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Welcome to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast, where we talk about embracing joy in the workplace. I’m JoDee Curtis, owner of Purple Ink, an HR consulting firm, and with me is my good friend and co-host, Susan White, a national HR consultant.
Susan, we have had hundreds of listeners reach out to us with questions about human resources, business, or leadership, and we have been answering them on each of our episodes over the past three and a half years. Many of them we even turned into an entire show. Keep up with all the questions, as it gives us lots of ideas of topics to address. But to help us catch up, though, we decided to just create a whole show around your questions. So here we go.
Now a word from our sponsors.
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Okay, so question number one. “What are some unique incentives that are being offered by employers who can’t beat all of the larger companies’ salaries?”
Yeah, well, Susan, one thing I think, which is, you know, starting to happen in larger companies, too, but is the opportunity to be more flexible. And, too, of course, many people are working from home now, no matter what size organization you’re in, but I do think, especially in the younger generations, they’re looking for more lifestyle choices as opposed to salary, so giving people the opportunity to be flexible in their hours and in their timing. I think it’s hard to pass up compared to just increasing salaries.
Okay, Susan, “What tips or advice you have for mid-career people trying to enter the HR field?”
First of all, I love that people want to enter this field. I think that for me, it’s been such a fun place to be in the world of business, dealing with people, so I love that somebody’s trying to make that switch. I do think the easiest way to do it is to try to do it inside the company you currently are in. The fact is, you know that business, you know that industry, you know the players, so you’re bringing a lot to that job. You may need to learn HR pretty quickly, but it’s…certainly, with all of the HR classes that are out there… SHRM out there…is out there, HRCI, a number of organizations can help you get up to speed technically, but you know the business, which I think is going to make you somewhat attractive, hopefully, to your organization to bring into HR. If you have a fairly large HR team already at your company, perhaps you can volunteer to help them when they’re out doing campus recruiting or any type of a job fair. Say, “Hey, listen, I’ve got an interest in HR, how can I be of help to you?” And my guess is they will welcome. I used to love when business people wanted to help us at HR, so I think that’s a great way to do it.
Interestingly, that’s how both of us got into HR. We worked in other roles in organizations and we moved internally. And…
That’s right. I think it’s the easiest way. Now, it could be that your company has one HR person and it’s not you, so…. Or you’re between jobs, you’re thinking, my next role, I want it to be in HR. That’s a little tougher, because if you’re already mid-career, you have to, I think, get comfortable with the fact you’re probably going to be starting over. It’s very difficult to move into a mid-level HR job from the outside without that business experience, but you know what, it may be that’s what you want to do, and so maybe you would love to start in a recruiting role, or maybe in an HR generalist type of role. My advice would be to get some education in HR through taking SHRM classes, maybe your local university has an HR certificate, getting some work experience that will make you attractive to a company to say, yeah, we’re gonna try him or try her out in this role. But recognize you probably do have to climb the ladder at that point.
All right, next question. “I have an employee who works very hard but struggles with time management. What are some tactical tools that I could suggest to help him work smarter, not harder?”
Yeah, well, this is one, Susan, where we actually have a whole episode around this question. So first of all, you could have them listen to our time management podcast…
…and do a search for that on our getjoypowered.com website. But this is a particular topic that is of interest to me. I love the topic of time management and helping people through this and…just a couple…sort of an overall idea, and then secondly, a tactical approach to do it. Number one is, I think, helping people figure out what their goals are. And by goals I mean, what’s your goal for today, or what’s your goal for the year. I always say I used to be someone who thought I was the greatest person ever at time management, but I realized that really, I was just checking a lot of things off of my list and not necessarily focusing on what my goals are. So, what’s the most important thing you have to do today? What has to be accomplished today, this week, this month or this year? So helping…helping that person focus on that particular goal, I think, is important. And then from a tactical approach, one of my favorite tools, and I think everyone can do this, whether it’s personally or at work, is to use a timer. And some people can use a timer when…when I started first started teaching that concept, I thought of it as a way to set the timer for something you don’t like to do, like I have to clean the kitchen or I have to do my expense reimbursement form, and I don’t like to do this, so I’m going to set my timer for 10 minutes or 15 minutes or whatever the magic number is, and when that timer goes off, I’m done with it. So it’s sort of this…I’m going to hurry up and get as much done as I possibly can. But one time I taught that in a class, and somebody in the room said, “Gosh, I do that for things I love to do.” If I’m watching Netflix or whatever, that they would set the timer and say I have to quit doing what I love to do when the timer goes off and focus on something else. So I think that can be kind of a fun little tool to help people with their time, as well.
I do love that. I need to do that when I’m reading a good book. Otherwise, I just get lost in that book. But if I set a timer, then I would do my fun and then do what I needed to do. So thank you for that.
Next question, Susan. “Feedback is important to me and I work very hard to excel in my everyday work. How might I get validation from my boss without feeling like I’m asking for it?”
I feel bad that you don’t get it just naturally from your boss. But as we know, not every manager is good at giving praise or just even giving feedback after situations, and I can hear you. You don’t want to go in there say, “How did I do? Give me some feedback,” because that wears out the boss. I think that what I would do is I would make sure I had either weekly or bi-weekly or monthly check-ins, where I asked my boss for it, I said, “You know what? I’d like to come in and bring my wins and losses, or my strengths and opportunities of things that have happened over the last two weeks, and I just want to make sure that we’re on the same page, that we see the strengths or things that I’ve done well, that you agree with maybe some of the things I could do a little differently. I would love to get your input on it.” I would take control of that so that I had a regular feedback session…without calling it feedback, but that I want to check in with him or with her, so that I myself was getting what I thought I needed.
I like it. I think, too, I’ve always recommended to people that the more specific the question you can ask, the better people are, typically, at responding. So, for example, if you say, “How do you think I’m doing?” a lot of times you get an answer of, “Oh, I think you’re doing fine,” or “You’re doing great.” But if you say, “What do you think about that Excel spreadsheet I just created?” or “How did you like podcast number 97?” then people are more likely to…the more specific the question, the more specific the feedback you typically get.
That is great advice. Thank you. So, JoDee, “What are some do’s and don’ts of networking?”
So, a couple of things that come to mind for me. One of the don’ts, I think, is to have forced networking where you’re…you feel forced to go to an event that you’re not comfortable with or that you don’t know anybody there. I mean, most of us are not comfortable walking into a room where we don’t know anyone there. So I think one idea, one do, can be to take a friend or take someone you know, invite someone you know, to an event. On the other hand, the don’t is don’t spend the entire time talking to the one person you know, right? But it can be easier to, say, join a group when you’re with someone else doing it as well. So try not to have that forced networking. Another do I think you can think about is to ask questions of people. Ask them, you know, about themselves, get them talking about themselves as opposed to you talking about yourself. But typically, again, it’s natural for people, if I ask you where you work or what…what your career path has been, that generally a lot of people would ask the same question of you.
That’s so true. I would say when you hit a networking event, you go prepared to interview people. I do. Go interview them and natural conversations, organic conversations will come out of it.
I love it. Next question. “I am the sole HR Professional for a very small family owned business. The owner has asked me to do something I consider illegal, and I really do not want to leave the organization. How do I approach the situation?”
That is very, very difficult. The first thing I would do is, I think, in all honesty, I would explain the risk to the business if we do this particular action, and the personal risk to her as the owner that could be, you know, liable and named personally in a particular suit. So I would make sure that she understood the risk, but then I think I would very quickly say, “Let’s talk about what’s the real objective, what is it you really want to accomplish?” And then I would work with the owner on here are some other ways that we can achieve what you want. Usually, there’s always another way. Whatever it is she wants me to do is illegal for a reason. There’s usually another approach. But let’s just say there is nothing, there’s no other approach, and they want me to falsify a document or do something like that, and their objective is because they’re trying to do something that’s illegal or there is fraud. I think it’s time to go. I know you don’t want to leave, but if there is no other way to achieve the objective and that owner is convinced that’s what you have to do, I think it’s time to vote with your feet.
All right, JoDee. The next question, “What are some examples of how the college recruiting experience has changed through the years?”
I think it’s an interesting question to think about right now, during the pandemic. I suspect there’s going to be lots of changes and as we’re really just entering the fall college recruiting process, we’ll see what comes out of that. But outside of COVID, you know, I’m not so sure it’s changed that much. College recruiting was one of my favorite things I did before I started my own company. And of course, I haven’t been doing it since then. But I loved going on campus and talking to students and I see other organizations still doing that same old college career fairs and getting candidates recommended through professors and so I’m not sure there has been that much change.
No, I don’t either. But I will tell you that Goldman Sachs, prior to the pandemic, had gotten, over the last couple of years, very involved in going digital so that they were using HireVue – which, of course, a lot of competitors to HireVue out there – to do the campus interviewing as opposed to being on campus doing it, you know, through AI and video, but they were doing all the other things surrounding that, as well. They were still having – although they were digital – they were having learning events for students that may be juniors that are thinking about what they want to do next. They were, as many companies currently are doing, they’re using Snapchat, Facebook, LinkedIn, to really promote opportunities to get the word out, in addition to just focusing on your campus focus.
Another question, “I like to have some time to let my employees share and interact during meetings. What are some icebreakers you could do in meetings?”
Oh my gosh, I love this topic. In fact, we have a team building podcast where we go through I think, like, 20, 25 different icebreakers, so please look up our team building podcast if you want more answers. But I just read about one this past week that I really want to figure out an opportunity to use it. And especially if you have a team that you feel like their team’s getting kind of stale, the people are taking each other for granted, it’s just…you’re not seeing that same level of energy that you would like to see. Or maybe you’re trying to do your team meetings all virtually now and you’re thinking, how can I kind of reignite and get people feeling more team spirit? It’s where you give everybody a small piece of paper and a pen, and on their piece of paper, it tells them the name of someone else on the team. So if JoDee and I are on the team, I might have JoDee’s name, she might have my name. And you’re asked to spend about a minute, two minutes, coming up with…What is the value that JoDee brings to this team? Why is she so important to be on this team? What is it she brings? And so you spend a couple minutes thinking about it, you write it down, and then the facilitator collects all of them, and then they pass them out to the correct person, and then that correct person who you wrote about gets a chance to read what the value is somebody else thought, and then everybody else in the group has a chance to weigh in on it, piggyback on it. And it just sounds like a wonderful way for the team to kind of ignite that spirit and appreciation for each other.
Ah, I love it. And, you know, even though we’re having a lot more Zoom meetings than physical, that’s an activity you could still be doing online, too. Right? You could be using the chat box to share some of that information.
Oh, you sure could. As a facilitator, people could privately chat you, you could organize it, you could send…oh, yeah, that sounds…sounds fun.
All right. So our next question, “How can I get my supervisor to provide feedback on my performance during the year instead of waiting till my year end review?”
Yeah, so we had a similar question earlier, but bottom line, my answer is ask for it. Right? And ask very specifically. Ask…ask not a general question, but “How did you like this particular project?” And I think once we start asking for it, people start to expect it, and they start to think about sharing it more often, just because they’re more used to answering that. So I think even up, down, peers, everybody, the more that we ask other people for feedback, the more likely they are to share it and to think about sharing it even before you have to ask.
Susan, another question about…”How do employers handle transitioning transgender employees?”
Yes, we did a podcast with Jeremy York on this topic, and I thought it was really helpful, so I hope you’ll go back and listen to it. Jeremy York runs an HR consulting firm, specializes in a variety of different things, but this is an area he’s done a lot of research, so not a bad resource for you to go to. I believe if this is your first employee that is going through it, I think it’s important to do a little research and make sure that you are looking at this holistically. From a benefit perspective, you know, what will our benefits cover and not cover if they’re looking for assistance on that, on the health care front? And so then beyond that, I think it’s important to meet with the individual and let them know you…they have your support, and ask them, you know, how you can help them through this process, how can you assist. Is there anything in the workplace that they feel any concerns over that they’re anticipating that there could be a conflict or problem? And then just work them through one by one. I think that just as you handle any type of employee relations situation or issue by being transparent, by being really communicative and taking things step by step, with…with kindness and respect, that you’re going to do fine.
JoDee, our next question is, “How can I end over long conversations with my manager, who honestly seems to have too much time on his hands?”
Well, I think a couple of tricks. Number one that I’ve heard many times is to stand up, you know, when someone comes into your space or your office, to…to stand up. It just tends to end the conversation or even to show them, maybe, that you’re headed somewhere else. But also, something I do sometimes when people say…which, your manager might not have asked this question, but you could still answer it this way. If they say, “Do you have a couple of minutes?” to say, very literally, “Yes, I have three,” or I have four or I have five, to let them know that you have a limited amount of time. That…that question is such a generic question that we’re used to asking, “Do you have a couple minutes?” and then we talk for 15 or 20. Right? To put an end time on it from the very beginning.
“Two minutes” is never two minutes.
Next one, “How do I patch a broken professional relationship? I thought I was, with good intention, giving direct feedback to someone, but I realized it was taken negatively. Now I have left the job and tried to reach out to my former coworker, but the person has not responded to my reach out.”
Ouch. Yeah. I think that this could be, for you, an opportunity to realize that maybe I should ask for permission before I give feedback to someone. And who knows, maybe you did, and they said sure, but this person obviously is hurting. And I think that your reaching out and apologizing, saying that maybe you gave some feedback that wasn’t what she had anticipated or he had anticipated and you feel badly about it because your relationship means so much to you, is absolutely the right thing to do. However, if you try this reach out – and I would give it two, three, maybe four times – if they don’t respond, I think that it’s probably time to move on.
“How can I activate my coworkers in fostering a more inclusive and virtuous workplace?”
I think…as I was thinking about this question, I think it’s about asking your coworkers that question as a group. You know, what you might do in your organization to foster a more inclusive and virtuous workplace might be different than what I do. So maybe getting together, having a lunch and learn, having a Zoom meeting, and doing a brainstorming on what might best work in your own organization. I think people would love that type of discussion. Or even asking people, if you think maybe verbal is not the best way, just to…to respond in a chat group or an email group, to ask the question to give some people some time to think about it.
“With people making less money, will this have a negative impact on our economy? Will companies fix that wage decrease that we’ve seen recently?”
I wish I had a crystal ball that I could tell you. I definitely think that people are making less money. Not everybody, there’s people making more money who happened to be in particular professions that are so needed right now. Home improvement, we know that the Lowe’s and Home Depots are just doing great. We know the Targets and Walmarts, people doing ordering to their home and being at home a lot more, are doing great. So you’re not seeing the wage impact there. But you are seeing it in people who work in the hospitality industry and restaurants and theater. The fact is that their wages are down, and I know it’s obviously affecting our economy. Do I think companies will fix those wages that have been decreased? I don’t necessarily think that companies will be able to. Some may. Some manufacturing companies, I’ve seen already, who announced pay cuts early in the pandemic have gone back and brought people back to whole, which is terrific, as their productions have…has ramped up, but I don’t think we can give it a blanket statement. I think this is truly a unusual time, and I think it’s incumbent on all of us to figure out are we in a business or an industry that we have any opportunity to pivot and try to respond to all the changes that we’re seeing happening.
Next question. Our listener submitted this idea on March 26, 2020, right after the lockdown happened for COVID-19. What she said is to others, on recent virtual networking calls, that the way the leaders are taking care of and treating their employees will be indicative of the type of organization they have and the culture they support. The question is, “In what ways do you think organizations will need to adapt to supporting a more remote workforce? And if organizations did not handle communications in support of their employees working from home in the manner which they should have, what can companies do going forward to regain the trust and support of their employees? I fear those organizations which did not support their employees during this time, possibly because they did not fully understand how to, may lose valuable employees going forward.” Heavy question, JoDee.
Yeah. So now here it is, eight months later, and so we have a little bit of hindsight on that question that…I do think, you know, many organizations really jumped right in with both feet and made the transition and did an incredible job of supporting their people throughout this crisis. Other organizations did not, they took a slower approach. The good news, maybe, in some of that is that overall, some people were hesitant to leave secure positions during this time, not knowing what might happen, so they sort of had a grace period, if you will. The companies had a grace period, I think, to take some time to figure this out. But as always, no matter what the situation, I think it is those companies who are able to implement change quickly and drive in…innovation are going to be the ones that employees want to work for, or candidates want to work for. But some of that will take some time to sort of evolve, as people think about where do they want to work, what kind of work styles do they want, because we all have more options now than we did before, with the opportunity to work more remotely.
I think that’s really fair. And I do think that if you’re a company, you feel like you blew it, maybe just it was a really rocky start to remote work or how you incorporated a lot of the CDC guidelines and things like that. ca I really do. People accept that we’re all humans and nobody had ever been through this before. But here’s what what we regret that we did, here’s what we’re gonna do differently, and here’s how we’re going to fortify ourselves for any future business disaster or change that comes.
Yeah. “Do you have any recommendations on how to be promoted from an entry level HR position?”
I do have a couple. The first is always do the job you’re in really well. You want to be known for being a great performer. Even if it’s a job you think, oh, gosh, I could do this in my sleep. Don’t do it in your sleep. Bring an energy, bring an excitement, do a really good job. And then what I think makes sense is start asking if you can cross train on other jobs. Say, you know what, my job today is the front desk receptionist, but I would love to be able to help administer the assessments to new hires, whatever it is. Say, I would love to be able to help out, I’m looking at JoDee, and she gets so busy, or I see she works late at night on completing the benefit forms, or whatever. Say, I would love to be able to help her, may I? So I think offering help, volunteering, trying to cross train, I think will help your HR organization in your business say, this is somebody that can do more, let’s give him or her more.
All right, our next question is, “Is yelling in the workplace considered abuse?”
Well, the famous HR answer: it depends. None of us really went to work in an environment where there’s consistent yelling, right? I mean, that’s just not comfortable for most people to be in that kind of atmosphere. But, you know, I think we also have to dig a little bit deeper. Are they yelling at themselves? Are they yelling at the customer? Are they yelling at you as an employee? I hesitate to answer very specifically, except to say it probably can create a hostile work environment, which is definitely considered a harassment type of abusive relationship. So if…if you’re in that kind of environment, I’d say, talk to the person directly and say this is making me uncomfortable and ask them questions around it.
“How can we manage terrible performance alongside an intermittent FMLA event?”
That’s always a tricky question. It really is. And there’s just so much risk involved in it. I would encourage you to listen to our FMLA podcast that we had Laura North on, she was so good and really an expert at this. It’s very important that you are knowledgeable and up to date on all FMLA regulations and that you are managing that intermittent one just with a real care for detail and making sure that everything is working like clockwork, but simultaneously, you do not have to tolerate poor performance. It is possible that the person’s medical condition, if it’s their own reason why they’re out on FMLA, is causing them to have some workplace problems. Maybe their memory…they may be taking a lot of medicine, maybe it’s not working as well. Maybe they’re in physical pain, and it’s causing them not to be as good at sales or whatever it is. And so you have to really discern, is it possible that the illness is partially behind the bad performance? But let’s say it’s not, you’ve got somebody who is displaying workplace behavior that you would normally, if there was no FMLA intermittent leave going on, you would address, you would see it through, you’d be consistent with how you handle everything else. And you should do that if you feel comfortable and confident that there isn’t an interplay between the two. If you think there may be an interplay between the two, if you think that there’s a cause and effect going on, I would definitely sit down and talk to my labor law consultant and figure out, where does the FMLA issue stop and where does performance begin, and not muddy up the two. So I think I get a little advice on it, because it’s so sensitive.
Yeah. Well, those are all of our catch up questions today. But we, once again, we want to thank all of our listeners or writing in or calling us. You can always reach out to us, and we love to have your questions. So we also thought today that we would provide you with some resources on other places where you might go if you have questions around HR issues, leadership, employees, or other areas. So we frequently refer to shrm.org. Susan and I are both members, so we have access to all of their website, but even if you’re not a member of SHRM, you can still have limited access to some of their resources.
You can also certainly Google whatever topic. There’s usually a plethora of information on any question or topic that you have. Just be very careful to make sure that it’s a legitimate source if you’re going to rely on any information you get out there.
Yeah, another option, in Indianapolis we have what’s called an Indy HR Facebook page where HR professionals ask each other questions, post HR positions, and more. What’s nice about it is that it…because it is more local, is that we know a lot of people in the group who respond. So see if there might be one of those in your area, or maybe consider joining an HR LinkedIn group, or even starting one for your local area.
Such a great idea. And then the final resource I would say to you is just to read. Read HR Magazine, read the newspaper, read and you’ll get a chance to, I think, learn different things that are happening, you learn about trends, and I think can be very, very helpful to you.
Yeah, love it.
In our in the news segment today, there is an article from The Buzz published in July 2020 and written by Brandon Vigliarolo titled, “Study Shows the Future of Work Will Be Flexible,” and it said as businesses look beyond the current global health crisis, one thing is becoming clear. Moving forward, they will be managing a different kind of workforce, one that is more complex, blending traditional office roles and remote employment. A recent study by Gartner found that 82% of business leaders think their organizations will be letting employees to continue to work from home at least part of the time, and 47% said they will be allowing employees to do so permanently. The outbreak gave businesses a chance to experiment with non-traditional work situations and wide scale remote employment, and that was said by GartnerHP PracticeAdvisory Vice President Elisabeth Joyce. She also says that companies will have a difficult time going back to the way things once were. “The question now facing many organizations is not how to manage a remote workforce, but how to manage a more complex, hybrid workforce.”
Yeah, I agree. So thanks to all of you for tuning in, and make it a JoyPowered® day.
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