And another thing…Her too

Another thing that unexpectedly took up a lot of brain space for me in 2018 goes all the way back to a conversation that started in 2015.

For several years now I’ve been part of the SHRM Blog team that gets a pass to conference each year in exchange for writing about the event. All other notions about SHRM aside, it’s usually a pretty great team of people and I’ve found some incredible mentors and friends through this avenue. Back in 2015 the annual conference was in Vegas and the fundraiser (back when we also had an annual fundraising event for NKH) that was organized for the group to participate in was a poetry slam.

Even though this was my third time being at annual conference, I still didn’t know a lot of the group and I kind of stuck to myself  at these events and a handful of familiar faces. One of the people who participated in the slam shared her horrible experiences from multiple conferences through her poetry. I sat so still when she was talking. It was the first time I heard someone who was in the same field as me talk about the way she was treated by males in the industry, and sometimes other females. How she was talked to, how she was propositioned, how certain things were expected of her… I very distinctly remember someone I knew at my table leaning over and saying “she and I are clearly not going to the same conferences.”

But here’s the deal, we are going to the same conferences. It’s happening at conferences that YOU and I are attending. Conferences full of HR professionals! And lawyers! And other business leaders!

After the slam was over I kept telling myself to go over there and talk to her. I was so shocked about what she shared and I truly felt for her, I could relate. I couldn’t think of any words to say so I said what really turned out to be the worst thing I could think of “Why do you keep coming back to these?”

I’m not going to share specifics of what she shared that night in front of the whole crowd because I have literally never talked to her again and did not get her permission to share the details. I’m not going to share specifically what she said in response to my question because that’s for her to share, but I can say she handled it with more grace than I probably would have. I mean, I basically asked her why she continued to come to a conference related to her field that also was a source of potential clients which ultimately turns into revenue. Her livelihood. I asked her why she came back to something that represented a connection to her livelihood.

I have replayed the poetry she shared that night and my idiotic question in my mind so many times since 2015, but most of those times were during the year of 2018.

I was part of the problem that night in Las Vegas. I asked a question that implied it was her fault that these things kept happening because she kept coming back. I asked a question that implied if she would stop coming, these things would stop happening EVEN THOUGH I know these things can happen to anyone, anywhere.

The Vegas conference was a weird conference for me. I felt that a lot of the content was “just playing it safe,” and not challenging us to be bold in our profession. We HR professionals need to hear the hard truth, and this hard truth is that we cannot sit in our offices, behind our desks, and help create a narrative that the victim is to blame. We cannot ask questions that imply a worker put themselves in a position to be harassed just by showing up.

Think about the last time you heard about someone being harassed or being a victim outside of work? How did you react? Did you ask a really dumb question like me? Did you assume the victim should’ve done something different? Were you impartial? Did you look for the facts? Were you sure you knew the victim was lying because you know something about their character already? The truth is, who we are at home is who we are at work-you can’t fake it forever.

That incident in Las Vegas in 2015 is burned in my memory forever. The good thing about that is, I learned something about myself that night and I’ve equipped myself with the resources to handle that differently in the future.

Friend, what are you going to do differently in 2019?

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To kick off 2019 lets talk fees

In 2018 I committed to one thing for my career that took far more energy than I had planned. I decided that I needed to stop accepting lower fees for my side work than my male counterparts. I don’t mean accept less than males who do speaking and writing, I mean stop accepting less than males who do speaking and writing in the same arena I do who have comparable experience, knowledge, exposure, etc as me.

Y’all… this was hard. Sometimes it meant saying no to opportunities I really wanted to take and sometimes it meant pressing on with difficult negotiation conversations. Sometimes the first offer was sufficient, plenty of people let me set my own rate, and sometimes I still failed at negotiating the right price and accepted way lower payment than I should have.

I know I’m not the only one up against this. I’ve worked on this for my day job and overlooked the much needed negotiations for my “side gigs.” 2018 was the first time I had enough confidence to start the conversation to earn better pay for my side gigs so I started it.

What is glaringly obvious to me now is so many organizations still do not have a solid compensation strategy. I don’t know how far away we are from more folks getting this right, but I sure hope we can collectively step our game up this year.

I mean this as HR professionals with a voice in our organizations. I also mean this as HR professionals planning conferences for our profession. I know its tough. I’m helping plan a conference with a limited budget, so limited that one of the speakers we really wanted quoted me a price larger than the entire speaker budget that’s set aside to pay multiple speakers. Multiple speakers people!! We can’t do much this go around, but we can do something and I intend for that something to be as fair as possible.

Together, lets agree to start somewhere. Find a way to get the revenue or the sponsorship’s. Talk about a number your team is comfortable with, and don’t pay someone twice as much as you pay someone else for no good reason. Reach out to other people who have planned conferences and ask advice. Use your resources.

I’ll get better at negotiating my rate properly. You’ll get better at a solid compensation strategy. We will all get better at something this year.

Friends, secure your bag in 2019. If I can help, let me know.

cheers

 

What can I do for #GivingTuesday?

Giving Tuesday is here friends! Giving Tuesday happens the Tuesday after U.S. Thanksgiving (and ya know, Black Friday & Cyber Monday), it’s an international day of charitable giving.

Who am I giving to on this #GivingTuesday? I’m so glad you asked! The answer is CodeCrew! CodeCrew mentors underrepresented youth to be tech innovators and leaders through practical, hands-on computer science education programs throughout Memphis. Learn everything there is to know about CodeCrew here and follow them on Facebook.

Giving Tuesday CodeCrew

As a Technical Recruiter an organization like CodeCrew is clearly of interest to me & this place is even more special to me because it’s in Memphis. Not that I’m from Memphis, but I’m from close to Memphis and spent a lot of time there when I was growing up. I also had the opportunity to spend a day with some of the CodeCrew team earlier this year and I cannot say enough good things about them.

I constantly find myself in the middle of conversations with other recruiters and hiring managers about supposed “skill gaps” and I always ask the same thing to people discussing this challenge: “What are you doing to train future talent?” Basically, lets find a way to solve the problem. If you think the talent pool is lacking something, invest in it. Find ways to get the talent pool interested in what your organization does early on and support it.

If you or your organization is struggling with a “skills gap” then I want to challenge you to give to CodeCrew (or find a similar type organization to support) TODAY. You don’t have to be in Memphis to benefit from supporting CodeCrew, future tech leaders are going to come from everywhere so please don’t let that stop you. CodeCrew’s programs are having a huge impact on our future talent and you have an opportunity to be a part of that by supporting them through a donation that can make Computer Science education available to more students and schools.

You can donate directly to CodeCrew here! Now go to tell your friends about #GivingTuesday and CodeCrew.

I’ll staple those applications

This is a story about a time I when I had a great idea.

Sit-down-let-me-tell-you-a-story

The year was two thousand and seven. I was all of 21 years old and very ambitious. I had been working my first “grown up” job for a year now and had been exceeding all expectations. I had learned so much in that time, but I knew I needed to find ways to manage my time better and increase efficiency.

I was the youngest person working in the office at the time with three other ladies. Two of which were older than my parents, but not quite old enough to be my grandparents and one was probably close to my parents age. The two older ladies worked upstairs while me and the younger of the other three worked downstairs. Her and I saw a lot of people every day coming in to fill out these lengthy paper applications. Her and I were the first round of interviews, screening them to see if they were good enough candidates to send upstairs (as I type this, I realize that process was also ridiculous). We handled the drug screens, scheduling, applicant flow, filing, answering phones, etc. The other two ladies handled payroll, delivering checks, extra screening, meetings and one of them did sales. All of that to explain that they weren’t always up close witnesses to the dated process of the paper applications and how long it took.

Process at the time: take paper application, interview candidate, send candidate upstairs for further interview, make candidate an offer, drug screen candidate, on-board candidate, enter new hire information into our system. YEAH, we took their info from their application and entered it into the system so we could pay them. They wrote out all of their info and then someone would take that info and manually key it into the system. Manually. key. it. in.

YALL… one day I was playing around and found out that the software we used to enter applicant data in and administer payroll was in fact a fairly sophisticated ATS! IT COULD TAKE ONLINE APPLICATIONS… We had this product we were paying for that could take applications and here we were handing out all these dadgum paper applications like it was 1982. YALL… I started crunching some numbers, because even in my early days I knew data was the way to make your case. How much were we spending ordering these paper applications, shipping the paper applications to our office, and then stapling all of the separate sheets together? How much time did it take an applicant on average to fill this massive thing out, how much time did it take to file it, how much time did it take to enter it in once we hired them, etc.? How much would it cost to set up 4-6 computers in the office for applicants to use to fill out the online version of this application? THE. NUMBERS. SPOKE. FOR. THEMSELVES.

As you can tell from this typed out blog post about a story from over 10 years ago, I was EXCITED! I had everything I needed to make a case for why we needed to change our process immediately and I couldn’t wait to tell somebody. I remember telling the ladies who worked upstairs about this idea and how simple it would be for me to set it up for us. I talked about streamlining the process, saving time, $$, I hit all the key factors BUT those two ladies only heard “you’re inefficient, I can do it better, I’m replacing you.”

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This is my “really, that’s all you heard?” face…

I didn’t know what to do with that. I was floored because that’s not what I was saying at all. I wasn’t sure where that was coming from and I didn’t know how to dispute it. I let it go. When given the chance to run another office for the same company I eventually implemented all the upgrades I wanted to do in my office. When my office became the biggest billing office in the company, other offices were instructed to do what I was doing. It wasn’t about replacing anyone, it was about improving our efficiency and service. I didn’t know how to refine my message back then or have a conversation with peers who were afraid I viewed them as a non-factor and replaceable. I could have done a much better job of pitching my idea, my mistake was not taking the time to understand that I might need to.

Learn how to talk to people of all levels. Approach issues with the other persons perspective in mind. When all else fails, shut up and listen.

Only 48 hours

Like most of the #SHRM18 attendees and bloggers I have a lot of thoughts to share with you all from the sessions I attended, but one has constantly been running through my mind since Wednesday.

What if you only had 48 hours to respond to the biggest opportunity of your lifetime?

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This question came from Pamela Meyer during her session Agility Shift: People Practices, Models and Metrics to Create a More Agile, Competitive Organization. I have a lot of great takeaways from this session. I’ve always been a fan of the agile approach and talk about it with candidates often. I don’t get to talk about it with professionals on the business side so this session was FANTASTIC for me, BUT I want to focus on this 48 hour thing right now.

What if you only had 48 hours to respond to the biggest opportunity of your lifetime?

Carrying on with the theme of the session you should absolutely apply this to your organization. What if your company had 48 hours to respond to a Request For Proposal (RFP) or Request For Information (RFI) or whatever is specific to your industry, and it was the biggest business opportunity your company has ever seen? Is your team ready? Do you have the right approach? Do you know your resources? How much time would you and your team waste on unnecessary steps? Do you know anything about the customer? So. Many. Questions.

I took this a step further though and applied it specifically to me. As I grow my writing and speaking opportunities, would I be ready to respond to the biggest opportunity I’ve had if I only had 48 hours? I don’t even have a clear and concise portfolio, brand, presence, etc. Would I be ready to respond to the job opportunity of a lifetime in 48 hours? My resume hasn’t been updated in years.

Am I ready to respond to anything in 48 hours? As you go through your week I want you to think about this question and really decide what you can cut out to be ready! I’ll do the same and in the mean time I’m going to order (and read) Pamela’s book so I can better prepare my organization and myself for responding to that opportunity within 48 hours. I’m smart enough for this, I just need the right approach and I’m willing to bet the same thing goes for you.

 

The first time I tweeted

Hot off the heels of #SHRM18 and I have to share that I’ve been quite sappy about it!

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First reason being because Chicago is where it all started for me. #SHRM13 was the first time I was invited to be a part of the bloggers team and I was absolutely overwhelmed with the experience. I was introduced to so many wonderful, intelligent HR professionals from different industries and backgrounds, heard speakers that I probably never would have heard otherwise, went to Chicago for the first time, played a pretty fun kickball game with complete strangers for a good cause, went to a party where DJ Jazzy Jeff was the entertainment and saw firsthand how important it is for #HR professionals to have other #HR people in their circle. I was welcomed into a group of people who were trying to do good HR and help others do the same. The other reason being how twitter changed everything for my professional development and career path. Seriously.

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The first time I tweeted was at an Alabama SHRM State conference back in 2012. The conference organizers had set up two screens in the main session room that would scroll through tweets of people using their hashtag in real-time. I sat close to the front and kept seeing the same few tweets over and over from two, maybe three people ( I have determined two were April Dowling and Pam Werstler). I was uncomfortable, I was slightly embarrassed for the conference organizers (I had empathy for conference organizers far before I ever helped organize a conference) and decided to pull my phone out and create a twitter so I could start tweeting about the session. It didn’t help much, but I was doing my part to throw some variety on the tweet screen set-up. My plan was to delete my twitter after the conference, but I didn’t. I’m so glad I didn’t.

Fast forward to today and I’m connected to thousands of #HR professionals across the globe via twitter. I interact with hundreds of them regularly, call some of them my friends, and have used them as resources when I need fresh perspectives on a challenge or some expert guidance. I’ve been inspired by #HR pros on twitter, I’ve been furious because of some of the content from #HR pros, I’ve been a voice in the conversation for our profession thanks to twitter, and I’ve listened to other voices of our profession, also thanks to twitter. I’ve found mentors through this social media tool, role models, people who are smarter than me, people who also make mistakes, people who are better writers than me, people who have experienced things I have not, people who love me, and some people who don’t. I find updates in the legal realm of HR via twitter, I get to see takeaways from events and conferences in real-time via twitter, I see people helping others solve their challenges through twitter, and one time I met Boyd Tinsley because of twitter. He’s a hugger, as you can see below. Good things happen on twitter.

 

Good things happen on twitter if you let them. All things that can be used for good can also be used for bad (or even evil). In my experience the good outweighs the bad. If you are still hesitant to get on twitter, try it for 30 days. If you are afraid that your employees will see what you are tweeting, make your account private. If you go the route of private you can control who follows you, but I recommend putting HR in your bio so other HR pros can tell they should follow you back when you follow them. You can also practice “what if my boss reads this” or “what if employees read this” and screen your own tweets. Believe it or not, there are some things I want to tweet that I actually never hit send on. If you are afraid of being yourself out there and feel the need to make an anonymous account that works for some people, but I think you’ll have a hard time building real relationships that route and you are really missing out if you can’t build real relationships.

All this to say that really I’ve experienced so much because of my first tweet. I really believe that if it weren’t for the opportunity to connect and build relationships via twitter, my career would’ve stalled out years ago. I would’ve learned far less than I have and had a much smaller network of HR friends and colleagues to cheer me on and challenge me to be better. I’ve had opportunities to speak to groups, write for other companies, travel to new cities, etc. and all of that can be traced back to my first tweet!

#SHRM18 Speaker Spotlight: Pamela Meyer, PhD

pamela meyerI took some time to chat with Pamela Meyer, Ph.D about her #SHRM18 session Agility Shift: People Practices, Models and Metrics to Create a More Agile, Competitive Organization. Her session title caught my attention because ‘Agile’ is a term that comes up often in my recruiting work and I’ve always been interested in how we can leverage that in the HR world. Pamela and I discussed so much around this session and I want to share a little bit of that discussion with you! If you’re like me and you want to know how you can apply this approach to the HR function for the business you support then you should check out her session on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m.!

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Pamela shared that she is excited to talk about the capacities of agility with a captive HR audience because it’s time to translate the agile approach from a software environment into business units to stay competitive and successful. Agile is not a new concept by any means, but the implementation of it in the business side of work still has a ways to go. Specifically considering the humanistic approach, she shared the fact that as humans we are wired to avoid uncertainty! Think about your workplace: you have policies, procedures, risk assessments, etc. to ensure you lower your organizations risks in difference scenarios. We regularly carry out practices to reduce uncertainty, but we have to consistently view challenges as opportunities and treat them accordingly.

This session is going to spark your interest and show you how to find ways to apply the transferable lessons that can be applied widely (even if the whole company doesn’t adopt an agile approach), but what is it going to take? First things first, a mindset shift. Any of us can implement the most wonderful process, but without the “why” it will be wasted. The goal is sustained business success and that requires responding to changes internally and externally, agility is central to being able to do that. The agile approach is going to help you widen your lens past the HR piece of the pie, and quite frankly we need to be challenged to do that.

If you don’t know where to start, this session is for you. If you get it, but don’t know how to get more buy in, this session is for you. If you want a preview of some of the Agility Shift concepts take this 5 minute complimentary Agility Shift Inventory (ASI) and receive a report on your current agility capacity here.

Guess what else I learned? Pamela has the scoop on Chicago for us! Here are her recommendations for something fun to do outside of conference that also happen to be a great way to see agility in action while enjoying a night out in Chicago-the home of contemporary improvisational theater:

o   iO: https://www.ioimprov.com/

o   Comedy Sportz: http://www.cszchicago.com/

o   Annoyance Theater: https://theannoyance.com/

 

If you’re looking for more on Agile for the business side look here and here.

Because Pamela is excited about meeting people at #SHRM18 and the conversations that will be had I want to encourage you to connect with her today! Here’s how you can connect with Pamela before #SHRM18:

 

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