Sunday, May 31, 2009

What the Heck Do You Do?

When I tell people that I own a professional and personal development company, they sometimes respond with a blank stare. And when I tell them I'm a Life Coach that works with individuals in advancing in their professional and/or personal life, I usually get one of three responses:

1. Wow, everybody is a life coach now!
2. What the heck is that?
3. Why would anyone need a coach?

Then, when I share a little about what I do, their curiosity kicks in and then the questions come...

"What does a life coach do?"
"How does coaching work?
"What results do people get from coaching?"
"How did you start your business?"
"What were some challenges in starting your business?"
"Do people actually pay you for this?"
"What's the difference between coaching, therapy, mentoring and consulting?"
"Is coaching for me?"
"What's group coaching?"
"I want to be a life coach, what do I do?"

Well, I came across a radio interview I did in 2007 and it was a great discussion about what coaching is, how to start and maintain a service business, and what are the challenges that most people are facing when they come to coaching and how should they deal with them - including how to say no, how to prioritize, and how to attain balance.

This is a great interview because it basically answers all the questions I've gotten over the years. It's a little long, but well worth it (if I must say so myself...LOL)

And, if after listening to this, you are so inspired to explore coaching - enroll in my next 4-week group coaching teleclass starting in June titled "Get R.A.D.I.C.A.L. - At Work and In Life".

Radio Interview Link:
The Business of Coaching

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Friday, May 22, 2009

The Problem with HR Professionals

In my last post, I mentioned that some HR departments aren't as helpful as others. I spent a large chunk of my corporate career in Human Resources and I've seen the good, the bad and the very ugly. I've also listened to many people talk about their HR departments and how ineffective they could be. From that, I've come up with my top 10 problems HR professionals have.

Now, my thoughts about the problems with HR are just that - MY THOUGHTS - so feel free to disagree. So let's get right to it:

Problem #1: They aren't objective.
HR has the unique role of being a management representative AND an employee advocate. The key to maintaining that balance is really not caring about who the people are on each side of the issue, but to focus on the policy, process or the solution to the issue. I call it "not having a dog in the fight".

Problem #2: They fire people.
The only people HR should fire are the employees that work for them. Managers fire their own employees - not HR. While HR should be there, it is that employee's supervisor that needs to manage their own staff - which means that if someone needs to be fired, the manager of that employee should do it.

Problem #3: They don't know how to terminate employees.
If a termination meeting takes more than 5 - 10 minutes, it's too long. It's not a discussion, it's a notification. If it gets messy - it's HR's fault. They should control the meeting.

Problem #4: They forget that perception is important.
Hanging out with employees, taking smoke breaks together, always laughing and joking with people outside of HR is not a bad thing, but if staff begin to feel you have favorites, they will doubt your ability to be objective.

Problem #5: They're afraid of conflict.
HR is all about conflict. Not necessarily "bad" conflict, but you can't be afraid to deal with issues head on, be assertive in your role, and advise people when they are on the wrong track (regardless of their position). You have to be able to have direct conversations with people about salaries, promotions (or denial of promotions), performance issues, and even the dreaded talk about body odor.

Problem #6: They want to be seen as strategic but are not qualified.
Does HR know how to read financials? Do they have a deep understanding of the strategic plan and how they can impact whether the implementation is a success or not? Have they seen the latest industry reports, annual report, or taken the time to truly understand operations? Can HR show metrics that support what they do and how they do it?

Problem #7: They care about losing their job.
The greatest attitude to have in HR (and maybe in any position) is not caring about whether you lose your job - that frees you up from trying to please certain people. If the CEO wants something, and you know that's not the best course of action, you can speak up. If a VP wants to fire someone and you know its premature, you can speak up. Never be afraid of losing your job for doing your job. And tell your boss that.

Problem #8: They don't invest in their education.
I'm not talking about workshops, certifications or seminars telling you how to recruit, conduct progressive discipline or write a handbook. I'm talking about business courses, negotiation strategies, mediation courses, communication classes, presentation skills programs, and the such. HR people are responsible for telling others how to manage, grow, develop, recognize, motivate, discipline and terminate employees. They should invest in the skills to do these things effectively.

Problem #9: They can't apply the education they have.
Having skills and being able to use them to do your job well and advance your career are two separate things.

Problem #10: They can't keep their mouth shut.
This is my biggest pet peeve of all. How does confidential information get out? How do people know the layoffs are coming? How do people know who makes what? How do people know what disciplinary action was taken against someone? How do people know about upcoming policy changes that management is not ready to announce yet? Now, granted, leaks can come from other places, but if you are in HR and you can't keep your mouth shut, ultimately you will lose the trust of your peers, company employees, and your superiors.

Well, that's it for now. Was I perfect in my HR career? Yes!

Just kidding!!!

I had my fair share of challenges and mistakes, but if you can conquer problems 1-10, you're well on your way to a rewarding career in HR where you impact the production, morale and the bottom line of the company you work for.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Your Bad Management Is Not A Secret

During my career in human resources, I've had the chance to work with some exceptional leaders and managers. I've also had the pleasure (or displeasure) of working with managers and leaders who were NOT very good. The interesting thing about most bad managers is that they think they fall into the category of exceptional.

So, how do you know if you are a bad manager? Take my quiz and find out!

1. Do you have poor performers that work for you and you haven't done anything about it?
2. Are you afraid to confront some of your employees because you don't like conflict?
3. Do you avoid difficult conversations about salary, performance, projects and deadlines?
4. Do you ignore problems between your staff or between staff and customers/clients?
5. Have you received feedback about your poor management skills and ignored it or explained it away?
6. Do you avoid asking for feedback on your management skills because you fear the results?
7. Are the only times your employees get feedback during the annual evaluation or when something is wrong?
8. Do you keep employees you should fire?
9. Do you tell your employees "HR made me do it?" (Making HR the enemy instead of taking responsibility for your own team/department and presenting a unified front with HR?)
10. Do you tell your employees "HR made me do it?" (Making HR the enemy instead of taking responsibility for your own team/department and presenting a unified front with HR?)
11. Do you tell your employees "HR made me do it?" (Making HR the enemy instead of taking responsibility for your own team/department and presenting a unified front with HR?)
12. Do you try to be your staff's friend instead of their manager?
13. Would your employees say you "play favorites" and know they can't say anything negative about that person because you'll protect them.
14. Does your HR department roll their eyes every time you come their way?
15. Are you too passive - letting people roll over you and your staff?
16. Are you too assertive - you have to be right, even when you're wrong?
17 . Do you think you're exceptional but have no proof?

Okay, I'll just stop there!

If you answered yes to at least one of these questions - get help immediately! We, in the HR field, would like to invite you to finally face your shortcomings. It's okay. We understand. We know you are a great person that just needs to brush up on your management techniques. We would love to coach you to becoming a stronger, effective, more efficient manager that will create an environment where your employees can thrive!

Now, believe me, I know that not all HR departments are created equal - they can be ineffective, inefficient and can answer yes to just as many of my questions as a bad manager (but more on that in my next blog!) So, if that's the case - get a coach. Someone who has the experience, education, and the boldness to honestly assess your skills and help you develop them. Someone like...let me see...who could I recommend...oh, yea - me!

You know why you should take me up on this offer? Because...your bad management is not a secret!
  • Everyone knows about the employee you have yet to fire.
  • Everyone knows about the employee that's not carrying their weight.
  • Everyone knows about the employee that you are afraid of.
  • Everyone knows about the employee that is protected because they are your friend.
  • Everyone knows that you don't know what you're doing and pretending that you do.
  • Everyone is wondering how you became a manager in the first place.
Not only do they know it, but they talk about it among themselves.

So take it from me...someone who has worked with lots of bad managers. Get it together. Because your bad management is not a secret!

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Get Your Dust Rag Out

The other day, I wrote a blog entry that put my mom in the spotlight. With this entry, I'm turning the light onto my sister, Sandra. Years ago we had a conversation that stuck with me. And now, I've incorporated her words into one of my speeches.

Now, I could write out all the details of that conversation, or I could just share with you a clip from a speech I recently gave where I talk about what my sister said. Of course, I'm opting for the video!

The sound isn't great, but I hope it's good enough!

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Friday, May 8, 2009

RADICAL Women - Strut Your Stuff

If you're a BOLD, COURAGEOUS and RADICAL woman, let the world know it. Check out these great products - and more - at our RADICAL Woman Store:

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Your Pants Are On Fire

I was looking back through some old articles I've written over the years and came across one that was published in P.O.W.E.R. Magazine last year. When it first came out, my mother vowed to stop talking to me if I was going to keep putting our conversations on blast!

Well, I've decided to post a modified version of the article here (especially since the weather is once again warming up). Sorry, mom. You know I love ya!!

Are You A Liar?

When the weather warmed up in the DC area, my mom and I took the opportunity to walk in the evenings to get some exercise. She told me she had also been walking at lunch at a mall near her job, so walking with me would double her exercise for the day. After about 10 minutes of brisk walking that first evening, my mom wanted to slow down and catch her breath.

"Are you okay?" I asked.

"Yes", she said. "I just need to get back in the groove."

"I thought you said you've been walking the mall at lunch?"

"I have."

"It just seems to me that if you've been walking for about an hour almost daily, you wouldn't be so winded now."

"Well," she said, searching for the right words. "I have been walking, but I might stop into a store or look at what's new in the windows."

"Oh," I said, "So you haven't been walking, you've been shopping."

At this point, I could see her eyes start to roll heavenward and she gave me the "don't try that life coaching stuff with me" look. But that didn't stop me from pointing out that walking for exercise and shopping were two very different things.

"Mom, if you've been telling yourself that you've been exercising at lunch, you've been lying to yourself."

As we continued to walk, I began to wonder what other lies lurk in her life – and mine. Which naturally leads me to ask you: Are You a Liar?

The question seems simple enough, and your knee jerk answer may be a resounding “NO!” But I encourage you to take a minute and really think about whether you fall into this category.

Do you tell yourself you're paying off your debt, but continue to eat out and make unnecessary purchases (magazines, shoes, lunch, vacations)?

Do you tell yourself you're getting healthy, but continue to skip exercising and eat the wrong foods?

Do you tell yourself you deserve a promotion, but rarely get to work on time, miss deadlines, and have the "when they give me (more money, bigger office, more help), I'll work harder" attitude.

Do you tell yourself you're raising children of integrity, yet you fail to keep your own word?

Do you tell yourself you’re going to stay away from negative people and those that drain your energy, yet you can’t seem to break away?

It’s so easy to see the hypocrisy in others, while rationalizing our own behavior. If you’ve realized you are liar, take comfort. You are not alone! Here are some steps you can take to become open and honest – with yourself.

Step 1: Keep Quiet

You’ve heard the saying “All Talk, No Action”. Don’t allow yourself to remain in that category any longer. The fastest way to do that is to simply stop talking. Until you have mapped out a doable plan and are ready to take tangible steps towards your declarations, keep them to yourself. While it’s perfectly okay to share a goal with someone who will support and encourage you, there is no need to shout from the rooftop all that you plan to do. Let your actions be your loudest words. Besides, the people you keep talking to about what you are going to do don't believe you anyway!!

Step 2: Be Realistic

Set goals for yourself big enough to have a positive impact on your life, but break them down into smaller goals. For example, if you want to pay off your debt, choose one credit card and focus on putting all your extra money toward it. Once that balance is zero, you can move on to the next debt. You know I'm all for playing big - but every huge success begins with a small step.

Step 3: Focus on the Rewards

Don’t just focus on the “what”, focus on the “why”. The things that keep me going when I want to give up is imagining the way I'll feel and the impact I will have when the goal is met. The rewards of what you do make the process that much easier. I want to give up on running my half marathon almost daily, but the roar of the crowd cheering me on as I cross the finish line (and the look of pride I know I'll see on my husband's face) is what keeps me putting one foot in front of the other!

Holding a mirror up to ourselves and taking a closer look at who we really are is never easy. However, if you are brave enough to face the truth, you are well on your way to achieving your goals.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Beginning and the End

Here are a couple of clips from my women's conference that took place in March. The first clip? My opening remarks. And the second? You guessed it. My closing remarks.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Are You Wearing a Mask?

The newspaper, television, and Internet is full of information regarding the H1N1 Influenza - better known as the swine flu. Schools are being closed, people are altering their travel plans and some have lost their lives. This strain of flu shouldn't be taken lightly and everywhere I go, I can see people taking precautions.

Some are wearing masks, others have decided to stay off of public transportation, and some are washing their hands more than ever - careful not to touch their eyes, nose or mouth.
Sound familiar? Have you been doing some of these things?

While I think it's important to take precautions to prevent becoming ill- it makes me wonder why we aren't this diligent about our health all the time?

Are you washing your hands now - but eating too many fast foods or processed foods made with hydrogenated oils and filled with ingredients you can't pronounce?

Are you staying away from people with even the slightest cough now - but worshiping the sun every chance you get?

Are you contemplating wearing a mask when you leave the house now - but don't think twice about lighting up a cigarette?

Are you thinking of heading to the doctor because your nose is running now- but haven't had a mammogram, colonoscopy, cholesterol check, or been screened for diabetes, high blood pressure or clogged arteries?

Just a little something to think about.