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We have all been touched in some way by the economic downturn in our region, professionally and personally. Many have felt the cold hand of fate grabbing at our dreams and plans for our future/ business and personal goals. Companies that stayed open dealt with the uncertain business landscape in a variety of ways. Some CEO’s laid off long term employees to avoid the negative spiraling bottom line results. Other CEO’s modified positions, changed responsibilities and tried to right size the operation the best they knew how. And, there were those CEO’s who closed their doors completely; the burden was just too large to manage. Those days were very dark, doubtful and relentless. I am sure many leaders sat at their desks alone and wondered, “Did I make the right decision? Could I have done something different? Would the business outcome be different? What if…., Where do I turn? Who can I talk to?”
Today, hope for our business future is taking shape again. We are seeing a resurgence of focused energy and innovation from our leaders. It finally feels like a spring day—the sun is out and the birds are singing. People are smiling again. However, the economic downturn has left a deep scar that may never fully become invisible. I like to call this period of new growth a Period of Reengineering.
CEO’s have a fresh start, a new look at their organization and workforce. They can once again begin to build a thriving and prosperous business and create a positive and engaging employee culture. Vistage International can become that voice, that resource for executives and business owners who supports and guides them through extremely uncertain business decisions. The time is now to reach out, seek guidance and support from a confidential, peer advisory group of CEO’s.
Vistage International brings together successful CEO’s, executives and business owners into private advisory groups. Each group is purpose-built to help members help each other improve the performance and outcomes of their business and personal lives. Vistage International works with each CEO to be a better leader who can make better decisions and get better results. In fact, they have helped over 75,000 members since 1957 when they began. And the support does not look at one dimension of a CEO’s life; the business. Discussions also center on a person’s health and personal life—it is strongly believed that the “whole person” adds to the strategic direction of a company. If issues are present in any of the three categories listed above, they are freely discussed inside the confidence of a member meeting.
Although peer advisory groups are a great help towards success, leadership and management trainings and assessments should not be ignored. These tools allow those in management to be aware of their strengths and weaknesses, ultimately allowing them to build upon their skills.
For more information regarding Vistage International and e-VentExe, please call Amelya Stevenson, M.A., SPHR-CA Vistage Chair and owner of e-VentExe, a full service Human Resource Consulting Firm at 916.458.5820.
Founded in 2000 by Amelya and Craig Stevenson, e-VentExe provides businesses with strategic and compliance human resources tips and techniques, organizational effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) and overall strategic and healthy cultural influences in the workplace. We also make HR administration easy for small businesses with our eBasicHR and Compliance package. At e-VentExe, we keep the “Human” in Human Resources. Let us show our dedication to you! For more information, please visit us at www.e-ventexe.com,“LIKE” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter!
If you conduct employee engagement surveys and ask your employees to spend time honestly completing the survey, as an employer you must thank your employees for taking the survey and communicate to them what actions you will and will not implement from their suggestions. If you do not recognize your employees and their comments, you run the risk of having your employees never complete an engagement survey honestly again.
Organizations strive largely because of their employees. But what happens when your employees are disengaged? According to the 2013 State of the American Workplace Report, 70 percent of American workers are dissatisfied with their job, creating an atmosphere where many employees feel emotionally disconnected from their workplace and therefore less productive.
Employee engagement is both a psychological and social phenomenon—as humans, we need to feel accepted and feel a sense of belonging whether in or outside of the workplace. Employees’ needs and viewpoints should be accepted and recognized; without this communication and connection, employees may feel worthless or question their stay at the workplace. This is where most upper management fails.
Dr. Brad Shuck at the University of Louisville, an expert in employee engagement research, states that managers were “promoted into positions with responsibilities they were not ready for” and rather than knowing how projects were getting done, they cared only on how much could get done. Let’s take for example, J. C. Penney’s former CEO Ron Johnson. Prior to joining J.C. Penny, Johnson was seen as the genius Senior Vice President of Retail Operations at Apple. However, during his reign at J.C. Penney, sales dropped 27 percent (Forbes). Johnson, who transformed J.C Penney immediately, terminated the entire top executive team. In doing so, Johnson created an entirely new environment for the current employees, who now must not only learn the new company culture, but also build trust and the emotional connection with their new leadership. Johnson merely assumed he could transform J.C. Penney successfully based on his past accomplishments at Apple. However, he not only caused the retail chain to plummet, he did not take into consideration the views of the current employees.
According to Kevin Kruse, a New York Times bestselling author, entrepreneur, and speaker, the secret to employee engagement stems from the relationships front line managers have with their direct reports, therefore improvements can be made effectively if these front line managers are given their team’s engagement surveys. In order for employee engagement to increase in organizations, a grassroots approach is necessary because top executives usually do not work or rarely know their subordinates on an emotional level.
Top management must be able to strategize, create, and determine an employee engagement plan that is suitable for their company, taking into account company size and culture. Employees should feel they are part of an organization that values them, and not merely seen as another body sitting in the office or driving a forklift or serving customers. Employee goals and insights for working at an organization should be acknowledged. Trust, communication, and employee recognition for all parties should be taken into consideration for optimal employee engagement. After all, a productive and motivated workforce calls for increased business profitability.
*e-VentExe is a full service human resource consulting firm located in Northern California. We offer an array of assessment tools that may help with employee engagement or other HR needs.
The New Year is an exciting time for rejuvenation—for self and business. As such, resolutions are made, but how long do these resolutions actually last? We see gyms overcrowded for the first few months into the New Year with individuals trying to change their lifestyle, we see leaders jump-starting a new out-of-the-box campaign or company process with enthusiasm in hopes that it will last the entire year; but sadly, most resolutions are not long-lasting. Motivation and perseverance play a vital role in keeping goals and resolutions. For business leaders, the New Year is a time for reevaluating their tactics, attitudes, and beliefs to better themselves and their organization.
Some considerations for leaders include:
- Effectiveness as a leader: What are some things you should stop doing this year that will make you more effective in your role? What are some things you can begin doing or implementing?
- Self-limiting beliefs: What beliefs are preventing you from achieving your goals?
Learning about your strengths and weaknesses can guide you through these questions. There are many tools that can assist you in recognizing these such as assessment tests (more advanced and validated), self-reflection, or observations from others about yourself.
Maybe your lack of team work and collaboration is holding you back from communicating effectively with your employees and managerial team. Utilizing assessment tools can help you recognize this and give you a detailed and user-friendly explanation to guide you through this behavior.
The first step towards achieving goals and/or resolutions is always the simplest; you just do it. Next, you have to mentally change and implement the behaviors—this is not a one-time process; this might take weeks, months, or even the entire year. But you must practice it in order to change your mindset and receive positive results.
This is where many individuals fail to uphold their resolutions: they do something once and say to themselves, “This is easy. I can do this everyday.” But the fact is: sure, it can be easy if you do it for a short-period of time, especially right after the holidays when motivations to keep resolutions are high. What about after a month when things in your life and/or organization begin to pick up? Will you be able to keep your resolutions or goals? The only way to keep motivated is to practice, practice, practice! Ingrain your resolutions/goals into your daily routine.
To be the greatest leader you can be you must understand yourself and the individuals you work with at your organization, as well as maintain business acumen. With that said, are you still continuing your business resolutions/goals?
*e-Ventexe is a full service Human Resource consulting firm in the Greater Sacramento region with superior knowledge on assessment tools. To learn more about how these tools can be beneficial to your organization, please call us at 916.458.5820.
New Year, new Human Resource leaders. The New Year is a time for embracing change—from simple things such as changing your diet to grandeur aspects such as electing new leaders. None is different for CalSHRM, the California State Council for the Society of Human Resource Management. As a full service human resource consulting company, we live and breathe HR; we take pride in assisting organizations with any of their HR needs, while still maintaining the human connection. With the HR profession growing tremendously as well as technology, what is the outlook for HR in 2014? Michael Letizia, PHR-CA, the new State Director of CalSHRM for 2014 and 2015 shares his insights and goals for CalSHRM and the overall profession.
Having been a member of SHRM since 2000 and serving on the board in various roles until 2013, Michael’s role as State Director is to primarily oversee the functions of the Council and to bring the SHRM affiliates together in the state to solidify initiatives. The Council consists of solely volunteers that Michael will manage, which he deems as a daunting task especially in such a large organization (SHRM is prevalent in California compared to other states).
In terms of goals for CalSHRM, Michael continues to strive for the plans and goals the past President and he created a few years ago, where they envisioned what they believed the California Council should look like. Michael, whose leadership style has always been collaborative, also set some personal goals for himself; he would like volunteers to feel they are part of a larger purpose and that they receive the intrinsic value they sought. One of Michael’s main focus is to ensure the volunteers understand the time, skills, and efforts they put forth into the State are truly making a difference, and that they feel they are part of an organization that is making a difference in California.
Michael hopes to educate California employers and to bring advocacy to businesses and to HR people—professionals and those who are responsible for running HR in their organizations who are not deemed as professionals. Although SHRM caters to HR professionals, Michael believes it is very important that the Council support the individuals who are responsible for HR that may not have the opportunity at this time to call themselves HR professionals.
As such, CalSHRM is partnering with SHRM to be the HR advocate for the employee and the employer. Michael believes education about HR tactics and strategies must be brought to Sacramento to bring the HR voice to the legislature in assisting the government craft ideas that will benefit both California employees and employers.
Michael finds the progression of HR to be very exciting, stating that when he first began his career in the field, he was a Personnel Clerk. Now, as the profession has gained momentum and recognition, HR is being seen as a Strategic Partner and in many companies, a member of the Executive Team. Companies are learning that if they do not direct, assess, and manage their talent, they are not going to achieve the results they hoped. They need people in order to be successful and if they fail to bring in a professional that can help them manage individuals to their fullest potential, then they are not going to get to the place they envisioned. Many Executives are not interested in developing plans for people; they are looking at it from the business perspective. Having that voice at the table talking about human talent to achieve the organization’s goals and the process to make that happen is crucial. Individuals working in HR need to articulate and demonstrate why they are essential to an organization.
Michael stresses that HR individuals and small business owners must be experts in California (and Federal) labor law compliance and understand litigation risks. With California State laws changing at an alarming rate, employers must be updated with compliance and be prepared for consequences if they come; after all, one lawsuit can close a small business.
Advice for individuals currently working in HR is that they must be realistic about the advancements of technology and its impact on society. Michael stresses that California and its employers need to change their views of the traditional work structure in regards to the younger generation entering the workforce: they have to allow workers to be flexible in their schedule in order to reach optimal results. The younger generation is not afraid to say the traditional norm is outdated and antique. Michael praises companies such as Google, who allow their employees to work wherever they can as long as they deliver and meet the company’s expectations. He believes Google and other companies embracing work flexibility are successful because they are managing their talent very strategically. Michael believes that other organizations could reach the same potential if they embrace new ideas and concepts that are shaping our society.
With the holiday season nearing its end, the influxes of seasonal workers begin to slowly trickle as terminations ensue. This inevitable process 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.
On a brisk November morning a female employee at a small electrical company in Winters CA arrived at work and was ambushed as she sat in her car. The alleged gunman was her estranged husband, whom she had a long history with and had an active restraining order. Tragically, the protective order would not be enough to keep her safe and she was killed that morning. It’s unknown what, if any, knowledge the owners of the business had of the ongoing domestic violence. What is clear is that despite the tragic loss of life, the incident could have been much worse. The gunman could have chosen to attack his wife inside the business. A quick scan of the internet will point you to a long list of stories of domestic violence spilling into the workplace, with unintended victims being injured alongside the abuser’s target.
In a troubling juxtaposition, all too often extreme violence can be tied to a victim either seeking or having recently obtained a protection order. Here are some other points to consider.
- Our workforces are largely a reflection of society. The problems that society faces will carry over into the workplace.
- Protective orders are only effective if the “restrained” person is willing to follow them. A piece of paper will not keep you or your staff safe.
- Be mindful that the most dangerous time is when a victim is trying to leave her abuser.
- Accept the fact that victims will often go back to their abuser, don’t take it personally.
The challenge for businesses has always been trying to determine the right balance of support vs. intruding into employees’ private lives. The reality of domestic violence is that the abuser knows two places where he can find his victim with almost certainty; at home and at the workplace. Regardless of an organizations desire, or lack thereof, to get involved, domestic violence does spill into the workplace. So what can a company do to protect their workforce and respect the privacy of individual employees?
- Maintain strong and open communication with your employees
- Have multiple methods for staff to report concerns
- Provide training for staff and managers on recognition of domestic violence indicators
- Consider establishing a relationship with a domestic violence shelter. Employee assistance programs can feel cold and impersonal. In Sacramento County WEAVE is an excellent resource.
- Consider elevating security measures when a credible threat exists. This may be as simple as sharing with impacted coworkers the nature of the threat and keeping doors locked.
- Consider establishing an incident response team. This team will conduct an assessment if/when a threat is identified and determines a course of action. Even smaller companies can use a team approach to assess situations.
The single greatest factor to identifying and then being in a position to help prevent incidents of violence in the workplace is having a good relationship with your employees. If your employees feel comfortable coming forward with concerns and your management team knows how to respond you significantly increase your chances of addressing problems before they can escalate to violence.
About the Author:
Mr. Alvarez is the founder of Alvarez Associates, a firm specializing in workplace violence prevention. Having been both a security director for a major national critical infrastructure and a city police officer, he has built over 25 years of experience in the field of violence prevention. For 15 years he directed cutting edge security programs focused specifically on preventing and responding to “active shooters” in private sector environments. He understands the challenges organizations and communities face addressing the threat of violence. He has personally evaluated and managed hundreds of potentially violent situations, developed numerous violence prevention programs and trained thousands of employees and managers in workplace violence prevention.
*e-VentExe and Alvarez Associates will be holding a workshop in Roseville CA on utilizing state-of-the-art assessment tools for recruitment practices and workplace violence prevention on January 22, 2014. If interested, please RSVP to email@example.com
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.