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What HR Professionals Can Learn from Powerful Women

March is Women’s History Month, so we’re taking a good look at some powerful women – past and present – who can teach us important lessons about how to be the best HR professionals we can be.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg & Ethics

You may know her as Notorious RBG, or that really fit Supreme Court justice, but Ruth Bader Ginsburg is best known for her strong beliefs, which she holds while serving as the second woman appointed to the Supreme Court. When you think about Ginsburg, ethics is one of the first words that should come to mind. Similarly, it’s a quality often associated with HR professionals. Many like to say HR professionals serve as the conscious of their company, and that isn’t far off the mark. It is your responsibility as an HR professional to uphold your company’s values and policies, and to make sure each employee practices them properly – much like Ginsburg does each day she dons her Supreme Court justice robe.

Serena Williams & Confidence

The field of HR is bound to challenge you at many points throughout your career, and there’s one thing you’ll need to get you through it: confidence. That is something Serena Williams knows a thing or two about! Williams is a record-breaking tennis star, mother, and businesswoman, and she is unapologetically proud of all of those accomplishments. But that confidence is something many women struggle with. Yet, as HR professionals, it’s absolutely vital. During the course of your career, you will experience things that will test you. Maybe your company is taking a risk with a new venture, maybe you’ve just accepted an exciting (but scary) promotion, or maybe you’re creating and implementing a brand new program that will shake up how things are run in your workplace. Whatever challenge you’re facing, channel Williams’s inner confidence and believe in yourself and the work you’re doing.

Madeleine Albright & Conflict Management

One of the most important qualities in any position, especially that of an HR manager, is conflict resolution. No one knows this quality better than Madeleine Albright, the first woman to serve as US Secretary of State. During her tenure, she became a renowned negotiator and conflict manager. To do so, she placed a strong emphasis on putting yourself in the other person’s shoes, a lesson many HR professionals should take to heart. Whether your responsibility is to conduct conflict resolution between two fellow employees or negotiate a specific policy or contract, understand what your peer wants as well. Once you reach this understanding, you can find a solution that satisfies both parties.

Oprah Winfrey & Development

As an HR professional, you should always be seeking out new ways to learn and develop, both for yourself and for your employees. Developing personally and professionally will allow you to continuously grow in your career. Who better to learn this important lesson from than Oprah Winfrey? Born in rural Mississippi, Oprah began co-anchoring the local news in Tennessee at 19 and took a low-rated Chicago talk show to number one by age 29. Two years later, The Oprah Winfrey Show, an hour-long talk show, was being broadcast nationally. But Winfrey never rested – she went on to be an actress, producer, author, and philanthropist. She is the epitome of someone who is never satisfied. Take a page out of Oprah’s book and begin focusing on new ways you can develop yourself!

These women are all incredible examples of people who worked hard each and every day. They are the embodiment of some of the crucial qualities any HR professional should possess. What powerful women inspire you? Leave a comment and let us know!

A Fresh Take on Smart Goal Setting for HR Managers

Have you already set your goals for 2019, either personal or corporate? This year we’re taking a fresh look at goal setting for HR Managers and giving some new tips on making the most of your professional development plans.

We’ll discuss:
• What is Goal Setting?
• Why is Goal Setting Important?
• How to Create Meaningful, Effective Goals

goal setting for hr managers perkspot culture

What is Goal Setting?

Most people think about goal setting in terms of professional success. What am I hoping to achieve and what kind of results do I want? While these are worthwhile questions, author James Clear offers a fresh perspective. He says you should ask yourself one question before setting your goals: “What kind of pain do I want?”.

Clear goes on to say, “It’s easy to sit around and think what we could do or what we’d like to do. It is an entirely different thing to accept the tradeoffs that come with our goals. Everybody wants a gold medal. Few people want to train like an Olympian.” When determining your goals for the upcoming year or quarter, ask yourself what you’re willing to sacrifice.

Why is Goal Setting Important?

Have you ever decided to find your own way to a location only to realize you didn’t actually know where you were going? You step outside and start confidently walking in one direction, but a few minutes later you’re in unfamiliar territory and you’ve walked five blocks in the wrong direction. These moments are frustrating, not only because you now have to retrace your steps, but because by simply taking the time to map your course first, you could have saved yourself a lot of extra time and effort.

This is why goal setting is so important. Without a clear course mapped out in front of you, you might end up wandering aimlessly and struggle to hit your target. Don’t let arrogance or even prior knowledge influence your decision not to set goals. With proper goal planning, you’re more likely to take the most efficient, effective route.

How to Create Meaningful, Effective Goals

Step One: Goal Selection

Inspirational speaker and author, Seth Godin says “You don’t need more time, you just need to decide.” When we think about our ambitions for the year, we don’t always think about the sacrifices we need to make to get there. Often it’s not about choosing to do more, but choosing to do the right things. Make goal selection the first step in your process. Determine what’s realistic for you to accomplish and what you’ll need to give up in order to get there.

Step Two: Make SMART Goals

Unless you’re living under an HR rock, you’ve probably heard of this before. That’s because setting SMART goals is an essential part of making a successful development plan.
Specific – What do you want to accomplish? Who does this include?
Measurable – What metrics will you use to define success and determine when the goal is complete?
Achievable – Do I have the necessary resources to accomplish this goal? What will I need to give up in order to achieve this? Why is this goal important to you?
Relevant – How does this goal align with my overall success or vision? Why am I setting this goal now?
Timely – What is my deadline and is it realistic?

After answering these questions you should be able to articulate your goal and understand what needs to happen in order to achieve it.

Step Three: Take Baby Steps

If you go on to read James Clear’s advice on goal setting, you’ll find tons of great, actionable methods for achieving goals. One of our favorites is to “Stack Your Goals”.

Research has shown that you are 2x to 3x more likely to stick to your goals if you make a specific plan for when, where, and how you will perform the behavior. For example, in one study scientists asked people to fill out this sentence: “During the next week, I will partake in at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on [DAY] at [TIME OF DAY] at/in [PLACE].”

We love this advice because it’s such an easy rule to follow but helps break down goals into actionable, everyday elements.

Step Four: Check Your Attitude

Our last step in the goal-setting process isn’t really a step at all. It’s just a gentle reminder to stay positive! Chances are you will get discouraged on your journey. Try writing out your SMART goals and reasons why you’ve chosen to tackle this particular objective. Put it somewhere visible as a tangible reminder. This will help you stay positive and motivated when the going gets tough.

What goals are you setting for this year? Use these tips to make the most of your goal-setting process, either for yourself or your team.

Should HR Make Friends at Work?

Human Resources and friendship have a complicated relationship. If you come from a more corporate environment, you may be thinking that HR professionals should keep employees at arm’s length. On the other hand, a more informal environment like a tech or start-up company may view HR as just another one of the crew. So, what’s the right choice? Should HR make friends at work… and how?

should hr make friends at work

The answer is… there is no one answer that’s right for everyone. At PerkSpot, one of our core values is “We Value People”. Our culture naturally lends itself to a strong sense of community, so for us, the answer is yes. However, we know this may not work for everyone and that’s ok, too.

If you’re an HR professional thinking about embarking on friendships at work, here are three main things to keep in mind:
• Choose Your Friends Wisely
• Don’t Play Favorites
• Know Your Culture

Make Friends, but Make Them Wisely

HR can absolutely make friends at work, but these may not look like the best friends you’ve had all your life. Work friends generally know a little bit about you, but they aren’t the ones you’d call up when something goes terribly wrong. They may even be more of an acquaintance than an actual friend. However, finding someone who shares similar interests, that makes you laugh, and all-in-all makes work more enjoyable is extremely valuable for all employees, and HR is no exception.

Make Friends, but Treat Everyone the Same

One of the dangers HR can run into when having friends at work is being accused of favoritism or bias. It’s important that even if you “click” with someone at work, you treat others fairly and kindly. You should make each employee feel valued in their own way. It’s only natural to connect with some more than others. However, that should never affect how you interact with them professionally.

Make Friends, but Know Your Culture

Every workplace is different so it’s important to know what’s appropriate for your office. At PerkSpot, we are fairly casual so it would be of no surprise to see our head of HR mingling with a beer during our Friday afternoon cheers. This is appropriate because it’s a part of our culture and helps to create an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect. However, this is unique to PerkSpot and one size definitely does not fit all. Find ways to gain the trust and respect of your coworkers in a way that’s appropriate to your culture.

Do you think HR should make friends at work? We’d love to hear what you think!

Managing Up

This summer, we’ve held weekly “Lunch and Learns” with our interns where one of our executives chats with us about their career journey: their current role, their past mistakes and everything in-between.

Yesterday, our VP of Sales shared some great advice about “Managing Up”. He spoke to the importance of aligning your projects with your manager’s goals. No matter if you’re an intern, a Human Resources Manager or a VP of Sales, this advice rings true for all of us.

managing up perkspot culture

Let’s unpack what “Managing Up” looks like:

Know Your Mission and Values

A great way to know if your goals are aligned with your manager’s goals is taking a step back and focusing on your company’s mission and values. Examine if your priorities reflect your business objectives. If it’s not, it might be time to re-evaluate.

Your Manager is a Person, Too

Sometimes it can be easy to think that your boss is a cog in the machine. But your manager is a real person with real life stressors and emotions. By understanding even a small portion of how they tick, what’s happening in their personal lives, or even their educational or professional background, you’re more likely to develop a positive working relationship.

Know Their Goals, Anticipate Their Needs

This is both spoken and unspoken. Ask your manager what their priorities are for the next month, 3 months or 6 months. Make sure your goals are aligned with what they’re trying to accomplish and touch base to see how you might be able to problem-solve or push past obstacles that are standing in their way. This is a great way to take ownership, prove your dedication and show your initiative.

Teach Them How to Manage You

Your manager will never know your hopes and dreams unless you tell them. Dying to work on that project? Tell them where you can add value. They’ll be thrilled to have someone fill in gaps and work on tasks they may not have time to do. You’ll get the experience you’re looking for all while adding value and marking things off your boss’s to-do list. Win-win.

Whether your boss is amazing or a textbook micro-manager, “Managing Up” can do wonders for your career and help you maintain a great working relationship as a direct report.

Building Your Network

If your January was anything like ours, your resolutions might have already gone out the window. But wait. Take a deep breath and start February off on a better foot.

building your network

You might have a million goals you’re hoping to accomplish this year, but there is one thing we’re putting at the top of our list. So, if you do nothing else this year, do this.

Network, Network, Network

Too often our goals revolve around being more productive, finishing a project, or asking for a promotion or raise. While all great things to reach for, there is one thing that can set your career off on the right foot like nothing else can – meeting new people. More importantly, meeting the right people. In fact, 80% of professionals, according to a LinkedIn survey, said that networking is important to career success and another 70% were hired at a company due to their connections.

Whether you’re hoping to move up the ladder or find a new position elsewhere, here are five ways to conquer networking this year:

1. Get over yourself.

Yes, networking is awkward. Yes, you’re going to be tired and not want to put on your happy face. But chances are you’ll never regret bumping elbows and learning something new. Some people struggle with the idea that they’re inconveniencing someone, but remember that most people are GLAD to help and will be flattered at your outreach (if you do it the right way – here are a few tips).

2. Be genuine.

Don’t just go into every conversation thinking about what you can get out of it. Remember that these are real people and engage them just like you would at any other social event. Be personable and authentic, asking them questions and… LISTEN. Absorb what they’re saying and repeat it back to them. Plus, if you do it right, you might even make a new friend along the way.

3. Follow up.

This is key to making the most out of every connection. Send a follow-up email. If they were interested in an article you referenced, send them the link! Or maybe they told you about a friend who was struggling with something similar at work… ask them to connect you! If they were helpful in person, they should be more than happy to follow through, so don’t be afraid to ask. And of course, don’t be afraid to help either. Find ways to thank them for their time or assist them in something you may have discussed over coffee or a drink.

What are your favorite tips for networking? We’d love to hear from you!

How to Be Assertive (for Introverts)

There are occasional advantages to being more outgoing at work. And while this post doesn’t assume that all extroverts are assertive and all introverts are not, it’s safe to say assertiveness does not often come natural to those of us who tend to keep to ourselves. In fact, research shows that 4 out of 5 introverts believe that having more extroverted traits would help them advance in the workplace.

assertiveness for introverts

Introverts, there is hope for you yet. It’s very possible to stay true to yourself and still assert yourself in the workplace. Here are a few pointers.

1. Listen and prepare.

One super strength of introverts is that they are more likely to listen first, then speak. Take advantage of this strength and prepare for your next meeting or project. Nothing will help your confidence levels like a well-researched plan, so take time (alone! yay!) to think through possible questions that might come up and rehearse your responses.

2. Be mindful.

Have to give a presentation but feel like puking? Take a moment to center yourself and release any doubts that are passing through your mind. Or, do a power pose in front of the mirror before you step into the conference room. Yes, we’re being completely serious. This can boost your confidence levels and give you a rush of adrenaline that you might need to conquer your next task or difficult conversation.

3. Explain your needs.

Whether you’re communicating with a coworker or your boss, learning to explain your needs can seriously impact the efficiency of your communication. Don’t expect them to read your mind. Clearly communicate which needs are not being met and how they can fulfill them. If you’re struggling to get to this step, make a list and think through possible scenarios before you meet with the person. Again, preparation is the key to confidence.

4. Use a communication method that works for you.

Some of us need to look the person in the eye when we’re dealing with a conflict. Others of us would prefer the written word. Whatever your style, just make sure you’re communicating clearly and appropriately. If you’re upset, write it out and wait before you hit SEND. Come back an hour later and revisit your draft. If you decide to meet in person, give the other party a heads up that you need to talk to them about something important. That will give them time to prepare and they’ll appreciate not being bombarded with a conflict.

5. Ask for advice when you need it.

Enjoying alone time doesn’t mean we should work like we’re on an island. This isn’t good for you or your team. Remember that you have resources all around you to tap into. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

For more advice on assertiveness, here’s an awesome read.

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

I was chatting with a couple of friends the other day and each were sharing their unique experiences at work. There was one thing they each shared, however, which was their struggle with comparison. Each of the girls have just started new positions in the last year and as they strive to prove themselves at work, the natural tendency to compare themselves and their work to those around them has slowly creeped in.

But they are not alone in their experiences. Social comparison is so common that there is even a theory based around its effects.

stop comparing yourself

Whether you’re starting a new career or you’re a veteran in your role, here are a few ways comparison can rob us of joy and how you can counteract these feelings:

Comparisons do not show the full picture.

You might have heard the expression “You have the same number of hours in the day as Beyonce”. While true and motivating, Beyonce was also blessed with opportunities that many of us will never have. Comparing yourself to others is unfair because we each have unique backgrounds, skills, and passions.

Gratitude reveals the whole story.

Instead of comparison, consider ways you can be grateful instead. Make a list every day of five things you are thankful for. Whenever you start comparing yourself to others, reach for the list and remember that what you have experienced serves to make you the person that you are and put you on a career path that’s uniquely yours.

Comparisons put the focus on the wrong person.

“He’s so smart.” “She’s so successful.” “His life is perfect.” Notice the subject of these sentences is not YOU. Comparisons have the power to put your focus on other people instead of on your own accomplishments.

Pride redefines the meaning of success.

Instead of focusing on what other people achieved, consider your own successes. It can be as small as finishing a report to larger achievements like a promotion or a raise. No matter how insignificant, tracking our achievements can be a great way to put the focus back on ourselves and our goals.

Comparisons build resentment.

One of the most harmful effects of social comparison is the resentment that can build over time. We can not only become bitter about our own shortcomings, but also resent others’ success, harming our relationships and creating walls between us.

Humility brings happiness.

This is probably the most difficult to achieve, but when we turn comparison into admiration, the results can be extremely beneficial. Instead of harboring feelings of jealousy, ask questions of the people you respect. Determine how they got to the place that you admire. You may find that things are not quite as simple as they appear, or find ways to reach your own goals that you might not have thought of before. It might not be easy to put away those jealous feelings, but in the end, you’ll build stronger relationships and learn a lot along the way.

“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms.” Don’t think about what the other flowers are doing… just bloom.

The Human You’re Forgetting to Manage

As a human resource manager, you’re in the business of managing humans. Everything you do, all day long, directly and indirectly, affects the people in your organization professionally and personally. But while you spend time managing the careers of your employees, it’s easy to neglect the most important human in your sphere of influence: yourself.

invest in yourself

How many steps have you taken this week to invest in your career? What about this month? This year?

While we spend time working to retain our top talent, we can forget to focus on the own talents we possess and the ways we need to grow. So no matter how busy you are, here are five easy ways you invest in your career right now.

Invest in Your Intelligence

Train. That. Brain. Many of us remain cognitively stagnant. Once we graduate, we no longer have textbooks to read or homework to practice. Stimulate your brain by practicing some simple tricks everyday to keep your senses sharp. One of my personal favorites is an app called Elevate. You’ll take an initial IQ test to gauge where you land in certain categories, such as Reading, Writing and Math. From there, they’ll provide short games you can complete in just five minutes. It’s highly addictive, challenging, and a great way to improve everyday skills.

Invest in Your Goals

First things first, establish your goals. Whether those are New Year’s Resolutions or a trajectory for reaching your next promotion, make sure you have clear and achievable goals for the next year written down and in a place where you’ll see them on a regular basis (I keep mine in the “Notes” section of my iPhone).

After you’ve written out your goals, think of what actionable steps you can take to achieve them. And this doesn’t just apply to professional goals. Let’s say you want to read 20 books this year. Make your list, decide where you want to start, and break it down into what you need to accomplish each month (read 1.5 books) or week (200 pages). Evaluate your goals in a few weeks and adjust them as necessary. This is key to avoiding burnout and still keeping your momentum.

Invest in Your Community

This seems counterintuitive, but by helping others, you can meet new people, learn new skills, and stretch yourself in ways you never would have thought. Find ways to invest in your community by joining the board of a non-profit, volunteering at a local shelter or soup kitchen, or even cooking dinner for the new neighbor. Depending on your availability, you might not be able to take on a new commitment, but there are small ways to do good every day. A good friend of mine is quick to send a Starbucks gift card (via email… so easy!) when I have something big coming up or am going through a hard time. It’s a small gesture that can go a long way. Consider big and small ways to invest in your circle of influence.

Inside #EqualPayDay

equal pay day

Today is Equal Pay Day, which symbolizes how far into the year women would need to work in order to make the same amount as men the previous year. In 2017, that date is April 4th, meaning women would have to work 15 months to make the same as men did in 2016, just 12 months.

 

Women have been fighting for equal rights for a long time, but these statistics show that the fight is not over. Unfortunately, the wage gap still exists for many women in the workplace.

The Facts:

  • Women on average lose out on over $400,000 over the course of a 40 year career. 1
  • One in eight women are poor. If they were paid the same as men, poverty would drop from 8.2 to 4.0 percent.2
  • Men are 85% more likely than women to be VPs or C-Suite Executives by mid-career. 3
  • There are four states (Alaska, Delaware, Michigan and Washington) in which the most relatively common job for men has a median income of over $100,000. There are no states in which the most relatively common job for women exceeds $77,000.4

 

While the problem often seems overwhelming, there are companies who are taking a stand.

The Problem-Solvers:

  • PricewaterhouseCoopers, a tax and financial services firm, went public with their gender pay gap. After all, admission is the first step to recovery.5
  • In 2015, Salesforce performed a comprehensive analysis of 17,000 employees that led to salary adjustments for 6 percent of their workforce. The result? A 33 percent increase in the number of women who were promoted that year.6
  • More women, like Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Watson, are taking a stand and demanding raises.7

 

It won’t be an easy battle. For women, it starts with doing your research and fighting for what you deserve. But men aren’t exempt. There are plenty of ways to get involved and be a catalyst for changing the way we view compensation in the workplace.  One step at a time, we are excited to see people taking a stand and making leaps towards closing the gender wage gap.

 

Leadership Lessons from Martin Luther King, Jr.

As one of the most prominent leaders of the past century, there are many lessons we can learn from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on leadership, courage, and adversity.

martin luther king leadership

In celebration of Dr. King’s birthday on January 15th, here are a few ways you can embrace his spirit of leadership all year round:

Embrace Fear

Unmistakably, one of Dr. King’s greatest attributes was his courage. Facing extreme adversity, He always stood up for what he believed in and never wavered in his passion. Even after his death, his legacy lived on to fuel the Civil Rights Movement in America. While your dreams may not evoke the intense opposition that Dr. King faced, you can still retain your passion regardless of any adversity that may come your way. Don’t let fear of what others might say keep you from speaking out and working towards your goals.

Dream Big

The four famous words from Dr. King inspired a nation to stand behind him: “I Have a Dream…” While our dreams may not change the course of human history, we should still continue to have them. Dreams are what inspire and motivate us to continue. You’ve probably made a lot of plans for 2017. But this year, remember the reasons why you want to accomplish your specific goals, and let that push you to go further. After all, having a plan is nearly as exhilarating as having a dream.

Communicate Clearly

An excellent communicator, Dr. King spent his life influencing others through his words. Although a conference room presentation might not invoke the same emotion and response as Dr. King’s famous speech, it is still important that we communicate clearly and effectively. After you’ve clearly assessed your vision and dream, remember to spend time focusing on how to communicate this to others. Empower them through your words and take time to understand their perspective.

There are countless ways Martin Luther King, Jr. has continued to inspire us, even generations later. Let’s follow his example of embracing fear, dreaming big and communicating clearly in 2017.