ban intra-office relationships between supervisor and subordinate. It can compromise credibility and lead to subordinates disrespecting their supervisors.  It is also scary territory for potential legal action. Sexual harassment, favoritism, and other risky situations can all easily arise from a situation in which two people from unequal positions are involved in a romance.

“When a supervisor and employee are dating, it can potentially decrease morale in the department and raise suspicions by coworkers of preferential treatment,” said Kristin Bowl, spokeswoman for the SHRM. According to EEOC, one-in-four women are sexually harassed at work, half of them were harassed by a supervisor.

Companies who have a no tolerance intra-office dating policy try to control human nature. In reality, however, if employees want to date, they will… you may just not know about it until it starts to impact your work environment. The best policies are the ones that don’t ban the behavior. Don’t try to control human nature, guide it. Give employees guidelines for office dating: don’t date your boss, sign a relationship contract, etc. Workplace dating is inevitable. Intra-office dating is going to happen. You can’t prevent sparks from igniting, but you can avoid a legal flameout.

(About the Author: Deborah J. Muller is the CEO of HR Acuity, a technology firm specializing in human resources applications like the HR Acuity On Demand family of applications. Muller brings more than 25 years of human resources and investigation experience to both the consulting practice and software development sides of the company.)

TalentCulture World of Work was created for HR professionals, leadership executives, and the global workforce. Our community delves into subjects like HR technologyleadershipemployee engagement, and corporate culture everyday. To get more World of Work goodness, please sign up for our newsletter, listen to our #TChat Radio Channel or sign up for our RSS feed.

Do you have great content you want to share with us? Become a TalentCulture contributor!

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Want Success? Ask Questions.

By Raj Sheth

I was talking with some friends over a few drinks about an acquaintance that we all have in common on social media. He always seems to be where the action is, trying out fun new products and schmoozing with a lot of pretty awesome people. Yes, a large part of his envy-worthy lifestyle has to do with his profession, but as we talked, we realized that much of his success came because he’s simply not afraid to ask –for just about anything.

Now if you’re like me, your fear of being presumptuous or even rude will often override your urge to ask for things of others, especially those we work with. As I mulled over that conversation with my friends, I got to thinking about how many opportunities I’ve probably missed out on because I didn’t ask; situations that I could have improved, if I had spoken up.

Why don’t we ask for help when we need it?

Harris Interactive polled 1,019 employed Americans in their third annual Work Stress Survey, and found a 10% jump in workplace stress compared to just a year before. 83% of respondents are stressed at work, with “unreasonable workload” as the second top stressor. We have to get rid of this stifling idea that asking for help at work is a sign of weakness or failure. Start asking, and here’s why:

  • Here’s a fact that will blow your mind –No one expects you to know everything.
  • Showing everyone that you’ve put in extra effort, resources and work to still wind up needing help doesn’t get you any extra points, it means you’ve wasted time.
  • Managers love hard work, but they hate inefficiency.
  • Collaboration is plainly and simply a beautiful thing. Be a part of starting it.

Muse author, Jennifer Winters wrote a great piece on how to ask for help at work. Here’s what she said:

“The trick here is knowing when it’s time to suck it up, swallow your pride, and admit you’re stuck. My general rule of thumb is basically the “Three Strikes” rule. If I can’t figure something out after I’ve exhausted at least three other solutions on my own, it’s time to admit I need a little inspiration.”

Why don’t we ask for perks?

Whether it’s time off, flex work or even a bump in salary, everything is negotiable. That is to say, you also have to bring something to the table. When you honestly feel as though you have earned a freedom of some sort, you owe it to yourself and your hard work to inquire about incentives that would solicit the continuance of such hard work. This isn’t a, what came first, the chicken or the egg? scenario; the hard work and dedication is going to have to come first. If you get a big fat “No”, you have at the very least started the dialogue on how to get there. This conversation should be directed toward how your individual goals can align with the organization’s goals to obtain whatever it is that you’ve requested.

The old saying, “You never know unless you ask” is far truer than a lot of us anticipate. In an article on stay interviews and best retention practices, HR Director at Webroot, Melanie Williams reveals just how easy it can be for employees and companies to get on the same page when open communication is at play. Williams said:

“We’ve had very few stay interviews come in with pay being the thing that makes them stay or want to leave. There were not any requests that we haven’t been able to fulfill.”

Going back to the story –the opportunities that guy snags through his networking and willingness to inquire have all set him up with the experience he has needed to go onto the next endeavor. He’s experience and skill hungry, and that’s what drives him to ask.

Ask and see what happens. If what comes of it instead is collaboration or goal alignment, those are a couple of pretty great things to work with. You will either get what you ask for, or gain the knowledge on how to get it; neither will come by staying silent. While most organizations or even co-workers are out to please, they aren’t mind readers and they won’t know what’s important to you, unless you speak up and just ask.

raj_sheth2Raj Sheth is the CEO and Co-Founder of Recruiterbox.com, a web-based recruitment software that helps growing companies manage their incoming job applications.

Visit Raj Sheth’s web site →

 

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Live Your Dreams On Your Own Dime

One of the most difficult skills for a young professional is handling money. It’s not about balancing your checkbook or keeping up on student loan payments, but about strategically setting up your assets to get somewhere.

Most of us get out of college, find a “real-world” job and figure out a way to cover our costs while remaining as comfortable as possible.

This type of stagnant attitude is what left our parents waking up at age 45 and going to the same old job with little to show for their time. It’s not what our generation is about. We’re reaching for financial independence and the freedom to pursue our real interests full-time.

To do that, we have to figure out how to get there. Here are a few actions you can take today to get ahead tomorrow:

1. Earn money

Think of your job as a start-up capital-generating engine. Every extra penny you can make or save today can mean dollars in your pocket down the road. (Click here to tweet this thought.) Life can be expensive, but for most of us, it doesn’t have to be.

Making a habit of taking small side jobs can also add up quickly. That can be as simple as house-sitting or as involved as launching a freelance writing career or a small business. Whatever you choose to do, an extra $100 per week means thousands of dollars in your pocket every year.

Work hard, amass savings and learn about how to make your money grow on its own. At the end of the day, what gives you real independence is passive income.

2. Learn to grow money

The only way to be financially free is to use your money to make more money. Do this by investing in assets that grow in value over time. But the problem with investing is that if you want to make a significant profit, you have to take on a certain amount of risk, which is greatly exacerbated if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Learning how to invest intelligently takes a lot of study and experience. The solution? Invest fake money. The best time to learn how to invest your money is before you have money to lose.

Getting started is pretty easy; read up on how stocks and currency markets work and get a theoretical understanding of what happens to your money when it’s out in the mysterious, money-making ether.

Then go and open a free practice account on one of the sites for that purpose. It won’t make sense until you’ve spent time staring at the numbers, even if you know what’s going on in theory.

Spending months or years watching those markets and learning how to grow a fake investment portfolio will make you much more likely to succeed down the road when you’re using real money. Put time in now to reduce your risk later and make your success more secure.

3. Figure out your goals

You could quit your job as soon as your money grows faster than you spend it, but that’s assuming your goal is retirement. We like to talk a lot about getting a great job and building wealth, but we won’t have any satisfaction if we don’t have anywhere to go or anything to do with it.What can you do with your life once your job doesn’t have to come first anymore?

Anything. It’s a scary word, but you can do it. Financial freedom, besides relieving the stress of getting your bills paid, also gives you a lot of time in your day.

Figuring out what to do with it is tricky, and it’ll seem a lot like it did back in high school when you were trying to figure out what to do with your life. Resist the temptation to avoid doing anything and instead think about what matters to you and what you’ve dreamed of doing in the past.

Being financially independent means you don’t have a strict time limit you need to meet, which makes it much more attractive to start a new business. Not being tied to your profit margin gives you the opportunity to pursue riskier ideas other entrepreneurs can’t afford to consider.

If you don’t want to do anything that too closely resembles work, find a personal project to pursue. Invest in local businesses, travel the world, volunteer or find a socio-political movement to get involved with.

Originally posted on Brazen Careerist’s blog on February 26, 2014 by Micha Boettiger. Micha Boettiger is a freelance writer who writes about life, travel and money. Check out his personal blog and follow him on twitter @prowriterlife.

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Job Auditions: Secret to Successful Hires?

By Matt Mullenweg, Founder, Automattic.

Hiring potential employees on a trial basis can help you quickly discover things about them that you can’t learn from resumes, interviews or reference checks. Here’s how it works in our organization.

Automattic (the fuel behind WordPress.com) employs more than 225 people who live all over the world, in 190 different cities. Our headquarters office is in San Francisco, and it operates similar to a coworking space. Employees who live in the Bay Area can choose to work from that location if they wish. However, most of our employees choose to work from other sites.

For us, this arrangement makes sense — our business is based on open source software, which is a decentralized product. However, outsiders have been skeptical as we’ve moved forward with our distributed work model.

At the outset they said, “That works great when you have 10 or 15 employees, but when you reach a team of 30, it falls apart.” Eventually we passed 30 employees, and we started hearing that the magic number is 100. Then people said Dunbar’s number — 150 — would be the point at which it didn’t work. Yet we keep blowing past these thresholds. We hired more than 100 people in 2013.

What’s special about us? We don’t hire the way most companies do — both in our mindset and our actions.

Mindset: We Think Differently About Work

In many businesses, if someone shows up in the morning and he isn’t drunk, he doesn’t sleep at his desk and he’s dressed nicely, it’s assumed that he’s working. But none of that takes into account what he’s actually creating during the day — and that’s really what matters.

Many people create great things without having to follow established workplace norms. Our organization measures work based on outputs. I don’t care what hours you work. I don’t care if you sleep late, or if you pick a child up from school in the afternoon. It’s all about what you produce.

This arrangement isn’t for everyone. But a lot of people like the autonomy we offer, and that’s important. So we’ve arrived at an unorthodox hiring system that serves our needs perfectly.

Behavior: We Hire by Audition

Before we hire anyone, they go through a trial process first, on contract. They can do the work at night or over the weekend, so they don’t have to leave their current job in the meantime. We pay a standard rate of $25 an hour, regardless of whether a job candidate wants to be an engineer or the chief financial officer.

During the trials, applicants perform actual work. If you’re applying to work in customer support, you’ll answer trouble tickets. If you’re an engineer, you’ll address engineering problems. If you’re a designer, you’ll design.

Seeing Is Believing

There’s nothing like being in the trenches with someone — working with them day by day. It tells you something you can’t learn from resumes, interviews or reference checks.

At the end of the trial, everyone involved has a great sense of whether they want to work together going forward. And, yes, that means everyone — it’s a mutual tryout. Some candidates decide we’re not the right fit for them. For others, the experience solidifies their commitment.

The Payoffs of Careful Hiring

Overall, we end up hiring about 40% of the people who try out with us. It’s a huge time commitment — coordinating the short-term work our applicants perform — but it leads to extremely low turnover. In the past eight years, only about 10 people have left the company, and we’ve let go of another 25 or 30. Those are great numbers in today’s work environment, so it’s a system we plan to keep utilizing.

Today, I spend at least a third of my time on hiring. And even though it’s a small part of our process, I still look at every resume the company receives, and I conduct the final interview with everyone who joins us.

It’s worth the effort. Nothing has the impact of putting the right people around the table. The aphorism is true: You can’t manage your way out of a bad team. We’ve done experiments to find the best way to hire based on our unique organizational structure. I encourage your business to do the same.

252691_10150856254811651_681132284_n(About the Author: Matt Mullenweg is the founder of Automattic, the company behind the open-source blogging platform, WordPress.com, as well as Akismet, Gravatar, VaultPress, IntenseDebate, Polldaddy and more. Additionally, Matt is a principal and founder of Audrey Capital, an investment and research company. Connect with him on Facebook or on Twitter.

(Editor’s Note: This post was adapted from a post at Brazen Life, with permission. It is based on a talk by the author at the December 2013 Lean Startup Conference. It originally appeared on Harvard Business Review. For more information, visit the Insight Center on Talent and the New World of Hiring. Brazen Life is a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals. Hosted by Brazen Careerist, it offers edgy and fun ideas for navigating the changing world of work. Be Brazen!)

(Also Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credits: Wikipedia (feature) and Kevin Abosch (author)

Employee Engagement: Say It Like You Mean It #TChat Recap

(Editor’s Note: Looking for details of this week’s #TChat Events? See the Storify slideshow and resource links at the end of this post.)

Dearest Employee:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I give you a fair wage. I give you competitive benefits. I give you a safe workspace. I give you freedom to work at home, and innovative tools to communicate. I give you beer bashes and company events. I give you a professional title. I give you a team, a staff, a department. I give you the work you love.

But it’s just not enough, is it? It’s never enough. You just keeping taking, and taking, and taking.

What else can I do? What’s that? Oh, I see. It’s not you, it’s me — is that it?

Talk Is Cheap

Even the most gracious, modest employers can develop this kind of benevolent hubris. But competition for top talent is continuing to heat up, and people are losing interest in luke-warm relationships with their employers. Combine that with the fact that the world of work is getting more stressful for us all — from CEO to freelancer — with blurred lines between professional and personal life.

So, what more will it take to win employee hearts and minds? Workforce wellness pioneer, Virgin Pulse, has advice, based on results of a new U.S. employee survey. And that’s what the TalentCulture community discussed yesterday at #TChat Events with our guests Chris Boyce, CEO at Virgin Pulse, and Kevin Herman, Director of Worksite Wellness at The Horton Group.

Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places

Here’s the good news: Less than 2% of respondents say they hate their company and want out. Even better, 75% say they either “love” their company because it’s a great place to work, or they feel “pretty good” about it. At first blush, that looks like a win for employers. But here’s the rub — only 25% of respondents say they feel love in return.

This gap signals a major opportunity for companies to develop stronger relationships with their troops. But how? The same survey asked employees to rank what they wish mattered more to their employers:

 44% my financial well-being
  40% my career development
  39% my work/life balance
  35% my emotional health (e.g. reducing stress)
  29% my overall well-being and quality of life.

You can see where this is going. Other recent research echoes these sentiments. We want a better life overall — and that doesn’t mean just more pay and health coverage. We want employers to invest in us as complete humans.

Two Ways To Connect

Yesterday’s #TChat conversation reinforced this understanding. The TalentCulture community got right to the heart of what motivates people in the workplace:

1) Aim Deeper: Surface perks like nap rooms, chair massages, and ice cream socials are nice, but there are more meaningful, practical options. People respond to things like flexibility to manage their schedule. They need to take care of business and family without compromising either — whether they work in a corporate office, at home, or both. They don’t want to feel guilty or take a financial hit when they’re tending to a family member’s health, or their own.

2) Aim Wider: People want to feel better about themselves while loving the work they do. They respond to programs and resources that improve their overall health and well-being — not just health club reimbursements, but onsite gyms and stress management support, healthy cafeteria options, even financial planning assistance. If they’re being asked to contribute “the total package” to their job, they want to know their employer has a similar commitment to therm.

So, Workforce Cupid, how do I love thee? Let me count the healthy ways. Happy Valentine’s Day.

#TChat Week-In-Review: Love Your Employees, They’ll Love You Back

ChrisB

See Chris Boyce discuss wellness and healthcare costs

SAT 2/8:
#TChat Preview:
TalentCulture Community Manager, Tim McDonald, framed the week’s topic in a post featuring a brief video with Chris Boyce. See the #TChat Preview: “Does Your Workforce Feel the Love?

SUN 2/9:
Forbes.com Post:
In her weekly Forbes column, TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro, discussed how heartfelt leadership can drive better business results. Read “Let Love Inspire Your Leadership.

RELATED POSTS:
Job Hunting? Look For Employers That Care About Your Future” — by Chris Boyce
Leaders: Is Your ‘Work’ Self the Real Deal? — by Ted Coine
Workplace Wellness: The Story Starts With Healthy Culture” — by Chris Boyce

WED 2/12:

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio show replay

#TChat Radio: Our hosts Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talked with Chris Boyce and Kevin Herman about why and how employers should demonstrate their commitment to workforce well-being. Listen to the #TChat Radio replay now…

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin, Chris and Kevin guests moved over to the #TChat Twitter stream, for an open all-hands conversation with the entire TalentCulture community. This dynamic discussion focused on 5 key questions about employee engagement issues and opportunities in today’s business environment.

See highlights from the Twitter stream the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Insights: Does Your Workforce Feel The Love?

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/does-your-workforce-feel-the-love.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Chris Boyce and Kevin Herman for sharing your perspectives on the importance of driving employee engagement through wellness programs that serve the “whole” person. Your passion and perspectives are invaluable!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about employee engagement strategies? We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week at #TChat Events, we’ll look at how employers can be more effective at finding and hiring top talent. Our guests are Chris Mursau VP at Topgrading, and Jean Lynn, VP of HR at Home Instead Senior Care. Look for more details this weekend, and save the date: Wednesday, February 19!

Meanwhile, the TalentCulture conversation continues daily on #TChat Twitter, in our LinkedIn group, and on our NEW Google+ community. So join us anytime on your favorite social channels.

We’ll see you on the stream!

(Editor’s Note: CONGRATS to Paul Thoresen — winner of the recent Pebble smartwatch giveaway from Dice! And thanks to all the #TChat contributors who shared tech recruiting ideas and questions with Dice and #FutureofTech.)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Bring Your “Genius” To Work #TChat Recap

(Editor’s Note: Looking for details of this week’s #TChat Events? See the Storify slideshow and resource links at the end of this post.)

“The whims and vagaries of team life sometimes are not so much fun, but more often than not, there’s a great feeling of brotherhood amongst everybody that works together.”  Geddy Lee, Rush

Have you felt that kind of harmonic convergence in the workplace? Brotherhood and sisterhood. A deep sense of interconnectedness and shared purpose that moves you forward. Participation in a team whose members continually learn from one another and push one another to contribute their best.

Collaborative energy can be a powerful creative force — just as it has been for more than 40 years with my favorite band, Rush. Geddy, Alex, Neil. Each has lived, lost and loved his work, with every fiber of his being.

OK, I’m a fan. I romanticize. But the proof is in the music. They take their craft very seriously — blending bass, keyboards, guitar, drums and evocative lyrics. They also have fun. Lots of serious fun. And failure. They’ve seen their share of failure, too.

They’ve pushed themselves individually — and as a team — with a kinetic energy that knows no bounds. To me, this is refreshing, because I constantly hear the world of work cliché about how easy it is to find your passion and be happy with what you do.

It’s not that easy. It takes introspection and homework, plus a lot of practice and perseverance. But the good news is that the investment that pays off in ways that you can apply in your life. It’s not about becoming a big-time rock star. It’s about understanding your particular brand of “genius” — something you can get your heart around, and rev over and over again, until the vibe is right for you. It’s the full measure of your unique skills, experiences, passions, interests, talents, abilities, and attitude that you possess.

This week at #TChat Events with guests Maggie Mistal and Laura Rolands, the TalentCulture community examined this “core genius” in all of us. And I learned a two-step lesson:

1) Choosing Incremental Steps  Big leaps aren’t in most people’s risk-adverse DNA. For many of us, discovering what we can do (and what we’re here to do that only we can do) naturally unfolds one small step at a time. It’s like learning to play as a team, but internally, and with continuous refinement. My first step came as a child, when I began connecting words into honey-laced phrases. I’ve covered a lot of territory since then (with multiple side trips), but I’ve never looked back.

2) Can Lead to Monumental Outcomes  The operative word, here is “can” — but the point is that legitimate breakthroughs are possible from incremental steps. Finding your core genius is a very personal, soul-searching endeavor that requires self awareness, reflection and prioritization. Before you brainstorm life-changing career possibilities, you have to start with a meaningful decision framework. You need to learn what’s important for you, first.

How can TalentCulture support this process? Wherever you are in pursuit of professional bliss, we hope you’ll keep sharing your experiences with us here and on social channels. This is a safe place to test ideas, find resources, and exchange information. Your #TChat brothers and sisters are with you on this journey. We’re all in this world of work together. So let’s rock on.

#TChat Week-In-Review: Bring Your “Genius” To Work

Maggie Laura

Watch the #TChat Preview hangout now

SAT 2/1:
#TChat Preview:
TalentCulture Community Manager, Tim McDonald, framed the week’s topic in a post featuring a “sneak peek” hangout with guests, Maggie Mistal and Laura Rolands. See the #TChat Preview now: Careers: Better Choices Mean Better Business.

SUN 2/2:
Forbes.com Post:
In her weekly Forbes column, TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro, offered her perspective on why and how business leaders should encourage employees to develop their unique talents. Read Unleash Your Employees’ Super Powers.

RELATED POSTS:

Managing Your Career: What Would Richard Branson Do? — by James Clear
Shifting Focus: Aptitudes Instead of Attitudes — by Dr. Nancy Rubin
Soul Search — Then Job Search — by Maggie Mistal

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio replay now

WED 2/5:
#TChat Radio: Host Meghan M. Biro and I talked with Maggie Mistal and Laura Rolands about what it takes to tap into your career “genius.” Listen to the #TChat Radio replay now

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Maggie, Laura and I moved over to the #TChat Twitter stream, for a dynamic open conversation with the entire TalentCulture community. Moderator Dr. Nancy Rubin led hundreds of participants through a discussion focused on 5 related questions.

See highlights in the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Insights: Better Career Choices Mean Better Business

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/careers-better-choices-mean-better-business.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Maggie Mistal and Laura Rolands for sharing your perspectives on how each of us can find our core genius and apply it to our career. Your enthusiasm and expertise are infectious!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about career strategy or professional development? We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week at #TChat Events, we’ll look at how employers can be more proactive in forging employee relationships. Our guests are Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin Pulse, and Kevin Herman, Director of Worksite Wellness at The Horton Group. It’s a discussion that speaks to the heart of talent-minded professionals everywhere, so save the date for this very special Valentine’s Week Event — Wednesday, February 12!

Meanwhile, the TalentCulture conversation continues daily on the #TChat Twitter stream, on our NEW Google+ community, and elsewhere on social media. So stop by anytime.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: MenfiS at Flickr

Bring Your "Genius" To Work #TChat Recap

(Editor’s Note: Looking for details of this week’s #TChat Events? See the Storify slideshow and resource links at the end of this post.)

“The whims and vagaries of team life sometimes are not so much fun, but more often than not, there’s a great feeling of brotherhood amongst everybody that works together.”  Geddy Lee, Rush

Have you felt that kind of harmonic convergence in the workplace? Brotherhood and sisterhood. A deep sense of interconnectedness and shared purpose that moves you forward. Participation in a team whose members continually learn from one another and push one another to contribute their best.

Collaborative energy can be a powerful creative force — just as it has been for more than 40 years with my favorite band, Rush. Geddy, Alex, Neil. Each has lived, lost and loved his work, with every fiber of his being.

OK, I’m a fan. I romanticize. But the proof is in the music. They take their craft very seriously — blending bass, keyboards, guitar, drums and evocative lyrics. They also have fun. Lots of serious fun. And failure. They’ve seen their share of failure, too.

They’ve pushed themselves individually — and as a team — with a kinetic energy that knows no bounds. To me, this is refreshing, because I constantly hear the world of work cliché about how easy it is to find your passion and be happy with what you do.

It’s not that easy. It takes introspection and homework, plus a lot of practice and perseverance. But the good news is that the investment that pays off in ways that you can apply in your life. It’s not about becoming a big-time rock star. It’s about understanding your particular brand of “genius” — something you can get your heart around, and rev over and over again, until the vibe is right for you. It’s the full measure of your unique skills, experiences, passions, interests, talents, abilities, and attitude that you possess.

This week at #TChat Events with guests Maggie Mistal and Laura Rolands, the TalentCulture community examined this “core genius” in all of us. And I learned a two-step lesson:

1) Choosing Incremental Steps  Big leaps aren’t in most people’s risk-adverse DNA. For many of us, discovering what we can do (and what we’re here to do that only we can do) naturally unfolds one small step at a time. It’s like learning to play as a team, but internally, and with continuous refinement. My first step came as a child, when I began connecting words into honey-laced phrases. I’ve covered a lot of territory since then (with multiple side trips), but I’ve never looked back.

2) Can Lead to Monumental Outcomes  The operative word, here is “can” — but the point is that legitimate breakthroughs are possible from incremental steps. Finding your core genius is a very personal, soul-searching endeavor that requires self awareness, reflection and prioritization. Before you brainstorm life-changing career possibilities, you have to start with a meaningful decision framework. You need to learn what’s important for you, first.

How can TalentCulture support this process? Wherever you are in pursuit of professional bliss, we hope you’ll keep sharing your experiences with us here and on social channels. This is a safe place to test ideas, find resources, and exchange information. Your #TChat brothers and sisters are with you on this journey. We’re all in this world of work together. So let’s rock on.

#TChat Week-In-Review: Bring Your “Genius” To Work

Maggie Laura

Watch the #TChat Preview hangout now

SAT 2/1:
#TChat Preview:
TalentCulture Community Manager, Tim McDonald, framed the week’s topic in a post featuring a “sneak peek” hangout with guests, Maggie Mistal and Laura Rolands. See the #TChat Preview now: Careers: Better Choices Mean Better Business.

SUN 2/2:
Forbes.com Post:
In her weekly Forbes column, TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro, offered her perspective on why and how business leaders should encourage employees to develop their unique talents. Read Unleash Your Employees’ Super Powers.

RELATED POSTS:

Managing Your Career: What Would Richard Branson Do? — by James Clear
Shifting Focus: Aptitudes Instead of Attitudes — by Dr. Nancy Rubin
Soul Search — Then Job Search — by Maggie Mistal

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio replay now

WED 2/5:
#TChat Radio: Host Meghan M. Biro and I talked with Maggie Mistal and Laura Rolands about what it takes to tap into your career “genius.” Listen to the #TChat Radio replay now

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Maggie, Laura and I moved over to the #TChat Twitter stream, for a dynamic open conversation with the entire TalentCulture community. Moderator Dr. Nancy Rubin led hundreds of participants through a discussion focused on 5 related questions.

See highlights in the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Insights: Better Career Choices Mean Better Business

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/careers-better-choices-mean-better-business.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Maggie Mistal and Laura Rolands for sharing your perspectives on how each of us can find our core genius and apply it to our career. Your enthusiasm and expertise are infectious!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about career strategy or professional development? We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week at #TChat Events, we’ll look at how employers can be more proactive in forging employee relationships. Our guests are Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin Pulse, and Kevin Herman, Director of Worksite Wellness at The Horton Group. It’s a discussion that speaks to the heart of talent-minded professionals everywhere, so save the date for this very special Valentine’s Week Event — Wednesday, February 12!

Meanwhile, the TalentCulture conversation continues daily on the #TChat Twitter stream, on our NEW Google+ community, and elsewhere on social media. So stop by anytime.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: MenfiS at Flickr

Your Corporate Culture: What’s Inside?

“No company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.”-Jack Welch

Jack Welch isn’t alone in this opinion. Many of today’s most successful business leaders agree — culture is a powerful force that can make or break a business.

So, what is this elusive culture thing, anyway?

It is a topic the TalentCulture community obviously takes seriously. (After all, it’s at the core of our identity.) But even among culture specialists, the concept isn’t easy to define. Perhaps it’s best to think of it as an experience — created and shaped by the collective values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors of your workforce.

You can’t necessarily “see” culture. But evidence of it is often easy to spot. Similarly, culture can’t be manufactured, manipulated or imposed upon employees. But without clarity, consistency and communication, it can rapidly erode.

Looking Closer Look at Corporate Culture

MIT Management Professor, Edgar Schein, presents culture as a series of assumptions people make about an organization. These assumptions occur at three levels — each is more difficult to articulate and change. Schein’s three-tier structure includes:

• Artifacts (Visible)
• Espoused Beliefs and Values (May appear through surveys or other narrative)
• Underlying Assumptions (Unconscious beliefs/values. Not visible; may be taken for granted)Culture 3 LevelsIllustration via Chad Renando

The Business Case for Culture: Zappos

In recent years, Zappos has become known for its deep commitment to culture as a competitive advantage. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, often speaks about the importance of workplace culture, and why it is his company’s chief priority. To understand Tony’s perspective, watch this brief video:

Below are Zappos’ “10 Commandments” — the core values that drive culture, brand and business strategies:

1) Deliver WOW through service
2) Embrace and drive change
3) Create fun and a little weirdness
4) Be adventurous, creative and open-minded
5) Pursue growth and learning
6) Build open and honest relationships with communication
7) Build a positive team and family spirit
8) Do more with less
9) Be passionate and determined
10) Be humble

What do you think of “commandments” like these? How does your organization articulate and reinforce cultural norms across your workforce? How effective are your efforts?

Beyond Zappos: 100 Great Company Cultures

Of course, Zappos is only one of many organizations that invest deeply in culture. Last week, Fortune Magazine offered 100 other examples in its 2014 “Best Companies to Work For” List, developed by Great Place to Work Institute.

Even before the list was revealed, Great Place to Work CEO, China Gorman, shared several key observations about the cultural characteristics that help great companies attract top talent.

And yesterday, China talked with us in greater detail about lessons learned — first in a #TChat Radio interview (hear the replay now), and then in a lively community-wide #TChat discussion on Twitter. (For a full recap of the week’s highlights and resource links, read: “Workplace Greatness: No Guarantees.”)

As the moderator of this week’s Twitter event, I’d like to thank the hundreds of professionals who literally contributed thousands of ideas about what makes organizations “tick.” Your input is always welcome — the more, the better. So let’s keep this conversation going…

Image Credit

Your Corporate Culture: What's Inside?

“No company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.”-Jack Welch

Jack Welch isn’t alone in this opinion. Many of today’s most successful business leaders agree — culture is a powerful force that can make or break a business.

So, what is this elusive culture thing, anyway?

It is a topic the TalentCulture community obviously takes seriously. (After all, it’s at the core of our identity.) But even among culture specialists, the concept isn’t easy to define. Perhaps it’s best to think of it as an experience — created and shaped by the collective values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors of your workforce.

You can’t necessarily “see” culture. But evidence of it is often easy to spot. Similarly, culture can’t be manufactured, manipulated or imposed upon employees. But without clarity, consistency and communication, it can rapidly erode.

Looking Closer Look at Corporate Culture

MIT Management Professor, Edgar Schein, presents culture as a series of assumptions people make about an organization. These assumptions occur at three levels — each is more difficult to articulate and change. Schein’s three-tier structure includes:

• Artifacts (Visible)
• Espoused Beliefs and Values (May appear through surveys or other narrative)
• Underlying Assumptions (Unconscious beliefs/values. Not visible; may be taken for granted)Culture 3 LevelsIllustration via Chad Renando

The Business Case for Culture: Zappos

In recent years, Zappos has become known for its deep commitment to culture as a competitive advantage. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, often speaks about the importance of workplace culture, and why it is his company’s chief priority. To understand Tony’s perspective, watch this brief video:

Below are Zappos’ “10 Commandments” — the core values that drive culture, brand and business strategies:

1) Deliver WOW through service
2) Embrace and drive change
3) Create fun and a little weirdness
4) Be adventurous, creative and open-minded
5) Pursue growth and learning
6) Build open and honest relationships with communication
7) Build a positive team and family spirit
8) Do more with less
9) Be passionate and determined
10) Be humble

What do you think of “commandments” like these? How does your organization articulate and reinforce cultural norms across your workforce? How effective are your efforts?

Beyond Zappos: 100 Great Company Cultures

Of course, Zappos is only one of many organizations that invest deeply in culture. Last week, Fortune Magazine offered 100 other examples in its 2014 “Best Companies to Work For” List, developed by Great Place to Work Institute.

Even before the list was revealed, Great Place to Work CEO, China Gorman, shared several key observations about the cultural characteristics that help great companies attract top talent.

And yesterday, China talked with us in greater detail about lessons learned — first in a #TChat Radio interview (hear the replay now), and then in a lively community-wide #TChat discussion on Twitter. (For a full recap of the week’s highlights and resource links, read: “Workplace Greatness: No Guarantees.”)

As the moderator of this week’s Twitter event, I’d like to thank the hundreds of professionals who literally contributed thousands of ideas about what makes organizations “tick.” Your input is always welcome — the more, the better. So let’s keep this conversation going…

Image Credit

How to Build Your Network Without Burning Out

(Editor’s Note: All of us in the TalentCulture community mourn the loss of our dear friend, brilliant colleague and mindful mentor, Judy Martin, who passed away unexpectedly on January 31, 2014. The following is the last post she contributed to our blog, only 10 days earlier. Her message and her life are a lesson for us all.)

The unthinkable happened during the first week in January.

TalentCulture CEO Meghan M. Biro had gone missing. She hadn’t returned a tweet from me for more than three days. Unheard of, I tell you.

Naturally, I was concerned about her well-being. I actually considered contacting Boston area hospitals. But instead, I did what any good friend would do. Resorting to an antiquated strategy, I picked up the phone and called her.

“Seriously Judy, I’m taking a break. I don’t want to burn out,” Meghan told me.

“What? A break from your BFF?” I almost blurted. Then, a calm washed over me, and instead I said, “Good for you.”

This sparked a conversation about how busy professionals like us can continue growing and navigating our social networks without compromising our stress levels. Connection and communication have taken on new importance in today’s 24/7 world of work. Those who manage the energy and minimize the stress are able to stay ahead of the competition, and sustain high performance. But it’s not easy.

Everyone manages a social network differently. It’s an intimate and personal process. We all have close connections with whom we can exchange ideas and openly vent. That’s typically not a burden on our time and attention. But in this era of digital exuberance, our social circles are growing rapidly. We need to find the signal in our niche, while filtering out the noise of a much broader network. Keeping pace requires a strategy:

8 Tips to Reduce Stress In The Face of Digital Exuberance

1) Schedule Social Sessions: Timing is everything. And quality time counts. When does your network naturally buzz with activity? If you’re a rock star, you might be inclined to check Twitter in the late evening, but if you’re into talent management and business news like me, you’re probably trolling Twitter from 7-8 a.m. Instead of trying to pay attention 24/7, pick one or two intervals each a day to dip into the stream. Don’t just “fly by” with retweets — really dive in and engage in conversations that build relationships. But when your scheduled time is up, move on. Eventually, you’ll adjust to an established rhythm, and so will those in your inner circles.

2) Take Breathing Breaks: Twitter and Facebook interactions can become surprisingly intense. Periodically, take 5 minutes to literally sit back and just follow your breath. Close your eyes, or look away from the screen. Simply being aware of how you are breathing helps regulate cortisol, the “stress-producing” hormone. Count as you inhale – one, two, three. Then hold your breath for several seconds, and exhale to the count of three. Better managing stress “in the moment” gives you more energy later, when you may need to tap into your reserves.

3) Stand Up and Stretch: Once in a while just walk away. Yes, leave the computer behind. This is important to get blood circulating in your body, which delivers more oxygen to your brain. If you prefer not to stand, push your chair away from the desk. Inhale and raise your arms above your head, clasping your hands in a “steeple” position. Look up and gaze at your hands for several moments. Then exhale slowly while your hands float gradually back down to your sides. You’ll feel refreshed and ready to shift back into business gear.

4) Hum with Purpose: That’s right — make noise. Humming actually calms the mind and body. It’s an ancient yogic technique that helps focus attention prior to meditation. The sound reverberates in your skull, and helps your brain rewire your attention. Here’s how: Plug your ears with your fingers and inhale deeply. Pause. Then as you exhale, hum for the reminder of the “out breath.” Repeat two more times. If you feel dizzy, stop. But ideally, it will help release tension and help you focus.

5) Let Filtering Tools Work for You: Sometimes we need to look beyond human behavior for help. If we opened every link that came our way we’d never sleep. Aggregation tools help consolidate and organize the chaos — news sources, blog posts, and other information sources of interest. I’ve set up Google alerts to deliver breaking news on keywords that matter most to me. For less critical topics, I receive news feeds once a week. You can use Hootsuite, Buffer Tweetdeck and Aggregation tools and dashboards to identify relevant content and create a delivery schedule that works for you.

6) Harness Hashtags: Hashtags are the fastest way to share and find relevant information on Twitter. For example, professionals who participate in the TalentCulture community share HR and business leadership knowledge by adding the #TChat hashtag to their tweets. At any moment, anyone can search for #TChat, to see the community’s latest tweets. It’s like round-the-clock access to the most popular human resources conversation on the planet. If you follow a hashtag like #TChat in your Twitter dashboard, you’ll quickly and easily find helpful peers, ideas and advice. Also, when you schedule Twitter posts, be sure to add hashtags that reflect your area of expertise. Your posts will reach people in your niche, even when you’re offline.

7) Leverage Human Relationships: Sometimes, all of us need to unplug for several days or more. When you do, plan ahead. Just because you’ll be off the grid doesn’t mean your networking must come to a standstill. Reach out to several people in your immediate network. Let them know that you’re taking a break, and ask for a little extra support in sharing your work on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn — wherever you’re most active. You can even form ongoing support alliances and develop common “social back-up” guidelines. Just remember, you’re not alone.

8) Create a FOMO Free Zone: Perhaps the most important advice I can offer is to honor your social self. Competitive pressure shouldn’t drive your social brand development. Don’t let yourself become obsessed with how other people behave on social channels, or about whether volume or frequency of their activity trumps your own efforts. Whatever your message is, you’ll succeed when you deliver it through your own lens, with your own voice, to an audience that is naturally interested in you. Forget #FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)!

Of course, even with healthy habits, it often feels like we’re networking at the speed of light. But hopefully these tips help you slow the pace a bit, focus on what matters, and generate more energy to fuel your social success.

Do you have tips for reducing stress and improving productivity in the age of social networking? What techniques and tools work for you? Share your ideas in the comments below.

(Editor’s Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Virtual Workplace? For Real! #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Looking for a full recap and resource links from this week’s #TChat Events? See the #TChat Recap: “Putting a Face on Remote Work.”)

Distributed workforce. Virtual team. Telecommuting.

Whatever term you use to describe remote work models, the concept continues to gain momentum in today’s business environment — and with good reason.

High-speed connections, mobile technology and cloud-based collaboration tools now make it easy and cost effective for people to “go to work” anytime, from almost anywhere.

XJyGYBut infrastructure and good intentions, alone, don’t guarantee that virtual organizations will be productive and profitable. So, what does it take? That’s the focus of  #TChat Events this week, as we look at why and how successful virtual teams really work.

And what better way to explore this topic than with an entrepreneur whose business is driven entirely by remote contributors? Our guest this week is Mike Hostetler, Founder and CEO of appendTo, a highly successful web engineering firm, powered by a far-flung workforce.

“Sneak Peek” Hangout: Trifecta of Awesomeness

To kick-off this week’s discussion, Mike joined me for a G+ Hangout, where he outlined the “trifecta of awesomeness” — three key reasons why the virtual workplace is taking hold:

What are your thoughts about how to build and manage awesome virtual organizations? This week, we’re seeking wisdom from the crowd — so share your ideas and opinions with the #TChat virtual community!

#TChat Events: Why Remote Work Continues to Rise

#TChat Radio — Wed, Jan 15 — 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT

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Tune-in to the #TChat Radio Show

Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with Mike Hostetler about what it takes to create and sustain successful virtual workplaces. Tune-in LIVE online this Wednesday!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, Jan 15 7pmET / 4pmPT

Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and Mike will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where the entire TalentCulture community will join the discussion. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we address these 5 related questions:

Q1: What are the pros and cons of virtual workplaces?
Q2: How do remote work models affect employee and customer engagement?
Q3: What factors should leaders consider when creating virtual teams?
Q4: How can recruiters identify traits of successful remote workers?
Q5: How can we apply technology to foster virtual collaboration?

We look forward to hearing your ideas and opinions, as talent-minded professionals who care about the human side of business.

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, and on our LinkedIn Discussion Group. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Telecommuting: 5 Ways Companies Benefit

Last year, when Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer banned telecommuting for her employees, the decision stirred a vigorous debate about whether it’s valid for any business to let employees work from home.

As I see it, any organization can boost the personal and professional productivity of its workforce through telecommuting. And the more widely it is embraced, the better for the company.

Therefore, it’s a smart move to integrate technologies that make the work-from-home process smoother and more seamless.

Telecommuting Success: It’s More Than Technology

However, simply putting new technology into place and allowing your workforce to telecommute won’t make your business productive. Successful virtual work initiatives still require effective management. Leaders need to engage team members (as if they were physically at the office) and make sure they are kept in the loop, so they remain psychologically and socially connected, even when they don’t share a physical office space.

5 Key Business Benefits

But that said, when virtual work options are implemented appropriately, the advantages are abundant. For example, here are five major ways companies can benefit:

1) Morale: Happier employees get more done. In many cities, employees deal with a grinding commute, only to sit in an office where they interact very little with their coworkers. Whether the telecommuting arrangement is permanent or just a weekly flex day, the reduced travel and stress can provide a tremendous boost in employee morale.

2) Talent Acquisition: This can be a significant advantage in both large and small markets, because the best talent isn’t always within driving distance. This is certainly affected by the scope of the position, but businesses that don’t require day-to-day physical access to a shared office can benefit by finding the best candidates, regardless of physical location. Telecommuting lets companies choose from a much larger talent pool when it’s time to recruit for open positions.

3) Productivity: If you have ever worked remotely you probably know that you can accomplish much more when the conditions are right. At many offices, constant distractions mean less work gets done than the company desires. While face-to-face camaraderie may help employees build relationships, beyond small talk, there isn’t much that can be accomplished sitting in a meeting room that can’t be accomplished from a distance, using collaboration tools.

4) Flexibility: Trying to bring teams together in the same space and time isn’t necessarily easier because everyone travels to a central office. The technology that companies adopt to enable telecommuting allows teams to collaborate in real time from anywhere members are located. Participants can access teleconferencing, web conferencing and telepresence from almost anywhere. So when people can’t be in the same physical place, the meeting will still go on.

5) Adoption: I have said this for as long as I can remember: ”Eat your own dog food!” Any business that considers itself a high-tech organization should adopt tools, structures and processes required for successful telecommuting. What’s more, these capabilities should be  promoted as a way the workforce can achieve maximum productivity and work-life balance. Using this technology day in and day out can truly bring the organization closer. And the value of that connection can be priceless, as it translates to better selling, delivery and support of the solutions your customers need.

What other ways can organizations benefit from telecommuting? Does your company allow telecommuting? If not, why? Share your opinions and ideas in the comments below.

(Editor’s Note: This post was adapted with permission from an article written for and published in Commercial Integrator Magazine and republished by Millennial CEO.)

(Also Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

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#TChatHoliday: Sharing Warm Wishes, Community-Style!

The holidays are a perfect time to reflect upon the past year’s experiences, and look ahead to new opportunities — something the TalentCulture community does continuously.

But earlier this week, Kevin W. Grossman joined me for a brief hangout to compare notes about what it has meant to connect with all of you this year, what our holiday plans are, and best of all, why we’re so excited for 2014!

Of course, we’re not the only ones with ideas, plans and goodwill to share with the community. We’d love to hear from you, too!

Just leave a comment below — or post a tweet, photo or video from Vine or Instagram, and include the hashtag #TChatHoliday. As we roll into the New Year, we’ll curate and share your greetings, memories and aspirations for all to see.

THANK YOU for being part of our growing, thriving, continuous world of work conversation! We appreciate everyone who is helping us explore this new form of community building.

We hope that you enjoyed Hanukkah and Thanksgiving holidays. And we wish you a Merry Christmas, Heri za Kwanzaa and Happy New Year!

Looking forward to our next #TChat on January 8 — but until then, make the most of this time to catch-up with those who matter most to you. Stay safe, and be merry!

Image credit: Kirkland’s