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Managerial Magnets: Becoming A Leader Others Want To Follow

Written by Roberta Matuson

Are you a manager who’s ready for a professional breakthrough? Then it’s time to become the kind leader people will do anything to work for. The kind of leader who draws others to you. It’s time to become a magnetic leader.

Contrary to popular belief, great leaders aren’t born that way. Most are developed, coached and mentored throughout their careers. But why wait for someone else to guide you? Magnetic role models are all around us. So, no matter what your title or level of experience, you can observe more closely and strengthen your own skill set anytime.

Here are 5 best practices to help you get started:

1) Put Your Team First

When in doubt, put the interests of your employees ahead of your own. For example, it’s tempting to volunteer your department to organize this year’s charity event. After all, it would be great PR for you and the rest of your team. But everyone has been working on weekends to complete a critical project on time and within budget. They’re already burned out.

This is a good time to take a pass. Your team needs a break. Let them recharge. There will always be other volunteer opportunities.

2) Go to Bat for Your Employees

Let’s say you’ve been discussing a potential reorganization with your superiors. However, upon reflection, you believe the timing isn’t right for your organization to make that move. You feel uncomfortable asking your manager to reconsider the current plan.

Be bold. Let your boss know you’ve had a change of heart. Explain your rationale, and be prepared to offer alternative solutions. Regardless of the outcome, your employees will eventually figure out that you had the courage to push back when others would have retreated. Those who walk through the fire with you will stick by your side through thick or thin.

3) Learn to “Manage Up”

In my book, Suddenly in Charge, I explain that managing up isn’t about brown-nosing. It’s about developing strong relationships with those above you and throughout the organization, so you can get your people the resources they need to perform well.

In every company, there are people who are somehow able to get what they need while everyone else waits on the sidelines. These people have taken the time to build strong relationships up and down the organization. You can bet these resourceful leaders have no problem keeping top talent on their team. Observe how they work — and if an opportunity presents itself, ask for some tips.

4) Make Yourself Visible and Accessible

Magnetic leaders are visible both inside and outside their organization. Get involved in a professional association. Whenever possible, step up and volunteer to take a leadership position. You’ll be seen as a leader in your field, based on that affiliation. Don’t be surprised if others come to you seeking advice or a position on your team.

5) Treat People the Way You’d Like to be Treated

I bet you’ve heard this one before, right? It seems so obvious — but when is the last time you saw someone in a managerial role who consistently follows this creed?

In my book, Talent Magnetism, I tell the story of magnetic leader, Chris Patterson, CEO of Interchanges, who took it upon himself to help an employee who was in crisis. Patterson made it his personal mission to provide his employee with the best care possible during a life-threatening illness. He did so with compassion and conviction. This is a guy who is magnetic in every way.

Magnetic leaders are highly valued by their organizations — and are compensated accordingly. But it’s not just a reward for their effort and contributions to corporate objectives. Their employers know that leaders who display these characteristics are highly attractive to competitive organizations.

Do you know role models who demonstrate the value of magnetic leadership? What do they do that makes them so attractive to others in their professional sphere? Please share your experiences and ideas in the comments area.

Roberta-Matuson-Photo(About the Author: Roberta Matuson, The Talent Maximizer®, is the President of Matuson Consulting, a firm that helps organizations achieve dramatic growth and market leadership through the maximization of talent. Her new book, Talent Magnetism, is available for download or purchase at Amazon.com. Connect with Roberta on Twitter or on LinkedIn.)

(Editor’s Note: This post is adapted from Brazen Life, with permission. 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 others in the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events every Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Rebecca Krebs via Flickr

How Good People Can Deliver Bad News at Work

Written by Sarah Colomé

Something has gone terribly wrong at work. (It happens.) You’re terrified about telling your manager. (That also happens.) Breaking bad news to your boss can feel like you’re the designated driver on girls’ night out — while it’s not easy, someone has to take the hit.

However, if you take a closer look at this situation, you may find it’s a blessing in disguise for your career.

Employers are looking for contributors who know how to think on their feet, adapt quickly and  communicate effectively. If you reframe a work nightmare by offering timely, useful, well-researched solutions, you’ll demonstrate that you’re not only a smart thinker, but also a doer with management potential.

So, when that moment strikes and you have to break bad news to the person who decides your fate, consider these three strategies:

1) Bring the whole story to the table

Rushing to squeal that the keynote speaker for your annual conference just dissed your company on social media isn’t going to improve the situation.

Before you make a move, consider your source of information. Is this a credible individual or channel? Repeating uninformed, disruptive information only adds to the chaos. Research the facts (quickly!) so you can provide decision makers with relevant context. Your extra legwork can help them make an informed choice about how to proceed.

Knowing details helps frame the situation, allows for a better decision making process and makes you look like a mature, level-headed colleague rather than an reactive tattletale.

2) Think and speak objectively

Taking sides and passing blame does nothing to solve the problem. Instead, you’ll only paint yourself in a negative and self-serving manner — the complete opposite of what you want.

While this doesn’t mean you should hide pertinent information you have about the problem, you also don’t need to wrap a particular person up in a bow and pin them to a bull’s eye.

Pointing fingers isn’t necessary to solving the immediate problem. If necessary at all, it should be set aside until a solution has been found. Focusing on the fixing the problem helps you avoid looking like you’re stepping on another employee to make yourself look good. Plus, you’ll protect your working relationships with all parties involved — including the idiot who ordered 200 bottles of pineapple juice instead of Pinot Grigio for the donor banquet. Besides, if someone on the crew is truly inept, their actions will speak for themselves.

3) Offer problem-solving options

Showing up empty-handed to announce bad news accomplishes nothing. You need ammo. Prepare to suggest possible next-step ideas, so you’re less likely to become the target of a manager’s negative reaction.

Your goal is to avoid adding more stress to a difficult situation, by being ready to offer viable options. Research alternatives that save time or money, and assess the likely outcomes, so you can help determine a workable plan of action.

But keep in mind that offering effective solutions requires more than just a Google search and a few thrown-together spreadsheets. No solution can be implemented without investing employee energy, so assess the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for each path. This approach can help your manager avoid costly missteps — while simultaneously portraying you as a proactive, strategic thinker.

Delivering bad news is never easy, but reframing a negative work situation into a positive professional opportunity can be beneficial both for you and your company.

The next time someone accidentally sends detailed employee compensation data to everyone in your company, don’t fret. Get the whole story, be objective and come with a solution in hand.

Have you stepped up when there was a melt-down at work? How did you deliver the news — and did it help you grow in your career? Share your experiences in the comments area.

Sarah Colome (2)(About the Author: Sarah Colomé, M.S. is an educator, advocate and the SOARS Booking Director for A Long Walk Home, Inc. Based in Chicago, Sarah has traveled both nationally and internationally as a competitive collegiate public speaker. She teaches on topics related to social justice and diversity, health education, sexual violence and persuasive speaking. Connect with her on Twitter.)

(Editor’s Note: This post is adapted from Brazen Life, with permission. 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 others in the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events every Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)


Image Credit: Mugley via Flickr

Networking: 5 Ways To Work It Into Your Life

Written by Lynn Dixon, co-founder & COO, Hourly

Networking. Some people consider it a guaranteed way to connect with industry luminaries. Others believe it’s the ideal way market your professional capabilities and build brand awareness. Still, others dread the concept, and try to avoid it at all costs.

Truth is, networking remains one of the most effective techniques for selling yourself, as well as uncovering new business opportunities, projects and jobs.

But there’s a key to networking success that isn’t often discussed — knowing how to conduct yourself in various social situations is essential.

While handing out business cards may work wonders for you at a designated networking event, the same strategy might not work in a different atmosphere. Is there a way to predict what techniques will be effective in a specific setting?

Let’s look at several common social scenarios, and consider an appropriate networking plan of action for each:

1) Work Events

Work events come in all shapes and sizes, from professional development courses to off-site meetings with colleagues. These events tend to be more formal and task-oriented. Typically these settings are not ideal for aggressive networking, primarily because your participation is tied to other business goals.

How to play it: Although you may know most people at a work event, you can subtly network by introducing yourself to other attendees. When it fits into the flow of conversation, you might also mention recent accomplishments or challenges you’ve overcome. This helps people in your internal network see where you shine, and helps them envision how you could contribute to future projects with them or others they know.

2) Office Parties

Events like the annual holiday party or your boss’s birthday don’t usually scream “networking.” Conversations are often focused on personal life, and you may not want to think about business. Although no one wants to “talk shop” throughout an entire office party, it can be an awesome opportunity diplomatically reinforce your strengths.

How to play it: Put the alcohol down and get to know colleagues you don’t know well, especially those in other departments. You don’t have to brag about your accomplishments, but you can weave in your expertise. Chances are, one day they may need your skills on a project. Be memorable and focus on how you add value.

3) Family Events

You probably believe family events are the last place to whip out your resume and market yourself, but these events can be a networking goldmine. Think about it. Your family wants you to do well in your career. It’s like preaching to the choir. You just have to know what songs to sing.

How to play it: Although members of your family probably don’t work in your industry, they’re likely to know someone who does. That’s why it’s advisable to touch base about business with as many people as possible while you “work the aisles” at reunions, weddings and other family gatherings. Bring a stash of business cards, in case someone expresses interest. In the future, if someone they know needs someone with your skills, you’ll be the first person on their radar.

4) Industry Conferences

Conferences are a great way to establish excellent connections who can help you expand your network. Sometimes the premise of a conference centers on networking. Other conferences are developed for you to learn more about your industry by listening to speakers, attending workshops and sharing ideas with professional colleagues.

How to play it: This is one of those obvious networking situations where you’ll need lots of business cards, a stack of resumes, and a variety of portfolio samples. Since conferences attract a plethora of industry colleagues, you never know who you’ll run into — so you need to be prepared. It’s also smart to refresh your LinkedIn profile before the event, so anyone who checks your profile afterward will see your most current information.

5) Running Errands

Picture this: You’re at the grocery store when you see an influential member of your industry. You don’t want to throw business cards at this important person, but you do want to make a connection. How do you approach a power player in public without appearing to be desperate?

How to play it: Look for an appropriate opening. Briefly introduce yourself and explain why you admire this person. Try to mention a recent article they wrote or compliment them on a recent accomplishment. Then, close quickly by asking if you could connect via email or on a social network. This opens the door to future conversations while downplaying what could otherwise be an awkward situation.

The ability to market yourself in any situation is a skill that should be practiced and polished. You never know who you’ll bump into and how they could help you out in the future. Look at every situation as a chance to boost your network and provide a possible stepping stone for your career.

What do you think about the power of networking in social settings? How have you marketed yourself at various events? What has been effective for you?

Lynn-Dixon(About the Author: Lynn Dixon is the co-founder and COO of Hourly.com, an employment network that quickly matches people who are interested in flexible positions with the right opportunities. Connect with Lynn and Hourly on Twitter and LinkedIn.)

(Editor’s Note: This post is republished from Brazen Life, with permission. 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 others in the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events every Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or to join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Where's Your Inner HERO? Positivity at Work

The Business Value Of Positive Psychology

Most of us are familiar with the terms “economic capital” and “human capital” — two fundamentals of modern business. But what about the notion of “psychological capital,” and its role in driving individual and organizational performance?

Researchers have been studying the application of Positive Psychology in the workplace, and a growing body of evidence demonstrates that a positive mindset affects our attitudes toward work, as well as the subsequent outcomes. As Dr. Fred Luthans explains in the video at the end of this post, our “psychological capital” can, indeed, have a significant impact upon work and career.

Previously, I’ve discussed how the tenets of positive psychology hold great potential as a guide to help individuals and organizations elevate workplace happiness. Overall, the movement focuses on identifying and building on what is “right” with our work lives — emphasizing our strengths, celebrating smaller successes, expressing gratitude. Central to this theory is the mechanism that helps us build our “psychological resources,” and use this collected energy to digest and cope with our work lives.

Finding Your Workplace “HERO”

To provide a practical framework for this concept, researchers have developed what they aptly call the Psychological Capital (PsyCap) construct. It features various psychological resources (a.k.a. “HERO” resources) that are central to our work life experiences. We combine these resources in various ways to meet the challenges of our daily work lives.

What are HERO resources?

Hope: Belief in the ability to persevere toward goals and find methods to reach them
Efficacy: Confidence that one can put forth the effort to affect outcomes
Resilience: Ability to bounce back in the face of adversity or failure
Optimism: A generally positive view of work and the potential of success

Finding Your Workplace HERO

Notably, studies have established (Avey, Luthans, et al., 2011) a clear positive relationship between PsyCap and multiple desired workplace outcomes, including job satisfaction, organizational commitment and psychological well-being. Moreover, the construct correlates negatively with undesirable organizational behaviors, including cynicism, anxiety, stress, and the intention to resign.

If you’re an employer, you’re probably wondering if you can improve the strength of an employee’s HERO resources over time. On a promising note, PsyCap appears to be a “state like” quality that is open to change. This contrasts with traits that tend to be largely stable over time, such as the “Big 5” personality traits — extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness.

Assuming that psychological capital can be developed and strengthened over time, there are broad implications for key workplace behavior conventions, such as the nature of performance feedback, modes of learning and development, role design and leadership style.

Do you feel that focusing on PsyCap could enhance your work life or organizational culture? How would you apply this concept in your world of work?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTCU80iiaeM

(Editor’s Note: This article is adapted from a LinkedIn Influencer post, with permission.)

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

Image Credit: CGArtiste (Superman is © DC Comics)

Where’s Your Inner HERO? Positivity at Work

The Business Value Of Positive Psychology

Most of us are familiar with the terms “economic capital” and “human capital” — two fundamentals of modern business. But what about the notion of “psychological capital,” and its role in driving individual and organizational performance?

Researchers have been studying the application of Positive Psychology in the workplace, and a growing body of evidence demonstrates that a positive mindset affects our attitudes toward work, as well as the subsequent outcomes. As Dr. Fred Luthans explains in the video at the end of this post, our “psychological capital” can, indeed, have a significant impact upon work and career.

Previously, I’ve discussed how the tenets of positive psychology hold great potential as a guide to help individuals and organizations elevate workplace happiness. Overall, the movement focuses on identifying and building on what is “right” with our work lives — emphasizing our strengths, celebrating smaller successes, expressing gratitude. Central to this theory is the mechanism that helps us build our “psychological resources,” and use this collected energy to digest and cope with our work lives.

Finding Your Workplace “HERO”

To provide a practical framework for this concept, researchers have developed what they aptly call the Psychological Capital (PsyCap) construct. It features various psychological resources (a.k.a. “HERO” resources) that are central to our work life experiences. We combine these resources in various ways to meet the challenges of our daily work lives.

What are HERO resources?

Hope: Belief in the ability to persevere toward goals and find methods to reach them
Efficacy: Confidence that one can put forth the effort to affect outcomes
Resilience: Ability to bounce back in the face of adversity or failure
Optimism: A generally positive view of work and the potential of success

Finding Your Workplace HERO

Notably, studies have established (Avey, Luthans, et al., 2011) a clear positive relationship between PsyCap and multiple desired workplace outcomes, including job satisfaction, organizational commitment and psychological well-being. Moreover, the construct correlates negatively with undesirable organizational behaviors, including cynicism, anxiety, stress, and the intention to resign.

If you’re an employer, you’re probably wondering if you can improve the strength of an employee’s HERO resources over time. On a promising note, PsyCap appears to be a “state like” quality that is open to change. This contrasts with traits that tend to be largely stable over time, such as the “Big 5” personality traits — extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness.

Assuming that psychological capital can be developed and strengthened over time, there are broad implications for key workplace behavior conventions, such as the nature of performance feedback, modes of learning and development, role design and leadership style.

Do you feel that focusing on PsyCap could enhance your work life or organizational culture? How would you apply this concept in your world of work?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTCU80iiaeM

(Editor’s Note: This article is adapted from a LinkedIn Influencer post, with permission.)

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

Image Credit: CGArtiste (Superman is © DC Comics)

Old Dogs + New Tricks: Will HR Learn? #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Are you looking for complete highlights and resource links from this week’s events? Read the #TChat Recap: “Age Discrimination At Work: Bad Business”.)

This week, the TalentCulture community action is truly nonstop, with a trifecta of #TChat events! Let me help connect the dots between these three elements — old dogs, new tricks and HR lessons to live by:

1) HR Celebrates New Tools: Today Oct 6, TalentCulture’s intrepid founders Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman hit the ground running at this week’s HR Tech Conference — which promises to be the biggest and most mind-blowing ever. Meghan explains what all the buzz is about at Forbes.com: “7 Hottest Trends In HR Technology.”

2) HR Learns New Tricks: Tomorrow Oct 7, LIVE from the conference, Meghan and Kevin host an Expert Roundtable Discussion on Employee Engagement. If you’re not at the conference, you can follow the action from a distance on the #TChat Twitter stream from 2:30-3:15pmPT (5:30-6:15pmET).

3) But Are “Old Dogs” Willing? Perhaps too often in today’s digitally driven workplace, it’s suggested that innovation is a young person’s game. But is that perception realistic? Is it fair? And is it even legal? Those questions inspired us to focus on age discrimination at our weekly #TChat Twitter chat, this Wednesday Oct 9.

Youth Code: Age In Today’s Workplace

If you’re familiar with TalentCulture, you know our community has no fear about taking on deeply human workplace issues. In the past year alone, we’ve explored the relationship between “thought diversity” and business innovation, we’ve considered the value of reverse mentoring, and we’ve discussed the need to remove age-related stereotypes as Millennials enter the workforce.

Now we invite you to fasten your seat belts as we take a realistic look at age discrimination, and its implications for an aging workforce. We’ll be guided by two respected HR community leaders:

Steve Levy, a prominent workforce sourcing expert and popular recruiting blogger.

Heather Bussing, an employment law attorney who is also a founding editorial advisory board member and contributor at HR Examiner.

I sat down briefly with Steve in a joint G+ Hangout to frame this topic. Watch now, and I’m sure you’ll won’t want to miss what should be a lively and helpful social learning opportunity this Wednesday on Twitter!

#TChat: Age Discrimination at Work: Perception and Reality

#TChat Twitter — Wednesday, Oct 9 7pmET / 4pmPT

This week, we’ll skip the #TChat Radio interview and jump right into the #TChat Twitter stream, with event moderator, Cyndy Trivella. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to join us as we discuss these 5 questions:

Q1: Do you see age discrimination at work? Describe it.
Q2: If a company hires or fires with age in mind, what does that say about its culture?
Q3: Which is more prevalent / problematic: discrimination of young or old?
Q4: How can we improve the perception and reality of age at work? Laws? And…?
Q5: What role can technology play in empowering older workers?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and on our LinkedIn Discussion Group. So feel free to contribute your thoughts. Please join us and share your ideas, opinions, questions, and concerns!

We’ll see you on the stream!

It's All Good: Employees Are People Too #TChat Recap

“Positive anything is better than negative nothing.”
–Elbert Hubbard

This week, the TalentCulture community pushed some buttons — as well as some boundaries — by exploring a topic that is seldom addressed openly in the world of work.

In some ways, we all struggle personally. And some of us struggle more than others. But what does that mean for our professional abilities? And why don’t organizations work more proactively to leverage the strength that can flow from our human weakness?

Celebrating The Fully Human Side Of Business

Knowing how tricky it is to navigate these mostly uncharted waters, we asked two of the HR community’s most respected thought leaders to guide us through this week’s #TChat events:

John Sumser, editor-in-chief of HR Examiner.
William Tincup, CEO of HR consultancy, Tincup & Co.

John challenged us with a compelling premise:

“All of the stuff that traditional organizations consider taboo — what if you bring it into the workplace, and figure out how to turn it into creative assets?”

William offered a business case that supports John’s premise. He noted that the process of talent acquisition is designed to eliminate outliers, in favor of a more homogenous workforce. This may make onboarding and talent management easier — but at what cost? If everyone feels obliged to conform for the sake of getting and keeping a job, are we sacrificing the diversity needed to drive world-class innovation?

Obviously, there are no simple answers — but these ideas certainly were conversation starters! After the radio show, the #TChat Twitter stream was blazing with ideas about workplace transparency, professional authenticity, and how to bring our whole selves to work.

(Editor’s Note: For highlights from this week’s discussions, see the resource links and Storify slideshow at the end of this post.)

Starting Small: Accentuate The Positive?

I realize that this week has been devoted to issues that are often repressed or rejected because they’re perceived as “negative.” But does positivity have a place in this discussion? How can leaders introduce constructive changes to create a more supportive culture for everyone? What would you do?

Alexa Thompson, a writer interested in workplace transformation, suggests these 5 ways to apply “positive psychology” principles. The goal isn’t to roll out sweeping corporate initiatives, but to initiate incremental enhancements, tailored to your particular environment. It’s about making small, simple, consistent improvements that build over time. Imagine the sort of progress we might see in personal fulfillment — as well as business innovation — if most organizations lived by these standards:

1) Practice Thankfulness the Smart Way  Employees may be motivated by many different things, but all crave recognition and praise.

2) Introduce Exercise for Fewer Sick Days and a Healthier State of Mind  Physical activity has long been known as a stress-reducer, and companies who include fitness and exercise as a part of their corporate perks generally register higher when it comes to work/life balance satisfaction.

3) Embrace Creativity  When employees are allowed and encouraged to share their thoughts, business processes can become better streamlined, new products can emerge, and communication can improve.

4) Make Use of Mentoring  Workers who feel like their company invests in their development and cares about their progress usually are more productive. They’re also more likely to remain than those who feel like just another cog in the wheel. A small effort to build knowledge-sharing connections can go a long way.

5) Engage a Happiness Trainer  Happiness trainers draw on psychological research and ancient traditions to teach inner peace, gratitude, kindness and resiliency in the face of adversity — of which there is plenty in today’s workplace.

Has your company tried any of these suggestions? What might work best in your environment, and why? For more ideas from this week’s #TChat interactions, see the resource links and Storify highlights below. This is clearly a topic we’ve only begun to explore, so let’s keep the conversation going. Share your ideas in the comments below, or post in the #TChat stream. In our world of work, everyone is welcome, all the time!

#TChat Week-In-Review: Daylight In The Dark Side Of Talent

SUN 9/29:

JohnSumser

Watch the preview hangout with John Sumser

#TChat Preview: TalentCulture Community Manager Tim McDonald framed the topic in a post and a brief video interview with guest, John Sumser. Read the #TChat Preview: “Finding Daylight In The Dark Side Of Talent.”

MON 9/30:

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro outlined 5 issues for business leaders should be more open and authentic to achieve better business performance. Read: “5 Ways To Keep It Real At Work.”

WED 10/2:

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen now to the #TChat Radio Show

#TChat Radio: Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman sat down with John Sumser and William Tincup for an unstructured discussion about norms and biases that keep organizations from making the most of employees who are struggling personally. Listen to the radio recording now

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, hundreds of community members gathered around the #TChat Twitter stream for an open-ended conversation about these issues. As you can imagine, the topic sparked a broad range of opinions, questions and ideas. For highlights from the event, see the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Highlights: Engaging The Dark Side Of Workplace Effectiveness

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-engaging-the-dark-side-of-workplac.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to William Tincup and John Sumser for shining a #TChat light on this topic. We look forward to continuing to explore this topic in more depth along with you in the future!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about how to organizations can be more effective at accepting and empowering employees as “whole” humans? We’d love to hear 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 is a very special week for the HR community, and for #TChat Events, too! If you’re attending the HR Technology Conference in Las Vegas, join us for a LIVE #TChat Roundtable, as a panel of experts gathers to take on employee engagement!

And next Wednesday we won’t host a radio show — but we will be hitting the #TChat Twitter stream for a lively chat about Age Discrimination in Today’s Workplace, along with Steve Levy and Heather Bussing. Watch for details here in the coming days.

Until then, we’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Pixabay

It’s All Good: Employees Are People Too #TChat Recap

“Positive anything is better than negative nothing.”
–Elbert Hubbard

This week, the TalentCulture community pushed some buttons — as well as some boundaries — by exploring a topic that is seldom addressed openly in the world of work.

In some ways, we all struggle personally. And some of us struggle more than others. But what does that mean for our professional abilities? And why don’t organizations work more proactively to leverage the strength that can flow from our human weakness?

Celebrating The Fully Human Side Of Business

Knowing how tricky it is to navigate these mostly uncharted waters, we asked two of the HR community’s most respected thought leaders to guide us through this week’s #TChat events:

John Sumser, editor-in-chief of HR Examiner.
William Tincup, CEO of HR consultancy, Tincup & Co.

John challenged us with a compelling premise:

“All of the stuff that traditional organizations consider taboo — what if you bring it into the workplace, and figure out how to turn it into creative assets?”

William offered a business case that supports John’s premise. He noted that the process of talent acquisition is designed to eliminate outliers, in favor of a more homogenous workforce. This may make onboarding and talent management easier — but at what cost? If everyone feels obliged to conform for the sake of getting and keeping a job, are we sacrificing the diversity needed to drive world-class innovation?

Obviously, there are no simple answers — but these ideas certainly were conversation starters! After the radio show, the #TChat Twitter stream was blazing with ideas about workplace transparency, professional authenticity, and how to bring our whole selves to work.

(Editor’s Note: For highlights from this week’s discussions, see the resource links and Storify slideshow at the end of this post.)

Starting Small: Accentuate The Positive?

I realize that this week has been devoted to issues that are often repressed or rejected because they’re perceived as “negative.” But does positivity have a place in this discussion? How can leaders introduce constructive changes to create a more supportive culture for everyone? What would you do?

Alexa Thompson, a writer interested in workplace transformation, suggests these 5 ways to apply “positive psychology” principles. The goal isn’t to roll out sweeping corporate initiatives, but to initiate incremental enhancements, tailored to your particular environment. It’s about making small, simple, consistent improvements that build over time. Imagine the sort of progress we might see in personal fulfillment — as well as business innovation — if most organizations lived by these standards:

1) Practice Thankfulness the Smart Way  Employees may be motivated by many different things, but all crave recognition and praise.

2) Introduce Exercise for Fewer Sick Days and a Healthier State of Mind  Physical activity has long been known as a stress-reducer, and companies who include fitness and exercise as a part of their corporate perks generally register higher when it comes to work/life balance satisfaction.

3) Embrace Creativity  When employees are allowed and encouraged to share their thoughts, business processes can become better streamlined, new products can emerge, and communication can improve.

4) Make Use of Mentoring  Workers who feel like their company invests in their development and cares about their progress usually are more productive. They’re also more likely to remain than those who feel like just another cog in the wheel. A small effort to build knowledge-sharing connections can go a long way.

5) Engage a Happiness Trainer  Happiness trainers draw on psychological research and ancient traditions to teach inner peace, gratitude, kindness and resiliency in the face of adversity — of which there is plenty in today’s workplace.

Has your company tried any of these suggestions? What might work best in your environment, and why? For more ideas from this week’s #TChat interactions, see the resource links and Storify highlights below. This is clearly a topic we’ve only begun to explore, so let’s keep the conversation going. Share your ideas in the comments below, or post in the #TChat stream. In our world of work, everyone is welcome, all the time!

#TChat Week-In-Review: Daylight In The Dark Side Of Talent

SUN 9/29:

JohnSumser

Watch the preview hangout with John Sumser

#TChat Preview: TalentCulture Community Manager Tim McDonald framed the topic in a post and a brief video interview with guest, John Sumser. Read the #TChat Preview: “Finding Daylight In The Dark Side Of Talent.”

MON 9/30:

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro outlined 5 issues for business leaders should be more open and authentic to achieve better business performance. Read: “5 Ways To Keep It Real At Work.”

WED 10/2:

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen now to the #TChat Radio Show

#TChat Radio: Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman sat down with John Sumser and William Tincup for an unstructured discussion about norms and biases that keep organizations from making the most of employees who are struggling personally. Listen to the radio recording now

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, hundreds of community members gathered around the #TChat Twitter stream for an open-ended conversation about these issues. As you can imagine, the topic sparked a broad range of opinions, questions and ideas. For highlights from the event, see the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Highlights: Engaging The Dark Side Of Workplace Effectiveness

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-engaging-the-dark-side-of-workplac.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to William Tincup and John Sumser for shining a #TChat light on this topic. We look forward to continuing to explore this topic in more depth along with you in the future!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about how to organizations can be more effective at accepting and empowering employees as “whole” humans? We’d love to hear 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 is a very special week for the HR community, and for #TChat Events, too! If you’re attending the HR Technology Conference in Las Vegas, join us for a LIVE #TChat Roundtable, as a panel of experts gathers to take on employee engagement!

And next Wednesday we won’t host a radio show — but we will be hitting the #TChat Twitter stream for a lively chat about Age Discrimination in Today’s Workplace, along with Steve Levy and Heather Bussing. Watch for details here in the coming days.

Until then, we’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Pixabay

Forbes Picks TalentCulture As A Top Career Site: 3 Reasons Why It Matters

“The people to get even with are those who’ve helped you.”
–J.E. Southard

Today it’s time for us to “get even” by expressing deep gratitude! Why? Because Forbes.com has selected TalentCulture as one of “100 Top Websites For Your Career.” Of course we’re thrilled — and not just for all the obvious reasons. So, in the spirit of lists everywhere, here are our 3 Reasons Why This Forbes List Matters:

1) It Matters For Our Mission

By including us, Forbes is acknowledging the rise of crowdsourcing and virtual communities of practice in today’s social business world. And, if you consider the breadth and caliber of the company we’re keeping, it truly is an honor to be featured.

2) It Matters To Others In The World Of Work

On this list, everyone is a winner because there are no rankings. Instead, as Forbes staff writer Jacquelyn Smith notes:

“Our goal was to assemble a comprehensive guide to smart and engaging…online destinations for interns, job seekers, business owners, established professionals, retirees, and anyone else looking to launch, improve, advance, or change his or her career.”

forbes-logoForbes has developed a highly eclectic mix of sites. It’s not just about wildly popular social platforms like Twitter; professional networking sites like LinkedIn; job boards like CareerBuilder; and reference sites like the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Forbes actually adds meat to those big bones with niche services like CareerBliss and PayScale, as well as informational sites like Lindsey Pollak and Jobacle.

However, for us, the most exciting sites on the list are the many valued friends, partners and participants in our TalentCulture community. For example:

Blogging4Jobs by Jessica Miller-Merrell
Brazen Life by Brazen Careerest
Come Recommended by Heather Huhman
Keppie Careers by Miriam Salpeter
The Office Blend by Dr. Marla Gottschalk
Tweak It Together by Cali Yost
WorkLifeNation by Judy Martin
YouTern by Mark Babbitt

3) We Hope It Matters To You

Most importantly, this recognition is a positive reflection on each of you — the tens-of-thousands of monthly visitors who rely upon TalentCulture as a resource for helpful “world of work” ideas, insights, connections and conversations with professional peers.

This milestone is also an opportunity for us to express our gratitude for the hundreds of community participants who, for nearly 4 years have generously developed blog content, appeared as guests on our #TChat Radio shows, participated in our popular #TChat Twitter events, and shared knowledge and peer support continuously on our social media channels.

TalentCulture exists only because of the time, effort and skill that each of you contribute. That’s the beauty of community. This isn’t merely a “website.” This is a reflection of a continuous collaborative process that our founder, Meghan M. Biro, calls a “metaphor for the social workplace.”

Truly, in this case, we could not have done this with out you. So thanks to you all! And congratulations on what you’ve helped us create. Stay tuned to this site — and let’s see where our living learning laboratory will take us next!

Image Credit: redagainPatti at flickr

 

Showing Workplace Competition Who’s Boss

“How will I stand out in the crowd?”
“Do I really have what it takes to succeed?”

These classic workplace questions cross everyone’s mind from time to time. No matter where our profession leads us — sales, engineering, consulting, service — we must continually navigate through a sea of highly qualified talent. As our careers progress, so too, does the level of talent that we encounter. (We all experience secret moments of panic.)

Knowing this, I’d like to pause for a moment and pose a different question: “Is the way we traditionally view workplace competition getting in the way of our career progress?” For many individuals, this could be the case. So, let’s take a look at common barriers and consider how to deal with them.

Put Professional Competition In Its Place

Competition can be healthy. It does have the potential to drive us forward to excel. But if the very thought of competing derails us, we have a serious problem. Ultimately, we must face facts. We are likely to cross paths with individuals that seem more capable or successful than ourselves. (We may actually covet their role or career.) However, the very notion of competition doesn’t have to evoke debilitating stress and self-doubt. We need to remember that successful career journeys are built by capitalizing on our strengthswhile maximizing the opportunities that we encounter.

To master workplace competition, we ultimately must deal with our own feelings (and issues) with the concept of competition, itself. Here are some suggestions:

7 Ways To Deal With Workplace Competition

1) Accept its presence. Competition is ubiquitous. No matter where your career leads you, there will be ample competition to keep you on your toes — and it is ever present. Try to become comfortable and make peace with it.

2) Recognize it’s not a “zero sum” game. Opt for an “abundance mentality.” Don’t take the stance that if someone else succeeds, you are doomed to fail. Another individual’s promotion or good fortune doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be left out in the cold.

3) Identify your “comparison other.” How you gauge your career has much to do with those against whom you measure yourself. Who are your role models? Choose individuals that motivate you and possess skills that you wish to emulate. (This is one of my favorite techniques.) Learn from your competition. Ask yourself: What are they doing right?

4) Be the “best of you.” We’re not required to be all things to all people (and shouldn’t feel pressured to do so). Instead, find a way to acknowledge your strengths and create your own brand. Find a niche that makes you indispensable — create value and build on this strength. Take control of your own career and find paths to showcase your own talent. You’ll find that you focus less on the paths of others when your work aligns with the best of what you have to offer.

5) Build alliances and collaborate. Network without staying too close to the cuff (Use the 70-20-10 rule here.) Spread your wings to develop depth within your workplace relationships — be the “linking pin” between other departments or functions and solve problems.

6) Get a mentor or a sponsor. Many successful people speak of a mentor that has either inspired or guided them. However, you also need a sponsor. This is an individual that will help you gain exposure and facilitate “stretch assignments” that test your abilities.

7) Be aware. There is no greater confidence builder than becoming your own advocate. Of course, there is a dark side to workplace competition. Watch for individuals who “fight dirty” and have an unhealthy relationship with competition. (Remember, there is no shame in protecting your own interests.) Document your accomplishments, if you feel it is necessary — and take credit when it is owed to you. If an environment causes you troubling levels of stress, seek a change.

How do you handle the pressure of workplace competition? What has worked most effectively for you and why? Share your thoughts in the comments area below.

(Editor’s Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with others in the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events every Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome. Learn more…)

(Also Note: This article originally appeared as a LinkedIn Influencer post. It is republished with permission.)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Showing Workplace Competition Who's Boss

“How will I stand out in the crowd?”
“Do I really have what it takes to succeed?”

These classic workplace questions cross everyone’s mind from time to time. No matter where our profession leads us — sales, engineering, consulting, service — we must continually navigate through a sea of highly qualified talent. As our careers progress, so too, does the level of talent that we encounter. (We all experience secret moments of panic.)

Knowing this, I’d like to pause for a moment and pose a different question: “Is the way we traditionally view workplace competition getting in the way of our career progress?” For many individuals, this could be the case. So, let’s take a look at common barriers and consider how to deal with them.

Put Professional Competition In Its Place

Competition can be healthy. It does have the potential to drive us forward to excel. But if the very thought of competing derails us, we have a serious problem. Ultimately, we must face facts. We are likely to cross paths with individuals that seem more capable or successful than ourselves. (We may actually covet their role or career.) However, the very notion of competition doesn’t have to evoke debilitating stress and self-doubt. We need to remember that successful career journeys are built by capitalizing on our strengthswhile maximizing the opportunities that we encounter.

To master workplace competition, we ultimately must deal with our own feelings (and issues) with the concept of competition, itself. Here are some suggestions:

7 Ways To Deal With Workplace Competition

1) Accept its presence. Competition is ubiquitous. No matter where your career leads you, there will be ample competition to keep you on your toes — and it is ever present. Try to become comfortable and make peace with it.

2) Recognize it’s not a “zero sum” game. Opt for an “abundance mentality.” Don’t take the stance that if someone else succeeds, you are doomed to fail. Another individual’s promotion or good fortune doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be left out in the cold.

3) Identify your “comparison other.” How you gauge your career has much to do with those against whom you measure yourself. Who are your role models? Choose individuals that motivate you and possess skills that you wish to emulate. (This is one of my favorite techniques.) Learn from your competition. Ask yourself: What are they doing right?

4) Be the “best of you.” We’re not required to be all things to all people (and shouldn’t feel pressured to do so). Instead, find a way to acknowledge your strengths and create your own brand. Find a niche that makes you indispensable — create value and build on this strength. Take control of your own career and find paths to showcase your own talent. You’ll find that you focus less on the paths of others when your work aligns with the best of what you have to offer.

5) Build alliances and collaborate. Network without staying too close to the cuff (Use the 70-20-10 rule here.) Spread your wings to develop depth within your workplace relationships — be the “linking pin” between other departments or functions and solve problems.

6) Get a mentor or a sponsor. Many successful people speak of a mentor that has either inspired or guided them. However, you also need a sponsor. This is an individual that will help you gain exposure and facilitate “stretch assignments” that test your abilities.

7) Be aware. There is no greater confidence builder than becoming your own advocate. Of course, there is a dark side to workplace competition. Watch for individuals who “fight dirty” and have an unhealthy relationship with competition. (Remember, there is no shame in protecting your own interests.) Document your accomplishments, if you feel it is necessary — and take credit when it is owed to you. If an environment causes you troubling levels of stress, seek a change.

How do you handle the pressure of workplace competition? What has worked most effectively for you and why? Share your thoughts in the comments area below.

(Editor’s Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with others in the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events every Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome. Learn more…)

(Also Note: This article originally appeared as a LinkedIn Influencer post. It is republished with permission.)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Flexible Work And The Power of Choice #TChat Recap

Working “In The Zone”

Think for a moment about your ideal work scenario. Look beyond the substance of the work, itself. Instead, focus on structure, and flow, and surroundings. Think about the “how” and the “when” and the “where” that make it possible to perform well.

What does it feel like to operate in your most productive way? And how often do you actually achieve that level of focus and energy? Is something standing between you and your vision? If so, how could you or your employer close the gap?

Of course, each of us has a unique work/life narrative. And there are countless ways to create an effective fit between professional responsibilities and personal pursuits. But anything is possible, as long as we’re empowered to make choices that work for us and for those who need our talent.

Straight Ahead: No Boundaries

Did I just hear a chuckle from the cynical side of the house? Granted, I see blue sky in the forecast. But this week’s #TChat forums indicate that flexible options aren’t just an isolated phenomenon or a passing fancy. Instead, soon we should expect many more workers to find  flexibility within reach. Why? Consider these points:

1) The concept of work, itself, is being radically redefined — as Jason Fried, founder of the productivity application company, 37Signals, explained in this compelling TED Talk:

2) Employers are waking up and recognizing the business value of flexible work options. And, as many #TChat participants suggested, ROI can be measured in multiple ways. For example:

(For more thought-provoking tweets, see the #TChat highlights slideshow at the end of this post.)

3) Our expert guests are evidence that flexible options are gaining credibility and momentum. Both are leading the way in today’s work/life fit movement. They shared real-world perspectives about why these initiatives are gaining traction, along with tips to “make it work.”

Lisa Horn, Co-Leader of SHRM’s Workplace Flexibility Initiative and a SHRM Senior Government Relations Advisor;
Susan Lovegren, SVP of HR at Plantronics, a leading-edge technology company that offers “Smarter Working” choices.

(Hear details in the #TChat Radio show listed in the week’s resource list, below.)

4) The backlash has begun. You know a business practice is becoming legitimate when  nay-sayers appear at the gates. Ironically, just this week HR Executive Online reported on “next wave” research: “Non-Remote Workers Jealous of Telecommuters.” Why leave anyone behind? As our #TChat Radio guests explained, even when telecommuting isn’t practical, flexibility can come in other forms.

5) Key takeaway — change is a two-way street. Whatever is ahead in the realm of flexible work, it’s clear that change is needed on both sides of the employment contract. As this nested tweet suggests:

Thanks to everyone in the TalentCulture community who contributed opinions and ideas at this week’s #TChat events! We invite you to review highlights in the slideshow below, along with other related resources — and we look forward to expanding this conversation, as work/life blend issues continue to shape today’s workplace!

#TChat Week-In-Review: The Flexible World Of Work

SUN 8/18:

Forbes.com Post: To kickstart the conversation, TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro challenged business leaders to recognize the value of flexible work options. Read: “5 Reasons Why Workplace Flexibility Is a Smart Business Strategy.”

MON 8/19:

#TChat Preview: Our Community Manager, Tim McDonald, expanded on the week’s topic and events in his preview post: “Reworking The 9-to-5 Office Job.”

TUE 8/20:

Related Post: TalentCulture blog contributor, Heather Huhman, offered a snapshot of today’s flexible workforce trends with an infographic post: “5 Reasons To Hire Flexible Talent.”

WED 8/21:

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen now to the #TChat Radio show

#TChat Radio: In a highly informative warm-up to the Twitter conversation, Lisa and Susan joined our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman to discuss key issues and opportunities surrounding flexible work options, and how the concept translates into organizational life at Plantronics. Listen now to the radio show recording.

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, our entire community gathered on the #TChat Twitter stream for an open discussion about work/life fit from many points of view. To see highlights, check out the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Highlights: Workplace Flexibility As A Business Strategy

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-workplace-flexibility-as-a-busines.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Lisa Horn  and Susan Lovegren for generously sharing insights about flexibility initiatives and work/life blend issues. You’ve opened our eyes to new aspects of this critical business trend.

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about flexible work arrangements or work/life fit issues? We’d love to share 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, our “summer restart” series concludes, as author Bob Burg joins us to  look at entrepreneurial endeavors within corporate environments. So plan to join us, and check for details this weekend on TalentCulture social channels.

In the meantime, the World of Work conversation continues everyday. So join us on the #TChat Twitter stream, on our LinkedIn discussion group. or on other social channels. And feel free to explore our redesigned website. The lights are always on here at TalentCulture, and your ideas and opinions are always welcome.

See you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Digital Breaks: Rethinking Connectivity #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Are you looking for a full review of this week’s events and resources? Read: “Your Digital Domain: Who’s The Boss? #TChat Recap.”)

Reset Connections — Reclaim Your Life?

How did you manage your digital footprint during the July 4th holiday? Did you keep your communication channels open? Did you selectively time-out? Or did you leave it all behind and go “off the grid”? Whatever your level of connectedness — how well did that work for you, personally and professionally?

When it’s time for a vacation, are the tools and technologies that make it incredibly easy to connect with others making it incredibly difficult for you to walk away? If so, you’re not alone. Finding the perfect digital fit isn’t easy for any of us in today’s hyper-connected world of work.

Busier: Not Always Better

So, in an era where vacation time is rapidly vanishing, and digital demands are all around us, what can we do to improve our productivity, our peace of mind, and our sense of professional power? Furthermore, what can business leaders and managers do to encourage individuals and teams to optimize their work-life fit?

As summer kicks into high gear, these issues are top-of-mind across the TalentCulture community. It’s a perfect time to discuss solutions. And that’s why we’ve asked two social-media savvy work-life experts to guide us at #TChat forums this week:

#TChat Sneak Peek Video

To kick-off this week’s conversation, Judy joined me for a quick G+ Hangout, where she recommended a smart summer course-of-action:

So tell us…how would you define the ideal “vacation” in today’s hyper-connected world of work? If you could shift your digital work habits to reduce your stress and improve your productivity, what would you change? This is one topic that we all understand. So, please join us, and bring your concerns, ideas and suggestions!

#TChat Events: Digital Vacation vs. Digital Redux

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio show

#TChat Radio — Wed, July 10 at 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT

Judy and Heidi team-up for a interview with our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman. Listen live and dial-in with your questions and feedback!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, July 10 at 7pmET / 4pmPT

Immediately following the radio show, our conversation with Judy opens wide, as she moderates our community discussion on the #TChat stream. We welcome anyone with a Twitter account to join us, as we exchange ideas about these questions:

Q1: Do you (or can you) disconnect from your digital “hive mind”? Why or why not?

Q2: How do we get more time with family, friends and colleagues without compromising our work?

Q3: How does the enterprise balance our personal freedoms and online security issues?

Q4: What can leaders do to encourage digital vacations/resets without compromising productivity?

Q5: What technologies today help us connect and disconnect simultaneously? Good/bad?

To prepare for our discussion, check out Meghan M. Biro’s post at Forbes.com: The Digital Realities of Work/Life Blending. Also, throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and on our new LinkedIn Discussion Group. So please join us share your questions, ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Separating ‘Business Heresy’ From Reality: #TChat Preview

Originally posted by Crystal Miller on MonsterThinking Blog

It’s something we’ve probably all heard at some point in our lives, one of those aphorisms that’s morphed into a truth: “It’s not supposed to be fun; if it were fun, it wouldn’t be called work.”

But are the concepts of work and fun truly mutually exclusive?  For those of us lucky enough to be practitioners of our passion, we know that work, fundamentally, can be fun, and that when it comes to business and pleasure, it’s not an either/or.

After all, satisfying both interests comes down to personal edification and fulfillment, but is the onus for making work fun really up to the individual?  Or is it the company, or job function, or maybe a little of both?

To try to disprove that age old maxim and find out how it can be work if it’s also fun, I thought I’d ask the experts from the #TChat and 12Most communities to weigh in.  Here’s what they had to say:

“It may be the word work that throws things off.  Your career should be fun and you should be working towards something meaningful … the bottom line is you should pursue passion.  If you are working towards a goal and doing something you are passionate about, changes are more times than not you will be enjoying what you do.”

Dan Newman, Co-Founder of 12most and CEO of United Visual

“The most important question in business is ‘who does it serve?’  Obviously, companies have a responsibility to their shareholders…and they know it.  Economists Michael Jensen and William Meckling kicked this off back in 1976, and Jack Welch ultimately decided you can’t just seek to serve shareholders – it’s a flawed strategy.

On the face of it, shareholder value is the dumbest idea in the world.  Shareholder value is a result, not a strategy … your main constituencies are your employees, your customers and your products.”

Ted Coine, author, blogger & leadership expert

“The challenge is developing a culture that fosters that kind of interaction where new ideas are developed and engaged in the spirit of greater innovation, greater efficiency and (ultimately) greater profitability.”

Chris Westfall, Business Category Editor, 12Most

But the larger question remains: if driving culture is the challenge for leadership today, what’s the answer?  How can we create a workplace and work-life that’s not only fun, but also rewarding – to shareholders, employees and our clients and customers?

We’ll be exploring these questions and more Wednesday at 7 PM ET/4 PM PT for our monthly #TChat radio series, sponsored by Focus.  To find out more or to register, check out the event site on Focus and let us know you’re listening.

As always, we’ll still be continuing the conversation on Twitter using the #TChat hashtag; if you’re new to #TChat or want more information, check out “What is #TChat” from our partners @TalentCulture.

#TChat Questions & Recommended Reading (08.31.11)

To help prepare, and inform, your participation in this week’s #TChat dialogue, here are the questions we’ll be covering this week, along with some recommended reading that, while not required to participate in #TChat, will help you prepare for this week’s topic: “The Realities of Business Heresy.”

Hope you can tune in at 7 PM ET/4 PM PT as we kick off the discussion with the thought leaders and influencers behind 12most.

Here’s what we’ll be talking about:

Q1: Is it true if work isn’t fun, you’re doing it wrong? Why or why not?

Read: Why Fun at Work Matters by Adrian Gostick and Scott Christopher

Q2: Who does your business really serve and why?

Read: The Lifeblood of Your Business by Chris Westfall

Q3: Should the leader steer company culture or should the culture steer leaders?

Read: 7 Critical Leadership Lessons by Daniel Newman

Q4: It’s important to act with certainty in business, but is it okay to laugh sometimes as well?

Read: 10 Tips for Using Humor in the Workplace by Drew Tarvin

Q5: In business, should you surround yourself with diverse opinions? Why or why not?

Read: The 12 Most Irrefutable Laws of Business Heresy by Ted Coine

Q6: If you really want the best talent, do you have to always pay for it? What else is there?

Read: The 12 Effective Morale Builders that Don’t Cost a Cent by Mike Lehr

Visit www.talentculture.com for more great information on #TChat, as well as other great resources on careers and hiring.

Monster’s social media team supports #TChat’s mission of sharing “ideas to help your business and your career accelerate — the right people, the right ideas, at the right time.”

We’ll be joining the conversation at our new time this Wednesday night as co-hosts with Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman from 7-8 p.m. (Eastern) via @MonsterCareers and @Monster_Works.

7 Personal Tune-Ups for Tough Times

We had lunch last weekend with friends we had not seen for quite some time. My former co-worker’s spouse looked at me, as I was now more than 20 months away from the corporate world in which she’s still immersed, and said, “You look so calm.”

Her comment was both a surprise (since I do not necessarily feel calm), and exactly what I try to work on all the time.

With lingering economic issues and recent wild stock market swings occupying news daily, it is clear challenging times are not going to be over any time soon. While the economy obviously creates lingering financial concerns for those who find themselves out of work, taking pay cuts, or having their retirement nest eggs gutted, the impact on individual mental outlooks can extend even to those who have not been touched financially, such as my friend.

This makes it imperative for individuals to take care of themselves mentally as they try to take care of their career and financial prospects in tough times.

Having planned and started my personal career transition during the tough times of the past five years, here are 7 personal tune-ups that have been tremendously beneficial to me in helping me stay as “calm” as I have.

1. Understand your Distinctive Talents

Think through your talents, identifying those at which you are best and improve all the time, the ones that that bring you the most energy and that benefit others. After identifying your “distinctive talents,” use them in as many work and personal situations as possible to maximize your positive impact.

2. Tune Out Negative News

I used to wake up to talk radio and listen to it until arriving at work. That was until seeing Ed Foreman, who asked why anyone would fill themselves with downbeat news to start the day. I now awake to upbeat music, avoid the newspaper in favor of uplifting reading, do quick creative tasks, go to Church, and listen to energizing music or helpful presentations in the car. The result is a more positive attitude when arriving at work.

3. Give Yourself a Break

Tough times lead to greater pressure to achieve goals. Compensate by figuring out what mind-taxing tasks you can eliminate to give yourself a break. Get up earlier and start the day so you are not running behind. Stop reading a redundant industry magazine. Set a slightly earlier time to leave work. Consciously live below your means. These and other ideas can help reduce self-induced mental pressure.

4. Stop Thinking so Much about Yourself

Go out of your way to serve others – at work and in personal life. Instead of turning inward, increasingly reach out to others. Apply your talents to help others be more successful as they face their own challenges. This may seem counter-intuitive, but I would rather be known for contributing to many of other peoples’ successes than simply focusing on my own.

5. Be a Joy to Be Around

Smile, laugh, cheer people up. As tempting as going into a cocoon when everything seems crappy may be, don’t do it. Be a source of calm and enjoyment, bringing comfort and lighthearted moments to others. Find whatever works with your personality. For me that’s wearing orange socks (that have become my trademark), even when I don’t feel like bright colors and seeking out humor and fun to share with others.

6. Be Visible

Use your talents to be visible outside your company. If your talent is speaking, develop content and present to local organizations and universities. If it’s writing, submit articles to publications looking for content or start a blog on your expertise. If you’re good at building, cooking, or other essential skills, volunteer in your community. Make sure you’re using talents to help others and expand your network.

7. Work Out

Exercise and I were never good friends until my wife signed us up at a nearby health club and arranged for me to work with a trainer. I’d done cardio before, lost a little weight, but it never had a major impact. Working with a trainer brought new focus, helped relieve stress through exercise, and resulted in losing 25 pounds. All that, plus knowing I can go get away and exercise is both a tremendous motivator and a sure-fire antidote to a bad day of work.

Get Started Now

You don’t have to do all these things, but pick at least one or two as a way to tune-up your attitude and mental perspective if you’re feeling like the economic news or career challenges are dragging you down. It’s always a good time to start taking better care of yourself. Best wishes for successfully incorporating these ideas into your daily routine to stay calm!

IMAGE VIA lululemon athletica

Channel Your Inner Madonna to Trigger a Career Shift

(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. Her message and her life are a lesson for us all. We will forever fondly remember her humor, warmth and wisdom.)

Emboldened with new courage to brave the unknown and strive for greatness, I cut the neck and sleeves of my Madonna t-shirt last night. This was no small task. It’s been sitting in my dresser drawer for 6 years. Seriously, I’m not kidding. Every time I opened that draw to grab my yoga clothing, it’s been staring me in the face. That is until tonight.

I took the plunge and cut the darn thing so I could finally wear it (I should have gotten a large) and it was the most liberating action I’ve taken in years. The cutting of the shirt was a great metaphor I came to realize, for breaking a barrier that was literally keeping me from making some important career and creative business decisions.

Sometimes we have to just do something radically different in our daily lives, even if it means getting out of our comfort zone. Madonna in general is the icon of re-invention, she has taken many risks. She has known success and failure. But she constantly refuels, renews and reinvents her life and career. So channeling YOUR inner Madonna might also be a tactic to try something outrageously new and different. What shift are you avoiding, and if you made the plunge what would you learn? I asked myself that question.

Cutting the Madonna T-Shirt and the Lessons Learned

Cutting the shirt brought up all kinds of inner stuff about taking risks in my career, doing something off the beaten path in my work life trajectory, and forced me to move forward even in the face of certain trial and error. I did succeed (in cutting the shirt and other goals as you will discover at the end of this post), but I had to deconstruct and contemplate first. (If you’re a Madonna freakazoid like I have been most of my life, you’ll better understand what appears to be a ridiculous act.)

I bought this t-shirt at Madison Square Garden during Madonna’s 2004 Re-Invention Tour, but I never wore it because:

  • 1. It was too tight around the neck, and I was afraid to stretch it. Where can you stretch your life or career? Are you procrastinating, feel you’re not up to the task, or just not making the time to do it?
  • 2. I refused to cut it, because I didn’t want to ruin it, as it might shred. What are you afraid of? What will you ruin if you take a risk and try something new, like learning a new skill? Will extra work be involved and will follow-through require more of a commitment to personal or career growth?
  • 3. The wording on the back says, “Everyone is a star” So I thought people would judge me if I wore it. Do you really care what others will think if you decide to pick up ballet classes even though you’re a klutz? Are you concerned about going back to school for a new career in a recovering economy?
  • 4. I was saving it for a special occasion. Really? When’s your boat going to come in? Life is too short in this body anyway. I suggest taking the lead from  “Nike” – just do it!

Change Something, Reinvent Something, Remember Something Joyful

Even if you are not thrilled with your job, you can create some unusual aberration to change up the pace or the structure of your job, the way you spend your time, the way you organize your day, the way you relate to your co-workers, or even your boss. You can take a risk, learn a new skill, make a new creative suggestion. Maybe there’s something in your job or career from the past that has given you lots of joy. Igniting passion in your work calls for nothing less than the re-invention of your work or life perception, even in a job that you disdain. Even for just one day. You’ll be amazed at what you can discover. It might be the shift you need just to get through another day.

For example, at my personal blog, WorkLifeNation.com I decided to do something completely different than I had ever done before. I  just started Sanctum Sundays of Work Life Bliss. It’s a portal of information that can help you to just stop, contemplate your life, engage your belief system and also catch up on some inspirational work life news. I also decided to deepen my yoga practice by committing to a new training. The decision to take those leaps emerged as I was contemplating cutting the t-shirt. It was just time to cut the sh–.

For those of you who can just imagine what a better place the world would be if we just embraced our greatness. A taste of Madonna from her 2004 Reinvention Tour!

3 Steps When Your Career Is Lacking Mental Stimulation

How are you feeling about your job and your career?

Finding it boring and unfulfilling? As your organization has cut costs and corners, do you have more, but unfortunately, less rewarding work? Are you back to doing things you’ve already accomplished earlier in your career because you’re the only one left who has done them before? Are the new areas you’ve been stretched to cover not providing the same mental stimulation you enjoy from working with talents closer to your interests?

A variety of people have been raising these issues with me lately. Individuals ranging from those early in their careers to senior executives who you’d think would be nosing around retirement as a natural next step are voicing the same sentiment: “What I’m doing right now doesn’t provide the mental stimulation I want in my career, but I don’t know what should be next.”

My recommendation to each person has been to look at their current organization as essentially the first investor in what’s next in a career that has more mental stimulation, but potentially less definition.

Most effectively using your current employer as an investor depends upon cutting back on living expenses, maximizing a salary’s (hopefully) steady cash flow as a financial investment in the future, and applying the extra mental energy not drained by your job to design your intended next career steps.

This sentiment was echoed in a presentation I saw by Seth Godin recently. He talked about the number of people who ask him what they should do with their careers. His advice is to start something because marketing is essentially free, thanks to the internet.

Godin said that many people follow-up the first question with a second one, “Where do I send my resume?”

These people, he says are missing the point. They’re waiting to be picked when they should, instead, be picking themselves to create what’s next.

Are you ready to pick yourself?

If not, are you getting ready to pick yourself? Here are three steps to get ready if you haven’t started yet:

Sure, there may be no clear, easy answer to what’s next for you. If you got this far in the post, however, you were obviously looking for more mental stimulation in your career. Well, you just found it!

5 Activities to Strengthen Your Career Muscle

Planting words on my MacBook Pro stimulates me emotionally and intellectually as I sow client career stories from bud to blossom. This focused, brain-powered activity, though invigorating, is physically sedentary and potentially unsustainable if not combined with the appropriate amount of physical activity.

In Joe Lavelle’s recent post, “Exercise Like a CEO,” he underscores the importance of exercising your body. He asks, “What do you do routinely to exercise your body … to maintain mental acuity?” For many, the addition of a new or enhancement of an existing exercise routine will work wonders to add muscle to a soft career or even jump-start a stalled career.

A selection of other energy- and focus-boosting activities that will both propel your productivity and strengthen your career muscle follows:

1) Simplify Your Space

Simplifying your space may mean unwrapping yourself from a visual security blanket of ‘clutter.’ Doing so can free your mind and emotional energy to concentrate on individual projects and goals – the task at hand, if you will, versus the distractions all around you.

You may consider de-cluttering your primary work area into a clean, open, airy space that includes soothing paintings, memorabilia and perhaps even a desk-top water fountain to cultivate calm and inspiration. If you must express your clutter, identify a behind-closed-doors nook and, within these boundaries, go wild!

2) Big-Picture Your Schedule

Though your talent in creating calendars, check lists and project action steps shines, you also may find that you feel yourself drowning in a sea of details and deadlines, particularly as your career and business initiatives grow. If this describes you, consider big-picturing your schedule.

White-boarding your projects-in-progress as well as crafting a two- to three-month running whiteboard calendar of meetings and deadlines may quickly quell calendar chaos by creating a bird’s-eye view snapshot of your overarching initiatives.

Remember, project ‘detail-collecting’ within the associated project lists and files will provide the information you need to deep-dive into the specifics of your big-picture initiatives when needed. By maintaining this glimpse-able overview, you can better manage existing tasks and respond to new requests to which you commit your time and energy. With a quick glance at your calendar/project whiteboards, you can quickly accept or decline new projects.

3) Recognize That Little Choices Matter

Choosing a glass of water instead of sweet tea may be the linchpin to stay within you daily caloric intake parameters. As well, with business communications, that latest email, Tweet, Facebook message or LinkedIn invitation typically does not require your immediate absorption.  If you must, take a five-minute break every couple of hours to simply confirm receipt of new communications without fully partaking of a communications swap until a later, scheduled time.

And when faced with that emotionally-wrought virtual request for you to “drop everything and help me now,” remind yourself of the adage, “Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.”

4) Make Peace With Perfectionism

Though your next project for your boss or your customer may mean the difference between a promotion or a career-defining sales deal, most of the time this is not the case. When you single out and assess your initiatives, you likely will find that the results of your next deliverable, though important to the recipient, will not require you overextend and go that extra 10 miles to prove you are the #1 Sales Producer, Human Resources Leader, Marketing Manager or <fill-in-the-blank>.  Stop placing so much pressure and importance on yourself at every given moment of the work day.

Instead, allot yourself a reasonable number of minutes, hours or days to achieve the project goal, and then deliver!  You likely will be reminded of how sometimes the extra-mile projects fall flat while the, “I did my best and infused this project with my years of value and experience without over-analyzing” projects often net the most kudos and bottom-line results.

5) Align Yourself With Complementary Others

Finding colleagues, mentors, friends and cohorts who think a bit differently than you do may be a key to unlocking doors to new ways of thinking. Seeking to explore outside your comfort zone is an admirable trait and one we all must be reminded to tap into from time to time.

By connecting with individuals or groups of folks whose intellectual capital, like the arteries of a road map, shepherd you through unexplored and sometimes uncomfortable highways and byways, you may find new direction toward achieving the destination goal that you have been struggling to reach.

Image Credit: RightIndex

Improve Communication in a Time Crunched/Technology Based World

(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. Her message and her life are a lesson for us all. We will forever fondly remember her humor, warmth and wisdom.)

“Sometimes one creates a dynamic impression by saying something, and sometimes one creates as significant an impression by remaining silent.”   ~Dalai Lama

The old adage goes, if you’re not going to say something nice than don’t say anything at all. Yes, silence speaks volumes but so can efficient communication and it’s a stretch sometimes when having to tangle with work while keeping peace on the home front.

Poor communication creates frustration and on a practical front, makes for inefficient interactions and inevitably can lead to stress or the monkey mind of coulda, shoulda, woulda. We make up stories in our head as we anticipate what will happen during a conflict, instead of being open to the ever-changing moment that might lead to a productive conversation. Strive for the 3 C’s: Co-creation of a Conscious Conversation.

Communication covers a broad territory. It comes in the form of meetings, phone calls, e-mail exchange, social media etc.  We tend to lose sight of some basic tenets of effective communication in our new world. So keep the following in mind whether in a meeting or when communicating with someone via the many modes of technology:

  • Technology can filter a message – don’t react from the gut.
  • Everyone has their individual story – but that story can change in an instant due to info-overload. So be adaptable to change in someone’s attitude.
  • Rapid fire communication via texting can quickly heat up a simple interaction.
  • Perception is everything. Be willing to be a witness to what’s happening if conflict arises. Remember that you are co-creating a conversation. 2 sides to every story.
  • When conversing, especially via technology, it’s smart to repeat – or mirror back to the person you’re communicating with – what YOU heard.
  • Be mindful of how you end conversations and what the next step of communication or call to action should be.

Keeping the lines of communication open at work and at home is probably the most important factor in creating a less stressful work-life merge. Your “merge” might change on a daily or weekly basis, so an assessment of your  S-O-C (state of communications) is crucial before you can set up your guidelines.

We tend to take communication for granted because there is such an ease of access to technology. The trick is to be more mindful of  your communication. Your time is valuable. The analogy of examining communication as a meal works well.  Remember that communication on any level is feeding your mind. As bestselling author Tim Sanders (Love is the Killer App) says, be aware of the diet you’re feeding your mind.

A. Communication Guidelines

  • Don’t eat too late: Try to avoid interacting with people up to the moment you hit the sack. It’s stressful and could impact your sleep if the conversation or communication was upsetting or mind-consuming .
  • Don’t over eat: Be sure to have an agenda for your communication and accomplish the task. Don’t keep gabbing on the phone to take up time.
  • Don’t stand while eating: Be mindful and present in your communications. If we allow ourselves to be distracted we dilute the conversation, make it longer than it has to be and risk not accomplishing the task.

B. Assess Your Communication Streams

  • Write a list of every type of communication stream that you plug into daily. For example,  e-mail, BBM’s, texting, social media and the old-fashioned phone.
  • Identify which forms of communication are you most comfortable using and at what times of the day.
  • Limit extraneous communication to certain times of the day.
  • Set time limits on phone calls and meetings. Have an agenda before you head into a conversation.
  • Identify Energizing and Depleting Relationships. Make a list of the most important personal and work relationships. Assess which unions foster your growth as an individual.

C. Design a Communication Formula

Ask yourself about the three W’s :

  • Who are the most important people you communicate with on a daily basis at home and at work.
  • What is the most efficient form or technology that you can use with this person.
  • When is the best time to communicate with this person.

In our rapidly changing business climate being mindful of how we are interacting at work and at home is increasingly important. How do you track your communications? Do you monitor and/or filter your communication at work or at home? If so, share your strategy!

GenY: Challenge of "Doing It All" and Technology Overload

Today’s post is by Katrina Kibben — Social Media Manager at Care.com, an innovative and resourceful social media marketing professional who enjoys helping companies of all sizes use traditional and nontraditional tactics to increase profitability and product awareness. She is working with Care.com’s annual event, Care@Work, which develops smarter ways to work by using new tools, technologies and strategies to find the balance between life at work and at home.

This is not your father’s workplace anymore – literally. This year, the oldest Baby Boomers are turning 65 years old, including President Bill Clinton. This means that the 79 million baby boomers, about 26 percent of this country’s population will be retiring in the next few years.

Another generation will make an important milestone this year – Generation Y, the Millennials – are turning 30 years old. The 30’s are known as the decade of “middle management” and parenthood.  But Generation Y feels differently about the “ladder” of success.

As the country comes out of the recession, the Millennals are looking for a sense of mission. They want a sense of ownership over their lives, either in the place that they work or in the lives they create for themselves outside of it. A workplace is relative and all preconceptions about job security are shattered. Their lives and desires aren’t dramatically different from generations before them, but the confluence of circumstances are – and more and more, this generation believes that they too can “do it all” but their definition of how and what that means is dramatically different.

Between these two generations, there has been a revolution in the office that has increased the influence of women and transformed the paradigm of the workplace. At the same time technology has revolutionized the way we work and our understanding of how we can work differently.

While current working parents, particularly working moms, have been told that they can “do it all,” modern working parents have found that having a Blackberry doesn’t necessarily help them to be flexible so much as feeling tethered, perpetuating a generation of working parents that find a blurred line between work and life that has inspired a generation of workers who are in a constant state of distraction, leading to the social acceptance of the furtive glances down and the feverish tapping everywhere – from office meetings to family dinners.

But as we innovate are we working more efficiently or are we simply working more?

Care.com’s Focus Forward conference is about designing the future of work where companies work for people, and people work for companies in ways that are smarter, faster, higher impact—and more sustainable, too. At a time when there have never been more distractions–and more pressure to deliver results–the event will examine how great companies command attention from customers by, first, holding the attention of their employees.

IMAGE VIA eirikso

Add Productivity to Your Summer Vacation

Written by Kirsten Taggart

Ahhh, summer vacation – my favorite time of year. This summer, however, is a very significant summer as it is my last before I graduate from academia and start my life as a “real” person in May 2012.  Naturally I’ve been thinking about how I can spend my last summer of freedom in a productive, yet fun way.  After talking with my GenY friends about different summer goals, here is my list of how you can make the most out of your summer vacation.

1.  Apply for a Job or Internship

By this point in the year you’ve probably sent in your applications and have started to hear back from potential employers.  No matter what position you decide to take, don’t forget to prepare before your first day.  Map out how long it will take you to get to the office so you can arrive early.  Are you driving or taking public transportation? Check train and bus schedules just in case.  Did they ask you to bring certain items with you?  Gather everything you’ll need the night before so you won’t forget anything on your way out.  Being prepared will help to calm your nerves and stay confident on your big day.

2.  If You’ve Missed Application Deadlines…

…there’s no need to panic. Positions can open up at any time even after the summer rush.  Finding them can be tricky, so maximize your resources.  Who do you know that can help? Are your previous employers still hiring?  Have you checked Craigslist or other job boards? Shoot an email to your professors who might have connections in your field.  There are people willing to help you – you just have to ask!

3.  Learn a New Skill

It’s important to stay mentally active even if you are on vacation. Experts are finding we lose much of our mental agility during long breaks when we aren’t challenging our minds as we normally would at school (because isn’t that what a vacation is for?).  Luckily for us, it doesn’t take much to maintain your wit.  If you’re busy at your job or internship for the majority of your day, make it a point to pick up a newspaper before your morning commute or start that book you’ve been meaning to read (or if you despise reading for some reason, this will do just fine).  If you have more time to spare, why not take on a light summer class? I’m not suggesting you enroll in a hefty physics course by any means (unless you like that kind of stuff, in which case more power to you…) but look into classes that will knock some credits out of the way or are just plain fun.  Why not take that photography/dance/cooking/whatever class you’ve had your eye on? Now’s your chance!

4.  Travel

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it is beautiful outside! Take advantage of the summer weather.  Plan a trip somewhere to escape your weekly routine even if it’s simply exploring a new area of your city or town.  Plan a trip with some friends for a long weekend or, if you’re especially adventurous, set aside a week to travel to a foreign city.  You only live once!

5.  Plan Ahead for Fall

Start thinking about your goals for the upcoming semester.  What do you want to achieve this year?  Send your applications for internships and jobs before the deadline so you’re not rushing at the last minute (there’s nothing more annoying than finding cover letter typos after you submitted it).  Review your class schedule – are there any changes that can be made to better suit your learning habits (i.e. early vs late classes, class on every day of the week or concentrated on only two or three, etc)?  What books do you need to buy?  If you are applying for a job or internship consider how it will fit into your academic calendar and discuss with your employer how you aim to balance both obligations.

IMAGE VIA Giorgio Montersino

Only Human: 7 Keys to Survival…Welcome Judy Martin!

(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. Her message and her life are a lesson for us all. Below is the first post Judy contributed to our blog. This reflects her spirit, which is captured in an extensive body of work across multiple media outlets and social channels. We will forever fondly remember Judy’s warmth, wisdom and humor.)

Hello, TalentCulture Community.  My name is Judy Martin, and I am the newest addition to the team. Below is my latest post from my blog.  I am very excited to be a contributor and look forward to what’s ahead!

I’m only human despite being a self-proclaimed work life pundit. Fess-up time. My life has been less about the work life merge, and more about life and survival lately. As an entrepreneur and freelance journalist navigating a sudden health care mishap, for a time I felt like the gal looks to your left; cloistered and wrapped in my own stuff, due to sudden partial facial paralysis. Now in the healing process, I’m hoping that this post might help others as work life flexibility was the greatest key to moving forward.

I had entered The Dark Night of the Soul, as the 16th century Mystic, Saint John of the Cross wrote about. No where to go but inside and surrender to the moment. Such a seclusion is simply the norm of human nature whilst enduring such episodes.

But even in this rapture of emotional turmoil I was reminded of the words of American Buddhist nun Pema Chodron, the author of When Things Fall ApartHeart Advice for Difficult Times

If we’re willing to give up hope that insecurity and pain can be exterminated, then we can have the courage to relax with the groundlessness of our situation. This is the first step on the path. Without giving up hope that there’s somewhere better to be, that there is someone better to be – we will never relax with where we are or who we are.

http://www.worklifenation.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/iStock_woman-in-bandagesJPEG2.jpg

Radical Acceptance in the Moment

This is called radical acceptance; but it’s in the moment – and that moment changes as healing emerges. As we hit the depths of the chaotic waters of our being, some aberration occurs that shifts our perspective. For me, it was the realization that despite my appearance, I had a story to share that might help others in similar circumstances whose career was on the line.  I could not appear on Tv for a while, could barely see out of one eye, suffered with headaches and exhaustion –  and had to completely change my working scenario for nearly two months. But, there was a story.

I’ll spare you the gory and painful details. What happened is less important than how I dealt with it, toward maintaining some sort of work life balance. I haven’t blogged much because the collision of side effects was daunting. It was hard to get out of bed, let alone see. My work-life social media community checked in – from time-to-time – inquiring about the lapse in posting to my Work Life Nation blog.  Soon the questions were building like a house of cards about to tumble.

“Haven’t seen you on Twitter, what’s going on?”

“Sent you that book a while back, do you still plan to review it?”

“It seems impossible to get a lunch date with you. Why do you keep rescheduling?”

“You have cancelled three major work life conferences. Fess up.”

Surrendering to the Human Condition and Fessing Up

No – I wasn’t dying. But there were no guarantees the malady would not leave me with scars of paralysis or other issues. So…after some prodding by colleagues, I felt an obligation to share how I navigated the intersection of work life and sudden illness. After all, that’s what I signed up to do here at Judy Martin’s Work Life Nation, although it’s been more like Work Sleep Nation for a while.

I knew upon the occurrence that I was dealing with what could last a few weeks – to a potentially long term, even life-altering disability or deformity. My response involved lots of crying, surrender to the situation and then my survival instincts kicked in. I’ve been a reporter for 20-plus years and I was going to systematically figure out the fastest track toward healing while mustering up enough energy to work; albeit that workload was cut by 50-75% in the first few weeks of the illness. The first lesson – my work life scenario had to change and I had to adopt an even more flexible working model for the short term.

7 Keys for the Work Life Merge when Navigating Illness

This sudden illness brought me to my knees and forced me to tap a deep inner strength that coddled my sanity along the way. I sat down and gave thought to the most important priorities, everything else was put on the back burner in stages. There was no choice but to merge the work life scenario and become even more flexible that I was before.  It meant taking only certain assignments, even if they didn’t pay as well. Planning naps every day  – twice a day. And somehow fitting in doctors visits twice a week. As an independent contractor, I govern my work in a flexible manner. But suddenly, my workload and income was contingent on how well I was healing – and healing was contingent on how much cash I could spend on extra procedures (such as acupuncture) to heal faster. Catch 22. So I made ground rules.

Key #1: At all costs, health comes first: Even if it means dipping deeper into the bank account for a short period of time or asking for outside help.

Key #2: Keep stress levels to a minimum, and get plenty of sleep. Stress deters the healing process. Plain and simple.

Key #3: Financial Stability: As an independent contractor, cash flow might slow down – but it can’t stop.I had to take on less strenuous freelance work for the short term.

Key #4: Maintain business relationships: Check in with major clients to be sure everything is up to snuff. If you can’t get it done, delegate. Do you have a cache of colleagues you can call upon to help out short term?

Key #5: Transparency and communication: Close friends need to know what’s happening and important clients or your workplace should be informed to a degree.

Key #6: Understand your health options and insurance coverage: Read the fine print in the doctors office, ask questions and get a second opinion. Getting the wrong medication, having an unnecessary procedure, or not knowing the consequences of a health care choice eats into recovery time. I ran into all three conundrums.

Key #7: Inquire about your workplace guidelines regarding illness: Every workplace is different. Read up on the Family Leave Act and ask your Human Resources department about your options. Some companies have their own policies for long-time employees. What are the consequences of taking a leave of absence or time off without pay? If your management is receptive, ask about more flexible working arrangements. Most of all be honest about what you can and can not do.

The 5 Rules for Engaging on the Grid when Navigating Illness

Due to this health issue I had to head off the grid to recover while working in spurts. My blogging stopped, my Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn updates were no more than sporadic. But I tried to check in at least once a week and made an effort to read a few articles or other blogs a few times a week. But participating in “the grid” was important to fuel business, my brand and my work life content, so I had to manage my time efficiently during the little time that I was functioning with my eye open. Here were some rules that I instituted:

Rule #1: Determine how many hours a day you can work on the grid. Give yourself a limit.

Rule#2: The hours that you are able to work should be spent on goal-oriented projects not web surfing unless research is part of your responsibilities.

Rule#3: To keep my presence on-line, I scheduled a few blog posts to hit a few times a month. These were evergreen posts that could be run at any time – but I could not keep up and should have adopted the following rule sooner than I did.

Rule #4: Call on your social media community in your niche. You’ll find support in that group and they might be willing to do guest posts while you are recovering.

Rule #5: Use an aggregator like Hooter or TubeMogul to post to Twitter, LinkeIn and FaceBook simultaneously.

A Conscious Approach to Recovery and Enduring Work Life Hell

I think the most important key to recovery is to find some serenity in the healing process. Sometimes we’re brought to our knees in tragedy, but how we endure that journey can either speed up our recovery or render it more daunting. My greatest gift this lifetime is that I’ve paid attention to the chaotic episodes I’ve endured in my work life and health, and have turned them into learning experiences. As such, I cultivate resilience through meditation, contemplation and exercise daily. A regular practice to cultivate serenity gives you a bit of an edge when tragedy hits. But that’s an individual choice.

Illness can break one down. It’s very important to be kind to ourselves when we get sick. We tend to beat ourselves up. At its core, health care issues force change. Unwanted change takes us out of our comfort zone and makes us vulnerable to our own self critical thinking and the judgment of others. Such challenges may erode our patience and ego, but inevitably, conquering them leads to growth.

When faced with illness how do you manage your work life merge?  What do you do when you get so sick that working takes a backseat? Please share your wisdom!

Our Upcoming Year of Work-Life Gratitude

Written by Kirsten Taggart

Every year as the holiday season ends and the New Year becomes the present year, we all seem to be filled with renewed hope and excitement in anticipation of what the incoming year may bring: new opportunities, experiences, jobs, relationships. Whether we make resolutions or not, the calendar change represents a fresh start we are only given once a year.

I recently saw a video of a young boy receiving an Xbox for Christmas and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone so grateful (seriously, watch it. I dare you not to cry). He is so appreciative of the generous gesture from his parents and it got me thinking, what if everyone was that gratuitous?

The more I thought about this video the more I became inspired to thank those close to me for their constant support and kindness. Without them I would not be who or where I am today.

But in fear of sounding like a self-help book, I’m going to skip spilling my inner-most, holiday-triggered emotions and cut to the chase.

Let’s make 2011 the year of gratitude in both the workplace and your social communities.

You may think that simple things such as saying “thank you” several times a day seem trivial. However, I’m asking you to not only participate in these acts of kindness but also to appreciate the day-to-day experiences that you, unlike so many, are fortunate enough to have. We live in a go, go, go, world, but sometimes it’s worth it to take a minute and smell the roses. This is extremely important during the job search, as the smallest gesture of kindness can set you apart from the crowd.

Doing so doesn’t take more than a few minutes out of your day either.

  • Were you recently interviewed for a job? Send a thank you note.
  • Receive great advice from a colleague? Do something for them in return.
  • Did someone do you a favor?  Give them a call.

Showing appreciation doesn’t have to come in the form of gifts. A simple gesture can make a world of difference and strengthen even the most informal of relationships. This can strengthen a work relationship, especially after one starts to appreciate and cherish these small acts.

Additionally, thank yourself once in a while. I know so many people who work themselves into the ground and barely take the time to breathe. Where’s the fun in that? Live a little! Treat yourself to a massage or a weekend camping trip. After a long week at work, it is important to rejuvenate and remind us of the beauty of life. We all deserve a break from time to time.

Whatever resolutions you may make for yourselves this year, remember to think about those who care for you most, whether it be our families or our work community. Life without kindness is no life at all. In the hustle and bustle of the New Year, remember to take some time to truly appreciate the little things in life. I wish all of you a very happy, healthy, successful, and grateful 2011.