Moving On

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…So I normally use this Wednesday (as well as Tuesday) space to share my thoughts around a particular HR white paper or thought leader piece that caught my attention during that morning. For those of you who check in for those posts I apologize for doing something a little different these past few days. Regularly scheduled programming will begin again shortly.

With that said, I am feeling a bit reflective this week. I’m in the middle of (another) move for a new role, and have seen several colleagues and friends across companies move for new opportunities within the same 10 day span. Some of these moves have been internal, while others have gone outside their companies… but people are moving on. They are changing jobs, cities, and ways of life. In some cases they leave behind close friends, loved ones, and legacies as they step forward into the new and unknown.

…I am restless and nomadic by nature. I have a said before that to stop learning and progressing is for me a sort of death, and so in many ways the constant travel and challenge of stepping into uncharted territory is exciting. Romantic, even. And so I intuitively understand in ways that I lack the prose to explain the allure of moving. Onward. Upward. Somewhere. 

But there is also something sad about it. Many of the people you work with today will not be your colleagues this time next year. Some of them won’t even be colleagues this time next month. You will promise to keep in touch when you or they move on. But geographic boundaries and more pressing and immediate people and concerns at your/their next step will often render such promises impractical over the long term. Relationships – like most everything else – change.

All of this is okay. It should be celebrated, even.

…As long as we occasionally take time to remember. What we experienced. Who we met. And what it all meant.

Best,

Rory

Driving Your Life and Career

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<thenerderypublic.com

<thenerderypublic.com>

It’s 2:22 a.m. as I sit down to write this. And I have a 5 hour drive ahead.

So I will be brief.

This morning I want to write about career ownership. This topic is top of mind for me because – both as a function of my personality and because I am in HR – I spend a lot of time talking people about their next steps. Sometimes people are optimistic about this topic. Sometimes they are apathetic. And sometimes they are bitter.

No matter which attitude they possess, however, the one thing I always try and encourage them to have is a sense of personal agency. It is our nature as individuals to want to make progress in all aspects of our lives, but we are not always sure of how to do so (or even aware that we can).

Sometimes to get what we want out of our careers we need change nothing and must only be patient. While other times the change we seek will never come without action on our part. But it is important to remember that we can always exercise a degree of control in this respect.

…I’m out of time. Gotta go. But I just wanted to share a few thoughts here this morning.

Own everything you do. At the end of the day you’re responsible for managing your own career. A good employer / Manager / HR Business Partner / friend or colleague will help with it, but nothing is guaranteed in this respect. So find comfort and confidence in the fact that it’s on you. 

And you shouldn’t want to have it any other way.

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Best,

Rory

Quote of the Week: “Sometimes it’s the journey…

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<www.flickr.com

<www.flickr.com>

…that teaches you a lot about your destination.” – Drake

This week’s quote has been attributed to Canadian recording artist, rapper , songwriter, and actor Aubrey Drake Graham (better known simply as “Drake”).

This one is timely for me because I am beginning to realize that – despite my best efforts – I can’t seem to project my career out very far with any degree of certainty. Instead, it has turned out to be a long, meandering road that has taken me in directions I never thought it would…and in the process taught me a lot about what I love to do and that which I find to be most precious.

Our careers – like everything else in life – are often unpredictable and frenetic. But it is also this tumultuous nature that facilitates our personal evolution and development. In a sense, we grow as individuals (and professionals) because our life experiences tell us more about ourselves and shape what we set out to accomplish. They help us discover who we are, what we are passionate about, and what we might possibly become.

…So as we get started this week, I would encourage you to give way to the journey. Preserve a sense of the future and what you want out of life… but also leave room in your life for the implausible and even (seemingly) impossible. Much of what we accomplish is governed by the way that we see ourselves, which means that we must allow our personal perception of self to continue to evolve over time so that we might maximize our potential.

So stay open. Stay flexible. Believe and embrace your ability to change into the best possible person you can be. Life is long.

Settle in and enjoy the ride.

…And as always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Happy Monday,

Rory

Sunday Reading: July 27, 2014 – Compensation, Time Management, and Proxy Statements

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<www.ejam.hu

<www.ejam.hu>

Sunday reading for July 27, 2014:

1. Ann Bares over at Compensation Café has a great post up examining the way changes in the job market have shifted the power dynamic from employers to employees. Meanwhile, hiring managers and comp professionals have been slow to make the transition, overemphasizing the preservation of internal equity as opposed to striking a new balance between the realities of what candidates can command in the marketplace and the need to protect the company comp structure. There is currently a tension between recruiters / talent pros (who recognize the changing market conditions and want internal pay policy to reflect them) and their compensation teams / hiring managers here. In examining the causal factors behind this tension, Bares provides insights that should hopefully help facilitate a dialogue that leads to more progressive pay policies. This one is a must read for the data alone. Check it out here.

2.  Adam Bryant at the NY Times recently interviewed Syncsort CEO Lonne Jaffe about (among other things) his career trajectory, how he became so successful, how he interviews, and what his strengths are. This is a really well done interview on all fronts, but what stood out to me most about the piece is the emphasis he places on defining prioritization and time management skills as integral components of success. Intellectual curiosity and intelligence are great, but knowing what’s important and figuring out how to accomplish those things are traits that are perhaps just as valuable. For detailed insights around why time management is important (and Lonne’s views on other things) read the full piece here.

3. Dan Walter, President and CEO at Performensation has a wonderful piece up on Linkedin highlighting the value to your career of understanding how to work your way through a proxy statement. It’s a great piece from a guy that makes much of his living in the space because it details his early challenges with working through such documents (and the progress he was able to make over time through time and patience). If you’re a big Dan Walter fan (as I am), are new to reading financial statements and need a pep talk, or are looking for insights on how you can gain an increased understanding of your company’s business (and in the process improve your career prospects) then check out the full piece here.

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Best,

Rory

Video Saturday: Implementing a Private Health-Care Exchange at Walgreens Part 1

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<cdn2.hubspot.net

<cdn2.hubspot.net>

Thomas Sondergeld, Senior Director Health & Well-Being, Walgreens, and Mark Englizian, CCP, GRP, VP Total Rewards, Walgreens, discuss the strategic considerations and driving factors that led to the organization’s switch to a private health-care exchange, building a business case for senior management, selecting a provider, what the employee view looks like, how their wellness initiatives are integrated, and how subsidies work.

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Best,

Rory

Spotlight Friday: An Interview with John Whitaker, Sr. Principal Staffing Consultant, BioTech

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John WJohn Whitaker is a Senior HR Talent Acquisition Professional who thrives on problem-solving, team-building, and claiming the domain of “change” for the Human Resources organization.

His last 20 years of experience include roles in Workforce Planning, Organization Design, and creating People Strategies in successive levels in HR leadership roles. Including 3 years in a consultative role creating Change Management Initiatives that directly impact corporate talent.

His blog, HR Hardball is creating a new way to communicate and engage with a large HR audience.

John is also a featured writer on “Fistful Of Talent“, where his posts primarily focus on change, change management, uncertainty, and the impact these conditions have on employees, retention, and their respective leadership. 

You can follow John on Twitter here, find him on Linkedin here, and read some of his thoughts on human resources on both his blog here and Fistful of Talent here

1. Most job postings cite “X” years of relevant work experience and specific education criteria as requirements to be considered for the position. With this in mind, what prior work experiences and degrees/certifications/training helped prepare you for your current role?

I’m of the opinion that every experience has prepared me for my current role.  My sales background helped me as an HRBP for sales orgs; my HRBP exp helped me develop consultative skills, which eventually led to my career in a consulting role; my consultant experience taught me to become a self-taught social media proponent; that experience has now helped me in a staffing contract for a company continuing to examine new ways to attract the best talent. It’s all for a purpose, that’s the only way to think about it.

1B. What (if any) additional knowledge or skills that you don’t currently have would make you even better at your job?

I still kick myself in the butt for not taking Spanish seriously enough while studying in my undergrad. I have no doubt in the value of being proficient in multiple languages; hoping my kids will learn Mandarin.

2. Some jobs require the incumbent to be very analytical. Others require one to be a strong communicator, and others still require traits like patience, the ability to multitask, self-directedness, comfort with ambiguity, and exceptional attention to detail. Are there any behaviors and/or attributes that you would say are essential to performing the work that you do?

I’ll go a little deeper – the behaviors that are essential to me performing at a high level regardless of the role ~ Risk-taking, Likeability, Innovation, Influencing Skills, and Stress-tolerance.

3. Jobs guru Lou Adler says there are only 4 job types of jobs in the world (producers, improvers, builders, and thinkers). Which type of job are you in?

I’m a thinker, but I’m in a producer role right now ~ sometimes I need to consciously stop thinking and start completing.

4. Does your job involve either directly or indirectly supervising or managing people? If so, how many direct (or indirect) reports do you have?

Yes, a matrix of indirects ~ fluctuates, but usually about a dozen people.

5. How does what you do impact the business? Think complexity (different types of impacts) and scale (degree of impact). Put another way: Who and what would be impacted if your job wasn’t being done well, and why would it matter that they were impacted?

I’d like to think I impact all the clients with whom I work; I tend to get called upon to handle situations that are already emotionally “hot,” so I act as a “cooler” to allow rational thinking to prevail. I add perspective to the situation, prioritize, remove the emotional attachment, and believe in the outcomes. Without me, I’m sure there would be a lot of emotional fracking left unchecked.

6. Is your job safe? Rate its safety on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being “seated all day in an air conditioned vault” and 10 being “I’m an astronaut going into space”. If your job isn’t safe, what working conditions (specifically) make it hazardous?

The most dangerous part of my job is air travel, so let’s give it a 2.

7. Is there anything I missed that people should know about your job? Is there anything else you want to say about what you do?

I guess it depends on the audience, but for younger professionals in Human Resources I would share this; the wildest successes I have had in my professional life have all materialized when I took a chance. Stretch your comfort level, stick your neck out, be the person who says the “unsaid” comment, handles the unmanageable issue, tackles the project that is guaranteed to fail. Worry less about the risk involved, and realize the sun will come up in the morning either way – why not make a bet on your own success?

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Best,

Rory

Infographic Thursday: Travel’s Effect on Productivity

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Travel Effect has a wonderful infographic out highlighting the value of vacation time on employee’s productivity. Based on the info below it would seem it’s our duty as HR professionals to make sure our clients/customers are using their vacation days, yes? Check out the infographic and decide for yourself. And if you like what you see then consider following Travel Effect on Twitter here.

Travel Productivity HR

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Best,

Rory

Helping Employees Find Out What They Don’t Know That They Don’t Know…

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<www.shiningsunsolutions.com

<www.shiningsunsolutions.com>

Lead Change Group has a wonderful piece up about how managers can help their employees develop in role to address their engagement and retention issues in the absence of additional resources and/or the support of senior leadership. The logic goes that more in-role development is essential today because the traditional career paths of generation’s past – those with built in progression every 18 months that lead to a steady path up the corporate ladder – are fading away. Instead, career progression for many has become more of a winding road than an upward climb. I thought it was a pretty accurate snapshot of what progression looks like in many organizations today… good read. The piece from Julie Winkle Giulioni, and you can check it out here.

…So I have buy-in here on general principle. To Giulioni’s point, there are often many great developmental opportunities a manager can give to his/her employees within their department, and even more that open up if he or she partners with other managers to do talent swaps and/or joint projects that expand the competencies and capabilities of employees in both teams.

The challenge I keep coming back to here though is that most people don’t know what they want out of their careers because they haven’t really experienced enough to know what’s possibleAnd at lower levels often times one’s Manager doesn’t have a significantly wider awareness of potential career pathways (and the competences required to move into them) in an organization.

…This all comes back to learning and development for me. Meaningful progression can only happen when people know what they don’t know and have the tools to get it. Managers partnering with employees at a local level solves the tools problem, but not the awareness problem.

In this respect I am sold on the utility of a plugged in learning and development team that partners with HR Business Partners and / or Managers to deliver these tools to employees at all levels of the organization. Is there any research out there that makes the business case, though? I’m talking about before and after analyses of retention / engagement / performance etc. And for those organizations that have successfully built teams that serve this role across the enterprise, what were some of the challenges they faced along the way? How did they overcome them?

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Best,

Rory

The Way Most People Learn to Learn is Broken. How Do We Fix It?

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<aibworld.net

<aibworld.net>

…So I have been on a bit of a Dupress reading binge lately. Lots of great stuff. And to that point, this morning I read a great article on the site that told a compelling story about how the student of the future will obtain her post-high school education:

In two years, Laura developed foundational skills in critical thinking, communications, and ethics, among other areas, and sharpened her quantitative skills, earning her a competency-based degree. She then studied independently through massive open online courses (MOOCs), participated in a 12-week immersive boot camp, completed a university architectural certificate, and worked as an intern for a design firm. She did all this while attending frequent networking meet-ups to explore and pursue full-time job opportunities and spending most of her free time in a design studio where she interacted with peers and mentors.

You can read the full story (and larger article) here, but in short the authors suggests that students of the future will develop the skills and competencies they need to succeed in their chosen profession through a combination of independent learning, networking, on the job training, and partnerships with traditional education institutions. In essence, the authors suggest that the learning model of the future will stand in sharp contrast to the one most students experience today.

There is some wisdom to this idea. According to the piece, the average 4-year residential degree program costs $30,000 per year, and at the current cost trajectory this rate will rise to $62,000 annually by 2025. Furthermore, the majority of learning one needs to succeed in one’s chosen profession is taking place informally in the workplace, not the classroom. This suggests what most professionals already know: The majority of college degrees aren’t giving students the skills they need to succeed in the workplace.

…But yet the fact remains that college remains the right way to go for most. Check out the below Bureau of Labor Statistics chart contrasting median weekly earnings and unemployment rates by educational attainment:

<www.bls.gov

<www.bls.gov>

At the end of the day, the ROIC is there for going to college. And despite escalating costs, a college degree is if nothing else an excellent screening tool for base competencies that employers value. And good programs also help students develop technical skills that shorten their on-the-job learning curves.

…So we know that college itself is a good idea, but that the system – from both dollars and cents and practical skills/preparedness perspectives – is broken. It’s gotten bad enough that employers aren’t even hiring new grads anymore. Despite improving employment numbers, over a third of recent college grads are now underemployed (an escalating number from 08′), and even a majority of senior administrators at colleges seem to realize that there’s a problem.

…This brings me back to the new learning model advocated for by Dupress. One that marries independent learning and on-the-job-training with traditional education programs. It’s a wonderful idea… but my concern is that I don’t think most people develop the skills to effectively manage unstructured learning. For most working professionals, coming in at the end of a long day at work and continuing one’s education requires a level of discipline / focus that they’ve just never been taught.

The problem – I think – with entrusting people with their own learning is that most societies don’t start doing it early enough (if ever) in their student’s educational journeys for it to become a lifelong habit. Most students sit in classrooms and listen to teachers lecture from the time they are five or six years old. Education is something that happens to them as opposed to something they guide and direct.

If this is the case then the problem isn’t really how and what we teach students once they get to college – it’s how we teach them to learn before they get there, right?

Or maybe I have this wrong?

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Best,

Rory

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