Caitlyn Jenner, the ESPYs, and the Workplace

Last night, Caitlyn Jenner received the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage during ESPN’s ESPY Awards ceremony – and media, both social and traditional, exploded with a combination of support and criticism – creating fodder for possibly contentious water cooler conversations at the office.

Public opinion has shifted towards supporting gay rights (finally!). Through the action of coming out, gays and lesbians have raised awareness of their issues; through conversation, through friends and family seeing that they aren’t different, or bad, more and more people worldwide have come to understand what being gay and lesbian is about.caitlyn-jenner-01-600x800

But the same can’t be said for the community represented by the “T” in the oft used acronym “LGBT”. Until Jenner came out on the cover of Vogue’s July issue, many people did not know what it means to be transgender. To see a former Olympian, who was a poster boy for athleticism and perhaps masculinity, now as a woman wearing lipstick, a vintage bathing suit, with legs-for-days, may be the first time the average Joe and Jane knowingly encountered a transgendered person.

This ignorance, at its purest definition, can lead to conversations in the office that could become offensive and contentious. What can we, as human resources, do to foster an understanding of transgenderism and minimize offensive conversations in the office?

  • Educate – Offer programming and information to managers and employees to help them develop an understanding of the transgender community. Reduce ignorance by exposing employees to the challenges and issues facing this community.
  • Celebrate – Celebrate the diversity of your team – take advantage of local and national events that help raise awareness for diversity issues. Have the company march in your local pride parade. Build affinity groups.
  • Mediate – Don’t allow conversations that could turn offensive to continue. Interrupt and help build a bridge of understanding between the two parties.
  • Don’t Discriminate – Update your non discrimination/EEO policies to prohibit discrimination against employees based on gender identity, communicate the changes to employees and explain why it’s important to your company culture.
  • Elevate – Enhance your employment brand by promoting the diversity and inclusiveness of your workplace. Show the transgender community that they would be welcome on your team.

Like so many potentially offensive workplace issues, most situations stem from pure ignorance. As we’ve done before, Human Resources can play a vital role in changing the discourse, raising awareness, and opening minds.

What ideas do you have for addressing transgender issues in the workplace?

Advertisements

Extroverts Have a Lot to Learn from Introvert Leaders

It’s a common assumption that extroverts are better suited for leadership roles.  Their ability to connect with people, high degree of empathy, and intuitiveness certainly do give them an edge when it comes to motivating and leading others.

But it’s plainly false to presume that introverts are any less effective at taking on management or leadership roles. Just look at renowned introvert leaders like Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, and Bill Gates.  In my experience, I’ve seen many an introvert take on and flourish in management roles.  What introverts lack in natural ability to connect with their staff, they make up for in awe-inspiring expertise and a concerted effort to learn how to properly lead teams.

Image graciously borrowed from Fast Company http://goo.gl/bSa4sZ

Image graciously borrowed from Fast Company http://goo.gl/bSa4sZ

So what is it about an introvert that helps them succeed in leadership and what can we extroverts learn from them to build our own leadership abilities? Full disclosure, on an extroversion scale of 1 to 10, I’m an 11.

Introverts tend to be deeply self-aware.  Introverts are more cognizant of their personalities and how they come across to others.  They know what they know and are accepting of what it is they need to learn to succeed at something.

Introverts recognize their weaknesses.  Introverts are much better than extroverts at owning their weaknesses and will work hard to develop the knowledge and skills they need to excel at what they’re doing.

Introverts follow the playbook.  Introverts are more apt to follow the training they receive, the rules and processes a company develops, and the coaching they get from HR.

Introverts inspire others through their deep technical expertise.  How many times have you heard employees complain about a manager who is “clueless” or doesn’t know what he or she is talking about?  Employees need to believe that their leaders know their subject areas.

Introverts aren’t egocentric.  Introverts tend to be much better at checking their egos and accepting what they don’t know.  They also tend to be more open to learning and self-improvement.

Introverts seek help.  Introverts, being rather self-aware, are more apt to seek the counsel of people who are experts in areas where they lack information or knowledge.

To me, that final point is the most important.  I’ve been in HR for 10 years and I’ve coached and trained more managers than I count.  More often than not, it’s the introverted manager who comes back to you for additional coaching or to work out a particular employee situation.

I recognize I’m doing a lot of generalizing in this post and not every introvert is management material, any more than every extrovert is.  The point is that there are natural strengths that come along with being an introvert – and for us extroverts – we definitely have something to learn from them.

On With His Head! Employee Action Saves the CEO

If you live outside of New England, you’ve probably never heard of Market Basket. But last week, something amazing happened in this family-owned regional supermarket chain with stores throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire.  In a way, they had a reverse “Arab Spring”, okay, well maybe not that significant, but you get what I mean – employees used social media to band together, engage their customers and communities, and save their CEO from the corporate guillotine.

Save Market Basket Facebook Page with nearly 12,500 likes

Save Market Basket Facebook Page with nearly 12,500 likes

After employees got word that several board members were proposing the ouster of CEO, Arthur T. Demoulas, they took to social media in outrage at the thought.  They started an online petition which has reached almost 45,000 signatures, the Twitter hashtag #SaveArthurT, and a Facebook page that has grown to nearly 12,500 likes.  They used Facebook to organize rallies at stores throughout the region and they’ve attracted significant attention from the media and support from politicians, like US Rep Niki Tsongas (D-MA). For now anyway, their approach seems to have worked.  The board has made no further moves to remove Demoulas from his position.

What is it that caused employees to raise their pricing guns and dust mops in protest?  Was it a deep love for the CEO who grew up in this business?  Was it fear of losing their jobs?  Was it the ugly gray and maroon deli smocks?  No!  It was a business decision. 

Market Basket used their "Specials" board to thank their customers and employees

Market Basket used their “Specials” board to thank their customers and employees

You see, while competitors focused on replacing staff with self-checkouts, tracking purchases through key-chain cards, and raising prices, Market Basket has been experiencing unprecedented growth by building new stores, keeping customer costs low, and focusing on customer service.  Taken aback that the board would even consider removing Demoulas, after so much success under his leadership, employees stood up against a potential business decision that they believe will take the company in the wrong direction, resulting in higher costs for consumers.

As an HR guy, these are my favorite takeaways from this story:

  • Talk about engagement!  One of the most surprising parts of this story is the extent to which these employees went to have their voices heard within this company.
  • Employees instinctively want what’s best for the business!  The actions taken by Market Basket’s employees were fueled by their beliefs about how to operate the business and satisfy their customers, not how much they stood to personally gain.
  • Social media strikes again!  Once again, social media demonstrates that you can’t keep it out of the workplace.  Resistance is futile!

What would you do if your employees took this approach to raising opposition to a change in your organization?

Leadership Lessons from Hillary Clinton

I’m in Chicago attending the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference.  Recently former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke to an audience of roughly 15,000 HR professionals about the ties between the field of HR and the ability for our nation to succeed.  She talked about investing in education and training of workers, and drew parallels between the skills needed for international diplomacy and the diplomacy needed to be successful in HR.  TFH

Clinton also outlined 5 lessons she’s learned, the hard way, from her various roles and responsibilities:

  1. Good decisions are based on evidence, not ideology.  This speaks to the importance of data.  Whether you’re trying to convince your CEO to invest money in a certain program or you’re trying to pass a law that could change the world – evidence, data, research is key to no only making a good decision, but to convincing others that the decision is the right course of action to take.
  2. Leadership is a team sport.  No one leader has ever been successful without inspiring others to work with and help him/her implement their vision.  She referred to the transition of her relationship, with President Obama, post 2008 election, as moving from a team of rivals to an unrivaled team.  An effective leader is not afraid to bring other opinions, even contrary ones, into the conversation and to integrate the best ideas, no matter who came up with them.
  3. You can’t win if you don’t show up.  Clinton used an example of traveling to the tiny African nation of Togo in her role as secretary of state to back up this example.  While Togo may be tiny, Togo holds a rotating seat on the UN Security Council.  Being there, listening to Togo’s concerns, looking their leaders in eye and making those personal connections can help influence Togo’s decisions moving forward.  In HR, we need to be in the “room”, build relationships with leaders in other functions and with employees, and get out from behind our computers.
  4. A whisper can be louder than shout.  Making demands, yelling, screaming, and threatening hardly ever delivers the results you’d want.  Speaking to others calmly and rationally, listening, I mean really listening, to what people are saying, and being empathetic can create much better results.
  5. Follow the trendlines, not the headlines.  Another call for data and research.  Look for trends in your data to help decide what to do next.  Don’t be persuaded by national headlines or popular opinion if it’s contrary to what data is telling you.  Sometimes we have to make unpopular decisions.  If we’re using analysis that identifies trends, rather than whimsy, it will be easier to convince others that our decisions were necessary.

Regardless of where one falls on the political spectrum, this talk was one worth listening to.  Her experience as a First Lady, a Senator, and as Secretary of State have taught Mrs. Clinton many important lessons on leadership and I’m grateful for having had the opportunity to learn a little from her.

How to Ruin Your Reputation in Human Resources

Human Resources (HR) is a field that I love. I chose to pursue a career path in HR because I found the function to be the intersection between being able to help people and growing a business, two things that I am passionate about.

But HR doesn’t always have a good reputation.  When I tell people I’m in HR, I’m greeted by story after story of ineffectual, mistrustful, and useless HR people.  It’s always disturbing to me to hear these HR horror stories about HR people ruining the reputation of my chosen field.

If you’d like to ruin your reputation in HR, follow these easy steps:

Be old school.  The field has changed maybe more than any other business function over the last few decades.  You can ruin your reputation by embracing the ways of the old “personnel department”, focusing on files and paperwork and forgetting about being an advocate for employees and management.

Act like a “Hall Monitor”.  Put on your HR police badge and start roaming the halls looking for evil doers. Discipline people for coming in late, taking a lunch that went a little too long, and checking their Facebook page.  Two demerits for them!

Ignore the business.  Hey, you’re in HR – you don’t need to know anything about how the business runs, the customers, the market, or other business functions like Finance and IT.  You just stay in your office processing payroll and filing your I-9s.

Be a corporate spy.  Watch your employees like a hawk and report to management on every move they make.  Don’t ever try to coach an employee through an issue – just go and tattle on them to their boss.This will go a long way in ensuring that you never have positive relationships with employees.

Plug your ears.  Don’t listen to people.  Just toe the corporate line and show no empathy to employees.  They’re just employees – it doesn’t matter what they have to say, right?

Keep your mouth shut. You weren’t hired to advise management as to how to have effective relationships with people, motivate their workforce, and improve their performance.  Never speak up to senior leadership about what you think is right.

Stay in your office all day. Never socialize with employees.  Show no interest in their careers, development, or comfort in the office.

And the list goes on…what other advice do you have for HR professionals on how they can ruin their reputation?  I’m sure you have an HR horror story…let’s hear it!

 

This post originally appeared on the Personal Branding Blog.

4 Ways to Use Your Annual Review to Build Your Brand

At this time of year, many companies are undergoing their annual performance review processes. While the value of performance reviews, as we’ve come to know them, can be debated, a review presents the perfect opportunity for you to enhance your brand with your boss, and with the company.

Dress Up – I used to manage someone who always dressed up for his performance reviews.  At first I thought it was funny, and said to him “you don’t need to dress up for this!”  He replied that he really valued his review and felt it was a good time to put his best foot forward. Dressing up is a great way to show your boss that you take the meeting seriously and value the time.

Be Open to Feedback – Go in to your review expecting that your boss has some constructive feedback for you. Don’t be defensive and start making excuses for things you need to work on. Even if you don’t agree, it won’t do your reputation any good to get into a debate.

Share Your Goals – Your annual review is a perfect opportunity for you to think and talk bigger picture. Let your boss know how you would like to grow over the next year. Maybe there are special projects you’d like to get involved with, take this chance to show your boss that you’re thinking about the future and how you can make a bigger impact at the company.

Give Thanks – Show appreciation to your boss for taking the time to have this kind of meeting with you.  Good bosses put a lot of effort into reviews – writing comments, ratings, and preparing for the conversation. Giving thanks will show your boss that you value their opinion and appreciate their time.

In the fast-paced world at which we all move, the opportunity to have a dedicated discussion with our boss about our own performance is rare. Take advantage of this opportunity, put your best foot forward and build that brand of yours!

What other ideas do readers have to improve their brand during their performance review?

This post originally appeared on the Personal Branding Blog

7 Things Confidential Job Postings Say About Your Company

I always snicker and shake my head when I see a job posting listed as “Company Confidential“.  “Don’t these people get it?” I say to myself.

A job posting is one of the most frequent forms of advertising your company – and perhaps the number one way to represent your employment brand – you know -the image you project as to whether your company is a good place to work or not?  By publishing your job postings confidentially, you not only miss the opportunity to spread your employment brand, but you actually hurt it!  Plus, you’ll just delay the time it takes you to fill with your really bad version of grown up Hide and Seek.  Here’s what posting your open jobs confidentially  says about you:

  1. You don’t get talent! Candidates are leery about applying for confidential postings.  You’ll potentially miss out on the one by hiding who you are.
  2. You’re sneaky!  Do you already have someone in this role and you want to try and back fill them before they are out the door?  Would you post my job without talking to me someday? Are you conducting interviews in dark alleys?
  3. You’re ashamed! What are you hiding?  Shouldn’t the name of your company draw in applicants?
  4. You’re cowardly! Are you trying to avoid internal applications and the difficult conversations associated with having to let someone down?
  5. You’re old school! You think people should be lucky to work for you and have no other options.
  6. You’re not resourceful! You’re missing out on referrals from your employees and network.
  7. You’re lazy! You don’t want to “waste your time” wading through so many resumes so why not limit the amount you receive?

Sure, we can think of benefits to posting jobs confidentially…I’m talking to you staffing agencies who can’t hunt us down and blow up our phones…but the benefits nowhere near outweigh the detriment to your employment brand and your talent acquisition strategy in the global fight for talent.  Post confidentially, and you’ll enjoy less resumes, less talent,  and longer time to fill.  Enjoy!

New Moms Through Surrogacy – How Should They Be Treated as it Pertains to Benefits?

A Lexington, Massachusetts pharmaceutical company, Cubist Pharmaceuticals, is being sued by an employee claiming discrimination for the company not providing her with the same paid maternity leave that they provide to other new moms.  What’s different in her case?  She used a surrogate for the pregnancy and therefore, the company is categorizing her pregnancy in the same way they would a new father and an adoptive parent.  This resulted in five days of paid leave instead of thirteen weeks of paid leave for mothers who bear their own children.  The employee argues that the children are biologically hers and that she should be entitled to the full leave.  Note:  there is no claim of violation of Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in this situation.

So what’s right in this situation?  It’s a tough one.  In all likelihood, the thirteen-week leave is probably covered by a Short Term Disability (STD) policy, not by the company directly.  The policy most likely does not have maternity defined in a way where the insurance company would approve the claim.  The intent of paid maternity through STD is for health recovery, not necessarily to spend time with your new baby.  (Heartless I know!).   Also, if the company is not providing other parents whose health was not directly impacted by the birth of a new child (fathers, adoptive parents) with a thirteen week leave, why would the fact that the child is biologically yours suffice as an argument.

In my opinion, the law has not been broken here.  Cubist is likely sticking to the guidelines of their insurance policy and other parental leave programs that they have in place.  While the program may not be the most family-friendly, most companies offer no paid leave to fathers or adoptive parents.

So what do you think?

For more information, you can read the Boston Business Journal’s news story.

Guest Post: Dear Recruiters – Help Me, Help You! (by Mark Campanale)

I love LinkedIn. There are so many powerful tools in this one community that can help you meet new people, reconnect with business contacts, and get questions answered by people you’ve never met who are willing to help you, even earn new business and find a job.

What LinkedIn is not for is – unsolicited spamming. I’ll explain:

Earlier this month, I put myself back on the job market.  I changed my contact settings to include ‘interested in career opportunities’.  My friends and connections were more than happy to help me in my search and gave me some fantastic referrals.  However, this also opened the door for phone calls like this:

Recruiter:“HI Mark! Your resume just came across my desk, and I have the perfect opportunity for you.”

q
 
Me: “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name and who you are with.”

Recruiter: “This is (doesn’t matter) and I’m from So-and-So Recruitment.”

Me: “Hmm. I didn’t send your firm a resume.  Can you tell me how you found it?”

Recruiter: “I saw your status on LinkedIn that you were looking and we have lots of jobs that you may be interested in.”

The biggest issue here is that the job(s) this person was calling me for had nothing to do with my experience.  My profile clearly defines me as a social media and marketing professional and NOT someone interested in entry-level insurance sales with no experience necessary.  This particular recruiter could have benefited if they had tried to get to know me by:

  • Viewing my profile for ‘fit’
  • Seeing if we had any contacts in common, and asked for a referral
  • Sending me an InMail with an introduction to warm up their cold call

And even if I wasn’t a fit, maybe I know someone who is!  LinkedIn is about building solid, professional relationships. As of this posting, I have 496 connections which equal approximately 6.5 million professionals in my network. I am far more inclined to take an appointment when someone is referred by one of my trusted contacts. It happens all the time – it’s why LinkedIn is so powerful and has been around for so long because it PRODUCES ROI!

There are some AMAZING recruiters on the web (Tim Walsh, David Graziano) who truly get that personal branding and positioning yourself as a trusted advisor are the best ways to earn business.

The take away is, don’t lurk; don’t think the answer to somebody’s question is your services. Find a way to connect with prospects through your contacts. You’ll earn more than new business; you’ll earn trust, which, in business, is the most valuable tool you can use.

This is my profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/markcampanale

Feel free to see whom we have in common or who you may know that can introduce us. I’m always willing to help other’s succeed in business.

Your comments are greatly appreciated.

This guest blog is from Mark Campanale of the Ultimate Customer Experience blog

%d bloggers like this: