RSS

Category Archives: Managing Up

Development as partnership (when leaders and employees get it)

Last week, I had the opportunity to both attend and speak at the Illinois state conference for the Society of Human Resource Management (henceforth referred to as ILSHRM, ’cause that’s way too much to type out).

Hundreds of HR professionals descended upon the Holiday Inn and Convention Center in Tinley Park, IL for a couple of days of networking, socializing, eating far too many carbs, and yes…learning.

I love being able to talk to people from around the country about what they do, what they struggle with, and how they are trying to make their workplace – and themselves – better. And these folks are from Illinois, so they’re chatty Midwesterners who are open, honest, and a lot of fun to boot.

Dancing_Cats

What struck me as I talked to the fine folks of ILSHRM is that we all have similar challenges – high state of change, evolving business demands, disengaged employees, managers who don’t always get it, legal shifts, work-life balance, etc. And what impressed me is that despite all the challenges, these people were determined to find a way to fix it. They believed that by advancing their skills, learning from others, and challenging their own thinking, they might be able to take something from ILSHRM back to their workplace, apply it, and make a difference.

Naive? Maybe. Optimistic? Probably.

Impossible? No.

I say it’s not impossible because all those people attending ILSHRM had the support of their organizations and/or their boss.  Maybe it was a “check the box” exercise to prove the company supports development. Who cares – they got to go. Most were there because their boss/leadership had specific problems and trust their HR team to go find a solution that will work for them.

This conference reaffirmed the fact that when leaders and employees are both devoted to development, good things can happen. Heck, I was there because my boss was willing to let me go spread our brand and bring new ideas back. (Thanks, Gail!)

And for the cynics out there, you’re right – some people attend conferences to get their credits to avoid retaking a test, for the carb overload, for a couple of nights away from the kids. But tell that to the fun folks I had lunch with from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District – all 10+ of them. This was a group determined to get something out of the conference…and have a fun time while they learned. And tell that to the young HR professionals who asked incredibly powerful, insightful questions in all the sessions they attended. They weren’t content to listen and leave – they wanted to explore, to learn from the collective experience from the folks in the room.

The reality is that this only works if everyone involved is willing to MAKE IT WORK. (Tim Gunn shout out!) Developing employees is more than signing up for a class or a conversation about career goals now and then. It’s about employees stating what they need for their development and leaders supporting them in that endeavor.

It takes two to tango.

Leaders, employees, customers and companies all benefit when development is supported. So I challenge each of you – whether you are a manager or individual contributor – to do what you can to partner for development. You’ll get so much more out of it than what you put into it.

I know I do.

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 20, 2015 in Managing Up, Personal Development, Skillz

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Get To vs. Have To: The employee’s dilemma

I’m writing this on a Sunday evening while watching playoff hockey waiting for Game of Thrones to start and trying to figure out why our dog has become endlessly fascinated by a piece of paper on an end table. In short, it’s a lovely evening and I’m happy that I get to do this.

I bring this up because as the weekend winds down, people are lamenting the fact that they “have to” go to work tomorrow. (Don’t believe me? Check your Facebook/Twitter/Instagram feeds.) And thus we are confronted by the dichotomy all employees deal with at work – what they “get to do” vs. what they “have to do.”

“Have to” is all the work employees tend to complain about – answering emails, attending recurring meetings, data entry, making phones calls, paying invoices…all the tasks that fulfill the basic functions of their job descriptions.

“Get to” is the work that employees say they want – stretch goals, new projects, visibility, variety, excitement…all the things that a new and different from the day-to-day. swivel chair

In short, “have to” is the work we get paid for, “get to” is the work that engages us.

What’s interesting is how quickly the “get to” turns into “have to” for so many employees. What was once new and exciting gets absorbed into the background as just another thing you work on in your job.

This phenomenon is known as the hedonic treadmill (or hedonic adaptation, if you must be specific) and refers to our singular ability to return to a relative level of happiness (or unhappiness) following a positive or negative event in our lives. Basically, if you’re a happy person, you’ll still be a happy person even after undergoing a setback. But if you’re a negative person, you’ll still be a negative person even if you win the lottery.

Let’s apply this to work. If you (generally) like your job, the “have to” doesn’t bring you down too much. The “get to” is a nice perk, but you don’t really need it because you’re already in a good place.  Chances are, you’re probably more engaged (or at least satisfied – NOT THE SAME THING) than the average person. If you (generally) chafe against your job, the “get to” won’t be enough to change your tune.

So if you are more of a Grumpy Cat than an Oprah (The Secret), how do you maximize the “get to” moments at work?

  • Keep your eye on the prize: Work will feel less “have to” if you find ways to help you reach your long term goals. Working an office day job but really want to be an agent? Look at your internal relationship building as honing your networking skills.
  • Take control of your “have to”: Be efficient and work your way through your “have to” list every day so it doesn’t weigh on you. Talk to your boss about restructuring your “have to” if you’re approaching burnout. One of the reasons “have to” brings us down is because we don’t have control over it. Try to get some.
  • Think of the “get to” as a reward, not a right: Remember, “get to” is development and growth. It’s not something that you should take for granted or sit back and wait for it to come to you. Be proactive and ask for the “get to”. Now it’s something you’ve earned, which can extend your happiness about the “get to.”
  • Check your attitude: Granted, people will land somewhere on the spectrum between Pippi Longstocking and Chicken Little, and it’s okay to know who you are. But if you find yourself unable to appreciate the “get to” in your life, find out why. Maybe you need more sleep, maybe you need some perspective, maybe you need therapy. Whatever it is, figure it out.

The reality is that the “have to” work will never ever go away. The trick is to find enough “get to” work to keep it interesting.

And try to have a good week, everyone!

 

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 4, 2015 in Managing Up, Self-Awareness

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Be careful what you wish for…your voice WILL be heard

As employees, we have a list of grievances – or demands, if you prefer – that we carry in our heart and in our head at all times.

  • No one ever asks me what I think.
  • I never get to work on the big projects.
  • The executives don’t even know who I am!
  • My boss is constantly checking on me. Just leave me alone and let me do my job.

Sound familiar?

Complaining is the lifeblood of the American worker.  If we didn’t have work to complain about, we’d be forced to deal with something else. Like our unhealthy addiction to Laffy Taffy (don’t judge me).

So let’s say you had the opportunity to speak up. And I’m talking about a leadership team who really wants to hear your feedback and input (not some snarky attempt to check off the “listen to your people” box).green_soapbox

Someone finally asks you what you think.  Someone looks to you for some big ideas. Someone gives you free reign to propose a solution to all the problems you’ve been pointing out for so long.

Are you ready to respond? Because you may only get one shot at this.

It can hurt your credibility when you’re not able to rise to the occasion. Responding from a place of emotion rather than giving specific examples of what has happened that negatively impacts the organization, the focus is no longer on the issues – it’s squarely on you. And if you don’t respond AT ALL, you risk never being asked for your opinion again.

No one is looking for a perfectly formed 12 point plan to address the issues.  Your leaders are just asking you to articulate your concerns in a way that shows you have thought about the problem…you know, beyond how much it impacts you personally. Leaders KNOW it impact you. That’s why you keep bringing it up. So what are you gonna do about it?

If you want a voice and have a say in formulating a solution to the issues your team faces, try the following:

  • Self-monitor: Take note of how often you complain and how you might be perceived by others. What others might agree with in the beginning might become background noise in the long run.
  • Listen to others: Issues may not impact others the same way they impact you. And others may lend perspective that you don’t have.  So hush up and see what they have to say.
  • Stick to the facts: Emotions can run high, particularly if a group feels like no one has been listening to them up to this point.  Leaders tend to shut down the instant employees argue emotion rather than factual impact.
  • Be honest without being mean: Leaders want candor. They don’t want anger. Don’t let the message be lost in the way you deliver it. Attack the issue, not the person. You CAN be respectful and be frank.
  • Be solution-focused: We all vent. A lot. It’s pretty easy to point out all the things that are wrong. Leaders ask for your opinion because they want to hear from the people on the front-lines. Use your day-to-day knowledge to suggest solutions no one in leadership would think of.

So the next time you complain that no one ever listens to you, don’t be surprised if leadership starts asking for your opinion.

Will you be ready?

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 16, 2015 in Managing Up, Teamwork

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: