Sunday, November 1, 2015

Is Your Workplace Witchy?

Do you care about your employees?  Do you try to make their overall lives better?  Are you their advocate?  In contrast, are your employees suffering under a "witchy" workplace in a totalitarian, self-centered or mean organization?  Has the workplace become a house of horrors?  There are ways to bring it back into the light, and it starts with your sphere of influence.

Our society has adopted some false notions around otherwise good ideas.

Productivity - Progress toward goals should be our measure but, too often, we do not look at the outcome because we are enthralled with the output.  The danger of a culture that embraces continuous after-hours engagement (seat time and emails) is four-fold:  1) Employees may not be engaging where they should or accomplishing what they should when they should.  2) Organizations that encourage this behavior are setting bad expectations for the colleagues and clients, which ultimately harm their workforce.  3) Team members often feel alienated by this type of behavior. 4) Too much of any good thing is harmful. 

As America's workforce slides toward hiring increasing numbers of generation Y and Z, an out-of-balance work ethic could set organizations up for retention issues.

Collaboration – Open environments have become the norm in many organizations. There is a common belief that open floor plans increase collaboration and help employees escalate their creativity, innovation, and synergy.  Open spaces are desirable, but not full time.

Seating staff permanently in open cubicles without privacy actually makes them feel vulnerable.  Full time workers spend 40 or more hours of the week at work dealing with increased disease transmission, more frequent interruption, and just an overall feeling of being exposed.  Studies indicate that open work plans actually decrease the productivity that organizations desire. 

If employees were animals, would PETA be objecting to the environment?

Professionalism – Don’t expect your employees to be androids.  Realize that they will have bad days occasionally.  They will have issues that weigh on their mind and show up in their body language despite their efforts to leave them at the door.  This is especially true in the aforementioned open floor plans.  Most of us can put on the mask of professionalism that carefully guards our tone and body language, but even that can be challenged in some circumstances.

We need to put the “human” back in “humanity” and start dealing with people rather than carelessly handling malleable cogs in a wheel. 

Programs – No, programs do not fix everything, although they can make organizational leadership feel as if they have done something for their employees.  However, programs can be out of reach to some who are in the thick of things and cannot leave their seat due to heavy work demands. 

Perhaps we need to insist that people get up from their collaborative seating arrangements and take breaks and a lunch.  Maybe we need to be sensitive to the needs of those around us and suggest that they take time on certain days of the week to participate in an exercise class or personal / career development opportunity. 

Attending to your employees' needs will render them more productive than insisting broken people fill seats.


Only Moses could get water from a rock.  Even then, it was only with divine intervention.  If you are in a position of trust that makes you responsible for others, consider this.  If  you are preoccupied with your reputation, if you insist on flawless optics on top of veritable broken glass, if you bully or yell at your employees, if you penalize them for temporary life issues, and if you don’t invest in their growth and advancement, do you have your employees' best interests in mind or your own?

While the Greatest Generation and Baby Boomers may have gone the extra mile regardless of work conditions, Generation Y and Generation Z may not.  They will move on to greener pastures.  Your organization could lose great talent because of an outdated corporate culture.

Friends, leading is a gentle pull, while management is a heavy push.  Leading considers the other, while management looks inward.  Innovation is not encouraged nor does it flourish in a top-down environment where employees are unhappy.  Do you want to attract dedicated employees?  Then truly care about and invest in their careers.  It will be THE difference between a good and great organization.

So, how do you sanitize a witchy workplace?  The golden rule is a start.  As Frozen's Olaf would say, "Some people are worth melting for."  That should probably include your employees.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Leadership Lessons from the Field

The more I work with horses, the more I understand how to apply the lessons learned from working around a half-ton beast in work situations.  Horses teach us a lot about ourselves and others. 

Here are some leadership lessons from the field...or the pasture.


Control is only an illusion.  A rider is only in control to the extent that the horse wants to comply and trusts the rider’s leadership enough to do so.

A team is comprised of individuals.  As a leader, you do not control these individuals.  So, to be effective, you must work diligently to build and maintain a good relationship with each person.  People can sniff a fake a mile away.  Be authentic!


Horses appreciate consistency.  If you respond one way on Monday and another on Tuesday, it confuses them.  They really are like dealing with children in many ways.  Consistency is the key.

There is no substitute for consistency for your team.  If you are consistent, your team knows what you expect. Consistency builds trust over time, particularly in conjunction with a good relationship.  


Horses want to do what is easiest for them. Some of the most common means of training horses is through pressure, anticipating reactions ahead of time, making small course corrections on the go, and dispensing rewards.

People don’t welcome pressure any more than horses. As such, leaders should embrace alternatives, look ahead,  anticipate where issues may arise, and plan to provide positive reinforcement in the hopes that correction will not be necessary.


When people know that you genuinely care about them, it changes the whole team dynamic.  Love does cover "a multitude of sins."


Control is only an illusion.
Consistency builds trust.
Correction should only be utilized when warranted and necessary.

A Labor Day Memo

Employment is a wonderful and needful thing for ourselves and others.  It is the fuel of society.  It is a worthy pursuit.  However, something seems to be broken, and we seem to be losing the human part of humanity.  The engine of progress is getting a knock and ping.

Somewhere along the line, work crossed a healthy boundary.  In the not too distant past, people left work at a prescribed hour.  Within the past decade, technology has enabled work to follow employees home and become a task master.  This has resulted in a synthesis of work and life where clocks and  boundaries do not exist.

On the heels of expanding work hours came the expectation that employees accomplish more with less.  Organizations are driven to innovate to stay relevant while keeping costs low, so employees find themselves faced with burgeoning demands.  Human productivity can only be stretched so far.

Many Americans primarily identify with their work.  Perhaps it is the Protestant work ethic or maybe it is just the amount of time devoted to work that is the driver.  But, if you inquire about another’s life, you will get a job title and elevator pitch in the first few minutes of conversation. This is rather sad because work is not who we are.  It is what we do with a part of our life.

If the world changed drastically tomorrow and your job disappeared for one reason or another, what would you say about yourself?  Would you then talk more about your family, interests, worldview, etc…?   Would you get to know yourself better?

Quit allowing others to empty you like a glass of water and fill yourself with the wonder of life around you. Set limits.  Unplug. Take your vacation.  Don’t check your email at all hours.  Give others grace to do the same.  Don’t let life pass you by.

Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!


  • Explore your interests outside work to limit any boredom.
  • Limit after-hours email.
  • If you need help at work, ask for it.  Don’t suffer in silence.
  • Put your devices away at home.
  • Set reasonable limits and learn to say “no” when warranted.
  • Take care of yourself physically, mentally and spiritually.
  • Tame the technology task master with technology.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Motherhood & Careers

Happy Mother's Day!

If you are a mother, you will know that motherhood presents a variety of issues for women, particularly if they are working outside the home. If you are not yet a mother but want to be, get prepared.  

There are some organizations that accommodate parents and there are those that are not very family friendly.  Sadly, women can and do get penalized in their careers for, necessarily, dividing their attention between family and career.  I was told, years ago, "You can't have it all."  So, I moved outside the organization and industry.  It was tough for awhile, but necessary. 

Unfortunately, child rearing is still seen as primarily a female endeavor in many organizations.  The child's entry into the world is slow and visible for a woman.  Plus, a woman's absence after child birth is obvious too. So, really, there is no avoiding this perception.  Finally, a double standard does exist in some organizations where a man is lauded for parental involvement by leadership and peers while a woman is penalized.  

What is a woman to do?  
  • Weigh the Costs - Understand that opportunity costs still exist in some organizations.  Before making the choice to be a mother, weigh the costs as if you really can't have it all.
  • Check Finances - Can you afford kids, or is this something that you need to plan for a bit longer?  A stymied career and financial pressure are not conducive to happiness. 
  • Understand the Culture - Realize that, despite any perceived gender inequities, you will not change the prevailing culture and need to be prepared for such reality.  
  • Choose Family Friendly - If parenthood is important to you, seek a position in an organization that is family friendly before you make a move to have children. If you are in an organization that is penalizing you for being a mother, you may want to consider seeking a position in another organization.  
  • Build a Support Network - Once you have children, build a support network and set boundaries for work / life.  You will need assistance, and you will need to be able to say "no" occasionally. Your career is important, but so are your children.  
  • Stay Home -  I know that is not a popular decision and can put a damper on career progression, but being a mother is really a stand-alone and laudable job.  Becoming a stay-at-home mom works particularly well for women who are financially secure and have a supportive spouse.
  • Try Entrepreneurship -  Being an entrepreneur is hard work and many small businesses fail. However, this avenue will place you in control of your hours and can be done, largely, inside the home. Once again, this works particularly well for women who are financially secure and have a supportive spouse.
Ladies, being a mom and supporting children is not easy. You should be congratulated for your efforts. None of us are perfect, but love covers a multitude of sins.  There isn't much better than the love of a mother.  

Friday, May 8, 2015

Recruiters Say... May 8th Edition

A recruiter and hiring manager survey will be open during the summer months.  Responses will be used in aggregate to provide job seekers, including students, a window on what is considered important by organizations in the hiring process. 

You can access the survey here:  Please take a few moments to help us help others. 


Surveyed recruiters report that non-standard resumes and those with typos are the least acceptable.  A majority do not have issues with resumes that run over one page, but they do desire resumes that are crafted for a particular position.  All recruiters report that they spend the majority of their time on a candidate’s resume in the early stages.  However, they turn to the candidate’s personal branding when making a final decision.

Cover letters

If a position does not require a cover letter, most recruiters would rather candidates include one only if they believe it to strengthen their position.

Social media

Recruiters are more likely to check job candidates out on LinkedIn followed by Twitter. However, some recruiters report always checking Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram.  No recruiters reported checking Google Plus.  Recruiters also report that an online resume or portfolio is useful in making a candidate stand out.  Social media accounts utilized for professional purposes (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Blogs) were not deemed overly important.

Online behavior

Over half of the surveyed recruiters report that they “definitely will not” hire someone who posted about firearms.  Recruiters were on the fence about political, racial and religious postings.  They did not seem to be put off by postings that indicated that a candidate was mature or had a family.

Legal environment

Given that the legal environment surrounding social media and hiring is still evolving, a majority of respondents expressed concern regarding potential legal implications of screening applicants online.


The majority of recruiters agreed that it is important for a job seeker to have a LinkedIn account regardless of where they are in their career.  A professional photograph, recommendations and group involvement were the most important factors for some of the recruiters.  Status updates and the number of connections were not deemed critical.


Recruiters report using phone interviews most often in the first round.   The final round is most likely a panel interview.

Hiring factors

Recruiters ranked the following (in order) as important in making hiring determinations:  1) Cultural Fit 2) Work Experience and 3) Applicable Skills.  Recruiters need assurance that candidates will be a fit for the work environment and hit the ground running. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Don't be Eeyore: Love & Let Go

A look at the headlines can be disheartening for many people nowadays.  The headlines seem to capture the worst of our world.  This can erupt in negative feelings and cloud our thoughts at best. 

There is a phrase that keeps running through my mind:  Love & Let Go! But, what does that mean and how can it help us manage the world around us?


We toss around the term so carelessly.  We say we love people and things.  

I love ice cream.  I love the new Avenger's movie.  You get the picture.  

The Greeks weren't so careless with love.  They had specific terminology for the different types of love.  I think this video does a great job in the way of explanation.  

I am referring to agape love in this article.  We don't have to agree with another's ideology (whatever that might contain) to love the other as a human being.  

Consider this:
Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keep no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.  1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Wow!  Can you imagine the change in headlines if we all did that?  However, noticeably absent is the thought that love involves getting revenge on or agreeing with or fixing the other. 

Individuals are accountable for their beliefs and actions. We do not have the power to change others....well except by force.  That's not really love though, is it?

Let Go!

Too many of us walk around life unaware of facts.  We live our lives by feelings and perceptions often based upon another person's experiences or identity with a group. Some experience life as victims and are trapped by bitterness.  

People who are angry, bitter, etc... are controlled by others.  They do not have the "inner locus of control" that is necessary to be happy and fulfilled in life.  They cede any possibility of success to others and circumstance. They aren't in control of their own destiny.  

We can never be free to grow until we learn to love others and let go of any "right" we think we might have to be offended.  This, dear friends, is how we conquer the ugliness around us in the world.  

Don't be an Eeyore!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


There is a cute song in Mary Poppins that coins a nonsensical and outrageous word - supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.   It is such a monumental word, that I found myself using it to describe my less than stellar experience this week. 

Have you ever seen one of those demotivational posters?  They can be amusing, unless you are walking through a sticky situation.  Here is my poster.

I was putting together a blog post the other day about a rather complex issue.  I let it go too early in my haste to complete the piece.  The result was that I had to revise a rather convoluted post that didn't make a lot of sense in its original form.  

Of course, those who read it were probably left scratching their heads, wondering what I meant.  It could have hurt my credibility and may have affected my blog traffic. Unfortunately, it is one of my most viewed articles per my blog stats.

So, let's be real and very clear.  I messed up!  

To provide you with the benefit of my bad experience and hope that you will avoid my mistakes, I have devised three cardinal rules to avoid a Supercalifragilistic-OOOPPS!

Create critical distance!

Give your resume, cover letter, blog article, paper, etc... time to rest.  You need to be able to disconnect from it before you even attempt to proof.  

The Oxford Learning Institute states the following:
When proofreading your own work, you are often so familiar with the text that you see what you think you have written rather than what you actually wrote.
"But, it is due tomorrow!" you say.  

Well, I hate to tell you, but I just experienced the consequences of not doing this. You need to start assignments ahead of time to allow ample space for proofreading. In the case of a resume or cover letter, always have a shell ready that you can add to or slightly revise.

If you are writing a blog article, you may want to save it as a draft or set it up to post at a later time, giving you a chance to go back and review before others read it.  

Always ask a trusted associate to proof your material! 

Don't attempt to proof your own work even if you have allowed time for critical distance. 


Having someone else proof your work allows you to see if your piece is understandable. Do they know what you are trying to say?  Is anything unclear?  Do you need to add statements or reconfigure text to add to the readers' understanding?  

Beware auto correct!

Auto correct is the bane of my smart phone existence.  I know I can turn it off, but I deal with the idiosyncrasies - generally.  I learned from that too.  I actually sent an important communication that had changed the word "almost" to "all most."  That was quite embarrassing!

There are several websites devoted to auto correct issues that are extremely amusing as an observer. However, mistakes often lack humor when the communication is your own and has import.  

So, I hope you have learned by my example.  Good luck with your communications!