Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Diversity - A Rant

Guest blogging/ranting on The EO List about Diversity.

 Diversity Rant on The EO List

Friday, December 5, 2014

HR Lessons from The Wolf of Wall Street

Guest blogged on The EO List this week about success lessons we can learn from Jordan "Wolfie" Belfort.

HR Lessons from The Wolf of Wall Street

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Guest Blog Spot on The EO List

Had the honour of guest blogging on The EO List, a fantastic HR Networking site.
Here's the current edition:

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Guest Blogger on the EO List

I had the honour of Guest Blogging on the EO List, a popular networking site for the HR Profession.
The EO List is a really cool initiative run by smart and super-cool HR folk. I get a lot of great info from the site and was thrilled to have been able to contribute.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Making Mistakes - How To Screw Up (even Royally!) and Move On

Mistakes. They come in all shapes, sizes, and varieties. From the basic “Whoops, I forgot to email that information” to the high-on-the-Richter-scale magnitude of “Oh crap, I just emailed the entire company’s compensation file to the wrong person.”

There’s the kind that are accidental slips of the fingers on the keyboard, usually caused by being too rushed or not paying attention. Quite often there’s a gun to the head involved, either a deadline or a freaking out client. Or not enough caffeine after too much alcohol the night before. In some cases it’s caused by a number of martinis at lunch time, which I’ve seen before from a former colleague, but that’s a whole other story for another day.

There are mistakes that are made, that we couldn’t have possibly anticipated, despite all the planning and calculating of minimizing risk. After weeks of exploring, analyzing and background checking, you take that new job or hire that new employee and low and behold, weeks later, you discover you’ve made a terrible mistake. Or in one instance in my game of career move checkers, the first day on the job I realized I’d misjudged and made a mistake. The first clue in a series of incrementally expanding ones was being handed a time-card to punch, and this was a mid-level professional, salaried job. Uh oh.

Mistakes. We all make them, we all face them, and we all deal with them. Usually we move on from them. The paths we take are shaped by them. And oftentimes, the baggage we carry down those paths is related to our feelings around our mistakes, the choices that led to them, and the consequences of them. That and the grudges we sometimes carry from mistakes; more often than not, we beat ourselves up over and over again about our mistakes while “Oh, that’s okay, could happen to anyone” flies out of our mouths easily to those who screw stuff up for us.

So how can we navigate through life, steering around and sometimes into mistakes, those icebergs that inevitably pop up unavoidably? And after slamming into a mistake iceberg, how do we move on, still afloat, without going down in icy waters in the middle of the night like the Titanic? And how is it, by the way, that despite there being enough room on the raft for two people, that Jack froze to death while Rose survived? Because he made a mistake in being chivalrous and not insisting that she shove over and make room. And oh my GOSH why did Rose make the decision to toss a huge diamond into the ocean? Now that, in my opinion, was a monumental mistake. But I digress.

So I’ve hit a mistake iceberg. What do I do now?

First off, I’m going to own my mistake. It’s hard to do it, but owning it, claiming it by admitting it to myself first and then communicating it to any impacted party who needs to know (like my boss, because no surprises is the best way to operate) in a non-blaming, forward-thinking, solutions-oriented conversation, is the necessary first step. “Here’s what’s happened, here’s what should have happened, here’s how I’ve fixed it (or will fix it), and here’s what I’ve done to ensure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.” There’s no need to beat yourself up, especially not in front of others, however, if you normally have real, honest conversations with your colleagues, occasionally admitting to having been a dumbass or effing something up actually increases your value as a trustworthy and honest individual, rather than a jerk who hides their mistakes. Seriously. Dumbass – toss it around a couple times a year about yourself (save it for some whopping screw ups) and your credibility factor increases. Owning up to our mistakes keeps us on the path of authenticity and there’s freedom to getting the truth of the situation off our chests. Just don’t make it a daily or hourly thing, or  then you really are a dumbass.

Once I own my mistake, I need to release it. I’ve done it, I’ve acknowledged it, I’ve rectified it, I’ve learned from it, and now I am going to release it. Releasing it means not beating myself up over it, all the way home in the car or on the GO train or wherever I am. Releasing it means not talking about it again to my colleagues or my boss. And it definitely means not raising it again for another discussion at performance review time. There’s a huge difference between owning a mistake and torpedoing one’s career with it. That’s why we need to release it. It’s in the past and we need to focus on the present so we can avoid making new mistakes. Or the same mistake again.

After I’ve released my mistake, I move on. Again, not resuscitating it for further analysis. Oh that screw up? That was ages ago. Years ago. I was far more inexperienced when that happened. (Okay, maybe it was only last week, but I have matured and grown from it.) Release it. Let it go. It’s over, it’s gone, it’s in the past, like a bad ex-boyfriend.

This process is scary as it makes us vulnerable. Let’s face it – when we admit mistakes, we expose ourselves to others’ judgement of us. But if we handle our mistakes properly by admitting, rectifying, and resolving them, the judgement is limited. Chances are, we’re not going to get fired. But there’s honesty in vulnerability. There’s actually greater vulnerability in not admitting to the mistake because by burying it, chances are, you’ll be facing a larger and scarier version of the situation down the road, and then you’ll be more than vulnerable, you'll be stuck. Or effed, depending on the magnitude of the mess. 

This leads to the next point – it’s important to be truthful in admitting our mistakes. There’s truth in the admission itself, but beyond this, by speaking the truth about what’s happened and how you’ve sorted out the situation, it’s liberating to get the mistake off your chest. It’s out there in the world now and chances are, however badly you’re seeing the situation, if you’ve handled it with grace and professionalism, it’s nowhere near as bad as you think it is.

By following these steps through the process of handling mistakes, we create trust. We trust ourselves more and others trust that we will be honest in our work. We all can trust that when we make another mistake, we can handle it properly. When there’s greater trust in the workplace and in our relationships, we can better focus on what needs to get done. We can do our work well and enjoy what we’re doing. Because really, isn’t that what it’s all about? 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Robin Sharma, author of 'The Saint, The Surfer and The CEO', has a top 10 list of what authentic leaders do on a regular basis.

Here's his list, with my liberal interpretations of what it looks like to do these things.

1. They speak their truth.

While sometimes hard, in the long run it is simpler to be true to ourselves than to operate in "say what people want to hear" mode. Be brutally honest when it's not hurtful to others, and if it might be, be diplomatic, but don't avoid giving feedback or providing information that's necessary. But say what needs to be said. At the very minimum, you know you've done your part and the ball is in someone else's court, which is far more liberating than playing the "I wish I would have said..." game.

2. They lead from the heart.

Never forget who you are and where you came from. Help others to progress. Share information, be kind, and don't be a boss only through your title and authority but be a leader through mentoring and growing others. Be tough when you need to be, but with kindness. And cut a little slack sometimes. Nobody is on their game 24/7.

I've found that what seems to work well for me and my direct reports is we all treat each other like co-workers. Everyone has their area of expertise and everyone is allowed to make their case and champion their cause. While I might be ultimately responsible, I don't make the final decisions "because I'm the boss." While I have been taken advantage of on the very rare occasion, I'd like to think that my current and former employees appreciate my open and authentic approach.

3. They have rich moral fibre.

Talk about your values and walk the talk of your values. And if you don't know what your values are, figure it out but I suggest you start with respect and integrity. Again, your position on the org chart means nothing if you waffle on values or only walk the talk when things are going well.

The true test of character is what you do when no one is looking, or when no one will know what options you had. Do right as often as you can, and don't be the person who only does right when everyone will know about it. Sometimes you just need to shut up and pay it forward.

4. They are courageous.

Something I'd wished I'd learned a long time ago is: It's not a popularity contest!
Do what needs to be done even if people won't "get it" until later, if at all ever. No matter what you do, now matter how great people think it is, you will never have everyone thinking you are great.
So have the courage to do what's good for the business or to make the tough choices and it will pay off in spades in the long run.

5. They build teams and create communities.

Help people out by connecting them with folks in your network, whether this is inside your organization or outside where appropriate. In today's environment of doing less with more, helping each other out and sharing information is much easier than unnecessarily reinventing the wheel. Again, only share and connect where appropriate, or you could find yourself on the receiving end of a courageous conversation about moral fibre.

Also, keep things light, keep things fun, and make the working environment a working community. Work friendships boost employee morale and puts glue on seats from a teamwork and retention standpoint.

6. They deepen themselves.

Figure out who you are, what makes you tick, what your strengths and weaknesses are, and who you want to be. If you don't know who you are, how can you be authentic and be your best self?

7. They are dreamers.

Don't get stuck in the "this is they way we always did things" rut. Focus on opportunities, efficiencies, and "what if"s. Have a vision of how things can be and strive to take things there. Even if you think you can only get part of the way there, it's better to shoot for the moon and land in the stars.

8. They care for themselves.

This is the part where I sing the virtues of healthy living. Good food, exercise, stress reduction, regular check-ups, plenty of rest... And this is the part where I speak my authentic truth and say that for the most part, I do this. But not all the time. Things get out of balance and then some aspect of healthy living goes off the rails. So when things get crazy, at the very least, try to be kind to yourself.

9. They commit to excellence rather than perfection.

Another one of my life lessons: Perfection leads to procrastination.

Sometimes, C+ is good enough. No one will know except for you that it's not an A+ in your mind. They will probably think it's an A. I have a colleague who I respect very much, and he always says, "If you can't get it done in 90 days, don't bother." Another colleague who is also a genius says "Get it pretty much right and get it done. Tweak it up on the next time around."

While I don't advocate cutting corners on the important things, especially where you will be opening you or your company up to legal or financial exposure, get the balance right and know when to "Just Do It" and be comfortable with C+ being out there in the world rather than A+ only in your mind.

10. They leave a legacy.

Who did you mentor? Whose life changed because you helped them or believed in them? Who feels a little bit better about themselves because you were a cheerleader to them? It's about what people remember about you and how you made them feel.

Being real about yourself and others and knowing by giving to others, you aren't taking away from yourself is what authentic leadership is all about.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

That Friday Feeling

You know that Friday feeling? The one you have as you and your fellow commuters head into work in jeans. That feeling as you treat yourself to a mocha-frappe-fluff-achino, extra hot, extra whip, and hell yes, definitely put shaved chocolate on that because it's Friday and you deserve it.

And that feeling in the workplace, where people are friendlier, chat about the upcoming weekend while collaborating on a project deadline. The feeling that makes you put on some fun music while you take a few minutes to sort out your desk and deal with piles, folders, filing, and those sticky notes of scribbles that need entering in your task list. Yeah, that feeling. That's the Friday feeling I'm talking about.

So I have to ask - what is it about Fridays? You get things done, people are a bit lighter and more fun, and you just feel more happy and comfortable. And everything just seems to flow seamlessly. You can get stuff accomplished and still manage to tear out the door a little earlier to start your weekend.

Why is that? Is it the jeans? The treat from Starbucks? The idea that the work week is almost over and the weekend is almost there? Are people are more collegial because they have a line of sight on happy hour on a patio? Yes. Exactly. Sort of. Almost, and most definitely.

Here's where I'm going with this: Fridays are when we let our true selves out of their boxes. We are just downright more comfortable on Fridays, and it's not necessarily the jeans or the promise of happy hour. It's because we are more authentic on Fridays than any other workday.

We are kinder to ourselves, giving ourselves those little rewards and allowances. We are kinder to others. We let our humour show a bit, joking with the guy in line next to you at Starbucks or shooting an office-appropriate (or not) zinger to a colleague via email. We allow our authentic selves to shine and everything just clicks together fairly effortlessly.

I'm not suggesting we need to wear a uniform of jeans to the office five days a week or become overnight Gold Card holders at Starbucks from a steady diet of fluffy coffees. What I am suggesting, however, is we be kind to ourselves and one another, and we let down those barriers that hide our true selves, which by the way, are the selves that are more effective than their restrained counterparts. What I am suggesting, is that five days a week (and even on weekends if you feel so inclined) we strive to keep it real. Try it as an experiment and see what happens. You might be surprised.