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Taking Work-Life Balance By The Horns

(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.)

A colleague recently told me she was suffering from anxiety about heading back to work, after a week off.  In gory detail, she described a nightmare in which her manager littered her office with big black hairy spiders. Pretty much how she feels at work, she effused.  “The creepy crawlies never seem to go away.”

That type of stress dominates her work life experience, and it’s not foreign to many of us. And sharing news and tips on how to reduce that work life stress is where my focus will be here at Talent Culture.

The American working pool has been thrust into what I refer to as “a work-related field of cognitive dissonance.” Stuck in a vacuum of perpetual information overload, courtesy technology and our human response to it, we’re also pressed to pay attention at work and excel or suffer potential consequences.  Survey please! The numbers tell the story:

An American Psychological Association survey on work-related stress found that sixty-two percent of Americans hold work as having a significant impact on stress levels.

A survey by Princeton Survey Research Associates found seventy-five percent of employees believing that on-the-job stress has increased compared to the previous generation.

We are under enormous pressure to perform. To deliver. To excel. We juggle our working and living experience, but often fall into a merry-go-round of stress in what I refer to at WorkLifeNation.com as the  “UPED U” Cycle which is described below.

In simple terms, “UPED U” is the chaotic cycle we enter when our work life merge gets out of control and  “ups” our stress level leading to emotional turmoil and potentially less productivity.

The solution – to find creative ways to throw a kink into that cycle.

Here’s what happens in that cycle, along with a few pointers on how to stop the insanity! I’ll be writing more about the antidotes to these cyclical monsters in future posts.

1.     Unlimited Incoming:

A barrage of information continually comes our way.

NEW RULE: Consciously limit your news intake. Aggregate your favorite news sources and blogs on line and choose one time a day to focus on them. Depending on your job, determine the best time of
day to check e-mails and stick to it. If you are addicted to web surfing –limit your time doing that.

2.    Perceived Availability:

We’re all wired to our families, work and communities and everyone else knows you’re tethered to technology so we’ve created the perception that we’re always available.

NEW RULE: Come to agreement with the most important people from work and in your family that you communicate with regularly. Speak with them and share your daily work life scenario. People will assume that you are available unless you tell them otherwise.

3.    Expectation of Instant Gratification:

That perceived availability leads to other people’s needs to be attended to. They want to be heard and answered in the moment.

NEW RULE: Unless your work requires it, do not respond to e-mails in the moment and limit your texting.  This takes a lot of discipline and you will break this rule a lot depending on the circumstances.

4.    Desire to Deliver and Excel:

Our nature is to not fall short. To nurture and want to please in what is a competitive working environment. To make our boss or clients happy, we desire to deliver and excel to keep up with the Jones’.

NEW RULE: Don’t be so caught up in how other people define success. Be confident in your work your deliverables. Only you know how productive you are andwhat might need to change to up your game. There will be times when you might have to enter into the extreme work zone, but be aware of your limitations to avoid burnout.

5. Unlimited Interruptions:

In order to please everyone at the same time, we are often taken out of the moment, are
lead astray from the initial task and surrender to multi-tasking.

NEW RULE: Stop the insanity. Find a place in the cycle to make that tiny aberration in the stream of chaos to offset the tumble effect. It’s really about you taking control a little more control. Being conscious that the choices you make can mean the difference between burnout and a productive work life merge.

The trick is to monitor your incoming, and make concrete choices somewhere in this cycle to stump the system. Where do you think is the best place to stop the cycle? Please share your solutions to avoid an “UPED U.”

Workplace Culture Doesn't Fatigue Me: #TChat Recap

It was Q2.

In “Employment Rage”, Howard Adamsky wrote, “Corporate America is not human.” If this is so, does culture really matter?

My answer: It’s not human, but we are and we drive the culture. Top down, sideways, bottom up.

So yes, it does matter.

Sure there were many other responses much brighter than mine (you can read the transcript here), but it’s not the fact corporate America is inhuman or the fact we can overcome workplace culture fatigue in general that bothers me, it’s the fact that we still fight the work/life integration, regardless of how much we discuss the opposite.

Matt wrote yesterday in the #TChat preview:

After all, it’s culture that defines the best (and the worst) places to work…For HR professionals, Recruiters and Executive Leadership, culture is often a top down directive, but the employees are on the front lines, truly defining a corporate culture and create its impact.  Culture’s a lot like meetings and memos: it’s an inescapable, and inevitable, part of the employee (and candidate) experience.

Culture’s a lot like meetings and memos: it’s an inescapable, and inevitable, part of the employee (and candidate) experience.

And at times is sheer joy and fluffy rainbows, while at other times is complete and utter hell.

Like life. It’s inescapable.  I wouldn’t want it any other way.  Which brings me to my point.

I read an article in Fortune recently (and I can’t seem to find it again online or I would’ve linked it) on how detrimental it is for managers to be friends with their staff.  Or to be friends at all with anyone at work.

I’ve heard the arguments before.  I’ve made the same mistakes before.  But workplace culture is the magic mess we make at home, in the car, in the office, on the phone, with our bosses, with our colleagues, with our customers, with our competitors —

We succeed at work.  We fail.  We fall in love at work.  We breakdown.  We lift each other up at work.  We rip each other a new a-hole.

Just like in life. With all the talk of work/life integration the workplace itself really would prefer to keep a sterile separation.  But that’s impossible.

Businesses will come and go.  Social communities will come and go.

What makes them come alive with culture and commerce is us.

Don’t tell me that doesn’t generate shareholder value.

Here were last night’s questions
  • Q1: In 3 words, describe the culture of your current/recent employer; was it the culture that lured you there or that drove you away?
  • Q2: In “Employment Rage”, Howard Adamsky wrote, “Corporate America is not human.” If this is so, does culture really matter?
  • Q3: What is your definition of “office politics” and how does it impact hiring and retention?
  • Q4:  What tools does your company use to assess “fit” during recruiting; how do these “track” to your culture?
  • Q5: What should CEOs be doing to create and lead a culture that generates shareholder value and what is this “value”?
  • Q6: What should all employees be doing to develop a culture that generates shareholder value?
  • Q7: How would you conduct a workplace culture audit? How often should this be repeated?

Top Contributors:

  1. @talentculture – 223
  2. @meghanmbiro – 118
  3. @KevinWGrossman – 105
  4. @LevyRecruits – 92
  5. @IanMondrow – 89
  6. @ValueIntoWords – 81
  7. @dawnrasmussen – 79
  8. @DinoDinosaur1 – 66
  9. @sbrownehr – 52
  10. @tfklass – 44

Love what you do and work hard every day. And the other way around too.

A very special thank you to Meghan M. Biro (a.k.a. Culture Queen), Steve Levy (a.k.a. Captain Rainbow Fluffy), Matt Charney (a.k.a. Information Superhero), @monster_works, @MonsterWW, everyone else from the TalentCulture Community and all the #TChat participants.

For without them, there is no culture.

See you next week for #TChat!  Next topic coming soon…

——–




Workplace Culture Fatigue: #TChat Preview

Originally posted by Matt Charney, one of #TChat’s moderators, on MonsterThinking Blog

Fortune recently released their annual 100 Best Companies to Work For list, which takes into account such factors as internal mobility, inclusion/diversity, employee training and satisfaction, among a litany of seemingly disparate criteria that, together, comprise what’s often referred to as “Corporate Culture.

It’s no surprise that the companies on Fortune’s list are widely recognized, in best practices publications and in recruitment literature, for having developed distinct and unique corporate cultures designed to attract, develop and retain top talent.  After all, it’s culture that defines the best (and the worst) places to work.

For HR professionals, Recruiters and Executive Leadership, culture is often a top down directive, but its employees on the front lines who truly define a corporate culture and create its impact.  Culture’s a lot like meetings and memos: it’s an inescapable, and inevitable, part of the employee (and candidate) experience.

That’s why “fit” is so important to talent acquisition and development; but what does it take for new employees, their managers, executive leadership and customers to fit in, and thrive, in a unique corporate/workplace culture?

Join the #TChat conversation live every Tuesday night with from 8-9 PM ET, 7-8 PM CT, 6-7 PM MT, and 5-6 PM PT. We also enjoy hearing from our global community and hope you can join from wherever you might be. Let’s explore what companies can do to create, implement and evolve the kind of corporate culture which drives employee satisfaction, engagement and ultimately, bottom line results.

#TChat Questions and Recommended Reading: 1.25.11

Here are the questions we’ll be discussing, along with some background reading, to help prepare and inform the #TChat conversation.  While this isn’t mandatory to get in on tonight’s #TChat action, we suggest checking out these articles by top career advice and talent management thought leaders to explore the possibilities (and pitfalls) of workplace culture:

Q1) In 3 words, describe the culture of your current/recent employer; was it the culture that lured you there or that drove you away?

Read: Personality and Corporate Culture: Where’s A Person To Fit?

Q2) In “Employment Rage”, Howard Adamsky wrote, “Corporate America is not human.” If this is so, does culture really matter?

Read: The New Rules of Engagement (Excerpt from “Employment Rage”)

Q3) What is your definition of “office politics” and how does it impact hiring and retention?

Read: Office Politics: How Well Do You Play the Game?

Q4)  What tools does your company use to assess “fit” during recruiting; how do these “track” to your culture?

Read: Culture Brand: Create Magical Distinction to Attract the Very Best Talent

Q5) What should CEOs be doing to create and lead a culture that generates shareholder value and what is this “value”?

Read: The Cornerstone of An Engaged Workforce Culture

Q6) What should all employees be doing to develop a culture that generates shareholder value?

Read: It’s Not the Stupid Culture; It’s the Culture, Stupid!

Q7) How would you conduct a workplace culture audit? How often should this be repeated?

Read: Practical Ways To Address Employee Engagement

Visit www.talentculture.com for more great information on #TChat and resources on culture fatigue and how to overcome it!

Our Monster social media team supports the effort behind #TChat and its mission of sharing “ideas to help your business and your career accelerate – the right people, the right ideas, at the right time.”

#TChat is brought to you by @TalentCulture, @MeghanMBiro, @KevinWGrossman, @monster_works, and @MonsterWW – They will be joining the #TChat conversation live every Tuesday night with from 8-9 PM ET, 7-8 PM CT, 6-7 PM MT, and 5-6 PM PT Hope to see you tonight at 8 PM ET for #TChat!

Take a Stand: Welcome to TC, Steve Browne!

Hello all, Steve Browne here.  I am the newest contributor to TalentCulture and could not be more excited to be on board. Here is my latest post from my blog – I look forward to what’s ahead!

This past weekend I traveled to the heart of Amish country in Ohio to beautiful Berlin, Ohio for the Classic in the Country basketball tournament. It was a full weekend of great high school varsity girls basketball!

The “unique” aspect of this tournament vs. others is that when the girls come out to the court before the game begins something other than the National Anthem occurred. (Fear not, they play the Anthem at the beginning of each day.)  The announcer asked everyone to stand and then they played a quote from a Martin Luther King, Jr. speech.  It was incredibly moving – and relevant!!

You see, my daughter only knows of Dr. King from History class or a textbook. Now that we are recognizing the 25th anniversary of the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, it made me reflective as well because Dr. King did things that we in HR should be doing as well . . .

Recognize Injustice!

Too often HR sees things that happen in companies and seeks the middle ground vs. addressing things directly.  You see, if you ask Management, HR represents them. If you ask employees, they’d say HR represents . . . Management. The fact is that we represent all employees and we are obligated to look at all people practices that aren’t in the best interest of employees and get rid of them.

I’m not talking about obvious egregious or illegal behavior. That’s a no-brainer.  I’m talking about policies (that we often generate) that do no good to the company. Honestly, most of our polices are created to address a few people’s poor behavior that we should be addressing directly any way!

Take a stand!

Do you like being ambiguous and wishy-washy? I don’t and I hope that as HR practitioners, you don’t either. It’s tough to take stands on things but companies expect us to make decisions and not practice conflict avoidance. People are tough. There’s no doubt about that. However, if you learn how to frame your approach and deal intentionally with people, you’ll be amazed at how effective an HR professional you’ll be!

Be the one person!

Too often people are waiting for someone to act. When HR is passive bad things happen more often than not and you become the person who’s always “putting out fires.” We desparately want someone to take action.

That needs to be YOU!

Dr. King took action when it wasn’t popular, when it involved incredible risk, and it represented those who weren’t in power. I want to be that kind of HR person all the time.

How about you?

A Good Detective Knows Emotional Intelligence Trumps IQ– Just Ask My Dad

In the fields I have studied, emotional intelligence is much more powerful than IQ in determining who emerges as a leader. IQ is a threshold competence. You need it, but it doesn’t make you a star. Emotional Intelligence can.”
–Warren Bennis, leadership pioneer, author and researcher


My dad was in the business of chasing bad guys across paper.

And he was really good at it; he had found his true passion in work and life — his groovy do-be-do.

As a detective in charge of forgery and fraud in the California Central Valley town I grew up in, chasing bad guys (and gals) across paper was how he always described it to my sister and me.

Dad’s passion as a young man was justice, maybe a little on the side of the professional wild west side of justice, but full of “to protect and serve” just the same.

After the Air Force and years of being a patrolman he found what we was really good at: finding the folks involved in check scams and credit card scams and embezzlement scams and identity scams and the like.

My dad was (is) smart — book smart and street smart — but he had an edge, the uncanny ability to empathically connect with anyone, anywhere at anytime. As the kids would say, he had the “soft skills” goin’ on.

He had organically developed the ability to lead “self” with lots of emotional intelligence, before emotional intelligence was truly defined and developed as it is today in the workplace.

Good guys, bad guys, in the middle guys (and gals) — it didn’t matter. He could immediately connect with them. Rapport and trust soon followed. His emotional self-awareness and awareness of others’ emotions and actions knew no limits. Some can counterfeit this behavior, but it can’t be sustained with any authenticity.

No wonder those he arrested couldn’t help but like him; he called them his “clients”.

That was all well and good, but from a police “business” perspective, he had a very high case-closed ratio and his arrests usually stuck and were prosecuted.

Of course, he had return customers, but he just kept doing what he did until he retired in early 1994.

During his career he had the opportunity for multiple leadership roles and was recruited by other city police departments and even the secret service, but he never wanted to leave where has was and the position he was in.

Thank goodness for that, because otherwise my mom and him maybe never would’ve met.

There are those who just naturally develop their emotional intelligence (EQ), who live a synchronous melody appropriate action and reaction, but most of us need assistance in the form of assessments, development programs and coaching in order to be better empathic leaders of self and others.  The good news is that we can develop it and sustain it.

Here are a couple of business examples of what developing high emotional intelligence (EQ) can do:

1) Fortune Brands saw 100% of leaders who developed their EQ skills through classroom training, coaching, and online learning exceed the performance targets set for them in the company’s metric-based performance management system. Just 28% of leaders who failed to develop their EQ skills exceeded their performance targets (Bradberry, 2005).

2) Emotionally intelligent leaders are indeed more successful than their less emotionally intelligent peers. So are their companies. At PepsiCo, for example, executives identified as emotionally intelligent generated 10% more productivity and added nearly $4 million in economic value; for Sheraton, an emotional intelligence initiative helped increase the company’s market share by 24% (Freedman & Everett, 2008).

And the 2011 New Year episode 81 of HR Happy Hour featured author and consultant Adele Lynn of the Lynn Leadership Group who talked all about the value of emotional intelligence in the workplace.

There’s a lot more research out there to substantiate the value of assessing and developing emotional intelligence.

Groovy do-be-do intersects at Emotional Intelligence HQ. That’s hip Em-Tel worth having.

2011 Workplace Culture Predictions and Commentary: #TChat Recap

It was almost like science fiction.

Almost.

The fact that last night’s #TChat was about 2011 workplace culture predictions and commentary, and we as pseudo-soothsayers and part-time prophets were locked in a post-economic-apocalyptic vault painting the walls with phosphorescent Twiffiti.

Some of which was right on the bottom line, and some of which was, well, not.  Smart, but not.

Here were the questions:

  • Q1: Given what you believe to be true – and factual – will 2011 bring more or less net hiring – and why?
  • Q2: In 2011 will there be a change in rate of A-player exodus? Why or why not? If yes, initiatives can be taken to improve retention?
  • Q3: Will innovation and R&D be taken off life support this year? If yes, what leadership initiatives can be taken to drive it?
  • Q4: Leadership development always on the lips of executives, analysts but will this be the year organizations invest? Why or not?
  • Q5: Managing greater mobile/contingent workforce appears significant business initiative; what are orgs doing to ensure its success?
  • Q6: Social networking will continue to be a critical marketing and recruiting tool, but will the ROI be there?

Some things that struck me were:

  • Hiring will pick up (and is), but there just won’t be enough jobs for all those unemployed, and more of the jobs are in emerging economies outside the U.S.  Read this and that.
  • The contingent workforce will be on the rise.
  • Virtual mobility will be on the rise.
  • Although no one likes to work for jerks, A-players will only jump if they have viable opportunities to jump to, or they get the entrepreneurial bug.
  • Barriers of entry into many markets are so few these days that the companies that want to stay in business never stopped innovating, and investing in R&D, and collaborative partnerships, and marketing, and business development…

I’m telling you — the vault was aglow with prime Twiffiti. You should view the transcript if you have a moment.  Over 300 contributors this week, the top 10 of which were:

  • @talentculture – 249
  • @meghanmbiro – 151
  • @KevinWGrossman – 73
  • @HRMargo – 67
  • @LevyRecruits – 60
  • @JeffWaldmanHR – 58
  • @IanMondrow – 58
  • @dawnrasmussen – 56
  • @CyndyTrivella – 55
  • @ValueIntoWords – 46

Next Tuesday, January 11, from 5-6 p.m. PT/8-9 p.m. ET, we’re tackling The New Old World of Job Hunting and Hiring.

Now, how do I get this glowing paint off my hands?


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.

Taking Over the World With Social, Mobile & Video Rock Stars

Yes, we want to take over the world.  Our monster end-of-year #TChat show about how social, mobile and video as rock stars impact workplace culture and predictions for 2011 was a rousing success.

Over 1,500 smarty pants tweets in the hour alone.  A hat tip and a thank you to all of you who did.

Top Contributors included:

  1. @talentculture – 315
  2. @meghanmbiro – 147
  3. @KevinWGrossman – 120
  4. @LevyRecruits – 73
  5. @dawnrasmussen – 67
  6. @jillianwalker – 64
  7. @tedcoine – 57
  8. @DrJanice – 53
  9. @IanMondrow – 50
  10. @EmilieMeck – 47

We referenced social, mobile and video as “rock stars” — even though we meant they are figurative rock stars and wanted to discuss their impact on workplace culture.

But some of the discussion morphed to literal social media rock stars in organizations today, and that’s okay.  In fact, much of the conversation was about how companies could better perform by allowing social to permeate.

And video and mobile are the two dots they’re connected to with dotted lines to us all…

Companies that don’t allow social media are killing their brand ambassadors.

Amen to that.

Here were some of everyone’s 2011 Predictions:

  • Mobile/virtual workforce on the rise. Video conferencing and coworking are where it’s at in 2011.
  • Companies will wake up and develop more inclusive SM policies at work.
  • HR will have to ROCK in 2011 if it wants to remain relevant. It will and the gap between SM and practitioner will shrink.
  • I am expecting that Role-Based Assessment will rock and roll in 2011.
  • Google to buy FB. FB to be Google. Googling your employees now unravels their whole life & danger zone commences.
  • Closer joining up of social networks. less engagment in channels. More use of 3rd party apps.
  • Lines moving between trad. old school ‘work’ continue to get erased as more people stay connected.
  • Companies are going to go to their legal dpt to define ‘privacy’ as lines between work / play get blurred.
  • Increased buy-in & participation from corp. leaders to join the conversation (social media).
  • Traditional workplaces will continue to un-teether and ppl will have to find new creative ways to connect via SM. Hello cloud!
  • More tools will become available to consolidate our SM.
  • Global concerns about privacy will slow personal SMV growth as companies trip over themselves to push out more “relevant” content.
  • Companies incorporate multimedia interviews in their hiring strategy!
  • In 2011 LinkedIn will reveal more strategies that require people to purchase premium memberships.
  • SM for the team – coming soon, because first you have to measure networking quality!

Meghan added at the end:

“My 2010 prediction held true. Workplace Brands = An intricate collection of Personal Brands :-) So much more to talk about!”

So let’s do that next time on Tuesday, January 4, 2011, from 8-9 p.m. ET.  We’re going to continue workplace culture predictions for 2011 and talk more about what they mean!

#TChat wouldn’t be what it was without all of you, so thank you again!  Happiest of Holidays to you all!

The Impact of Social, Mobile & Video on Workplace Culture: #TChat Recommended Reading

I thought it would be useful to our readers to include weekly recommended readings in preparation for #TChat.

We will give this format a whirl from now into 2011. Wow, did I just say that? 2010 has been such an interesting year for workplace culture innovation. As you may know, I’m in love with ideas. It’s no big secret after all. Technologies like Skype and trendy cool mobile applications are revolutionizing the ways we connect at the office and virtual environments. So much fun.

Our “greatest hits” reading list for tonight’s #TChat is brought to you by our collaborators at @monster_works and @MonsterWW – They will be joining the #TChat conversation live every Tuesday night with from 8-9 PM ET, 7-8 PM CT, 6-7 PM MT, and 5-6 PM PT.

We also welcome global input and hope you can join from wherever you might be. We certainly want to hear from you. We are committed to creating educational content and social community here at the Culture of Talent. Learning is continuous here and we are nothing without people. People (AKA: human capital) are the most valuable asset to any organization or community.

Read more from MonsterThinking (originally posted by Matt Charney) on tonight’s #TChat topic. The Impact of Social, Mobile and Video on Workplace Culture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We will see you tonight and look forward! Thank you for engaging with us on this channel.

Happy Holidays from our Community! Cheers.

Magnetic Cultures and Twitter Chats — The Latest #TChat Recap

Talk about a magnetic culture.

At least in the context of online Twitter Chats in 140 characters or less of reciprocal conversation and idea exchange — we’ve got a winner.

My fearless culture cohort in crime, TalentCulture founder Meghan M. Biro, and I started #TChat back on November 16, 2010, and have now hosted four forums.

The latest titled The Workplace Culture Audit:  Building a Magnetic Company Culture and Recruiting the Best Talent was our biggest yet.

Check out the stats here — over 250 contributors last night alone sharing over 2,000 tweets.

Our good friend Eric Leist, an Emerging Technology Strategist with Allen & Gerristen, wrote about Twitter chat madness this week.

Let’s get back to last night’s topic, though.  Meghan’s forte is company culture and here are some of her thoughts on the subject:

Companies faced with retaining their most important asset – employees = people – should focus on creating a workplace culture that accommodates not only the organization’s need to meet business objectives, but also what resonates with an employees’ need to see themselves as a key partner in the organization’s success. Let’s ensure people feel valued and respected in this equation at all levels in the organization.

 

Workplace culture is so much more than a mission statement or having a cool ping pong table for breaks or sharing free sodas in the refrigerator (these perks matter of course). It’s a powerful metaphor for the workplace that allows employees to compellingly describe where they work, what the business does, and what its value is to customers. Companies successful in creating a unique and compelling workplace culture will have much more success attracting and retaining talented people who experience ‘culture fit’ with the company.  It’s so important and often overlooked.

Right on the money.  If you don’t have a workplace culture that attracts and retains quality talent, that gets most of them excited about the why of do and not just the what, then your days in business may be numbered.

I say “may be” because cultural wasteland firms can still produce a product and/or service the market wants and be awash in huge profits.  You know, like banking, investment and financial services firms.  (Did I just write that?  Please, no e-mails or phone calls.)  Magnetic culture and business can be mutually exclusive but are oh so much better together.

Magnetic culture is organic, and although leaders help to spark it, fanning the flames comes from inside.

You can read more from Meghan on culture at Culture Brand: Create Magical Distinction to Attract the Very Best Talent.

Here were the questions from last night’s #TChat:

  • Q1: How do you define company culture and what makes it magnetic?
  • Q2: Why aren’t happy hour Fridays, flex time and nap couches enough for a magnetic company culture?
  • Q3: Why is culture a key determinant in attracting and retaining talent?
  • Q4: What constitutes fair compensation including benefits and how does that affect culture?
  • Q5: Do your talent objectives align with the business objectives?  Vice-versa?
  • Q6: How can employers make employee training/career development a priority and give culture more meaning?
  • Q7: Does “open” communication exist in your company? What does this term mean to you?
  • Q8: Why or why not is it important to have an emotionally intelligent company?
  • Q9: How are you challenging your employees (good or bad)? How is your employer challenging you?
  • Q10: How important is it for your personal values to match those of the company?  Vice-versa?

The caliber of attendees and their answers was outstanding.  Smart and savvy folk.  You can see a sampling below or search hashtag #TChat stream to read more.

A very special thanks to Monster Thinking for their support and partnership.  @monster_works and @MonsterWW will be joining the #TChat conversation live every Tuesday night with from 8-9 PM ET, 7-8 PM CT, 6-7 PM MT, and 5-6 PM PT.

We also welcome global input and hope you can join from wherever you might be. We certainly want to hear from you. We are committed to creating educational content and social community here at the Culture of Talent. Learning is continuous here and we are nothing without people. People (AKA: human capital) are the most valuable asset to any organization or community.

Thank you all again for joining us!  More #TChat next Tuesday, December 21, 2010 — The Very, Merry Cheddar edition.  I have no idea what that means, but be there.

Monster is Thinking + Join our #TChat Community

Could this be any cooler or what?

What I mean is having MonsterThinking as a #TChat co-host and brand ambassador. That’s very cool. The Monster social media team supports the effort behind #TChat and our TalentCulture mission of sharing “ideas to help your business and your career accelerate – the right people, the right ideas, at the right time.”

The MonsterThinking blog explores the complex world of work and is more than just their tagline; it’s their mission. I always enjoy spending time with their talented team members at social media and career/workplace events and have personally known this company for many years and phases of their workplace culture.

I’m honored to have them on board with us. And of course, finding innovative ways to connect job seekers with the employers looking for them is what Monster’s all about. How can we not love this community of people?

@monster_works and @MonsterWW will be joining the #TChat conversation live every Tuesday night with from 8-9 PM ET, 7-8 PM CT, 6-7 PM MT, and 5-6 PM PT. We also welcome global input and hope you can join from wherever you might be. We certainly want to hear from you. We are committed to creating educational content and social community here at the Culture of Talent. Learning is continuous here and we are nothing without people. People (AKA: human capital) are the most valuable asset to any organization or community.

Read more from MonsterThinking on tonight’s #TChat topic. The Workplace Culture Audit: Steps To Building a Magnetic Company Culture and Recruiting the Best Talent.

We will see you tonight and look forward to a new 2011 jam packed with opportunity to learn and grow! Thank you for engaging with us on this channel.

Critical Thinking: Asking the "Right" Questions

Originally posted by Chris Jones, a TalentCulture contributing writer. He is an IT Strategy & Change Management consultant, with a passion for driving new levels of engagement and learning in the modern organization. His research areas include the dynamics of organization culture, and more recently, the importance and implications of critical thinking. Check out his blog, Driving Innovation in a Complex World, for more

We’ve all been assured there’s no such thing as a stupid question.  If you’ve taken the time to ask, the story goes, you must have wanted to learn something.  That’s certainly a step in the right direction.

In the hyper accelerated world of social media, of course, you better keep those questions coming.  Contacts are made and broken in a matter of minutes.  Exchanges in chats or online work groups can be fleeting.  Sometimes the conversation seems to end just after its started, though hours may have ticked off the clock.  The prize, it seems, goes to those with the fastest keystrokes and the greatest brevity, the true masters of online multi-tasking.

I agree with the conventional wisdom. Those skills are helpful.  And I’d like to add to those dynamics a completely different one.

Quite simply, it comes down to critical thinking.

I’m not mandating academic degrees or journalistic analysis here, though we’ll borrow a page or two from those spaces.

What we’re talking about is putting careful thought into the deeper questions behind the points that are being broadcast so rapidly in front of you.  Challenging the ‘why?’, or the ‘how?’, and importantly, ‘under what cirumstances?’.

All of these thought processes have introduced the notion of ‘critical thinking’, an increasingly important aspect of our virtual society.  Its the very fuel of the ideas that are generated when we have a conversation.  Sadly, in our modern world, critical thinking gives way to the mechanical communication of our personal and professional lives. “Have you taken out the trash?”  “What’s the weather tomorrow?”  “Did you get the report out on time?”  We become almost robotic in our actions and in our relationships, with devastating results.  Without focus or reinforcement of an active mind, the knack and appetite for creativity can literally drain from our lives.  And our most important relationships – those with family, close friends, and immediate coworkers – are jeopardized, all due to lack of focused energy and interest.

We talked a few posts back about engagement and how to connect with those around us.  Those themes and steps remain critical.

We’ve also talked about culture, where a bias for learning and connecting in our world helps shape our attitudes.  Bringing this discussion forward, Carol Dweck, PhD, in her book, Mindset (2006), talks about “growth mindset” as a way to approach the world that brings critical thinking front and center.  I suggest you track down this book, and read it.  If you’re behind in your reading, I plan to summarize it’s main points in a future post.

Cultures of learning and a knack for engagement are a critical combination.  These initial conditions create the opportunity – if we choose to take it – to ask the right questions.  And there are dividends to those who take the time and make the effort.

So what are the right questions?  At the risk of generalizing, I’d hazard a definition that they are:

Open-ended queries that challenge the listener’s knowledge base, exposing root causes or unseen problems, and providing alternative contexts that create a spark for the inception of a new (or enhanced) idea.

The ability to change frame of reference is important.  Some of the magic in challenging our preconceived notions comes from changes in point of view.  Here are some examples.

  1. You’ve just met a person online that seems to share your perspectives, but your domain expertise is different from theirs; what introductory tweet is most likely to gain their interest and prompt a response?
  2. A well known figure is tweeting in a chat session.  Many will simply RT or respond with “love your book.”  How else might you engage them in genuine way, as a means to expand the conversation?
  3. You’re embroiled in a dispute with a coworker that is impacting your team and your relationship with this person. Do you vent to anyone who will listen, escalate to the boss, or get quality time with the person to get to the core of the problem?  If the latter, how would you approach it?

Are these the right questions?  Well these 3 certainly won’t change the world.  But they may help you get that gray matter into gear again.  In the end, perhaps there is no such thing as a stupid question or a “right” question.  But the excellent, thought-provoking questions are out there, and they take a little work.  Challenge yourself to come up with a few, and try them out on the folks who seem to care about the topics that you care about.

If you do this often, especially via twitter or blog comments (as both seem to bring higher than average appetites for engagement), I think you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll be in conversations on topics that matter, often with people who can help make a difference.

Learning. Personal development. Progress. Who knew? Aren’t those some of the main reasons we engage with others in the first place?

Emotional Intelligence: Inaugural #TChat Recap

Bravo! It’s safe to say that our first #TChat attracted talented, insightful participants eager to engage (one of our favorite verbs). You can read up on our preparation post to see our introduction of the chat idea to the community. This is a wonderful work in progress.

At the intersection of Talent + Culture, you’re all welcomed for your like-mindedness and celebrated for your unique thinking.

At the intersection of Talent + Culture, you’re all right here.

Our community.  Your community.  The TalentCulture Community.

The first one was last night, November 16, from 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. ET.  We discussed Emotional Intelligence and the importance of assessing it and developing it, which for us, is everything that makes a best place to work – the best talent (people) and the best workplace culture.

There are many varying definitions of emotional intelligence, but the one we used last night was:

Emotional intelligence is a person’s ability to understand and manage their emotions and those of others.

You can check out the participation stats here, and the transcript, but we had a smart bunch of diverse folk during the hour and beyond.  Lots who believe that the two decades of science and research behind emotional intelligence is sound and valid, and yet many contrarians who thought EI is a whole bunch of hoo-hah.

During the hour alone, there were over 240 contributors and over 1,400 tweets.  Not sure how that compares with other Tweet Chats, but we certainly weren’t expecting that kind of response.  Thrilled, but didn’t expect it.

The questions we asked included:

  • Question #1: What role do emotions play in the workplace? And should they play a role?
  • Question #2: How do you deal with conflict in the workplace?
  • Question #3: How can emotional intelligence help (or hurt) employees engage with stakeholders both inside/outside a company?
  • Question #4: Are virtual/mobile workforces changing the way we emotionally engage (or don’t) and communicate with one another?
  • Question #5: How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if he/she was highly emotionally intelligent?

Okay, so #5 was a joke.  You got us there.

For those of you who asked if companies are really investing in assessing and developing emotional intelligence to improve the bottom line (like @BethHarte — thank you!), here are some examples (EI and EQ are interchangeable):

  • According to Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, for leadership positions, emotional intelligence is more important than cognitive intelligence.
  • At PepsiCo, executives identified as emotionally intelligent generated 10% more productivity and added nearly $4 million in economic value.
  • At Sheraton, an emotional intelligence initiative helped increase the company’s market share by 24%.
  • L’ Oreal realized a $91,370 increase per head for salespeople selected for EQ skills. The group also had 63% less turnover than sales staff not part of the EQ program.
  • Coca-Cola saw division leaders who developed EQ competencies outperform their targets by more than 15%. Division leaders who didn’t develop their EQ missed targets by the same margin.
  • The US Air Force reduced recruiter turnover from 35% annually to 5% annually by selecting candidates high in emotional intelligence. Total cost savings of $3 million per year on a $10,000 investment.
  • Hallmark Communities sales staff who developed emotional intelligence were 25% more productive than their low EQ counterparts and EQ was more important to executive job performance than character, strategic thinking, and focus on results.
I’ve included some tweet screen shots below from last night for your viewing pleasure.  A special thanks to our very own @MeghanMBiro and @TalentCulture for their ongoing dedication to innovation within the community and beyond.  Also, very special thank you’s go out to our community supporters @HRMargo @Brainzooming @Monster_WORKS @BillBoorman @sourcepov @TanveerNaseer @AvidCareerist @ValueIntoWords @KeppieCareers and countless others for their fabulous participatory support. We heart you all!

Join us for #TChat every Tuesday from 8-9 p.m. EST, 5-6 p.m. PT and 7-8 p.m. CT.

Next week’s topic to be announced soon! You can join in from all over the globe!

How to Create & Sustain a Mentorship Program

Employers: I highly recommend working on a strategy now to retain the employees you have and hire top talent from the classes in the future. My suggestion? Start a mentorship program. It may seem like a daunting task to start up a new program, but ultimately, a mentorship program is a cost-effective way to make your employees more comfortable, productive and engaged.

Here’s how to get started:

Begin with the end in mind. What is your intent? You should have measurable goals in mind before starting your program. You also need organizational commitment from the top.

Decide who the participants will be. Who will be the mentors? The mentees? Will mid-level employees be mentoring interns? Senior level mentoring entry-level?

What will the nature of the interaction be?

  • Single leader mentoring circle: one leader and many mentees
  • Mixed level mentoring circle: a mixed group of mentors and mentees
  • Peer mentoring: each member of the group is on the same professional level
  • E-mentoring: use phone and e-mail to interact with participants
  • Reverse mentoring: junior employees mentor senior staff

How will you review the program? What will deem your mentorship program “successful”? What measures do you have in place? Have you committed yourself to a process of continual improvement?

The first 90-120 days is important to determining both short- and long-term success for new employees, and with a mentorship program in place they can start to better understand the culture, their fit within the organization, their associates and the commitment of the organization as a whole to their success. And, over time, a level of trust and candor develops where the mentor can tell the mentee “things they don’t want to hear” (otherwise known as tough love).

By developing a mentorship program, you will have a better grasp on attracting and retaining new employees. With an increased organizational commitment, employees will likely see that and feel that they can grow with your organization.Other benefits of a mentorship program include:

  • Employees gain better understanding of organization through mentoring relationships
  • Employees create trusting relationships resulting in a more comfortable environment
  • Mentees learn from mentors
  • Mentors learn from mentees
  • Helps on-board new entry-level employees to new organizations and the quality of the new hire experience
  • Organization benefits from increased retention, engagement levels and overall effectiveness of their employees
  • Creates a foundation for success

I have several mentors, and I’m always on the hunt for more! I have mentors in my industry, as well as outside of it. Without them, I doubt I would be where I am today, as their guidance has truly been priceless.

Does your organization offer a mentorship program or something similar? How beneficial do you feel such a program would have been when you were first starting out?

Join @TalentCulture: #TChat on Tuesday

Sure there are a lot of Twitter Chats you could participate in.

But there isn’t one that I’m aware of that intersects Talent + Culture, where you’ll find:

  • People who are inspired by incredible individuals driving organizations and creating dramatic change.
  • Brands that are humanizing themselves as layers of hierarchy yield to emotionally-connected leaders.
  • Innovative expertise which catalyzes transformational growth online and in real life.

At the intersection of Talent + Culture, you’re all welcomed for your like-mindedness and celebrated for your unique thinking.

At the intersection of Talent + Culture, you’re all right here.

Our community.  Your community.  The TalentCulture Community.

We welcome you all to join us for our new Twitter Chat called #TChat.  The first one will be this Tuesday, November 16, from 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. ET where we’re going to discuss Emotional Intelligence and the importance of assessing it and developing it, which for us, is everything that makes a best place to work – the best talent (people) and the best workplace culture.

Discussing the intersection of Talent and Culture.  We consider all the things that make a best place to work, individual career growth, and social community development — ideas to help your business and your career accelerate – the right people, the right ideas, at the right time.  This includes all areas of HR, recruiting, career coaching, training and development, leadership development, product/service development, business development, ideation, marketing, social media, and much more.  We also explore engagement, creativity, innovation and collaboration between businesses, employees, and social communities.  It’s an open forum, so anyone interested is welcome.  Be ready for a lively discussion and bring your best place to work ideas!

Based on recent research, the difference between those who reach their full potential in the workplace and in life, and those who do not, is their degree of emotional intelligence (EI), or “people skills”.

These people skills (your EI) encompass:

  • An awareness of your own emotions,
  • An awareness of emotions in others,
  • An understanding of these emotions,
  • And the ability to manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.

However, according to recent research, 75% of the reasons careers get derailed are EI-related:

  • Unsatisfactory leadership across all levels during challenging times.
  • Inability to handle interpersonal issues.
  • Inability to adapt to change.
  • Inability to elicit trust.

Without question, successful leaders to individual contributors must possess business acumen along with industry knowledge and organizational insight. But the quality that separates the most successful leaders from their peers is emotional intelligence—the ability to understand, manage and respond effectively to one’s own emotions and the emotions of others.

In fact, research has confirmed that emotionally intelligent employees and leaders are indeed more successful than their less emotionally intelligent peers.  So are their companies.

At PepsiCo, for example, executives identified as emotionally intelligent generated 10% more productivity and added nearly $4 million in economic value; for Sheraton, an emotional intelligence initiative helped increase the company’s market share by 24%.

Please join us to share your questions and commentary about assessing and developing Emotional Intelligence.

What’s your role in the TalentCulture Community?

  • Sharing your real world expertise and candid perspectives.
  • Actively participating with others in expanding the depth and breadth of your reach.
  • Contributing as much as you benefit.

Join us for #TChat on Twitter every Tuesday from 8:00-9:00p.m. ET.  We’ll be posting a calendar of topics soon. Our live chat will be hosted by @KevinWGrossman @MeghanMBiro and @TalentCulture. Please Tweet or DM us for more scoop.

The Art of Saying "No" for Work/Life Balance

Written by Kirsten Taggart

How many times have you said “Yes” when you really wanted to say “No?” We strive to make our friends, family, and employers happy by doing favors when asked, but sometimes its okay – necessary, even – to just say no.  This doesn’t make you selfish or rude, but the way you say it shouldn’t leave the inquirer in bad spirits. When it comes time keep these five tips in mind.

1. Be polite and respectful. A graceful rejection will leave a much better impression than a defensive one.

2. Don’t lie. Saying no is best in its simplest form. You should never feel required to state your reason, so don’t feel pressured to give an excuse.

3. If it’s a task that can be completed another day, let them know that you will be able to help at a more suitable time.

4. Offer to ask around to see if someone else is available instead.

5. Hold your ground. If they ask again, calmly apologize and reiterate that now is a bad time.

It’s important to prioritize and choose your “yes’” wisely so as not to become overwhelmed. Don’t lose sight of the importance of personal time!

Culture Brand: Create Magical Distinction to Attract the Very Best Talent

I’ve been thinking a lot about brand abandonment lately. My next series of thoughts immediately go to how creating and maintaining a brand-based corporate culture can help businesses avoid brand abandonment, and help recruit and retain the very best talent.

I will refer way back yonder back to my post on building culture, which requires a company to establish several modes of interaction with employees, job seekers and customers. These modes of interaction – transactional, transformational and tacit – build trust with employees and candidates, enable competitive advantage, and may even facilitate the establishment of a social community within a larger organization.

A company that sees the benefits of building a brand-based corporate culture has a very distinct advantage in the hiring marketplace. Say you are running a small business. How do you attract talent? By creating a strong, desirable culture brand. A recent post at the Wall Street Journal speaks to the steps a small company might take to attract talent: communicate your success, share your excitement about the business’s potential, make a point of linking that potential to the applicant’s interests. Link corporate culture and brand with your people and the magic really starts.

Think you can’t compete on benefits and salary? Remember that your brand and culture are your biggest attractions. As Tim Hackett writes at MonsterThinking, most candidates want to work for a brand they admire. People love Nike because it’s cool, IBM because it’s a leader, Google because it’s an innovator. We can’t all work at those places, but we can observe their brands and cultures, and learn. Be your brand, treat people well, and don’t waiver or abandon your position.

Treating people well and running an ethical business is the secret sauce for really good brands. Bill Taylor says brand is culture, and culture is brand in a recent article at Harvard Business Review. When there’s a tight link between the two forces, customers will know, employees will know, job seekers will know. No risk of brand abandonment in this scenario: it’s baked right into the workplace culture as a foundation.

As the economy rebounds, employees may become restive. Job seekers may start flooding well-known brands with resumes in the hopes that finally someone will open the envelope, click on the email, or even a tweet. Your best defense, as an employer, is to have culture and brand in place. Be irresistible to your employees. Be desirable to candidates. Be your brand, revel in your culture, and never abandon either. The price is just too high.

The Fight Club Guide to Leadership Humility

I bet when someone asks you to name great leaders you think of Churchill, Sun Tzu, Jack Welch, Lincoln or others. Well listen up people because you’re missing someone. His name is…Tyler Durdin. Yes, Tyler Durdin. He is the main character in the movie Fight Club (Rated R) played by Brad Pitt.

In Fight Club, everyone loves Tyler Durdin. The girls want to be with him and men want to be like him. He’s smart, confident, passionate, holds true to his convictions and has an innovative way to change the world: Help people beat each other up so they can experience freedom from the entrapments of life. Please don’t misunderstand. I am not suggesting that leaders engage in violence. However, metaphorically, there is a lot we can learn from Mr. Durdin.

In the movie, what started out as a fight in a parking lot turned into regular fights on Saturday nights which turned into fight clubs being cloned all over the country. Tyler’s fight clubs grew. But what’s interesting is that he never recruited anyone to join. In fact, he did the opposite. He told people not to talk about Fight Club. (The first rule of Fight Club.)

Imagine for a moment, being a leader of an organization that doesn’t have to recruit anyone because people are standing in line in the cold and rain to be a part of your vision.

So how did Tyler do it?

Humility – An Essential Leadership Trait

Tyler says this: “You’re not your job. You’re not the amount of money you make. You’re not the car you drive. Nor the contents of your wallet. Not your f-ing khakis. You are the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.”

Does that sound a bit radical? Good. Leaders need to be less radical about their positions and more radical about their humanity.

I saw a great example of leadership humility two weeks ago. Enter Graham Weston. In case you don’t know who he is, Weston invested in Rackspace during its early stages, became the CEO and is now the Chairman of the Board. He is also the CEO of Weston Properties and owns 700,000 square feet of industrial and office properties in Texas. Successful? Oh yes.

Graham was one of the speakers at TEDx San Antonio; it was there that I met him. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve met people with less power and position who made others feel like the dead ant in the mud under their feet.  So truthfully, I was prepared for the worst. Yet here was Graham, interacting with everyone. More than a few attendees shared their surprise at how approachable and sincere he was. At one point, he said hello to one of his Rackspace employees. This employee was not a VP or even in management. He was a techie.

Graham not only knew who he was, he knew this employee had been working the 3rd shift. He spent several minutes talking with the employee on a personal and professional level.  They were equals. This employee knew it. I could see it. And I was moved.

Does humble leadership work? Take a look at Rackspace’s growth and profitability. Need another example? Mahatma Gandhi and Jesus Christ come to my mind. They were both incredibly humble, servant-focused men. One delivered his nation and the other delivered the world.

If you want to radically change your organization, take French politician Charles de Montesquieu’s advice: “To become truly great, one has to stand with people, not above them.”

Or as Tyler Durdin says, remember that “You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone else.”

Perils of Brand Abandonment: Strive for Shiny, Fresh and Authentic

Brand is something that cuts both ways in the recruiting business. Candidates have personal brands – we talk about that a lot on the TalentCulture blog – and companies have brands. A company’s brand directly relates to it’s workplace culture. An excellent (and disturbing) article by David Lee on ERE.net has me thinking about the perils of brand abandonment – those moments when people, or companies, stop paying attention to the messages they’re sending out when they are hiring and retaining talent.

Brand, the way I talk about it with candidates, is a shorthand way of presenting yourself to others. It’s more than an elevator pitch, but it relies on the same idea: a condensed and polished presentation of a few key facts about you and why you’d be a good employee. As I’ve written here, a personal brand should present your skills, interests, personality attributes and values in a coherent manner that will be compelling and authentic to recruiters and hiring managers.

For companies the process isn’t that different. An organization/workplace may start with a mission statement, then move on to values and objectives, but the point of the exercise is the same: to create a compelling, credible, and authentic collective persona – a culture brand – that is compelling to customers, investors and valuable employees. Of course, we know workplace culture is so much more than a mere mission statement. Healthy organizations strive to make their brand consistent on all angles.

But sometimes, when you’ve worked to establish your brand, you start to believe the shorthand version. You drink the Kool-Aid. You stop listening, stop monitoring how people react, and stop thinking about the value of your brand.

Lee’s article describes a survey in which candidates describe horrific, dispiriting experiences they had with prospective employers. Read the article for particulars, but the net is this: treating candidates poorly at any point in the recruiting process leaves them with a bad impression of your company. It’s brand abandonment, and it’s completely avoidable.

Brand abandonment is a real risk for career seeking candidates as well.

Here are a few points of risk:

Social Media and TMI

Social media can be the enemy of brand for a job seeker. We’ve all heard the stories of candidates being screened out for Facebook and Twitter posts. Don’t put anything on social media you wouldn’t tell your grandmother. The not-cool grandmother. I’m not saying do not be authentic and interesting. If your not-cool grandmother does not accept your unique personality well then – perhaps we can ignore her. I want you to be you! Just be thoughtful. Protect yourself here.

Poor Interview Technique

Talk about what you can do for the employer. In an interview situation you need to reinforce the links between your brand value and the company’s brand, without being narcissistic. Don’t reveal details that aren’t relevant. You may have been an Eagle Scout, but that was then and this is now. Listen, don’t just talk.

Improper (or no) Follow up

It is absolutely imperative to follow up with a thank you note. Unless part of your personal brand is being rude, there’s no excuse for not saying thank you. No scented pink paper, check your spelling, sum up the key takeaway of the interview – What you learned about the company, why you’d be the right candidate, why it’s the right company/fit.

Check Your References Before the Interviewer Does

Don’t count on the boss you had three jobs ago for a great reference – make sure you’ll get one by making a call and running through what you need in a reference and what he or she is comfortable saying. Don’t trust your brand to someone else: make sure you’re on the same page before you hand out names and phone numbers.

Brand is a responsibility. It takes care, constant monitoring and periodic refreshes. You are your personal brand. And companies need to stay present and take full responsibility for their brand behaviors by being consistent and sensitive to the messages they are sending career seekers about their workplace culture. Bottom line: Use what you’ve got to keep it shiny and fresh.

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Communities Go Mobile With Real World Exploration Apps

Thanks to a new set of location-based mobile applications that have cropped up over the past year, our social interactions online are beginning to impact our real world lives in very real ways. Here’s how they work now:

  1. Users open a location-based mobile application like Whrrl, Foursquare or SCVNGR and find recommendations from other users for how to experience different places near them.
  2. Within the applications, users bookmark recommendations that they want to do.
  3. Users then use their virtual to-do lists to explore the world around them.

Here’s a use case: I’m waiting in line at the ticket booth of the San Diego Zoo. To kill time, I open my Whrrl application. I view a few recommendations from other users who have been to the zoo. One recommendation from a friend of mine says, “Get to the back of the zoo right when it opens. You’ll get to see the lions eating their breakfast.”

I think to myself, “I don’t want to miss that!” and I dog-ear that recommendation. Forty minutes later, I’m watching the lions chow down with a few other spectators who were wise enough to download Whrrl. The rest of the park is waiting for the sloth exhibit in the front of the zoo to open. I click the “I did this” button on Whrrl and my friend who made the recommendation about the lions receives a reward within Whrrl.

That reality is evolving quickly, and with it, affiliate marketing is about to change forever.

Recently, Foursquare released its “Add to Foursquare” button, which allows anyone to tag places (and eventually recommendations) into the Foursquare network from anywhere on the web. Here’s where the fun begins. Remember that old  pay-per-click model affiliate marketers used to base their income on? It’s about to be taken to the real world. Here’s how these location-based exploration apps are going to work after a couple of more years of innovation:

  1. An affiliate marketer or influencer will be given designated links to specific recommendations and will plant those links using technology like the Foursquare button.
  2. Users will add those recommendations to their virtual to-do lists, and the marketer or influencer who planted the recommendation will be compensated for the real world “click.”
  3. If a user acts on the recommendation on his/her to-do list, the marketer will be paid even more.

When this world becomes a reality, my friend who made that recommendation at the San Diego Zoo will be compensated with a real world reward (monetary or otherwise). That new incentive may be enough motivation for mass adoption of mobile applications that guide real world experiences.

This is how technology will drive real world action. This is how social influence online can translate to the real world. So what does it mean for your social community? It means that with every new innovation in location-based technology, we are closer than ever to breaking down the boundaries between online and offline experiences.

Twitter chats and LinkedIn groups are on the verge of becoming experience-based, not just interest-based. Niche social networks on Ning will provide digital incentives for real world experiences. Facebook groups will be married to verticals of exploration and activity. As community managers, we no longer need to limit our thinking to what our communities can talk about on discussion boards, chats and blogs. We can now start to strategize about enriching our community members’ lives while they aren’t sitting at their desks pounding away on their laptops.

If you haven’t tried out a location-based app like Whrrl or Foursquare, I highly recommend it. Understanding the dynamics those applications use will be key to running a successful community in the very near future.

Falling Asleep at Work Increases Productivity

(Editor’s Note: This guest post is by our talented colleague, and friend Cathy Taylor. Cathy is a social media expert who helps businesses develop comprehensive communications strategies to achieve business goals and objectives. More of Cathy’s insightful articles can be found on her blog.)

Imagine going to work and finding the boss has roped off a section in the back of the office for the new sleep pods set to arrive next week.

Sleep pods? Are you serious?

A few minutes later you wander past the HR director’s office and she confirms an order was placed for ten new sleep pods. She adds that a new policy will go into effect next quarter. All employees who need a nap during the day will be encouraged to use the sleep pods for twenty minutes after lunch. As you walk back to your cubicle scratching your head you are reminded of that day last month when you locked yourself in the bathroom stall to catch some Z’s. It couldn’t be helped. It was either take a nap or startle your coworkers with a thud sound as your head hit the desk.

This sounds like a far-fetched idea but more companies are beginning to embrace the idea of sanctioned naps during day. Companies like British Airways, Google, Nike, Pizza Hut and Procter & Gamble have implemented policies that allow employees some downtime in the office.

The concept of workplace napping is attributed to former Harvard researcher Sara C. Mednick. She advanced the idea in her book, “Take a Nap! Change Your Life!” Feedback from employees who are afforded the opportunity to snooze at work say it’s so much better than a cup of coffee in the afternoon or a snickers bar.

However, there is no denying workplace napping is counterintuitive in the United States. It begs the question: How long before company leadership begins to view napping as a competitive advantage?

Here are some compelling arguments for workplace naps from Dr. Mednick’s research:

1) It results in increased memory and productivity among workforce.
2) Dr. Mednick cites epidemiological studies that show decreases in heart disease and stress.
Workplace naps restore proficiency in a variety of critical skills… and can produce improvements previously observed only after a full night of sleep.
3) 51% of the workforce report that sleepiness on the job interferes with the volume of work they can do.

At the moment, workplace napping is still a long way from becoming prevalent in the U.S. According to a recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, only five percent of employers allow their workers to take a nap during the day.

Scheduling nap time at work requires a huge shift in the way we think about work. And as more employers look for ways to fill job vacancies, enhance employee engagement and retain the best workers taking a nap might not be such a bad idea. Nap time at work may no longer be just for slackers!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Recruitfest! Join Us. The Future of Talent Starts Here

I’m very excited TalentCulture is a corporate sponsor for this event Thursday, Oct 7th. Look forward to seeing everyone. We will also be present at the TweetUp – Here is today’s guest post from Eric Winegardner, Vice President, Client Adoption, Monster Worldwide.

This week promises to be the highlight of my year.  In just two days, nearly a year’s worth of brainstorming and planning will come to fruition and illustrate the possibilities when two organizations partner around a common desire of moving the Recruiting industry forward.  Of course, I am talking about Recruitfest!

I had the opportunity to attend RecruitFest! in-person last year in Toronto. I had skipped the inaugural event the year before and to this day consider it a professional miss.  What I experienced over those two days was a truly unique, transformative recruiting event that I knew I wanted to be a part of- and quite honestly wanted Monster to be involved in.  The first day had not even wrapped, and the wheels of partnership were in motion.

There’s something about the RecruitFest! brand that attracts the best and brightest minds from our industry.  Some credit the casual environment where people can participate in the conversations that matter to them.  Others say it is the design of the agenda that encourages speakers to lead conversations around topics rarely discussed, but critical to moving our profession forward.  I think it is a combination of the two- great people having passionate conversations about the possibilities inherent to the evolving world of work.

While this year’s RecruitFest! agenda is a bit more structured, it is still built around voicing opinions (however controversial) and exploring possibilities with the objective of transforming the conversation from theory into practice.   Our collective goal for the day is that everyone walk out (or log off) of RecruitFest! excited about being a part of this amazing community and reminded that what we do is perhaps one of the most noble professions on the planet: finding great jobs for great people.

Most importantly, we want you to have an experience that changes the way you think about recruiting and makes you a stronger, better informed professional equipped to serve the people who really matter: your clients and your candidates.

The Recruitfest! agenda is designed to tackle the business of recruiting holistically. We know that it’s not all about sourcing, or interviewing, or compensation, or benefits or any of the hundreds of tactical responsibilities involved in placing the right candidate in the right job.  It’s about how all of those elements can work together to position you and your talent organization as strategic business partners.

This year, we’ve selected a group of world-class leaders to steer the conversation.  Just check out this line-up!  Some are familiar names, others will be.  They all have one thing in common, wicked-smart and passionate about the business! What’s cool is we’ve grouped them together to facilitate conversations about topics that while they may be experts in require examining perspectives that they- and you- might not have thought of before or even entirely embraced.

More interestingly, the track leaders will be joining the audience of recruiting professionals at the event for the duration, participating in and adding to the dialogue as peers, not “influencers” or “thought leaders.”  That means that you get to hear from some of the most influential minds working in talent today, talking about the topics that really matter, in a completely spontaneous, unscripted, and unrehearsed format.  More importantly, they want to hear what you think.

The biggest learning opportunities and most valuable takeaways at RecruitFest! happen in real time. That’s because the conversation informs the content, instead of the other way around.  And that’s where you come in.

I truly believe that the best ideas and the brightest minds in recruiting don’t necessarily spend their time publishing blogs, joining me on the conference circuit or even sharing their insights and ideas with others in the recruiting community.  Why? You’re too busy recruiting!

October 7 is the day that all changes.  That’s because RecruitFest! has redesigned the un-conference experience it introduced to the recruiting space.  We will be utilizing cutting-edge tools and technologies to create a true “un-conference” experience whether you’re in Boston, Baltimore or Beijing.  You don’t just get to watch the stream at your desk, you get to participate in the conversation! The Recrutifest! virtual experience will allow you to converse with other participants, ask questions of the presenters and in-studio attendees, and evolve the conversation- all from the convenience and comfort of your own desk.

I encourage you to check out the schedule, speaker bios and session descriptions and start thinking now about how you can lend your voice to shaping the success of RecruitFest!  Register for the FREE virtual event today, and join during every available moment you have on Thursday!

As the emcee of the event, it’s my job not only to introduce our amazing speakers and awesome topics, but to keep the dialogue flowing.  That means it’s my responsibility (and my promise) to show no preference to any attendee because of how they are hearing and seeing the conference.  I don’t care where you are.  I care what you think.  And it’s not every day that a recruiter hears that.

 

HireFriday: A Culture. A Community.

I have a favorite saying: “culture and community go hand in hand.” Seeking community is really important to job seekers. TalentCulture is an ideal setting to share my thoughts on this topic.

The culture of Twitter is fleeting, and swift. Some might argue that Twitter is the short attention span theater for recruiters and job seekers alike. I didn’t take me long to spot a gap. There are numerous Twitter streams for jobs, but I was concerned job seekers were falling between the cracks.

People ask me all the time, why did I create #HireFriday? I thought FollowFriday outlived its usefulness. I realized it would be better to take the time and energy we invest in promoting our gainfully employed friends, and put that energy into helping an unemployed person instead.

What started out as a lonely tweet: “Instead of FollowFriday, let’s tweet HireFriday and put our friends and family members back to work”; has mushroomed into a movement that now spans the globe.

On Tuesday, I wrote a post “HireFriday Is Recruiting In Reverse!” It is there that I articulate some of the lessons learned as this community has blossomed.

Job seekers, HR Pros, and companies love it. Recruiters also appreciate the ability to watch candidates in the stream. #HireFriday is a stream of active candidates, engaged and ready to work. They are not job beggars, losers or less talented than the so-called passive candidates. They happen to be actively seeking a position, that is all. Recently, there was an article published in the Huffington Post that exposed employers for posting jobs that stated “We are only hiring people who are currently employed.”

From a cultural view point what does that tell us. It says, “job seekers, you are recyclable, and unattractive.” As a fierce advocate for job seekers everywhere, I protest the short-sightedness of this cultural mindset. Yes, it is a cultural impediment.

I started HireFriday in February of this year to extol the virtues, talents, and strengths of job seekers around the world. Within 3 weeks, HireFriday expanded to The United Kingdom, and now it’s thriving in Canada. I created guidelines for HireFriday to offer suggestions and guidance to recruiters and job seekers alike.

When Chris Brogan was on Compassionate HR, we discussed FollowFriday, and how HireFriday is a much better alternative. Brogan said, “There was a time when FollowFriday had some traction, in it’s early inception, people paid attention to the stream, and followed others based the recommendations of trusted friends.” But, in my eyes, it just looks like clutter.

I remember thinking to myself, “there has to be a better way to promote people we care about, people who really need our help.” As much as I like Chris Brogan, he really doesn’t need another follower, but a job seeker who’s short on hope sure does.

HireFriday isn’t just the retweeting of people’s credentials. HireFriday reminds people in career transition that they are not alone, or forgotten.

In the beginning, I tweet a job seeker’s @name/jobtite/industry/location/ keywords. Then I realized people would be better served to post a link to their linkedin profile so that people could check out their credentials and get in touch with them. As this grew more and more popular, I encouraged people to tweet for themselves, because I couldn’t handle the onslaught of requests. I couldn’t do it without volunteers. Kimberly Roden, and Lou Bonica stepped up to the plate, and became HireFriday evangelists. Other job seekers jumped in as well, and before you know it everyone’s tweeting and retweeting for one another.

Now if you think about this from a mathematical standpoint, some people have a few hundred followers, some people have several thousand. With each retweet, the job seekers receive exposure to a vast number of contacts. We we offer is access to our networks. There’s power in numbers, and even more power in giving people an opportunity to be visible to those who can help them.

The most beautiful part of this groundswell movement is that we have built a caring, supportive for job seekers, and it makes my heart glad to see so many people joining in to give a hand. Companies like Monster.com and TalentCulture tweet my resumes have been instrumental in sharing resources, articles and opportunities with our community.

Culture and community go hand in hand. HireFriday fits in the Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn communities. It’s unique, special, and I’m proud to be a part of it.

5 Creativity Refreshers for the Workplace from Work of Art

I love learning about artists’ creative processes. Combine that with a competitive reality TV show? SHUT UP! I’m hooked!

The Bravo cable channel has introduced just such a show called “Work of Art – The Next Great Artist.” Fourteen artists ranging in age from early 20s to the early 60s (and with all the demographic and gender preference diversity you’d expect) are set up in a group art studio and a cool apartment while they compete in a series of single-elimination art challenges. Sure the format is pieced together from any number of other shows, but I couldn’t resist seeking out the show which airs Wednesday nights at 10 eastern / 9 central (US).

It’s all pretty contrived, thus “Work of Art” doesn’t yield major revelations about creativity as much as refreshers worth considering in your creative and innovative pursuits, especially in the workplace. Here are five that stand out:

Be completely clear about a client’s requirements and violate them at your own risk.

With each challenge, contestants are given a category for the assignment, i.e. create a portrait, make a book cover. In both these challenges, the loser was ultimately deemed to have ignored the mandatory nature of the specified category. Amanda lost the first week’s portrait challenge by painting an expressionist floral picture (which didn’t look like a person); Judith lost the book cover challenge by imposing her style – hand prints and backwards writing – making her ”cover” largely unintelligible. Lesson learned – focus your creativity somewhere other than the client’s mandatories.

Cooperation and competition both fuel creativity.

There are many examples of cooperation evident on the show, from contestants sharing advice and assistance to posing for each other’s pictures. There’s also a fair amount of trash talking and mind games going on among contestants, too. No big skirmishes broke out in the early weeks, but with strong personalities who love telling other contestants what their art lacks, creative tensions are bound to erupt in subsequent episodes. It’s probably just as well, because emotional turmoil will likely do as much for the quality of the art as cooperation.

“Edgy” is relative.

Contestant Peregrine Honig lives in the Kansas City area, as do I. Here, she’s definitely one of the cool people, making a name for herself with provocative art, hip fashion (she owns a retail underwear apothecary), and various other projects she spearheads. Staying current on her through the newspaper and local entertainment tabloids, her creativity definitely seems edgy. Put her on “Work of Art” amid people with clear mental and behavioral impairments though, and Peregrine blends into the background (as one of her pieces was criticized for doing).  It’s a great reminder that edgy is relative; there’s always somebody who’s pushed edginess further than you have. Deal with it!

Be flexible, even if you’re not.

The winner of the first two challenges, Miles, is a self-reported obsessive compulsive disorder sufferer. Because of his oft-professed OCD, Miles typically begins art challenges by going through some type of pre-planned or ritual activity. Before screen printing, he constructed an entire darkroom; as others sorted through found objects for one challenge, he sat down and slept. Invariably though, something goes wrong. With the darkroom, his bulb for exposing images blew before he completed his artwork. Despite an event which might have been cataclysmic, he regrouped and used as much of the image as had already been prepared. Ultimately, he won the challenge based on a great idea and his willingness to vary from his plan.

Think first, create second.

Each assignment is time-constrained creating built-in pressure to start right away. In the book cover challenge, Miles picked “Frankenstein,” which he’d never read. He started by timing how long it took to read a page, calculating it would require 4 hours to get through the entire book. So while the other artists launched into their work, Miles curled up and started reading. Other contestants were incredulous that he’d waste hours not creating anything. Reviewing the book though, he identified a specific passage which infused his ultimate work. Other participants would have been well advised to follow his lead. One misspelled “Dr. Jekyll” and had to redo it after it was painted. For “Pride and Prejudice,” Jaclyn, who was unfamiliar with the work, used a semi-nude image of herself on the cover along with misspelling author Jane Austen’s name as “Austin.” Jaclyn landed in the bottom three and just barely escaped elimination. Maybe the old maxim “measure twice, cut once” needs to be “think twice, create once” when it comes to “Work of Art.”

Closing Thought

These “Work of Art” takeaways all relate to how an artist interacts with boundaries, be they about expectations, interactions, audience tastes, process, or time. It’s an interesting reflection of workplace creativity where boundaries are routinely introduced. Ultimately the winners in “Work of Art” and workplace creativity are those who can walk right up to boundaries and push on them without getting canned.

Social Community: Metaphor for the Workplace. Find Your Intent

Recently I wrote about models of interaction within cultures and social communities that foster progress. I’d like to push the theme a bit further and look at social communities – which are really communities of intent – and how they can serve as a useful metaphor for the workplace.

Intent is one of those words that have taken on new meaning with the advent of search and search marketing. The trick that Google mastered so well is serving up information to consumers at the moment of intent (thanks to John Battelle, Andrei Broder and others; see some older material on intent here) – intent to act, to purchase, to decide. “Intent” is not only an action the searcher takes; it is a commitment the provider of information (the vendor or service), and the search service (Google, Yahoo, Bing), make to the individual searching for information.

In social communities, intent is more than interest, more than commitment, more than an informed notion. It’s the true power behind the community, because people come to communities with a purpose, an intent. They are looking for a place to be, a place to learn, a place to grow and interact in a meaningful way.

The trick then, for companies, is to behave as social communities. It’s a powerful and new metaphor for the workplace.

In a typical workplace there are people with many different personalities, personal brands, goals, aspirations, skill sets and attributes. In a healthy workplace, meaning one that focuses on ensuring personality/culture fit between employees and the organization, people of diverse skill sets and temperaments can collaborate and succeed – because they have the intent to succeed, and the social context – the community – in which to realize their intent.

TalentCulture, for example, is a collaborative social community, a community of intent, a metaphor for the workplace. Our contributors come from many backgrounds: executive leadership,  human resources, recruiting, marketing, new media, research, public relations, law, branding, innovation, venture capital, career coaching, entrepreneurship and software technology. The shared intent is to create and share the very latest perspectives and trends on growing your business and reaching your individual career goals – using them to grow and foster innovation.

So here’s a challenge: find your intent. Share it with others. Be passionate. Be creative. Make every action resonate with the intent to do something positive, something to improve your workplace or advance the idea of what a collaborative workplace or social community should be.
And keep us in the loop.

Image Credit: Pixabay