Saturday, December 20, 2014

Becoming a Talent Specialist: You Just Need to Find Your HR Sweet Spot

We have had approximately 22 speakers over the past few day. Our focus was on Employee Engagement. We have sliced/diced it every way possible.
We have heard theory, metrics, branding, and plain old common sense — all in the guise of getting our employees more engaged. But in order for each of us as HR professionals to get our organizations back on track, we must be engaged with what we do.
Those were my closing words at the recent Employee Engagement Forum held in Dubai Dec. 7-8. I speak at a lot of conferences in the Middle East, and in close to two years working in this region, I have participated either as conference chair or keynote speaker at approximately 18 various conferences from Istanbul to Nigeria and throughout the Middle East.
Finding your HR “sweet spot”

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Breathe Deep ...........

My father mentioned to me that the police was following us. 

The year was the early 80’s and he had just picked up his new Cadillac Fleetwood and we were driving back to my home in New Jersey.  My parents were in the back seat and my son who was a little boy at that time was sitting in the front with me.

Yes, I did notice that as soon as we passed he pulled out.  Minutes later we were pulled over.  He walked slowly to the car eyeing everyone in the car.  He pulled me over not because I was speeding but as he said “there were reports of stolen cars”.  I am like really “stolen cars with senior citizens sitting in the back seat”.  He wanted all documentation on this “nice car” as he put it.  I literally had to show him that yes my parents just bought this car with all the accompanying documentation.

After checking everything over numerous times, I knew, not to respond, make any “quick moves” etc. because in the blink of an eye, I could have become a statistic like these issues that are going on in the US today

A new generation but same effect

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Are You Taking Care of Your Own Scheduled Maintenance?

“The scheduled maintenance light came on; what do I do?”
As we enter December, which is the end of our calendar year, I thought of my wife’s comments above. She freaks out every time a light flashes. My reply was that it is simply time for thescheduled maintenance.
I went online and with a few clicks arranged to drop it off, get her a loaner car, and it was all done. Every auto manual lays out a timeline for maintenance based on mileage and what needs to be done in order for your car to work optimally.
Design your owner’s manual
It struck me that this is the perfect metaphor for careers and life. However, we do not get an owner’s manual for our lives.

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Few Things to Consider If You Want My Help in Finding a Job

Thank you for accepting my request. l am currently looking for a job and l was wondering if you could help me? l am in Dubai on a tourist visa. Please find below my CV.
Can you kindly review my CV and help me find a job?
My husband needs a new job. He is a hard worker; please help him find a job.
I am a mechanical engineer; can you get me job in your firm?
All in a week’s work.
The art of approaching someone properly
Requests like the ones above come into me periodically and I am sometimes stunned by the lack of clarity and focus of them. I joked to a colleague the other day that maybe I should just set up a career guidance business to handle so many of these requests.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

In Case You’ve Forgotten, Here’s How Real Leadership Looks

“This holiday season, you’ve probably seen or read about all the retailers opening their doors as early as 6 pm on Thanksgiving Day. We have decided not to follow that trend. Instead, we believe family comes first and you should be at home celebrating with them on this special holiday. This means none of our stores will be open on Thanksgiving Day. In addition, none of our stores will be open before 7 am on Black Friday. ” -- Michael R. MacDonald, CEO, DSW Shoes

I came across this on Facebook the other day. It rang so true to me since my wife and a lot of her friends work in retail from the management end.

A visible expression of company culture

One of the great features of the Internet, for me, is to read through the comments of others and get a sense of other people’s concerns.

The comments read:

“I like this company even more! I’ll buy all my shoes and sneakers there from now on.”

“I’ll be shopping at DSW.”

“I wish other stores would follow their lead! Of course if we, as consumers, refused to shop on Thanksgiving the stores would quit opening on family holidays.”

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Someone Is Always Watching or Listening, So Make Your Message Clear

Do I know you?

Someone commented on a picture that I posted on Facebook, saying to me that  “you look more and more like your daddy.”
When the person responded to that question, I was in for the surprise of my life. The woman grew up a few blocks from me, and yes, our families knew each other.
However, she proceeded to tell me a story of how she idolized my brother, who was a saxophone player. She is now a doctorate in music and known the world over for her music prowess.
Refocused and reinvigorated
She told me that from the 4th grade on she would just marvel at my brother’s ability to play the instrument. I was incredulous.  How did that made such a formidable impression on her to the point that it caused her life’s calling? She said she knew then what her career trajectory would be. Talk about a life’s calling!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Culture Vulture

This article is a reprint from Communicate Magazine [Advertising Age] located in Dubai...

No matter how far reaching a leader’s vision or how brilliant a company’s strategy may be, neither will be achieved if not supported by organizational culture. 

Analyzing his team’s successes, basketball all-star Kobe Bryant of the LA Lakers once told ESPN: “I think we have to start at the top, in terms of the culture of our team. What type of culture do you want to have? What type of system do you want to have? How do you want to play?” Much like any other organization, the LA Lakers uses a top-down approach to team culture, in which the leaders set the tone for the entire team.

Leading by example

Thursday, October 23, 2014

What Do You Do When Your Career Suddenly Gets Cancelled?

“I would advise all of them if they find another career, take it and do not look back.”
This statement came from a captain in a local police force. He was referencing the layoffs that had hampered the police department in a large East Coast city.
Close to 200 officers had been laid off, and according to the newspaper article, only a handful had been rehired back into their career of law enforcement.
Sorry but your career is cancelled

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The New Career Mantra: Turn Every Call and Contact Into an Interview

“I worked all those years, coming to work every day, doing a great job. Each year there was a raise and eventually more responsibility.
I went home at the end of the day and came back the following day. I repeated that cycle all those years until one day, I came in and was let go.
During all those years I had received numerous inquiries from outside headhunters, but at each call was kindly rebuffed because I loved what I was doing. My resume had never been updated in all those years, and I had not interviewed in 24 years.”
Being negligent
As I listened to this call this week, I felt sad and angry at the same time.

Friday, October 10, 2014

You’ll Be a Better Leader and Manager If You Don’t Believe the Hype

She asked me to wait a minute, went to her room and came back with a piece of paper. It was a list that she had compiled of her important events that I had missed due to work commitments.
Talk about a wake-up call. The list included 22 items, from her first day at school and first soccer match of the season, to a parent-teacher meeting and a Halloween parade. And the school year wasn’t over yet.
This note was from a CEO’s daughter to her dad, Mohamed El-Erian, the former chief executive of the investment firm Pimco, who was frustrated that his daughter was not listening to him
When she gave him this note, he was initially shocked and defensive. But after it sunk in he realized that she was right. A short time later, he resigned from his job as CEO of Pimco.
Flashbacks in focus

Thursday, October 2, 2014

When It Comes to Good Management, It’s All About Just Walking Around

I can’t believe this guy. He did not show any concern as to why I was leaving. He is the CXX and he had three people leave within the past month, plus me. And with all of us, there was no exit interview or anything.
When I tried to steer the conversation to the office environment, he countered as if it was all our fault. Totally clueless.
After that conversation, I to concur that one of the hallmarks of a great leader is the ability to LISTEN. If your organization is suffering withdrawal and your turnover is inching up, you should be concerned. That is a basic.
Manage by connecting

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Getting Ready to Pounce When the Next Opportunity Comes

“Can you make the connection for me? I would love to get an opportunity with them based on this article.”
The other email read, “Could you send a copy of my resume over to her and tell her to “help a brother out.”
Friday is a day for me to connect back to the U.S. with requests like the one above, follow-up, and meet new people. But sometimes I get a little perturbed with the level of request and the cluelessness of the people making it.
Granted, I do know a lot of people and I am always willing to share my network with them. The problem is that sometime the requestors do not realize is that this is the major leagues. This career conundrum is a serious business.
Are you really prepared?
What this means is that every job you apply for is one you need to aggressively compete for — and in order to compete, you have to be prepared.

Friday, September 19, 2014

It Takes the Right Talent Mix to Get the Culture Thing Right

No the manager was cool, it was just that I could not survive in that culture. I had to get out.
We have all heard the phrase that people don’t leave companies, they leave managers. Well, hearing that had me thinking.
Yes, this makes sense. I quit Martha Stewart Living because the culture had changed dramatically. I loved the people, but the toxicity at that time was a bit much. I walked out with a job in sight.
It has become more and more apparent that the key conversation in the executive conference room needs to be about the culture of the company. In some of my recent meetings, I talked to senior leaders who are focused on getting the people thing right. I would advise any organization that you ignore this at your companies risk.
Strategic thinking is more than the business

Thursday, September 11, 2014

So, What Did You Learn From Your Last Workplace Setback?

The truth is, everything that has happened in my life, that I thought was a crushing event at the time, has turned out for the better. You learn that a temporary defeat is not a permanent one. In the end, it can be an opportunity.”
This was a statement from one of the wealthiest people in the world, Warren Buffett. It is also a very true statement.
When we stare defeat in the face, it sometimes frightens us. It completely shakes up our equilibrium, but eventually, we will realize that it all worked out.
Your response determines your trajectory
We have all had those stumbles in life where it seemed like the end of the world, when we were so devastated. Looking back on my life I have come to the conclusion that your response to a setback will determine your trajectory.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Question If You’re in a Bad HR Organization: When Is it Time to Go?

I have encountered numerous HR professionals recently musing about the difficulty of doing their profession in an organization that could care less.

They read, they discuss where HR is headed, but in their current space, it is light years away from where it should be.
They want more, they dream of more, but they get no more.

After one blog post of mine, someone wrote to me about the frustration she faces. After years of toiling in the transactional nature of her job, it is at a point that she wants to pull her hair out.

When we see the writing on the wall

Her dream and focus is on how HR could really help the business, whether it is in talent management, strategic workforce planning, or tying the HR to the larger organizational goals. However, her manager loves the transactional aspects and does not want to touch the strategic aspects.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

If You’re Building Your Brand, You Can’t Escape Your Capabilities

“She said that she remembered me from my last job. I remembered her but did not think she even knew who I was since she was very senior to me.”

As I listened to this conversation the other day, it just confirmed what I always tell everyone. It’s this: someone is always watching your work. By watching, they are creating a vision for you and the brand of you — how you work, what you deliver, your attitude, and the list go on.

Regardless of how you feel about your work, even if you know you are no longer going to be there, always do top-notch work.

We all grow in different directions

As our career expands, you notice that people you worked with over the years have expanded their roles into other companies like tentacles.

Your cube mate today could someday become VP at another firm. Your prior manager could now be heading up a great project at another strong brand. The goofy guy down the hall could be heading a startup.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Top 75 HR Post

You know the blogs to look out for. Now, you need the posts to read. Below, we compiled the top five posts from each of our most popular sites. We ranked each post by Popularity Score, and included more information on each site, author and editor.


Twitter: @TLNT_com
Site owner/editor: John Hollon (@JohnHollon)

About: TLNT covers news, insights and analysis related to human resources and talent management.
Data wrangled with by Software Providers

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Building Business Relationships through meetings

“I heard you had a tough time getting back to the airport after the HR Leaders Conference in Lagos.”

That was followed by at least a half-hour of further discussion concerning our recent travels. There was no rush to get to the “meat” of the meeting or what it was about.

The next time we got together, the discussion centered around housing and where to live in Dubai, which was followed by a conversation about tuition payments and our past experience working together on an HR panel.

It took a half-hour to actually get to get to the crux of this meeting.

Relax — it’s just a meeting

Doing business in the Middle East is so much different — and relaxing. Meetings are designed for people to

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Would One of Your Former Employees Really Want to Come Back?

Would you want to go back?
I was just asked for references, so it looks good — right?” read the text message. This young lady was in the throes of interviewing, and yes, I told her this is a good sign.
However what happened next caused both of us to do some thinking. As she reached out to her old boss and another former team member, the trajectory changed. Sure they would give her a reference, but more importantly, would she consider coming back?
Wow-Wow-Wow” was her first text to me after that conversation. In essence, they told her they really saw how valuable she was after she left and wanted to know whether she would come back with a higher title and, of course, more money?
Would you go back?
We all have had jobs that we could not wait to get out of. We also may have had jobs that we were let go from through no fault of our own. The question is — would you go back to a prior job if you were asked?
When I was at Martha Stewart during its heyday, she had to go to jail and we laid off the entire TV division. Around 200 of our people lost their jobs the day after the verdict because CBS cancelled Martha’s show.
We kept in touch with everyone and tried to find them jobs as best we could. Because of that enduring contact, we stayed connected with everyone during the entire time that Martha was “away.”
The day after she was released, it was announced that Martha would be returning to TV. One email went out to get the status of everyone in the TV division who had left, and for the most part, everyone came back on board.
But that was then. It may be different now that the culture has changed, but the lesson learned was that all these good people that quit their jobs decided to come back.
The culture that you left
After the euphoria of the conversation with this young lady wore down, I gave her a call to find out her thoughts. She was flattered by the offer to return and just could not believe it. However, she would not go back she said, regardless of the title and offer.
Her decision was based on the work culture — 10-12 hour days, five days a week, being on call on weekends. Plus, having to constantly monitor emails throughout the night, last-minute business trips, and temper tantrums with yelling and screaming as a way of life.
Yes, it is good to be wanted but I do not want to ever get in that situation again,” was her reply. She added: “They could not offer me enough money to get back into that culture.”
Lots of companies today, especially in technology, gladly welcome back departing employees, and there are alumni groups all over LinkedIn and Facebook. That should be part of any organization’s talent management strategy, but the key is the corporate culture that employees remember from when they left.
That will always be the key. If the culture was toxic when they left, what is the value proposition for them if they return? If you are thinking money, forget about it. Even if they do come back, they will eventually get frustrated and leave again.
When reality about a return sets in
When I think about this, my first thought is that there is not a job in my past that I would want to return to. There’s no amount of money to get me to do it, because although at the time a job seemed ideal, it loses something as you grow and experience other challenges.
While the notion of going back to what once was may sound romantic (like riding back in on the white horse to save the day), for me, returning would simply be a bad imitation of the former job.
Organizations today should think through how they treat departing employees. This goes back to getting it right from Day 1.
Build your organization so that people will not want to leave. Set the bar so high that if they do leave your organization, it becomes the gold standard that all departing employees will gauge their future by.
If you are not the gold standard, everything else will look great.
An offer they can’t refuse?
Think for a second; if you were to go back to your departed employees and ask them to come back, would they do it?
If there answer is no, you may have a lot to do in polishing up your culture to make it inviting for re-entry.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hello Goodbye: It’s Critical to Connect and Build Trust With All You Meet

As I looked into his eyes, I could see them welling with tears. As he began to speak, his voice cracked, “Mr. Ron we’ll will miss you so much. It has been my honor to know you.”

As I listened, my eyes teared up in synch. These guys had no idea what they have meant to me over this past year.
As I walked from department to department, the reaction was mostly the same — we were saying our goodbyes. Having spent close to 15 months in a new environment with a workforce that could rival the United Nations — including multiple languages and customs — I was proud of myself for having connected with them.

Every unique experience must come to an end

As I walked out for the last time, the security guard who manned the front gate came out and gave me a big hug. Through broken English he said “picture,” and pointed at his cell phone. We embraced and took our photo. By this time, the gate was full with everyone wishing me congratulations, and one of my co-workers offering to give me a ride home as opposed to having to catch a taxi.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Lesson From the Microsoft Cuts: Don’t Mix the Message on Layoffs

This is not good. One of the guys on the marketing team I work with just got fired. OMG, they just fired another one. It is just crazy around here now.”

As I read the text messages, I could feel the tension that must have permeated this workplace.

The text was from someone who had been in the world of work for four years out of college. This situation with them went on for two days, and as I got the blow-by-blow, it felt like being in a war zone.

The question that probably popped in her mind was, “Am I next?” When I asked that question, her response was, “I honestly don’t know, but I do know that I am backing up all my work just in case.”

So when the dust settled, the leaders of this company called an all-hands-on-deck meeting to talk about the new corporate strategy. Oh, they also discussed the layoffs.

Who are these people?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What I Learned From My Life as an Expat HR Leader in Saudi Arabia

I recently received a note from my good friend Sharlyn Lauby(aka, the HRBartender) in reference to a question that she
received from one of her readers:

How did you prepare for your new human resources role in Saudi Arabia? The country has different cultures, business traditions, and labor laws.

What I realized is that the story behind me making the move from New York City to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia could possibly fill a book [to be announced at a later date].

So, as I thought through my approach to this question, I wanted to capture some of what I learned and what to look for, not only for moving to Saudi Arabia, but with any expat opportunity that might come along.

Expat blogs

While you can find tons of information on any country, the best way forward is through expat blogs. Regardless of the country, somebody took it upon themselves to write about it.