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Powerhouse Ladies Who Are a Force to be Reckoned With: Super-Career Women Series

For the previous few months, e-VentExe has been spotlighting one “Super-Career” woman every month, allowing her to tell her story about how she entered the corporate work world. Readers were able to read about the struggles, sacrifices, highlights, and rewards these women faced Imagewhile climbing the ladder towards success. This month, we end our series with Madvi Raya, who is currently the Chief Financial Officer and Co-founder of ScImage, a privately-held company headquartered in Los Altos, CA that provides state-of-the-art enterprise imaging solutions to the healthcare industry.

The Super-Career woman had to balance her personal life with her work life—at the workplace, dresses were replaced with slacks, femininity replaced with sternness all in order to strive to the top. The strenuous struggle to climb the corporate ladder may have seemed daunting, but to these “Super-Career” women, who lived double lives, it was the norm. Now, as young females are entering the workplace, what advice can these “Super-Career” women give to the younger generation?

In 1993, Madvi and her husband, Sai started and ran ScImage Inc. (A Medical Imaging Company) out of their spare room and garage for the first few years.  Now, 20 years and two teenagers later, ScImage currently has offices in Los Altos, CA and 11 out-of-state offices and has grown organically into a mid-sized company.

Obtaining a Bachelors degree in Science and a Masters in Molecular Biology, Madvi was a Research Associate while simultaneously working to help start ScImage on the weekends. Madvi, who has always been ambitious, was raised by her parents to be independent allowing her to pursue her endeavors with full force; she always has a vision plan and believes a female is able to accomplish anything a male can.

As such, Madvi left her position as a Research Associate and solely devoted her time to ScImage.  She recalls the hard work and dedication she put into the business. She had to self-educate herself in multiple business areas where she had had no previous formal education on how to run a business because she had to wear many hats in the beginning stages of ScImage.  Madvi and her husband hired their first employee three years after ScImage’s creation.

Balancing her personal life with her work life was challenging, especially with young children and a household to run.  Luckily, Madvi had a strong support system consisting of working and non-working mothers, friends, and family.  She constantly evaluates her options, deciding which challenge needed more attention depending on the circumstances.

Looking back on her career, Madvi would take the same path again and believes everything she went through was a learning experience; she has met and worked with some wonderful and talented people.

Madvi enjoys her time at work and is also equally involved in her teenagers’ lives – volunteering some of her time at her sons’ school.  Despite her busy schedule, Madvi made time and continues to make time to give back to her community by volunteering her time to several nonprofits.  Madvi served/serves on the boards of: Community Awareness Treatment Services (CATS) which serves the homeless in the San Francisco Area, Gunn Foundation which provides scholarships to college bound students from her sons’ school and American Women for International Understanding (AWIU), a nationwide women’s organization that promotes understanding and provides grants to help support various women’s issues.

Madvi believes females who are currently entering, or who are new to the workforce should display hard work and perseverance, stating that there will be tough and unglamorous parts in any job, but pushing through all of that is vital to success in business regardless of gender.  Madvi, who is a strong advocate on giving back to society, also believes that young women (sometime in their life) should give back to their community  by getting involved in non-profit organizations that support causes that they are passionate about.

*e-VentExe, a full service human resource consulting firm, began as a start-up and specializes in outsourcing & compliance, recruitment & retention, training & development, and assessment tools.

Preparing for Seasonal Employee Layoffs While Keeping Employee Engagement and Morale in Mind

With the holiday season nearing its end, the influxes of seasonal workers begin to slowly trickle as terminations ensue. This inevitable Imageprocess is not only difficult for managers, but also for other seasonal and full-time employees. Once connections and friendships have been made between all staff, team morale may be low after the seasonal layoffs. As such, it is vital for retail managers and leaders to prepare and strategize for this time of year and ensure their surviving staff continue to stay engaged after the holiday rush.

The leadership team provides more than strategic management for its organization; they implement strategies for optimal proficiency and betterment of their organization. As for retail, overall employee performance and customer service ratings are the responsibility of the HR leaders and during the busy holiday season, this needs to become the primary focus.

If things are not running smoothly behind-the-scenes, it will be evident on the sales floor. As leaders, preplanning your overall business strategies and communicating your seasonal goals to the supervisory and management staff are necessary in order to promote efficiency and decrease chaotic situations.  This will assist you in driving the performance and service standards to a higher threshold.

Establishing a team environment for all levels of the leadership staff will make your job a little easier and build an overall environment that can drive results and deliver your vision. 

Before hiring for the holiday season, determine how many weeks or months you will need your seasonal hires. Preplanning and communication are vital! This way, you can ensure your staff is aware of the time period and will be prepared when the holiday hires leave. 

Once you have decided on your new hires, be sure to notify your selected candidates on how long they are needed to work; this conversation is best during the on-boarding process. You don’t want to leave the new hires in the dark and give them false hope on how long they will be with the company.

Although seasonal employees are temporary, make sure you plan your holiday party to include them. After all, a big thank you goes a long way. Show them you are grateful for all the hard work and dedication they put forth during the busy holiday season.  As such, constantly thank your long-term employees as well!

Post any non-seasonal openings and ensure your seasonal workers are aware of the postings when the layoff process nears. Seasonal workers may be interested in continuing employment at your company; encourage them to apply. By telling them before terminating, the transition between being a temporary to a regular employee may be smoother since they are aware of company policy and culture.

If your seasonal hires are not interested in pursuing the status of a regular employee, but would like to be called back for another season, keep a record of their contact information and let them know you will contact them once another busy season hits.

After the layoffs have been completed and regular company schedules are normal, hold a store-wide meeting involving all staff to receive feedback and input on how the season went.

Getting your regular employees involved in the process from preplanning to layoffs ensures engagement from your employees and allows them to be part of the process—this aids in building the morale and pride of job ownership.

*e-VentExe is a full service human resource consulting company specializing in outsourcing and compliance, recruitment and retention, training and development, and assessment tools.

                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

 

Employee Empowerment: Tips for Keeping Retail Employees Engaged

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The holiday season for retail workers mean one thing: busy, busy, busy.  With stores starting their Black Friday sale on Thanksgiving, more employees are needed to man the store. In fact, CareerBuilder’s Annual Survey concluded that 39% of hiring managers plan to hire workers this year, compared to 36% last year, and 29% in 2011.

Sure, when Black Friday comes along, fashionistas, technology gurus, and anyone who simply wants a good deal will be participating in this shopping spree day. But what about the employees who have to work during these ghastly hours, especially on Thanksgiving? Although store hours are opening in the evening to ensure retail employees have time to spend with their family and friends, it may be tough for any retail manager to motivate their staff (especially if copious amounts of food was consumed just hours before).  How will retail leaders prepare their staff for the infamous Black Friday sale in terms of customer service, team morale, and overall employee well-being?

Working in retail, customer service is essential. As a store associate, necessary steps are taken to achieve top quality service to customers—ask them how their day is going, ask them if they need any assistance finding items, provide insight when asked, be personable and approachable. Yes, folding clothes after what looked like a blizzard hit the section may be frustrating, but remember: providing superior customer service is a pivotal function of the job; not only does it reflect the company, it also reflects the employee.

Staying motivated during the busy season may be challenging, and customer complaints can make it tougher. When team morale seems to be lacking, it is both noticeable for both other staff members and customers. Remember to keep the staff engaged in their work and with their fellow customers by providing incentives such as these:

1)      Provide healthy snacks throughout the day in the break room to ensure employees are being well-nourished. Offering snacks, such as nuts, will reward employees with natural health benefits including long-lasting energy, brain health, and even reduce stress. 

2)      Employee holiday appreciation party. During or after the holiday season, plan a party for the employees to show them they are more than just bodies in the store. Thank them for all the hard work they have done for the company. Gather each employees’ insight (i.e., theme, food, activities) to ensure their voice and ideas are being heard by upper management.

3)      Appreciation in-store discounts or gift cards. Offer employees a generous discount, such as 60% off of sale items and 40% off of regular priced items. Another incentive may involve having a raffle drawing of gift cards to other places.

4)      Shorter shifts to alleviate stress. Dealing with customers amongst the constant hustle and bustle of the season may be demanding. Provide shorter shifts to ensure employees are not feeling burnt-out.

5)      Allow employees to change roles and/or departments during their shift. Employees may feel unmotivated (and most likely bored) repeating one tedious task for the entire shift. Change up the scenery by moving them around the store and allowing them to engage in other roles. This tactic may make the shifts more bearable and the hours go by quicker.

As managers and leaders, it is management’s job to ensure their employees’ needs are being met and frustrations alleviated. Empowering employees in turn empowers management which empowers the overall company.

*e-Ventexe is a full service human resource company dedicated to providing services catered to clients’ needs.

 

Retail HR 101: How to Survive the Holidays

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Crowds of people zooming past one another, baby strollers rested along racks of clothes as mothers and fathers shop, lines zigzagging throughout the store—the holiday season has crept up once again. The National Retail Federation’s 2012 survey confirmed more than 88 million consumers shopped in-stores and online on Black Friday. Amidst all the hustle and bustle, how are top retail leaders and managers planning to beat the “holiday burnout” in terms of keeping employee morale and productivity up during the holiday season? Long hours, employees calling in sick last minute, gift returns, etc., calls for copious amounts of stress. Although the feeling of being burnt-out can not be completely eliminated, here are some tips to help avoid becoming an overworked, overstressed Grinch at the workplace.

1)      Plan early! Plan months, weeks, or even days in advance. This can include plans for keeping the staff engaged with customer service, the number of store associates working for each shift, the number of hours for each shift, the number of employees stationed at each department, etcetera. By planning in advance, chaotic situations may be minimal which in turn alleviates stress levels for all parties.

2)      Always develop a strategy in case incidences happen unexpectedly. For example, if a customer spilled coffee all over the tiled floor in front of the Women’s clothing department, what actions would be taken? Who will take the initiative? Would it be the shift leader who was upstairs in the Men’s department when the spill happened? Or the sales associates who was standing 10 feet away from the spill? In simple incidences such as this, delegate a plan such as, whichever employee saw the spill first is responsible for cleaning the mess. If a customer notices the spill and informs an associate, have that associate take the initiative to ensure other holiday shoppers are not harmed. Take the appropriate measures to develop strategies (even if they are on the spot) to ensure a pleasant shopping experience for all customers and staff. In this incident, a lawsuit may have been avoided.

3)      Have a plan for employee absence and call-ins. It is inevitable; employees will call in or not show up for their shift. If an employee calls-in last minute because s/he can not work a shift, what would happen? Extend an employee’s shift who is currently working? Go through the call schedule? If you are unexpectedly short of staff, always begin recruiting within the store, and then reach out to employees’ who are not scheduled to work. The last minute call may make any shift leader want to pull his/her hair out, but there’s always someone looking to make more money. And better yet, if your store holds your employees to the highest degree, then they may willingly want to help the store when short-staff problems arise.

4)      Communicate with the entire team daily. Set up regular short meetings to ensure everyone is on the same page. This will make sure all staff (in all departments) is in sync with the latest news, changes, etc., which ultimately eliminates confusion. This may also increase an employee’s sense of self-worth; it promotes productivity and gives the employee a sense of belonging and importance in the company because the supervisor(s) allotted time to check up on him/her.

5)      When on the sales floor, always pay attention to surroundings. Step in when needed to ensure the store runs smoothly. After all, the more chaotic the store, the more stressed managers feel. For example, if a cashier is having difficulty with ringing up an item, don’t feel pressured to “hurry up the line” and push the employee out of the way—this will show the employee management does not care, or worst, think s/he is a nuisance or a useless body. Instead managers should greet their cashier first then solve the issue collectively; this will show the employee that store leaders regard them as a human-being and it also promotes team work and problem solving strategies.

Follow these 5 tips and celebrate the holidays with ease.

*e-VentExe is a full service human resource consulting company in Northern California specializing in training & development, recruitment & retention, and outsourcing & compliance. Our consultants collectively have over 60 years of professional experience in HR, 30 years specializing in retail. e-VentExe is dedicated to meeting and exceeding clients’ needs.

 

 

Powerhouse Ladies Who Are a Force to be Reckoned With: Super-Career Women Series Cont.

For the next several months, e-VentExe will be spotlighting one “Super-Career” woman every month, allowing her to tell her story about how she entered the corporate work world. Read about the struggles, sacrifices, highlights, and rewards these women faced while climbing the ladder towards success. This month, with our focus on retail, we continue our series with Joni Enders, who is currently a retiree devoting her time as a volunteer for Call Kurtis, a CBS Sacramento program. 

25 years ago, a successful career woman had to figure out how to compete in a male-dominated world. Women couldn’t show any signs of weakness; they were constantly putting on their “game face” to show men they could do anything as good, if not better.  They dressed the part to be at the boardroom, i.e., suits and ties.  The Super-Career woman had to balance her personal life with her work life—at the workplace, dresses were replaced with slacks, femininity replaced with sternness all in order to strive to the top. The strenuous struggle to rise the corporate ladder may have seemed daunting, but to these “Super-Career” women, who lived double lives, it was the norm. Now, as young females are entering the workplace, what advice can these “Super-Career” women give to the younger generation?  The world for woman today is different, however mistakes can still be made as a women rises to the top of a competitive workplace.

Joni, who has always been a personable individual and had a knack for fashion began her career in retail as a student working part-time as a store associate at the department store, JCPenney. Although she loved clothing and interacting with others, Joni was first interested in law and contemplated continuing her studies in legal issues while working.  However, Joni saw great potential and opportunities with JCPenney and continued her career in retail stating it was where she belonged. Joni was a part of JCPenney for nearly 40 years, retiring merely two years prior; what once started as a simple part-time gig spiraled into something much greater: the dream career of overseeing several JCPenney stores.

With Joni’s go-getter attitude, she moved up the ranks and did not recall ever reaching a glass ceiling. She considers all the opportunities she was given a learning experience. Although she had the chance to fulfill higher career roles (district manager), she was content with being a store manager in Wichita, KS. and then in Sacramento, CA.

In terms of balancing both her work and personal life, Joni delegated her time to each. She decided which one was going to require more of her time. Joni recalls that for the holiday season, her family knew she would be busy so she devoted a great amount of time to her work; it was her job and her family was aware. However, Joni believes one must always reserve time for personal life matters as well, stating that communication is necessary.

Jonie, who is extremely happy with her career outcome at JCPenney states she does not have any regrets. She was fortunate to have great positions and mentors who supported her early in her career. The only mistake she recalls is giving employees too much opportunity in order to succeed within the company; she had a tendency to allow people to work longer even though the job was not cut out for them. Joni recalls that in the end, it did not benefit the company or the individuals involved.

From her experience, Joni has a few pieces of advice for those who are new to the workforce. She states that one must find a career that is incredibly rewarding and fulfill one’s needs. Joni believes mentorships are very important; she believes a mentor provides support and acts as a confidant. Not only should one seek a mentor, one should also be a mentor. She also believes one must find a way to stand out from the crowd. Joni stresses that knowing one’s audience is vital because one must know who and how to speak to specific individuals. By knowing one’s audience, there is a greater potential of acknowledgement.

For a detailed Q and A about Joni, read below:

1)      How long did it take you to reach to the top of the corporate ladder?

It took me about 29 years [to be a store manager]. I was on the District Staff where I was a District Market Merchandiser in both San Diego and Hawaii. For Hawaii, I was in charge of deciding what Moo Moo dresses we would sell in the stores. From the color, print, style, etc.

2)      Did you change yourself to fit into the career world?

Yes, you have to. You have to know your audience. As a leader, I made sure my presence was appropriate. I asked a lot of questions. Internally, you’re always the same person, but you have to change yourself depending on who you’re dealing with and what position you have.

3)      If you could do it all over again, would you do the same thing?

That’s a tough one, I don’t know that I would change anything, I grew to become the person who I am now and I am extremely happy with the outcome. Jcpenney provided me with great opportunities and learning experiences. Not sure if I would be happy in law compared to retail. With my go-getter attitude, retail was perfect because there was always something new.

Powerhouse Women Who Are a Force to be Reckoned With: “Super-Career” Woman Series

For the next several months, e-VentExe will be spotlighting one “Super-Career” woman every month, allowing her to tell her story about how she entered the corporate work world. Read about the struggles, sacrifices, highlights, and rewards these women faced while climbing the ladder towards success. We continue our series with “Super-Career” woman, Georgene Waterman, who is currently the Chief Operations Officer (COO) at Life Med ID, an Information Technology company specializing in medical software.

25 years ago, a successful career woman had to figure out how to compete in a male-dominated world. Women could not show any signs of weakness; they were constantly putting on their “game face” to show men they could do anything as good, if not better.  They dressed the part to be at the boardroom (i.e., suits and ties). 

The “Super-Career” woman had to balance her personal life with her work life—at the workplace, dresses were replaced with slacks, femininity replaced with sternness all in order to strive to the top. The strenuous struggle to move up the corporate ladder may have seemed daunting, but to these “Super-Career” women, who lived double lives, it was the norm. Now, as young females are entering the workplace, what advice can these “Super-Career” women give to the younger generation?  The world for women today is different; however mistakes can still be made as a woman advances in a competitive workplace.

Georgene has always been the type of individual that can multitask and work in a proficient manner. She recalls being in charge of fundraisers in high school and stated that if anything needed to be done, she would be the first point of contact in completing the project or task.  Georgene’s go-getter attitude started at a young age and continued into her adult life: she was the mother of a disabled child as well as a professional working her way up in her career.

Following in her Mother’s footsteps, Georgene became a registered nurse by receiving a nursing diploma. She later pursued her bachelors, masters, and PhD after she already had her first child. Busy as she was being a great mother and career woman, Georgene did not recall any major struggles or challenges as she climbed up the ladder of success, only wishing she would have asked for help in terms of childcare. She found a way to balance both her family and career by simply making it work; devoting time to each. She was 40 years old when she received the coveted title of CEO at a hospital and had been working professionally since she was 21 years old. Georgene began her career path as a registered nurse, switched into hospital administration, and then made her greatest leap of all by becoming a CEO. In the midst of all this, Georgene also started her own side business where she trained nurses to help orient new nurses.

Georgene has always been an outspoken individual in a professional way allowing her to stand out from the rest of the crowd: she always voiced her opinion and was a part of the solution, not the problem. She believes a large reason as to how she moved up the ladder was by allowing others to hear what she thought and the implementations she would put forth.

Georgene felt she never reached a glass ceiling because of the way she perceived herself. She never thought of herself as a woman, which benefited her career goals. Georgene believes women who see themselves as women, rather than professional individuals do reach a glass ceiling, which may be due to the stigma behind women in senior positions.

Based on Georgene’s past experiences, she has some advice for females who are about to, or recently entered the workforce. She stresses to ask and receive help in terms of childcare for mothers. In a business standpoint, Georgene encourages newcomers to speak up, bring solutions, do not complain, and to ask for help to implement ideas. She believes finding out where one fits in is important stating that people cannot find their true calling unless they try many different things and stay in a job for more than a couple of months. 

Although Georgene has taken a step back from the top position, she has had many accomplishments in her life and feels she does not have to prove herself to anyone anymore. She states it can be challenging having to report to someone, but she does not care, especially since she still works in a medical-related industry and that is where her heart belongs.

Georgene thinks of her life as a spiritual journey recalling the hardships and joyous times, but overall believes everything she has encountered has either been a learning experience or a giving experience.

To learn more about Georgene’s career path, read below for a detailed Q and A:

1)      Upon entering the workforce what was your initial career choice? Did that career path change? If so, why did you decide to pursue a different path?

In my day, you could become a nurse by living in a hospital and studying right there at the hospital and becoming a diploma nurse but it didn’t give you a college education. Or you could get a college education. We [diploma nurses] were the nurses that everyone wanted because we knew what we were doing—we lived and worked at the hospital for three solid years, summers included…so about the same amount as going to a four-year college, but we didn’t have a college degree, we got a diploma. I did that of course because my mother did it. Two months out of nursing training they needed an Assistant Head Nurse and I got the Ella Sweep Award, which was the person out of 69 girls who was the most excellent nurse. And then they asked me to be the Assistant Head Nurse. So I’ve never been in anything other than management. I’ve been working for 45 years and I’ve always been in management because of that [Assistant Head Nurse position].

2)      Did you find it difficult to compete for jobs in a male-dominated world?

I was lucky because nursing is female dominated, so I started with that and then made my switch from nursing into hospital administration; I was just part of a group. After, I made the biggest leap of all in my time [by becoming a CEO]. I became a CEO of a network of hospitals that included 28 hospitals and there were 27 men and then me. I was never in that traditional business where women have to compete because all nurses were women in my day.

3)      Why did you pursue the hospital CEO position?

It pursued me: I went from nursing and then I worked 7,8,9 years and then I had a baby. I thought “I’m not missing Christmas morning.” My family was very traditional. Christmas morning was important so I needed a job that gave me weekends off. After I had my first baby, (I was almost 30) I went to the Director of Nurses and I said “I want to come back. I really only want to work part-time and no weekends,” and she said, “Well, let’s see what you can do.” She asked me what I liked to do and I said “I really enjoy the teaching part of nursing.” She made a job for me—they needed something done, and they needed someone to take care of all of the orientation of the new nurses. They oriented about 250 new nurses a year, so she gave me that project and I took it and went with it; I made it my own! I did that while my children were very young and then I was asked by another hospital to run their education department.

4)      If you could do it all over again, would you do the same thing?

I ask myself that and I ask my children that—“Did you suffer because I was on my own journey?” and they said they didn’t in terms of working. I think it was good for my daughter to see that I was more than a Mother.

5)      What were some of your mistakes along the way to your ideal career goal?

Not asking for help soon enough, taking jobs along the way that I probably didn’t strategically think about. I had to work with some big corporations along the way that I didn’t agree with, like I had one corporation that wanted me to do some illegal things and when I refused to do them, they fired me, so I had to file a whistleblower lawsuit against them. You can’t work that many years and not have things happen. I’ve always worked long-term, but I took a job once in between jobs to run a 350-bed assisted living facility that was in the middle of new ownership. I kept coming in earlier and earlier and started coming in at 3:00am and left at 8:00pm and my husband said, “What are you doing?” Obviously it wasn’t for me—I couldn’t get my arms around it, they didn’t have any professional people there; it was a disaster. It was just a different model than I was used to working with, so I’ve had many experiences. I took the job because I wasn’t working and I felt I could do anything—I ran a hospital so I figured I could run an assisted living place, but it was very different. We all take jobs that we don’t think through.

*Stay connected with e-VentExe, a female-owned full service human resource consulting firm specializing in areas such as compliance, training and development. Find us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+ or visit our website at http://www.e-ventexe.com. 

Getting Past the Peter Principle

Our guest blogger is Tina R. Shaw. Tina is a Coach and Consultant specializing in leadership development, supporting change, and facilitating learning. Contact Tina at tina.r.shaw@gmail.com.

Most of us have heard of the Peter Principle, but in case you haven’t, it is commonly phrased as “Employees tend to rise to their level of incompetence.”  Why does this happen? Consider the super-star sales person, Mary. She’s consistently a top producer, does everything expected of her, and is seen as a rising star. So of course she earns a promotion to Sales Manager! A few months later the shine on Mary’s star is tarnishing. What went wrong?

Like many people who are promoted, the skills and behaviors that made Mary successful in her former role are not the same skills and behaviors necessary for success in her new role. Not only is it important to develop new competencies to succeed in the new role, it is equally important to understand which competencies should be de-emphasized. For example, as a super-star salesperson personal expertise and efforts are a significant factor in success. As a sales manager, success comes from getting results through the efforts and expertise of others.  In Mary’s new role leadership becomes more important than individual contribution. Because Mary’s success came from her personal efforts it may be difficult for her to let go of doing things herself to focus instead on supporting her team to produce results.

In the book, “The Leadership Pipeline” by Ram Charan, Steve Drotter and Jim Noel, the authors outline the skill requirements, time applications and work values necessary for different levels of leadership.   Moving from individual contributor to manager of people takes more than learning some new skills, it also requires adjusting values and where you focus your time. Each level of leadership requires different adjustments in these three areas. Leaders in transition can get into trouble when they fail to make the necessary adjustments in what they value, what they do, and where they focus their time.

Knowing you need to make some changes, and even learning what changes you need to make is the easy part – you can get training, read a book, get advice from a mentor or search the Internet. Actually making changes is much, much harder because most of us tend to default to what has been successful for us in the past. It takes repeated practice to make new skills and behaviors part of our default mode.

How many of us have taken a class or read a book on leadership and committed to implementing something we learned, but never practiced enough to make it stick? Probably most of us, including me. It’s not about ability, capacity or hitting the limits of our potential. All of these things expand as we gain experience, learn and grow as individuals. More likely it is because no one is checking in on us to see how we are applying what we learned. We get so absorbed in the day-to-day of our work and lives that we don’t remember to practice what we learned, and eventually we forget altogether. What we need is an accountability partner. Someone who will challenge us, support us, provide feedback, and ask us the right questions to ensure we are doing what we said we would do.

Working with a coach is a wonderful way to get the support and accountability you need. How can a coach help? A coach is trained to listen, ask powerful questions, and reflect back to create awareness to help the client take action to get where they want to go. Working with a coach provides a regular check-in that allows you to measure your progress, get past obstacles, and celebrate successes!

When I started my business I naturally choose to focus on what I love. My passion is leadership development and transferring learning into business results. I partner with clients to develop leaders, accelerate learning, and support change.  If you would like to learn more about developing leaders, I invite you to contact me: tina.r.shaw@gmail.com or  http://www.linkedin.com/in/tinarshaw

The Manager’s Oath, Pt: 1

Amelya Stevenson, SPHR-CA is the owner of e-VentExe, a full service human resource consulting company located in Northern California. Earlier this year, e-VentExe created their own document detailing what it takes to be a superstar manager. Here’s the official video to the first part of the oath!

A Life of a Super-Career Woman

ImageFor the next several months, e-VentExe will be spotlighting one “Super-Career” woman every month, allowing her to tell her story on how she entered the corporate work world. Read about the struggles, sacrifices, highlights, and rewards these women faced while climbing the ladder towards success. Our first “Super-Career” woman, Alison Campbell, is currently a Medical Unit Manager for nurses at Travelers Insurance Company.

25 years ago, a successful career woman had to figure out how to compete in a male-dominated world. Women couldn’t show any signs of weakness; they were constantly putting on their “game face” to show men they could do anything as good, if not better.  They dressed the part to be at the boardroom (i.e., suits and ties).

The “Super-Career” woman had to balance her personal life with her work life—at the workplace, dresses were replaced with slacks, femininity replaced with sternness all in order to strive to the top. The strenuous struggle to move up the corporate ladder may have seemed daunting, but to these “Super-Career” women, who lived double lives, it was the norm. Now, as young females are entering the workplace, what advice can these “Super-Career” women give to the younger generation?  The world for women today is different; however mistakes can still be made as a woman advances in a competitive workplace.

Alison’s climb to reach where she is now in her career was not an easy or predictable path; she recalls hitting a glass ceiling in her career. Having both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Nursing, she began as a clinical nurse, to a hospital nurse and finally to a corporate nurse, even owning her own business as a legal nurse consultant along the way.

During Alison’s career, she devoted her time to her work and her family, stressing that both are important and need attention. Alison has always had a driven attitude, constantly learning something new and applying it into her everyday life. Therefore, in terms of balancing work and family, she believes in making adjustments and never giving up on choosing one over the other. Alison believes the most important thing a career-oriented mother can do is make sure the extra time and energy she is devoting to her work is strategic (i.e., down the road it is going to mean something).

Although Alison does not regret anything she has done because she loves her industry and profession, she wishes she had sought out more sponsors as well as completed her education early (before she had children).

Alison’s advice to young females currently in or are about to enter the workforce includes networking, having mentors and sponsors, and working for an organization with matching culture and core values. She believes females should definitely network with everyone and build relationships face to face (albeit social media is on the rise). Alison stresses that women must be comfortable networking with others because they never know where these connections will lead and often times it is about who an individual knows.

Alison has a positive outlook for the future of women in business stating that she believes women have joined the workforce in every level and more of them are needed at the top to mentor the females entering the workforce.

To learn more about Alison’s career path, read below for a detailed Q and A:

1)      Did you find it difficult to compete for jobs in a male-dominated world? What did you do to make yourself stand out from the rest?

Yes, I had a high degree of technical expertise and I networked with men and women. So you have to network because you could be the greatest technical expert but if a lot of people don’t know it and if a lot of people in executive management don’t know it then you can’t move ahead. So I would say the other thing I did was that I self promoted some projects to executive management and they let me do them.

2)      How long did it take you to reach to the top of the corporate ladder?

I’m not really at the top, but I would say it took me 10-12 years. By the time I was 32, I had my own business as a legal nurse consultant and I worked for a large corporation doing what I loved to do. Now I wasn’t management yet, but I already made the transition. And it probably [took me ] 15 years for management…that’s old school, that’s when they hired people into management with the highest technical expertise in an area; they don’t do that anymore but back then that’s what they did.

3)      Did you find it to be a struggle? If so, can you recall any obstacles?

Yes, men have a network that women were not part of. For example if you are a woman and you don’t play golf, you might not have the networking that you want because the guys are all exclusive. Another barrier was that there weren’t any women for me to network with or be my mentor or sponsor, so I had to find a way to be useful at work and they didn’t discount me because I was a women or discount me because I was a nurse.

4)      Did you change yourself to fit into the career world?

I think that I changed how I communicated and who I communicated with. So when you first start out at a corporation, you’re afraid to communicate with executive management and I got to a point where I was no longer afraid to do and was comfortable talking to them. To get comfortable talking to top executives, I did a lot of self self-education, so I read a lot of books on leadership, and I networked so I would know someone who was comfortable and close to the executive.

I think one of the things you must do–you might not overcome it—but you must manage it is that you must do things that are scary to you, like taking on a lot of responsibility that might be scary (i.e., taking on large projects, taking on extra work). You can’t be afraid of it; you just have to do it.

5)      How did you balance your personal life with your work life?

I did not balance it and here is the thing: you have to do what you love. There are times when a work project may take a lot of your time and there are times in your life when you devote time to your children. Every person has to make that decision for [herself/himself]. But I’ve worked until 2:00am and my children were fed and well taken care of and were asleep, but I was up working because I wanted that to happen. I remember locking the door upstairs and my husband would be watching my 3-year-old, so that I could talk to an attorney and he wouldn’t hear children in the background because that was my job; you make strategic sacrifices.

6)      What were some of your mistakes along the way to your ideal career goal?

One of the things career woman  must be aware of is their perceptive (i.e., if they walk away from a room, what are the top three adjectives the executives or the people handing out the bonus, what are they going to say about you?) I relied very heavily on my technical expertise and as a nurse and as an administrator and I probably didn’t put enough emphasis on the fact that I am a very good manager and that I have a lot of emotional intelligence. From day one in your career, you always have to think about: what is the perception I want to portray?  

Creativity at its Finest: Why Creative Leaders Benefit the Workplace

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Leaders are visionaries—they are passionate about their beliefs, they set clear goals to be achieved, and they never give up on their desires, even if completed in unconventional ways. We have witnessed creative leaders throughout history; look at Steve Jobs and the way he changed technology, Ghandi and his nonviolent approach to human conflict, The Beatles and their rock music that challenged the mainstream. All these leaders were innovative and wanted to make a change in their respective industries.

When we look at creative leaders in the past, we remember how and what they did to achieve their dreams. All these creative individuals gained popularity by igniting a spark in others; these leaders knew how to speak to a person’s soul rather than blatantly sale their mission.  People felt personally connected with or intrigued by their words and ideas because these leaders defied the ordinary.

There are commonalities when we look at past leaders deemed as creative: they all provided a clear message of ideas, they essentially created the persona of an expert to their supporters, and they were able to maintain a dedicated and steady audience.

A growing issue in businesses and organizations today is employee retention. How do businesses keep their employees engaged and interested in their company?  If we compare creative leaders with ordinary business leaders, we can see that the same tactics in the former works for the latter—being passionate goes a long way.  It is believed that creative leaders have the ability to build teams, build collaborative work environments and provide the motivation to allow employees to think outside the box and take risks at work.  This new concept is called, “Creative Intelligence.”

Statistics compiled by The Corporate Executive Board Company states that small businesses suffer greatly from their quality of labor because “replacing one person on a small team could be equivalent to replacing 10% or 20% of the workforce,” which makes employee retention very important for these businesses.

Business leaders must have a clear mission and know what kind of employee they wish to seek who will also fit well into their company culture. If they can not establish a clear message as to what they want represented, then why would anyone want to represent them? In this day and age, people are more motivated to do work for companies they believe in, so wouldn’t executive leaders want to find the perfect candidate who strives to make the company better? One way business leaders can do this is via assessment tools, which screens prospective candidates by using various tests to determine their skill levels and overall work ethic.

Progressive leaders should strive to use Creative Intelligence in the workplace.  Their employees will be more engaged in their work and satisfied.  Retention will be reduced and bottom line number will grow. 

*e-VentExe is a full service Human Resource consulting firm that specializes in HR compliance, policy development, employee retention, training and development and assessment tools.