Sharlyn Lauby is president of ITM Group Inc., a consulting firm which focuses on developing training solutions that engage and retain talent in the workplace. The company has been named one of the Top Small Businesses in South Florida.
She is also the author of the blog HR Bartender, a friendly place to talk about workplace issues. The blog has been recognized as one of the Top 10 Business Blogs Worth Reading by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and SparkHire’s Top 25 Must-Read Blogs for Employers.
She currently serves on the Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility expertise panel for SHRM. And her personal goal in life is to find the best cheeseburger on the planet.
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 feel very fortunate to have spent the majority of my human resources career in companies with some sort of change effort taking place. It might have been that the department needed better employee engagement, or the division was growing and expanding at a rapid pace, or that the location was an acquisition target. I’ve always enjoyed having a full plate and staying busy. Admittedly, I don’t handle relaxing very well. It’s prepared me for my consulting life.
1B. What (if any) additional knowledge or skills that you don’t currently have would make you even better at your job?
I really enjoy learning. Here’s one thing on my learning list for this year: With today’s focus on visual learning, I’m trying to merge my artsy side and my business in the form of photography. My first job was as a commercial artist. I produced limited edition serigraphs, etchings and paper sculpture. Since I carry an iPhone with me all the time, I’m trying to learn how to take better images and the nuances of editing apps.
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’d say being self-aware is critical. It’s important for me to understand those things I excel at and the areas where I need help. Being a consultant is about time. I need to know those tasks that are the best use of my time. There are many things I can do, but what I should be doing relative to my skills and time is key.
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 agree with Lou that each of us has a little bit of each type. For example, a client might ask me to create a training program for them (Builder) or revise a program I wrote for them years ago (Improver). One could say that with writing HR Bartender, I’m a Producer. And when I get asked to speak at a conference on the future of the HR profession, I’m a Thinker.
4. Does your job involve either directly or indirectly supervising or managing people? If so, how many direct (or indirect) reports do you have?
While I’ve managed people and departments in the past, right now I’m only managing myself.
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?
Let me answer this with a story. Years ago, one of my clients was recognized as a best place to work. When I found out, I sent over my congratulations. The company president responded by saying that I was part of the reason they became a best place to work. That’s how I impact the business.
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?
I work from home so I’d say my job is pretty safe (10). And I’d add that wellness has become a big focus for me. I have a treadmill desk so I can get some additional exercise in daily.
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?
When I became a consultant, I was given several pieces of advice. The first is “There’s plenty of room in the sandbox.” meaning that consultants don’t need to tear other consultants down. One minute we might be competing against each other for a project and the next working together on a big engagement. The second was “Support the people who support you.” It reminds me to remember where I came from. Those people and companies helped me get to where I am today.
As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.