Early Career Lesson: The Thing I Wish I Knew

It’s advice I share all the time… “You own your career, your destiny!” Great stuff Ashley!

The Social HR Connection

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More often than not, my friends like to joke around saying that I have a tendency to interview everyone I meet (I guess it’s naturally in my blood). I suppose that could be true but it’s mainly because I’m generally intrigued by people. It’s a common occurrence for me to ask probing questions to someone I’ve just met. Where are they from? Why are they here? What do they do for a living? Is it something they love? How did they fall into that? A simple story of someone’s life, no matter how boring it might seem to them, is actually one of the most interesting things I can come across. After one of these conversations over the weekend, I finally had the chance for someone else to turn the tables and ask me some thought-provoking questions. The one that stuck out the most to me was: what do you…

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DJANGO Your Career Potential

DJANGO Your Career Potential(SPOILER ALERT: There may be portions of this blog that could be considered SPOILERS)

My husband and I finally rented DJANGO Unchained. Aside from being one of the best movies I’ve seen this year, this pre-Civil War western showing the brutality and utter cruelty of slavery, Tarantino style, brought depth to the characters of the film and the stories they told. I can’t say enough about this film and will simply say it was phenomenal and a MUST see at least one time! Oh and the end was totally kick a$s!

In my reflection of this film and this time in history my thoughts eventually swayed from the film content to the HR world. Mind you I’m obsessed with HR, I’m constantly looking at situations through my HR glasses. As of late I have thought a great deal about leadership and employee growth & development.

I then began to think about Christoph Waltz’s career. I questioned “Did he just bust out in the acting world at age 50?” I quickly learned that he’s been acting since 1977, but really hit it big with his performance in the 2008 film Inglorious Bastards. It was at that moment a light went off “Ah-ha”. It was the perfect match; Tarantino and Waltz. Tarantino (director/leader) was able to uncover the natural abilities Waltz always possessed. Tarantino’s direction and vision aided in uncovering Waltz’s his true potential.

Then my mind went back to the film and Jamie Foxx’s character Django. In the film, Django partnered with Waltz’s character, Dr. Schultz, to bounty hunt. Prior to meeting the doctor Django was enslaved. Shortly after working together the doctor noticed Django’s true potential. The doctor (leader) help Django by providing the tools he needed to uncover his full potential and to become the man he was always destined to be. Again, it was the perfect match.

Then my mind  took off and I was recalling many other Hollywood and well-known matches. It’s like the right mix is the path for true potential to be uncovered. In regard to our careers this formula is important to acknowledge. Why? Because when you find your match aka right leader the sooner you can develop and uncover your full career potential.

Ask yourself these questions:
Does your leader recognize your talents? Does your leader bring attention to your special skills? Does your leader provide insight, that helps to guide you on your career path? 

Is your leader uncovering your true potential? 

If you answered no to any or all these questions you may need to start searching for the right leader. You need to find that experienced person that will help guide you to be your best you. The one that will see your hidden talents and help you develop. The one that will help you unchain your full career potential.

The In Crowd – Networking Part 2

People Talking- Courtesy of Microsoft ImagesMy last post “Networking is BS” aka “Networking is malarkey” was a hit. My post was featured on the oh so fabulous social media pro, entrepreneur and author, Susan Avello’s site HR Virtual Cafe. As promised in that post I would give advice to being inclusive at networking events to, so here it is. My advice is based on what I have seen to be successful and what I know I want to see.

It was July last year when I started using Twitter for professional purposes and since that time have connected with many stellar HR, PR, SoMe Folks and more!  ILSHRM was the first conference and networking event I attended after establishing connections via social media. I was able to meet several of the people I connected with via Twitter, in real-life (IRL). While it was exciting, I’m not going to lie many of the encounters were kind of socially awkward. I felt like a regular person meeting celebrities and they looked at me like “OMG, is she stalking me?!” And no I’m not stalking your completely public profiles and information that you share with the world.  Anyway, of all the people I had met on social media first and then IRL Susan was the most sincere, open, friendly and genuinely engaging person I met at that conference.

Here’s how you too can be inclusive: This advice is for the seasoned professional that may get tied up in their “normal” behaviors and for the newbie that wants to know how to connect with others!

1.) Awareness: Be aware of your surroundings. While it’s important to be fully attentive while in conversation, make sure your blinders aren’t on. Notice passerby’s or people who are looking “lost”. You know the people I’m referring to, the ones walking around pretending to read the posted promotional materials and signage for the event. They are most likely just buying time. Take notice and invite them into the conversation, or excuse yourself from the conversation at the proper time and approach that person.

2.) Open circles: When speaking in a small group people have the tendency to gather in a closed circle style. To an outsider this says “Exclusive conversation happening here, no one else is welcome…move along“. The best way to counteract this perception is to make sure the circle doesn’t close. This is so easy to do because it really only takes the positioning of one person to open that circle. Create a space that allows outsiders to see they are welcome to join in the convo!

3.) Face Time: Eye contact, smile, greet! These are all the same skills we use when encountering anyone in the workplace and in life so do it here too! Your friendly demeanor will show others that you are approachable.

4.) I know you? I don’t remember but lets chat! If someone does approach you claiming to know you from somewhere and you don’t recall its ok to say  “Ok I don’t remember.  What’s your name? Nice to see you again!” Then show genuine interest in that person by asking thoughtful questions and really engage with that person.

The reality is not everyone will have a connection with everyone they speak to and that is completely natural and ok but that doesn’t mean we should deviate from common sense and social etiquette.

Happy networking!

Networking is BS!

How to make a real connection with other professional? 

Ah-ha, gotcha! I don’t really believe networking is BS, however earlier in my career I honestly did not see the value and here’s why I was meeting the wrong people. In the beginning of my career I attended a several conferences, seminars and networking events and had a decent amount of exposure to HR folks. However, a majority of the time I had the luck of running into one of two kinds of people “The burnt out HR person” and “The blah blah me, me, me person“. Of all the many HR folks I met I only made two valuable HR connections (connections that I am still in contact with today!).

Here’s one super awkward example from my experiences. A couple of years back (before my professional social media days) at ILSHRM, I attempted to “network” during the lunch break. I approached three different tables with people and asked if I could join them for lunch. The first two tables told me they were full, the last table had one woman and she was the “classic burnt out HR person”. It was terrible! I felt like I was in high school, and that I was a huge LOOSER:(

But it’s not just me! Recently, in speaking with some of the younger folks at work about networking I’ve learned they too don’t see the value. Additionally the networking events I do attend in my community (from an eyeball perspective) the average age is 45+, not to mention many of these seasoned professionals have well established relationships so when they are at these event they are talking with each other. This situation is highly intimidating to “younger”/ “foreign” people. (Stay tuned for my post about seasoned professionals and being inclusive.)

Here’s how YOU can network more efficiently:

1:) Use social media to make connections. Using Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and/or G+ or one of the many other social media sites out there will help you find “the good ones”, the people worth connecting to!! It’s kind of like how Match.com changed the dating world. Yeah, you’ll still meet weirdos but you’ll also have a greater chance at connecting with really amazing people in your industry!

2:) Once you’ve established the “superficial” social media connection, schedule a phone chat, G+ hangout or Skype call with the people you see potential value in. This will further your relationship and open the door to a real professional connection.

3:) Ask your new contacts if they will be attending any of the upcoming conferences, seminars, etc. If they are arrange a time to meet.

So that’s you’re 1,2,3 to making valuable connections and networking more efficiently.

On another note, if you’re like me and kind of shy, don’t be afraid to say hi to someone you’ve met through social in person or AKA “IRL”. Some will be receptive and some may not, but at least you can walk away saying you tried.

5 Steps to Move Beyond Mistakes and Move Toward Growth

FallingRecently, I experienced a pretty bad professional fall. I don’t mind falls, or also known as mistakes. I’m the first to recognize and admit to my falls. It think it’s a unique and great characteristic that I have, the ability to take ownership and show interest in improvement. My self and world awareness and desire to reflect enables me to grow not just on a professional level but on a personal level. The most frustrating element of my recent fall is that I did everything in my power to produce the most favorable outcome yet somehow managed to not just trip and fall but literally fall down an entire flight of stairs. We all fall whether it be professionally or personally. It’s how we handle our falls that determines our future path. Don’t miss out on using a fall as an opportunity to grow!

Each fall I experience I spend a different amount in the wallowing state, Wallowing, you the “If I could just turn back time, I would find a way… (Cher)”  thoughts This last fall was a little longer than normal because like I mentioned earlier I’d spent a great deal of time preparing so that I could be successful. It was hard for me to wrap my brain around how one (me) could fall so badly when I took precautions and was thoughtful in my preparation. However, once I am able let go of the past is when I can move toward the future. I can’t turn back time but I can better my tomorrow and here is how to make that happen! 

1.) Acceptance. “Yes I actually did just do that and I can’t do anything to reverse it.”

2.) Stop “beating” myself up. Everyone has a falling moment. It’s how we handle this moment that matters in the grand scheme of life! 

3.) What will I do differently in the future?

4.) How can I learn and grow from this experience? 

5.) Be proud of who I am, falls and all! 

We are all human. We all error. It’s how we handle our mistakes and the time we take to reflect that makes a difference in our future life path. Remember, most mistakes are NOT life threatening although when they occur we act as if they are. Make your tomorrow better and improve everyday, your falls will then be seen as opportunities to learn and GROW and there’s nothing bad about that!

“Live for today, learn for tomorrow!” 

Bonnie

Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth? Listen Up People!

“Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth!” ~ Chris Tucker, Rush Hour. Guess what if you’re only hearing people speak you’re not going to “understand the words coming out of their mouth” and here is why….

Welcome to the 2nd Whine Wednesday of the HR life. Today’s whine is a classic, listening. Listening has been a concept at the forefront of my mind since middle school when we learned about how humans send, receive and interpret messages. The act of listening is more than just “hearing” the message being communicated, it’s the act of absorbing, processing and retaining that message. Hearing, in the workplace, is all too common cause of breakdown in communication. People think because they are hearing others speak means they are listening, well friends it’s totally different.

I experience a great deal of hearing in employee relations meetings. For example, an employee will see me to discuss an issue they are experiencing in the workplace. Now, I have trained my ear, my mind to fully and engage and listen to that employee. I’m careful not to make assumptions and jump to conclusions. I listen intently and collect facts and information before speaking. Nothing is more irritating than finally receiving the opportunity to speak and offer information, knowledge and/or advice than seeing the employee just hear me!

Here’s how you know someone is just hearing the your message:

  • Lack of eye contact
  • Glossy, blank stare or gaze in their eyes
  • Interrupting your time to speak
  • Continuing to state the same question or issue after hearing your message

Here’s how to aide someone to listen:

  • Engage them by asking questions like: “Does that make sense?” “Does this information help you?” “How can I best help you?”
  • Engage them with continue eye contact
  • Ask if you may complete your thoughts before they speak

Here’s how you can listen:

  • Maintain proper eye contact
  • Clear your mind from preconceived notions, thoughts and ideas. Essentially be unbiased.
  • Listen completely to the words they are saying
  • Do not interpret their words, just listen
  • Repeat back to them what you understand from the message they sent you
  • Ask questions and gain clarification

Hopefully, these tips with help you with the art of listening. A listener will have more opportunities to succeed than employees that just hear messages! The reality is everyone is a poor listener, aka “hearer” at times but in every conversation there is always an opportunity to get back on track and engage with the person you are speaking with to make sure there is limited breakdown in communication. Employees work best together when they understand each other, the company and the leaders expectations. There are less conflicts and time wasted when we actually listen to one another. So next time you’re talking with someone at home or at work, LISTEN UP!