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Author Archives: M Faulkner

Vulnerability is…

There has been a lot of talk around vulnerability lately.

I blame Brené Brown.

Okay, not JUST Brené Brown, but she’s probably the most famous one at this point. She gives talks about vulnerability all the time. They are really, really good talks. She speaks from the heart. She lays bare all her flaws. She challenges everyone else to do the same.

And people love it. And they love her. And everyone leaves promising themselves and each other that they will be more vulnerable to get past that fear, that they will have a strong back and a soft front, because there is power in vulnerability.

Then people go back to their daily lives, where there a whole bunch of other people who have never heard of Brené Brown who think vulnerability is a weakness and that you have to suck it up and show a brave face. And so, the idea of living a life of true vulnerability (like Brené Brown) is abandoned. It just seems too daunting and overwhelming, and besides – just getting through the workday is hard enough without worrying about whether you were vulnerable enough, right?

Here’s the thing – I think most people live lives of vulnerability all the time, just in different ways. They don’t call attention to it, they just do it.

Vulnerability is….

  • Standing up for a coworker
  • Just eating the damn cake without apologizing for it
  • Crying when you’re upset
  • Sharing when you’re nervous
  • Wearing that red pair of shoes because you feel amazing in them
  • Dressing up for Halloween, even though the “cool kids” will make fun of you
  • Reading a romance novel at lunch in the cafeteria
  • Posting updates about how you had to evacuate your home
  • Sharing your love of goofy movies
  • Asking for help on a project
  • Giving a friend a hug when they need it
  • Admitting you were wrong
  • Going to the grocery store with small kids and an even smaller budget
  • Traveling to an unfamiliar place
  • Granting grace to someone…especially yourself
  • Being different

Recognize any of these? In others? In yourself? Vulnerability happens EVERY. DAMN. DAY. We just don’t always recognize it or appreciate it when it happens.

So how will you embrace the vulnerability in your life? How will you define it?

Because guess what –

Vulnerability IS.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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Don’t call it a comeback

So you may have noticed that I’ve done precious little posting to my own blog. Yes, I’ve been writing here and there in other publications, yet I have neglected my own.

To be fair, I’ve been busy. It’s been a hell of a year. Over the past 12 months, I’ve left one job, had surgery (I’m fine, thanks!), took some time off, started another job (which I love), and have generally just been settling into a new normal. My new job is a mix of working from home and traveling to client sites – the best of all worlds! (Yes, I’m one of those weird people who kind of likes business travel. My dog, on the other hand, is completely thrown for a loop. “You’re here, like, all the time…then you’re gone forever. Then you’re here again. WHAT IS GOING ON?!”)

thats-clearly-a-comeback-picard-memes

Honestly, I admit I was stunned by how little I’ve actually posted during this time. I’ve never been one to write every day or every week, but you can see where I dropped off. While “busy-ness” is a reason for neglecting my little blog, it doesn’t take THAT long to write something. Looking back, I think it’s a factor of a few things – big changes in work/life (those take time to process); opportunities to write elsewhere (I hate rehashing existing content, so good ideas may have moved to another platform); and, finally…I didn’t have that much to say. A lot of material for work-based blogs come from what you see at work. Since I don’t work in-house anymore, I don’t have everyday interactions that make me think, “What the…,” so it doesn’t really spur the need to write it down.  And a lot of this past year has been about learning a new job, so I’ve been focused on input rather than output.

But I miss writing here, so I’m going to do it more. The focus might shift a bit. I mean, let’s be honest…I’ve never been THAT on point with the topic anyway. And I’m noticing different things in the world of work that interest me, so that will inspire different thoughts.

So stay tuned.

And thanks for sticking it out.

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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Carnival of HR: July Edition!

Hello, everyone! This month, I have the great honor of hosting the Carnival of HR – a collection of blog posts from our friends and peers doing awesome and important things out in the world of the internet. When Robin Schooling asked me if I’d be willing to host, I said, “Of course!” Or maybe I said, “Do I have to?” The record is unclear. But what IS clear is that the Carnival is a great way to be exposed to a variety of voices in the HR space – some you know, some you don’t.

There is no real theme this month – more of a “what do you have to say about HR” approach. And people have a LOT to say. I sort of wanted to make it more like the Brazilian Carnival, mostly because it’s super fun to say car-ni-VAHL. Plus, who doesn’t love to samba?! But alas…it is but a blog post sharing other blog posts. Feel free to wear your most festive feathered Carnival outfit while you read them.

This month’s entries include:

So there you have it – the July 2019 edition of Carnival of HR. Connect with this people. Learn more about them. If you had a reaction to their work, let them know! All writers want to know that people are reading their content. We’re needy that way,

Be good to each other, and be on the lookout for next month’s edition!

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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In praise of the Old School option

The other day, I was getting my nails done and chatting with the nail tech about random things (as one does). She asked me about TV shows I watched and mentioned that she doesn’t have basic cable so she misses the network shows and has to hope it comes out on Hulu. I confirmed she owned a television, and then I said, “Why don’t you get an over-the-air antenna?” She had no idea what I was talking about.

This isn’t bashing the youths of the world – when’s the last time YOU saw an over-the-air antenna (OTA) on a modern television set? I have them top of mind because my mom has one, and I only got her one because I worked for a pay TV company once upon a time and remember when the transition to needing OTA happened. And my mom doesn’t want cable (this is the woman who uses Netflix to watch NCIS reruns, so there you go). So the fact the nail tech didn’t even think about an OTA as an option wasn’t surprising to me. I was happy she was excited to look into it so she could watch her shows real time.

The conversation got me thinking about organizations and their approach to process improvement. There is so much content pushing the latest and greatest HR technology to solve ALL the world’s problems that it impacts how teams think about solutions. Think back to the last 5 problem solving meetings you were in. How many times was technology offered as the answer? If your world is anything like mine, it was probably a lot of times. Too often, organizations think tech first, Old School second – often to the detriment of the the long-term solution.

One example that comes to mind around this topic is employee engagement. So many organizations (and providers) want to believe that if they just had the BEST software solution, all their engagement issues would disappear. Anonymous surveys and online action plans and emailed reminders are all an organization needs to get maximum engagement! FINALLY. And yet…the Old School approach of treating people better, showing value in others as human beings, and paying people what they’re worth will have a more lasting impact.

There is nothing wrong with technology as a solution. I love it. Big fan. Lots of cool things happening out there. Anything that automates administrative tasks, helps streamline a process, or removes risk from data is a wonderful thing. I just don’t think technology is always the best option all the time.Technology is dependent. If you have a bad process, technology won’t make it better. It will just let you do that bad process faster, or it could overly complicate it.

So don’t laugh at the person who eschews technology in favor of a post-it note. Listen to the idea. Be open to considering an Old School solution, especially if you’re new, whether it’s to the industry, to the company, or to the workforce. We built amazing things with Old School solutions, and some of them can still get you to the solution you need.  It may not be cool. It may not be sexy.

But it works.

 

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2019 in Clarity, Decision Making

 

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The Right Side of History: Musings from Workhuman

Disclosure: I am compensated for attending Workhuman and sharing my thoughts and commentary on the conference. No one at Workhuman directs what I am supposed to write or how I cover the conference – I am simply invited to share my impressions of the experience. 


Last week, I had the opportunity to attend my FIFTH Workhuman conference. The conference was started by Globoforce to highlight not only its recognition platform, but because the company believed there was a better way to work. The first event was, shall we say, “intimate” – not a lot of people, but a lot of buy-in around the idea of treating employees like human beings and acknowledging that they bring more than their productivity to the workplace.

The buy-in was so strong that the conference has grown 600% since that first gathering, and Globoforce has since changed its name to Workhuman, outwardly reflecting the commitment to an idea that has been internally held all along; and the conferences shall henceforth be known as Workhuman Live.

Enough about the backstory. How was the conference, Mary?! 

In short, the conference was really good. Through the years, the event has experienced some growing pains, particularly in the area of registration and picking up your badge. The image that comes to mind is locusts on a field of wheat with a couple of people waving their arms around to try and calm the masses…but that might be a bit dramatic. What really happens is everyone arrives about the same time, and when you have pre-conference sessions that people what to get to in a short period of time, it can get crowded. Add to that an unfortunate technical issue with a badge printer, and you get some long lines. But as always, the conference staff handled it well – apologies, smiles, and handing out water to the people waiting in line.

It’s hard to sustain a unique event experience year after year. At some point, conferences get so big that you have to scale your logistics in proven (read: “traditional”) ways – keynotes, breakouts, etc. Workhuman continues to set itself apart by limiting the “expo hall” (which they call Workhuman Central) to a few product demo areas, one or two partner booths, and a focus on connection. The Gratitude Bar (where attendees can use the Workhuman platform to recognize others) took center stage, and for every recognition shared, Workhuman contributed to three local charities. The Studio Sessions offered smaller, conversational style discussions on topics, and everywhere, there were places for attendees to sit, rest, connect, recharge.

Yeah, yeah…what about George Clooney?

Yes, Workhuman does a very good job of booking speakers. And many of you may wonder, “What the hell does Gary Hamel/George Clooney/Kat Cole/Geena Davis/Brené Brown/Viola Davis/etc. have to do with working human?!”  (Okay, maybe Gary Hamel, Kat Cole and Brené Brown make sense. And they were phenomenal. And I got to meet Kat Cole, so there.) Aside from the obvious star power that these names bring to the conference, I am always impressed at how Workhuman identifies speakers who live the values the event espouses. I was struck by the humility and humanitarian focus of each of the speakers. Yes…George Clooney is impossibly charming and every inch the movie star…and he uses his platform to do good things. Humanitarian efforts are personal to both George and Amal Clooney – they put in the time and work. It’s not just a cause they donate money to. Geena Davis has established a foundation called the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which engages film and television creators to dramatically increase the percentages of female characters — and reduce gender stereotyping — in media made for children 11 and under. Viola Davis speaks TRUTH – she uses her success and visibility to challenge all of us (not just Hollywood) to do better in how we think about and act on diversity and inclusion. None of these speakers were scripted – these are issues they speak about with passion and a real belief that we have an obligation to use our abilities to help others.

Any takeaways? Or are you just going to keep describing the conference?

That last piece – the obligation to use our abilities to help others – is my chief takeaway from Workhuman 2019.

Each of us has an obligation to use whatever influence/power/gifts/resources/whatever to make the world a better place – for all humans. George Clooney (I know, I know…but he was really good!) shared the values his family instilled in him early on, the importance of helping others who need it. He spoke about the role of luck in his life and acknowledged the help he’s had along the way. Most of all, he expressed his belief that those who have need to help those who have not.

Perhaps the quote that has stuck with me the most is this: “You are never on the wrong side of history when your aim is progress.” Progress is helping others. Progress is a hand up, not a hand out. Progress is teaching empathy. Progress is vulnerability and learning from mistakes. Progress is making a workplace that is welcoming and safe for all people. Progress is representation – in investing, in community, in movies, in the boardroom, in life. Progress is using your platform to advance society forward, not move it backwards.

We all may define progress differently, but this is the definition of progress I want to see and promote.

I want to be on the right side of history.


Workhuman Live (the new conference name) will take place in Denver in 2020.

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2019 in Conference Posts

 

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WorkHuman 2019: The journey continues

Okay, yes. That’s a super cheesy blog post title. But cut me some slack – I’ve been writing about WorkHuman for a really long time! The first post I wrote about it was in 2015, which feels really long ago. I’ve been to all of the WorkHuman conferences (here’s a quick overview of the history). I really like them. I’ve attended as a speaker, a moderator, a member of the social media team, and as a mere participant (who also still wrote and tweeted because I apparently can’t attend a conference without doing that).

So why do I keep going back to WorkHuman?

Well, for one thing – they invite me. 🙂 I really appreciate that. There are a lot of people out there who can write and tweet about a conference, and I am grateful they see a value in bringing me back each year to help the promote the event. And I also appreciate the fact that while I do receive some compensation for promoting the event, I have never once been directed about what I should say or how I should say it. They have always let the conference speak for itself and ask people to be open and honest about the experience. I can’t say enough about the team that puts on the event – they are fantastic people who love what they do, and it shows.

Every year, the conference is a different experience because the team experiments with different set ups to encourage as much human interaction as possible. It’s much different than most conferences I’ve been to. Last year in Austin was really amazing – a large space for downtime, networking conversations, indoor food trucks, gratitude trees, coffee bars. It was a fantastic set up and I can’t wait to see what they do this time!

I also go because I get to see so many people who want to learn more about how to work differently. The topics at WorkHuman aren’t focused on compliance or laws (although the conversation DOES come up). Most speakers talk about the importance of making a human connection, and the attendees really respond to the message. People are frustrated at work. The lines between work and home continue to blur. The more we acknowledge the social nature of human beings (yes, even introverts), the more we recognize the need to change how we approach our interactions. The people at WorkHuman are there to learn from the speakers’ sessions and I love talking to them throughout the conference.

And let’s talk a little bit more about those speakers. When you look at the roster of speakers that WorkHuman has gotten over the years, it’s mindboggling – Arianna Huffington, Adam Grant, Shawn Achor, Simon Sinek, Michael J Fox, Brene Brown, Salma Hayek, MICHELLE FREAKING OBAMA – just to name a few. All the keynote speakers brought unique perspectives and research and experiences to the conference, challenging the attendees to see the humanity in everyday life. And last year, WorkHuman featured a spotlight on the #metoo movement, with a memorable panel featuring Tarana Burke, Ashley Judd, and Ronan Farrow. This year promises to bring even more amazing speakers to the forefront – Viola Davis, Brene Brown (back again!), George Clooney (Amal Clooney spoke last year), and others – including me!

So I’m counting down the days until I get to join all my friends at WorkHuman – this time in Nashville, TN. I hope to see you there!

There is still time to register! Use discount code WH19INFMFA when you sign up here.

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2019 in Conference Posts

 

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The step teams forget

Anyone who knows me (or at least reads this blog) knows that group work is something that can destroy my soul. Part of that is due to my introverted tendencies, part of is it my control issues (self-awareness will set you free), but I think a big part of it is how ridiculously ineffective it can be. I mean…picking a team name alone takes a good 20 minutes of ideas and recriminations.

Collaboration is good. Hopelessly stumbling through a forced group activity is excruciating – and is not very good business.

The reality is, teamwork IS a vital component of work. None of us can be successful by ourselves. We rely on the expertise, time and effort of those around us. Different tasks and different projects require teams to come together and break apart all the time. Remember Tuckman’s stages of group development?  With the pace some businesses run, there often isn’t even time to name all four, let alone move through them. And it’s exactly this frenetic pace that can sabotage the success of teams.

You’ve probably noticed that some teams are remarkably successful and others are a trainwreck from the first meeting. And while there are many variables that factor into the success or failure of a group, there is one thing teams can do shift the odds in their favor:

Talk about how the team will work with each other.

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Think of it as establishing the rules of engagement – how you’ll communicate, how you’ll make decisions, how you’ll disagree with each other, how you’ll resolve conflict. Everytime I see a team take as little as 5 or 10 minutes to have a quick conversation about this, I have seen that team do well.

My belief in the importance of this step  is solidified whenever I see teams go head-to-head in some way. What follows are two examples – one from real life, and another from “reality” TV:

Real Life: I’ve facilitated a team-building/communication exercise a number of times that involves the recreation of a Tinker Toys sculpture. Each member on the team is only allowed to do a specific thing in this exercise and talk to only certain people. It’s quite convoluted feeling and teams get frustrated because the person who can see EVERYTHING is not allowed to share anything – they can only answer yes or no questions. The twist is that anyone on the team at any time can call a team meeting so they can talk about HOW the team is working together. Every single time I’ve facilitated this exercise, the team who takes the time to establish – and review – how they will work together successfully completes the sculpture. The team that does not do this descends into frustration and passive-aggressive sabotage.

Reality TV: I absolutely adore Face Off, a special effects makeup competition show that is now, sadly, ended. Depending on the season, the challenges change week to week in being either individual or team competitions. Sometimes the teams are chosen, but more often than not, they are randomly assigned. Time and again, the teams that take a few minutes at the beginning to establish how they’ll make decisions and are intentional about sharing their thought process out loud so the others understand it win the challenge. It shows in the final product.

While both of these examples are from an artificial environment, I have seen this play out in business projects time and time again. Think about the BEST project you’ve ever been a part of. chances are you had clarity in communication cadence, clearly defined decision-making authority, and the understanding that disagreements could be aired in team meetings without people taking it personally.

 

So the next time you find yourself on a team – ad hoc or otherwise – focus on the step that will make the biggest difference.

And no…picking a team name doesn’t fit that bill.

 

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2018 in Clarity, Decision Making, Teamwork

 

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