Missing Our Intern

Today I missed our intern. A lot. She began with us twelve weeks ago after a friend of hers put us in touch and she seriously made an impression during her time with myself and the team. The experience made me realise more than ever that the benefits of interns are absolutely mutual.

For years now I have organised, aided, supervised and guided internship programmes in my organisation across all areas of the business, except my own. I have ensured there was goal setting, training, mentoring, coaching and robust outcomes for the intern, working with multiple tertiary training providers depending on the nature of the internship and role or project on offer. I have been working lately on pulling together a nationwide internship programme across all of our departments to set minimum standards for expectations in relation to bringing interns into the business. So it’s been hugely valuable to me to experience the full programme first hand before rolling it out for implementation.

The benefits for the interns are well documented from networking opportunities, learning and development, insights to specific industries, building personal brand from CV through LinkedIn and social platforms, but so to there are the soft skill benefits of communication, organisational behaviour, norms & expectations. It’s important that when students take internships that they know what their goals are, what the expectations of the role are and what the outcomes will be.

Here are a couple of quotes from recent interns in our business:

“Doing an internship does not only allow you to gain more skills and knowledge, but also presents you with a new group of people that are already in the business and are happy to help you in the future.”

“Throughout my internship I was able to gain a good understanding of the 80+ brands under NZME and got a taste of each department’s responsibilities. I also learnt key skills that my current job requires. This allowed me to hit the ground running when I started working fulltime.”

Many of the benefits for employers have also been discussed before such as creating talent pools and being able to attract talented graduates. Gone are the days where the intern did the photocopying, filing and coffee runs. Interns need to have solid and measured goals and outcomes in place during their time in an organisation. Employers should keep in mind that interns will have desires that they hope will be met during the course of their programme ranging from client exposure through inspiring colleagues, mentors and competitive compensation.

On the note of competitive compensation, I’m a huge advocate of paid internships. I realise not all organisations are able to offer this, and that the experience itself is incredibly valuable to the students. But I wager that to keep bias out of the internship equation you need to offer compensation as some students may simply not be able to afford to not be paid, and therefore you miss out on them as potentials for your organisation.

This is something of a brain dump for me given my intern has just left and that she taught me many valuable lessons. We’ve changed a couple of processes as she had a better way of doing them. Her critical thinking and research into a project she was running has potentially changed the way we use some technology in recruitment going forward. Her open, frank and confident composure combined with her knowledge of her subject has left more of our managers open to interns, now they realise the value of them and that it’s not a ‘baby-sitting’ exercise. It’s also timely as I’ve been keenly following the #summerofbiz initiative and I’m keen to explore how that can be expanded in Auckland in conjunction with my journey on our in-house intern programme.

So yes, I’m missing our intern, for her vibrant personality, her ability to take a task and completely nail it, for the way she asks questions and the questions she asks and for the difference she made to our team and workspace.

I’d love to hear the thoughts, experiences and advice of others also working in this space!

(And yes, the pic is some of our team dressed as Where’s Wally :-))

Here’s where you can find out more about the #summerofbiz: https://hrmannz.com/2017/09/24/starting-out-part-2-all-kinds-of-awesomeness/

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Family Violence; a Workplace Obligation?

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited along to The Warehouse Group’s (TWG) talk on the inroads and steps they have made within their doors in terms of addressing family violence. It was shocking, thought provoking, inspiring, shameful and heart-warming all at the same time.

It’s the stats I found the most disturbing, a few I’ll share with you here;

  • Every 5 mins in NZ there is a domestic violence related call out (Police call out)
  • It’s estimated that only 20% of incidences are reported
  • 1 in 3 NZ woman will be affected
  • At 85% of all cases reported, a child is present

And if those aren’t confronting enough, I’m sure a lot of people out there will be surprised to discover that in Anna Campbell from TWG’s words “violence doesn’t discriminate”. Age, religion, sexual orientation, socio economic factors and the like are all beside the point when it comes to family violence.

Dr Ang Jury from Woman’s Refuge spoke also, and reiterated their support for ALL people, all victims of violence, not just woman & children. Her and her team are on hand to help workplaces and people in workplaces to deal with situations of violence.

Anna, Julie Simpson and Pejman Okhovat from TWG and their team are inspirational in the work they’ve done to date and continue to do into the future. Their critical points for workplaces looking to make similar inroads into the topic in their workplaces are to ensure the strictest of confidentiality at all stages of the process, to ensure staff payments go into bank accounts with their name on it only, to provide training and support for their staff (endorsed from the top down and ensuring they take the conversation wider.

All speakers repeated the need to ensure all victims receive the right response the first time as they may not be brave enough to come forward again, this includes everything from the language used to the resources they receive being accurate. They need the confidence that everything will be confidential, that they have ongoing support and realistic timeframes going forward. There is no one size fits all approach, but recognising the issue, responding appropriately then referring victims and users to trained professionals for ongoing help and assistance is essential.

The heart-warming part was discovering some of the unexpected positive outcomes TWG have noted as a result of their efforts including staff taking more ownership of issues, having pride in the programme and greater loyalty to the organisation as a result. Issues such as bullying in the workplace have reduced and people are more willing to have brave conversations with each other.

My key takeaway is that we all have a responsibility to do what we can to change these statistics. To change the reality for so many of our society – your friends, family and co-workers are all affected. To start with we can all make this something people are able to talk about. We can all be mindful, understanding and provide support for both victims and their supporters…and the users of violence when they recognise they need help to change.

Given this is happening all around us, and that we spend more time at work and with our colleagues than anywhere else, I think there’s no better place to start than in the workplace. There are the obvious effects on the likes of absenteeism, productivity, engagement and staff retention but also the lesser known or calculable costs to business of employees who are living under these circumstances. And given it’s these people we’re all with day in day out, we’re more likely to notice changes in a person’s demeanour, potentially indicating an issue than with anyone else.

I am now at the beginning of my part in that journey; I am 100% committed to ensuring my organisation joins the movement going forward to change the horrific family violence stats in NZ. I have had conversations both inside and outside my organisation post the event and have meetings in place to discuss with our Culture & Performance and Health & Safety teams on how we take it forward. I’m exceptionally grateful to the team at The Warehouse Group for highlighting the issue and sharing their work, knowledge experiences and findings so far. #StoptheCycle #ItsnotOK

 

Contacts / Resources:

http://areyouok.org.nz/family-violence/

https://womensrefuge.org.nz/

https://whiteribbon.org.nz/  (White Ribbon)

 

 

Youth Employers – what do we want?

I’ve read a lot lately about millennials and Gen Y and what it is that they’re looking for in terms of employers. What it is that organisations can do, offer, provide to attract and retain this area of the employment population. But I’ve equally been thinking about it from the other perspective given I’m passionate about youth employment and the roles that everyone plays from Schools through tertiary training providers and organisations play in preparing youth for employment. I regularly attend Job & Careers Fests, WorkChoice Days, meet with Universities, host High Schools and the like in my efforts to bridge the gap as a representative of my views and that of my organisation and feel that an area we’re all missing is what the employers are looking for from the situation. Because 99% of the time a completed degree and an eye catching CV alone aren’t going to cut it.

 

So what do companies want from this largely technologically advanced, digitally savvy sector of the market? I’ve complied a wish list of sorts:

Experience: Those who take the initiative to work part time or during holidays undoubtedly have an edge. They’re already somewhat work savvy. They have likely had to stick to hours, deadlines and task requirements and many will have had to work as part of teams, communicate with others and ideally provide some level of customer service.

Resilience: The ability to spring back from adversity, take the knock, get back up and try again is essential. Being able to look at yourself and learn from situations, people and tasks – to rise from the ashes in the face of tough or difficult times.

Initiative / Nous: Understanding the reality/practicality of a situation outside of having knowledge of the theory, and being confident in suggesting improvements and solutions.

Curiosity: A thirst for knowledge; to continually grow, develop and learn in the present and into the future. Being confident in asking questions and developing an understanding of the business, departments and wider market.

Conscientiousness: An awareness of the world around them. Of colleagues, clients, the wider organisation and extending into the world around them. Collaborative and communicative, a team player.

Change Ready: Innovative, creative and forward in the generation of new ideas and ways of working. Comfortable with change and changing tack to adapt to our ever changing world.

 

Having these skill sets under their belts in conjunction with their learning’s will see millennials, Gen Y’s and the like well in their search for employment. Displaying an attitude or outlook that is clearly ready to get stuck in, help out where needed, and putting a hand up for all opportunities offered will definitely all be viewed positively by employers. Having engaged, enthusiastic employees who are innovative and willing to learn is the ultimate goal for organisations.

Millennials / Gen Y – I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions….everyone else, what would you add to the list?

PERSONAL BRANDING

How regularly do you think about or work on your personal brand? Have you actively created an image, mind set or persona of how you’d like to be viewed in the minds of others’ from a professional perspective? Do you know how you are viewed in your area of expertise or market?

Maybe we should take a couple of steps back, to what is a brand? A brand is everything from a design, image, colour, emotion, impression, tone, symbol etc that separates one thing from another; the unique identifiers. From a business perspective we know what this means and why we do it. We all know the golden arches of McDonalds, from childhood we associate this with fries and a burger, knowing that no matter what McD’s we go into we can guarantee what we’re going to encounter. But why would we do it from a personal perspective? The answers include the likes of better job prospects, extending your networks, recognition, reward, progression and development. Your personal brand is your reputation and your calling card, so in essence we’re building a brand around our careers to ensure they grow.

People with strong personal brands know their strengths; they know who they are and where they’re going. Personal brands are made up of values, passions, purpose and goals. To do this you’re going to need to know your why. I recently attended a seminar by Brand Strategist Phil Pallen (philpallen.co) hosted by the wonderful team at IMNZ who recommends refining your brand why to one sentence – that includes the essentials “What’s In It For Them” in terms of what you can do for other people. His being that “People need brands and companies need to show more personality” which tells us in a nutshell what he’s all about. Phil further believes that “the best branding recreates an in-person experience”. Meaning your brand needs to be authentic.

To be authentic you need to think both about yourself, and your audience. Knowing your audience will play a huge part in the marketing plan for your personal brand. It boils right down to the way you communicate, dress and present yourself, so be mindful of all of these things when thinking about your brand style. Yesterday I attended JobFest in Auckland, an event aiming at getting youth into employment and onto career paths. They had specifically been coached on the importance of the first impression, the way they dressed, approached hiring organisations, spoke and the way they carried themselves. Many of these young adults had taken this on-board and done a really impressive job of putting their best foot forward with their audience (hiring organisations) in mind. But others still had a long way to go so think too about where you sit on this scale and whether there are changes you could make, no matter how big or small to improve your outward-facing personal brand.

After these initial stages ensuring your brand is multiplatform is key to success. But more important is choosing platforms that sit well with you and what you’re trying to achieve with your brand, particularly when it comes to social media. Doing one or two exceptionally well will get a lot more cut through than spreading yourself too thin. Again, it’s important to keep the tone, look, feel and imagery consistent – it should all become instantly recognisable as you/your brand.

If you can back up social with further activity such as blogging, speaking at events, contributing to white papers, all the better as these will all contribute to growing your profile. Stick to the subject matters and areas you know you excel at, that provide a “what’s in it for me” for your audience. It’s also important to commit to continuing to learn and grow to stay relevant and continue to “solve problems” and engage that audience.

Having written this post I realise it’s a great reminder and there are certainly a few more things/changes I could make to my own brand. What changes will you put in place? And is there anything you would add to above that I’ve missed?

SOCIAL FOR HR – SOCIAL EMPLOYEES

SOCIAL MEDIA FOR HR – BLOG SERIES

#4: SOCIAL EMPLOYEES

Social Media Polices can be quite daunting for some – but they needn’t be. Depending on your organisation and the nature of it you may be open to a very generic social media policy, whereas others may need to be more stringent. Either way you go – it’s best to have a policy to safe guard both the organisation and the employee.

And that’s what brings me to the Good versus the Down Right Dumb! In my experience 90% of all employee social posting will be positive, with employees wanting to showcase outstanding work they’ve done, the awesome people they work with or cool things their organisation is doing. However there’s the exception to every rule right?! Every now and then you’ll strike one that posts photos of them snowboarding while on sick leave for a “back operation”, or claiming to be distraught over a death in the family to the point of needing extended bereavement leave and instead going on holiday to Thailand and posting photo’s on the beach and doing shots in bars….both true stories, and not surprisingly those people no longer work in those organisations. There were a series of other incidences in both cases, however having a social policy allowed for clear action to be taken.

I think when it comes to social employees, it’s like anything with employees – treat them like adults. Trust them to do the right thing, and on the odd occasion where they don’t ensure you have clear policy to deal with it.

 

GET SOCIAL

I hope you’ve enjoyed the series, and more importantly I hope if you weren’t already using Social for HR that you’re now encouraged to! And if you are using it, I hope you’re encouraged to go further. My advice from here is to quite simply, get social! Start small and comfortable and as you master one platform expand and grow your use from there. Get in touch via social – I’m not hard to find!

SOCIAL FOR HR – COMMUNICATION

SOCIAL MEDIA FOR HR – BLOG SERIES

#2: COMMUNICATION

How many engagement surveys show communication as poor or needing improvement in organisations? The answer is most! A few do it amazingly well, but many leave a lot to be desired. Using social channels for communication with employees’ works especially well when you use platforms they’re already used to engaging with – and we saw the numbers on the first blog, most people are getting social. Facebook groups are a great option given the 1.55B users every month. There are also specialised chat platforms you can utilise for employees such as slack.

It also gives employees, customers and audiences an opportunity to give you feedback or ask questions on anything and everything from products and services to special offers.

Collaboration is increased with employees – particularly those working from remote or regional locations or when coordinating larger groups. I know of a Brand Engagement team who are a classic example, they utilise slack to communicate and collaborate with their team working and activating for various radio stations all over new Zealand – from Invercargill to Kaitaia they all get the same messages, opportunities to make suggestions, compare notes, give feedback on promotions and ideas, and importantly in real time.

The best advertising for your products, services, employer brand comes via referrals and advocates, so positive user generated content is gold!!! This is content of your social pages linked back to or directly posted on your social platforms by employees and customers alike. It could be anything from an employee posting about an amazing team day out, reward and recognition celebration or a client recommending your brand, product or service.

Referrals are almost always the best source of quality candidates when hiring, so I would really encourage all staff in your organisation to get posting about the awesome work coming out of your company, the culture you’ve built and the way you do things, thereby utilising their content to build your employer brand and talent pools.

 

 

SOCIAL MEDIA FOR HR – BLOG SERIES

I was recently asked by the wonderful team at Elephant Training & HR to speak at their HR Advisors Conference on the use of Social Media in and for HR. I have now turned this into a series of four blogs that will be posted over the coming weeks.

The areas I see social media best benefitting and working with HR are as follows: Talent Attraction, Communication, Learning & Development and Social Employees and these will be the blog topics coming up.

But first….a look at the stats to keep in mind as you read the series…

SOCIAL MEDIA – THE STATS

It’s important to note that these staggering figures below are monthly users! And to give context, as of January 2016, the total worldwide population was 7.4 billion

  • Facebook: 1.55 billion
  • Youtube: 1 billion
  • Google+: 400 million
  • Instagram: 400 million
  • LinkedIn: 450 million
  • Pinterest: 100 million
  • Snapchat: 100 million
  • Twitter: 320 million
  • Vine: 100 million

I’m actively involved with 8 of these platforms, currently learning my 9th and still have one on my bucket list to master!

I think there are a lot of people out there at the moment particularly in the “People Professions” that are sceptical of social, who don’t engage with it from a professional standpoint, and even on a personal basis in some cases, as they’re nervous of the repercussions, not sure of how to use it – or indeed why they would use it.

But my argument would be how can you afford not to – you can see the numbers here……and I figure if I can teach my Mum how to use Facebook, albeit it’s taken a lot of time and patience to get her understanding that she doesn’t have to friend people, comment or like if she doesn’t want to and isn’t obliged to respond to every interaction, but she’s doing it and finally loving it.

Another example is my partner; a senior sales executive he will never “do that Facebook thing” (even though I’ve caught him checking out pics on mine on multiple occasions!) But he has fully embraced LinkedIn and is one of the most active users I know – he encourages it in his staff as well and as a result they’ve booked multimillion dollar media campaigns as a direct result of LinkedIn connections.

I ran a session on LinkedIn with another sales team and following that session one of the team made 32 targeted new connections with CEO’s specifically in their industry and has since followed those up to make 19 face to face meetings with those people.

So like I say – how can you afford not to tap into and utilise such an amazing resource? First blog coming up!

Youth Employment and the Future of Work, Part 2 – Collective Mentality

In my last blog Youth, Employment and the Future of Work, I discussed youth today, millennials, their outlook and their readiness for work now and into the future, and what companies, organisations and training institutes can do to steer and better prepare these groups for the workplace and future careers.

In this post I want to explore another phenomenon I came across in my increased and intensive time with youth of late, their collective mentality. On the whole I’ve found they think in terms of we and us instead of the me, I and my that I largely hear in in the Gen X bracket. It’s not just youth and millennials however; there are many indigenous communities the world over who live their lives collectively, communally from a social and work perspective. Here in New Zealand the indigenous Maori people are a prime example. They care about the wellbeing of the group as opposed to the individual and identify more with cooperation over competition, interdependence over independence. I note too, the massive rise and fall of labour unions, from the peak between 1940 – 1960 and the steady decline ever since. So is collective mentality and thinking in the workplace cyclical like so many other things in life or are we about to see a massive shift in the world of work?

In my HR career to date countless times I’ve had individuals (Gen X!) complaining of workloads, managers (also Gen X!) who say to collaborate and share the load – but has this ever really eventuated? In some cases yes, but in most it’s paying lip service to a problem and quietly ignoring it and the individuals struggle on regardless. Certainly more of a collective mentality in the workplace, more we and us, would improve workloads for many individuals especially as these seem to be increasing at an alarming pace of late. So is this a solution? Real collaboration? Caring about the wellbeing of all? A more tribal attitude when it comes to workplaces?

I note that conscious capitalism is on the rise, I wonder if this is being driven by the increased number of millennials and youth in employment. This was a hot topic at the Festival for the Future I attended recently; over 100 youth/millennials whose voice was loud and clear about wanting to make a difference, wanting more equality for all, shifting wealth and changing political policies to benefit the wider community.

I’m wondering what effect this is going to have on the future of work – especially given there are ever increasing examples of collective thinking being demonstrated in organisations and many of these are or have been start up organisations run by millennials, our future leaders and the future of work. I predict more collective working examples of individuals coming together and working across platforms, disciplines and geographical distances on projects and pieces of work. I predict more collaborative working spaces, where individuals and organisations share not only workspaces, but ideas, clients and development opportunities. I predict organisational structures changing as people work more within large corporates, but without the restrictions of specific job descriptions, in areas where they can specialise and utilise their expertise. I predict hearing the terms holocracy and meritocracy with much higher frequency. I predict more contracting and less permanent employment, ever more start-ups and small to medium sized organisations as technology changes and continues to evolve and develop. I predict more mergers of larger corporates as they compete on a global scale and not just in local markets.

I could go on and on with my predictions, but I’d love to hear what you think. Both about collective mentality in organisations, youth employment and the future of work.

Personal Learning Networks 101 (#PLN)

What?

A #PLN is a group, real or virtual, of people with a common interest sharing ideas, findings, theorising, challenging and the like resulting in personal development. The #PLN you create around yourself will guide and steer your future personal development, and in turn you may contribute to the #PLN of others.

Why?

With the exponential growth in new technology, innovation, disruption in societies worldwide at the moment it doesn’t matter what industry you belong to or see yourself as a part of, the need to continually grow and develop has never been stronger. To keep ahead of the game, creating a #PLN will ensure you never stop learning.

Who?

Find the thought leaders in your chosen field of interest. Search them out, get opinions from others, follow their progress and validate who they are and what they stand for. Find those that align with your thinking, and are in line with the future direction you want to take.

Where?

Social Media is a near one stop shop. The obvious ones being twitter, facebook , google+ and LinkedIn. For more specialised areas of interest you may need to look a little further online, but there’s something for everyone.

Blogs are another great source of learning. Find people who’s thinking aligns with yours, then check out who’s liking and following their posts as there’s a high probability they’ll be like minded.

Looking further than social media and the comfort of your couch, MeetUps are a fantastic way to meet people in real life (#IRL) with similar interests to yourself. Head to www.meetup.com as a starting point.

How?

From a social media perspective, join groups, participate in conversations, follow hashtags. Get involved! And don’t be afraid to have a different viewpoint or question something as this often sparks debate, resulting in more learning for all. When you find someone you really connect with – check out who else they’re connected with as a great source of people to begin expanding your network.

In real life, be bold and be brave. Introduce yourself. Make the first move, not everyone is a natural networker, so most people will be grateful when you initiate the conversation, and remember you have a natural opener as you’re all there for your shared interest.

My #PLN

Next steps for me are to compile a snapshot of my #PLN centred around the People Professions…HR, People, Culture & Performance, Learning, Development , Recruitment and the like – so watch this space is that’s also up your alley!

You’ve Got Mail

I recently spent some time out of the office, and pre heading on annual leave tried to reduce the looming experience of a ridiculously overflowing inbox on my return by unsubscribing from the multitude of sites, newsletters and updates I’ve signed up to over the years. At the same time I read a “hack” on reducing the stress of your inbox, that included the likes of mail rules and auto-filling and quietly congratulated myself on how much easier my return to work would be, given I had full intentions of “switching off” for twelve days. It occurred to me at this point how obsessed and overwhelmed by email we have all become.

How many emails a day does your inbox average? How many inboxes do you have? I confess to three personal email addresses, two work ones that filter to the same inbox and a generic work one I hold responsibility for but others’ have access to. Six all up. No wonder I’m reading hacks on filtering email and the other blogs and posts I’ve read in the past on time management, claiming back your work day and the like, largely focused on reducing your email time.

I wonder too whether we’ve come to a point where we rely far too heavily on email as our main means of communication? Are we hiding behind it? Will we lose the art of conversation simply because it’s easier and more convenient to whip out an email than pick up the phone or walk across the office? And have we utter lost the ability to write a letter, falling into the less formal speak of email?

In thinking on all of this I came across some great articles such as this Four Influential People Who Ditched Email which detailed not only the people (who will surprise you), but also their reasoning, alternatives and tips for doing the same. Most featured around work lie balance and being more productive in your working day – gaining hours of time back. However, they almost all used alternatives and usually social media, the likes of facebook, twitter and LinkedIn. I’m somewhat sceptical of this also as surely they’ll take up as much time, but block out the junk, newsletters and the like?

I’m all about social media, so don’t get me wrong here, I love it for what it is. The virtues of which I’ve written about many times over due to the networking, learning & development, true friendships and the like I have benefited from on a global scale that I would never had achieved without it.

I haven’t tried forgoing email, and given my job I can’t see myself being able to any time soon, but I’m intrigued. For right now I’m thrilled with averaging 80 emails a day in the main inbox as opposed to the 200+ I was getting before with the hacks I’ve put in place. There seriously is a lot in sending certain mail direct to folders and unsubscribing from the 101 things you’ve signed up for. But what I’m interested to hear is who else has tried something like this? No email or other hacks – and what have you found works?

Here are some examples of the reading I did in all my thinking about this:

http://99u.com/articles/7274/how-i-gave-up-email-and-reclaimed-3-hours-a-day

http://www.chrisducker.com/7-email-hacks-productive/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2014/02/05/9-email-productivity-secrets-that-will-get-your-life-back/#40b56d94c5d5