Tag Archives: Advice

Giving back, what does that look like again?

With summer  here, it is easy to get in the habit of hitting up a patio after work with friends to socialize. However don’t forget about giving back. Have no clue what I am talking about?
 
Well I am talking about a) the upcoming professionals who will join the ranks of the workplace in a couple of years and b) your current network, which may need some maintenance.
 
Over the last two years, I have changed jobs, finished a MBA, and moved.  Life is crazy at times; I can say from experience it’s hard to make others a priority in the midst of the madness, but it is well worth the effort. 
 
Thinking back to when I finished my first diploma, the best classroom sessions were when work professionals came to the classroom and shared their real life examples and wisdom. Those classes got me pumped to persevere and helped me get through summer semesters.  Sharing your work experience is such an easy way to give back.
 
Recently I went to a high school event for ICT Day (Information, Communications and Technology) in Coquitlam. A bunch of fabulous women joined together that day and shared with the students what reality is like for women in the technology industry – an industry which is significantly under represented for female workers. After a wonderful day of sharing, coaching and conversation, I couldn’t get over the excitement in some of the girl’s eyes. I felt that same excitement all over again. 
 
I had two thoughts at the end of that day: I wished I had the same opportunity when I was in elementary school, and I wished there were more schools that went above and beyond to expose students earlier in their education to the reality of and love for work in the professional world.
 
Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 1.36.29 PMSoon after I went back to my old stomping grounds of BCIT with one member from my team and gave a presentation to an eager group of marketing students, again, the engagement and excitement in the room was palpable. (Picture on left is after the presentation).
Our school system is one that continues to get criticized, and rather than add to the noise, I gave back. My form of giving back was my time. I simply supplemented the post secondary curriculum with examples from my everyday work life – examples which sometimes seem ordinary to me.  I gave these students some real examples, data, war stories and hopefully inspired them. 
 
I am not solving the root problem, but I am helping by sharing with those who are about to take flight in their careers my passion and love for work.  I am paying it forward, as someone once did for me.
 
Lastly, don’t forget your current network, colleagues who are probably hitting up those patios too. Summer a great time to check-in on people with whom you haven’t connected in a while, or to keep those hundreds of “let’s do coffee” commitments.  
 
In the last month I can say I have paid back my network debt and feel more connected within my industry and field of work.  The payoff? I’ve been able to get more done, and strengthened work relationships, by simply dialling a “friend” to ask a question rather than googling it. 
 
Let’s get real here, this is simply good Karma. Before summer gets in full swing, look at your calendar and see where you can donate your time to a high school, university, or a colleague in your field. I suspect you will be happy you did. 
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Starting the year with the right “Who”

I recently completed a book that I believe that either most business people have heard of or even read, “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. After reading the book I had a couple of thoughts that relate to HR and where I believe 2015 trends are going (thanks Forbes).

Good-to-GreatMy colleagues and I talk a lot about “great employees” and how many times we lose them for the wrong reasons. However, what I loved about the book, and specifically the chapter on “first who then what,” was the notion of hiring great people even if you don’t have a role.

Like most organizations, January is the sign of a new budget approved, or the final ending of a fiscal year, which means that things usually slow down (specifically in the talent acquisition realm). However, how many times do you lose a great candidate due to timing?

Now with Gen Z coming (it is true) and Gen Y taking leadership roles, I suspect HR will need to catch up by taking less linear and more holistic employee centric approaches to both attract and retain the next two generations of our business world.

Food for thought, based on the book, Level 5 leaders start with the “who” and then go to the “what”, but as Gen Y’ers become first time leaders, they like to win (stereotype, absolutely) but they also will follow rules if it lets them win faster. So possibly, HR (and other business) processes are stopping potential Level 5 leaders in developing sooner.

Now there are three principles in the book to help you become “rigorous,” and like all things in January, there is one that sounds like a New Years resolution. “When you know you need to make a people change, act.” To put this in other words, if you see your plant dying, water it. If you don’t like the number on the scale, do something. If you want something, do something about it.

Good luck to those out there looking for great talent.

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Letting Go

ImageTo move up on onwards people have this idea you need to take on more responsibility and get better results and faster. But really how is that possible? Do you see any of your senior management team or CEO running around like a crazy person trying to do more and get more done, probably not. I don’t even see directors doing that.

So why is there some idea when people are at the individual contributor level that more is better? It’s not, in fact, more is less. The more you do, the less better it becomes. It’s a cycle to keeps you at the individual contributor level. What distinguished managers from individual contributors is the ability to let go. To find someone you trust who is capable, who is driven and who will deliver. Once you pass off the work (note: pass off is not equivalent to dumping) you free yourself up to take on new and challenging work that grows you. Sometimes even then you aren’t a manager, but the ability to let go is one that great managers have. They hire great people who deliver great work.

Don’t know how to let go because you “can’t”? Think people require you do to the work you want to let go of? Here is a negotiation trick I learned early in my life, say about 13, you tell the people who want to see you succeed, presumably your boss, that if you cannot let go of the work then the opportunity to take on this new and exciting challenge just won’t be possible. Simple right! You will be surprised how well people will respond when you lay out the facts. Great managers will find a way to reshuffle, reprioritize and make a great employee (like yourself) have the opportunity to develop. Remember, your success is actually their success. Happy letting go.

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