Aristocracy of HR community, the time has come for your Czarina to take a break. In 2013, I started off my year by speaking about “introspection and execution” (see here for that post). I made some promises to myself and put some things out in the universe that make more sense in 2016 than they did back then. It’s time for me to make good on what I promised myself, but first a look back and some updates.
Here’s what I promised myself in 2013:
Three Affirmations, Three Executions:
1)Be a signal in the noise that is the world of work. I may not be the loudest signal now, but I will be that signal that makes you stop what you’re doing and ask what is that noise? You won’t ask it out of annoyance; but you will wonder where it came from and how you missed it the first time around.
2016 realization: The signal is clear and received. I have found my lane and I am thankful for the platform I continue to build.
2)I will do something extraordinary and assist those that endeavor to do something extroardinary. There is something magical about being a part of something that is bigger than all of us. I want to collaborate, coordinate, create, envision, innovate all in the name of HR. It has already begun and the story behind this will unravel as the year progresses.
2016 update: I have done some really cool things since 2013. Many of my accomplishments have been in HR, but most have been outside of the realm of HR. It’s important to take stock of where you are, where you have been and relish in your accomplishments. I am tardy to the party on this.
3)I will introspect and continue to live life with purpose. The spirit requires balance and as such I will need to examine all that I do and adjust as necessary to maintain balance and productivity. I’m not running myself into the ground like I did in 2012. Consistency, SEO, clicks – it all sounds good, and I care, but not at the demise of my well-being. If one aspect of my life is out of sync- it’s all out of whack. My personal time is making a comeback this year.
2016 update: I’m still doing my best to not run myself into the ground. I have found that finding balance between work and life is not a destination, but rather a journey.
When you are a one-woman act it all comes down to you. The articles, PR, the editing, running your business, hosting a livestream show, juggling three kids ages 7 and below etc make for many focuses, quick wardrobe changes and many hats. I have been doing this and much more in my quest for success since 2013. However, I have to consistently remind myself of why I went into business in the first place.
Three main reasons why I took this leap into entrepreneurship were:
1) To be more available for my kids.
2) To get out of the rut of rising the ranks of an organization that gleaned no personal or professional satisfaction.
3) To have more flexibility to fully enjoy my life.
This year, I have decided to make good on my promises to myself about flexibility. That means that I am taking deliberate actions to play as hard as I work, while managing my tribe and their affairs more efficiently. Please know that this is not a perfect science. Any Work-At-Home Mama knows any good plan can be thwarted by life and your kids – despite our best of intentions.
Here are some things I have put in place to make good on these promises I made to myself:
1) I am being intentional about flexing my work week. I’ve cut my work days down to four days and it may go to three at times. I will obviously continue to put in the necessary hours to keep my business on a growth trajectory ; but I am no longer working for the sake of working.
2) Building in dedicated time for family and myself to decompress from the work week. We all deserve time to zone out and just be.
3) Whether it is ordering groceries or hiring a virtual social media strategist to keep my profiles humming – delegation at this point in my business is necessary for the maintenance of my sanity and continued growth.
All of that being said, I’m taking a break from the blog and social media for the next two weeks. I will return on July 18th. There will be no real-time instagramming, snapchatting, livestreaming, facebooking or awe-inspiring workforce wisdom coming from this here blog. I need a moment to regroup and relax – which is something that has become a priority for me.
Through the magic of delegation and various platforms you will continue to see my posts and shares.
I am really excited to spend quality time with my family during this break. Most importantly, I am excited to wake up and know that there is nothing I need to do other than put on my swimsuit and head to my cabana near the pool.
I want you all to know that I appreciate all of the support, shares, kind words and encouragement I get from you all. It means a lot to me and keeps me going and grinding.
I hope you all are enjoying your summer so far. See you back here in two weeks.
See below for some of my favorite content for 2016 and things to look forward to.
For at least the past two weeks, I have been beyond tired and uninspired to write anything new. I am not a fan of forcing myself to write when I’m not feeling it, so I decided to honor the space I have been in. To describe the feeling, I have felt like I am in abyss of a wandering mind and unable to dig myself out of it.
I started out with the obvious feelings and reactions of being mad at myself for not pushing through. That was until I decided to evaluate what I have accomplished and why I may be feeling listless and lacking in new ideas.
The reality was: I have been working damn hard for over six months no real downtime. This may sound like a humblebrag, but unless you understand how an entrepreneur’s mind works that will be your only conclusion. My mind is constantly racing with thoughts of new ventures, things I need to do and questions of whether I am doing enough to reach my goals. That’s just on the professional end of things. On the personal end, it is kids, husband, home life etc.
In taking stock of what I set out to do and what I actually accomplished – it allowed me to accept my tiredness and need to unplug as a warranted effect of my hard work. Cleaning my whiteboard of projects completed wasn’t enough. I needed to take the time to write down what I had done specifically so I could quantify and see it.
I got my mojo back today!
One thing I am very intentional about is keeping the right people in my circle of trust. These people remain nameless, but I praise them loudly and often, because they keep me on target and sane.
Sharing is caring.
Today was no different – as I met with my one of my friends/business partners. We met as we do annually to discuss how our academy went. Over Mexican food and great drinks we discussed our successes and room for improvement. We also discussed life and business since we wrapped the academies. Shockingly, I am not alone in this abyss of wandering minds. My business partner was experiencing the same feelings. A few drinks and many admissions later, we both were idea machines!
So, how does a casual lunch and drinks inspire one to move from listless to inspired again?
It’s all about people! Whether you are an entrepreneur or something else, we all have an innate need to be seen, understood, heard and empowered. We especially need this positive energy from others when we are unable to motivate ourselves .
When our smartphones are in the red and about to die, we frantically hustle to find a plug to power up our batteries again so we can continue surfing , sharing, chatting etc. Today, my business partner and I plugged-in to one another to recharge and keep going. We essentially threw one another a lifeline.
I was convinced that my upcoming vacation alone would do the trick ( and I still kind of believe that). However, I really needed to spend some time connecting with someone in my circle of trust to put things in perspective. People often ask me if I miss working in an office with people. My answer is always “no”. I am not the kind that needs constant human interaction, but I have learned enough to know when it is prudent to tap into others.
Here are some tips for navigating periods of low-to-no inspiration or energy:
1) When your body slows you down, it is because you need to slow down. Honor that space and time and be still. It’s usually a warning to slow-down. Also, a lesson is usually on the way when this happens.
2) Evaluate how you reached this unwelcomed slowdown. More often than not, you will find that there are some steps and/or missteps that brought you to this place. Write it out, find your blindspots and forgive yourself.
3) Plug into your circle of trust. Many times we believe our struggles are unique to us. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable enough to ask a question or to share your experiences will help you shake the “unique struggle” mindset. This allows you to normalize your feelings, get out of your head and resume productivity.
Whether you are an introvert, extrovert or ambivert – people need people. If you want to be successful both professionally and in business you need to have at least one other person you can call to cry, vent , or bounce ideas off of. It is too much of an emotional and physical burden to bare for you to carry it all alone. Find your tribe and plug-in when you need to recharge. Trust me it’s okay.
I have been deciding what I want to call the theme of my Friday posts and then it hit me: Food-for-thought Friday. My goal is to share insights I have on a myriad of topics – either inspired by content I have elsewhere on the interwebs or just something I feel warrants discussion.
Today, I am sharing my latest You Tube video from “The Aristocracy of HR” You Tube Channel. If you aren’t already aware, I post a video per week there giving the behind-the-scenes or background on the article of the week. I also post the replays from my weekly Ask Czarina Live™ Periscope show so you should definitely subscribe, but I digress.
Last night, on my Ask Czarina Live™ show I discussed pay equity for women. I talked about the fact that I am disgusted with talking about it. I also shared the startling statistics in the pay equity discussion for women of color.
Did you know?
Although white women get paid 79 cents on every dollar of their white male counterpart makes, Black women make 64 cents on that same dollar. Latinas get paid 54 cents on that same white male dollar. Women across racial demographics who are disabled make 64 cents on the dollar as well. Which brings to light that even though there is a general issue with pay equity for women, the impact is disproportionately adverse when we break it down by race and even ability.
What I find fascinating is the inability of white males and even females to see how this may be a tremendous hurdle for women of color to overcome. There is a mindset that if we (people of color) simply do the “right things” that the problem of inequity goes away and we can all go home and resume our lives as successful professionals. Quick to speak up and offer up solutions, slow to listen.
I contend that it isn’t that simple. There is a system and an institution in this country that makes it near impossible in some cases for women of color to catch up. Even if white women catch up eventually, we will always be behind. That fact doesn’t change unless, white people recognize the issue for what it is and make some serious and intentional changes in how gender and race is viewed in this country. That’s the price of being the majority. What can I say – with great power comes great responsibility as they say.
Someone on my show mentioned, “People pay for what they want.” We could make the case that the fact that pay equity is still an issue is a sign that women overall are unwanted in the workforce. I can also make the case that women of color and those who are disabled are damn near invisible when you consider the spectrum of how much the powers-that-be choose to pay us.
There are ways we can advocate for ourselves as women on the whole, but the advocacy is a harder sell for some of us. This is a fact.
Here’s the food-for-thought: Don’t be offended or quick to offer-up a solution, when women of color speak about the reality of their own plight in the pay equity debacle. It isn’t an affront to white women or anyone else. Instead, ingest the data and decide for yourself if you would want the same for yourself or your daughter. What would you do? I think I already know what your answer is.
Until the next time…thank you for reading! I appreciate you immensely. Stay tuned for more food-for-thought next Friday.
I have just recently gotten into House of Cards. I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it as much as I do, but I am. As I have shared with my friends, it is filthy goodness. I’m on season 2 and if I’m honest – each new episode ignites a greater disdain within me for politics. You may be thinking it’s just a show- but I will wager that sometimes art imitates life.
Watching The Underwoods and all of the other gremlins in this fantasy world Washington D.C. has reminded me of my own run-ins with politics at work. Let me be abundantly clear, I hate politics with a passion. I’m a straight-shooter and I call things how I see them. I never understood why I needed to be “fake friends” or put on appearances with people to get something I needed to do my job.
“Be a little more flexible, Janine.” “Don’t get into any disagreements with hiring manager Joe, just do what they want.” “You need to increase the amount of accounts you lunch per week.” “Making this claim will not bode well for your career.” This is just a short-list of politically-motivated demands made to me over the course of my career.
Every time I was faced with a new demand, my message was the same. Don’t bring your politics around me. Now, I’m not insinuating that some situations don’t require more diplomacy and/or the ability to negotiate. However, I take issue when every decision, meeting, or new initiative feels like I need a war plan and armory to prevent my own demise.
The Un-Political Worker
I am flexible when the situation warrants it. I refuse to be fearful about what I can and cannot say when I am charged to work towards a solution with internal and external customers. It feels dirty to wine and dine people who you know are terrible for business; but you do it because their dollars and coins account for a substantial amount of business. Moreover, don’t threaten my career with a smirk and seemingly pleasant epithets that I have to decode later – only to find out you are out to get me.
Newsflash: most workers want to come to work and do what you ask of them. Here are some things you need to know about the un-political worker:
We care about the mission and vision. We don’t care about agendas. Your mission and vision help to provide clarity around the purpose of your staff’s work. It is your “why” and their “why”. It is a global narrative for why the business exists in the first place. Agendas are personal and based on self-interest. They aren’t usually clear, because they aren’t rooted in following procedure or moral steps.
Colleges and Universities don’t teach the art of manipulation. There’s no rule book in political environments. Actually, let me rephrase that. There are written rules to please the masses and then there are the unspoken rules that get made up as you go along. Your employees aren’t interested in having to be manipulative in every situation. In fact, many of them were never formally trained in this skill. Stop insisting that they add this to their professional repertoire.
Your employees don’t care about politics. You hired them to do a job and they can do it. Recognize that politics in the workplace is a system. It’s a system you created based on your agendas and what best serves the financial, professional and business interests of a certain group of people. Rarely, do the politics in the business serve all of your employees. I have never worked somewhere when I suddenly realized: “Wow, the politics in this organization have really boosted my career and put me at the top of my game.”
It is often said in House of Cards, that there are winners and losers in politics. That is certainly true. The thing is, I don’t want any casualties in my business. I want everyone who puts in the work and effort to win. I think most employees would prefer those cards over your messy politics.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with my friend and entrepreneur extraordinaire, Joey Price of JumpstartHR on his Business, Life, and Coffee Podcast. We had a great conversation about when I knew I needed to start my business and discussed whether women make better CEOs than men.
You’ll have to listen below to hear what I had to say about whether women are better than men at leading organizations. I think you will be surprised at my response. The one thing I learned for sure listening to this podcast is:
“We all have a story and we should share it as much as the universe will allow.”
Joey was able to capture my journey to entrepreneurship in a way that I have not in the past. Life often feels like thousands of vignettes that run into one another, blend and become distorted the further away from them you get. Asking the right question and a dose of honesty will always bring forth something compelling and useful.
Joey and I started on our social media journey at about the same time and have since become both colleagues and friends. It is pretty neat to see where both of us have landed respectively in our lives and businesses.
If you have a business, are thinking of starting a business or just have an interest in a story about someone who chased their dreams when everything was falling apart around them – you will want to listen to this podcast.
Please feel free to share your thoughts with me on the podcast below in the comments. Also, if you like this episode you will love the variety of his other shows- give them a spin!
Thanks for reading and supporting! I appreciate you immensely.
You all know I love me some HR. I believe in its fundamental tenets of understanding work behavior. I also enjoy the small window of opportunity we have to balance both the needs of the business and the employee. To many, it seems like a job anyone can do, but for those that do it everyday and do it right; they know it takes a special kind of professional.
The rebuttal to this line of thinking is: “Well, if it requires a “special” person – why does it appear that anyone with any background can do the job?” Indeed, there are HR practitioners from a myriad of degree fields and backgrounds that have found their way to HR. Do they all belong there? No.
Human Resources is a profession whose entire existence is predicated on how well they manage or in some organizations herd other humans in an effort to ensure the companies success and a healthy bottom-line. Yet, it has been my experience that we have a tough time managing ourselves. In some cases, it is at the precise time that some people became HR practitioners that they forgot who they were and why they were there. Values forgotten. Integrity went out the door. Ethical behavior- what’s that? In fact, I am sure some never set out to break the law in life, but they have.
My name is Janine and I have trust issues with HR.
When I worked in HR, I met a lot of great professionals along the way. There were also far more that left a lot to be desired. I found myself at odds much of the time with how I chose to operate versus “the way” HR chose to position itself in the organization. This disconnect garnered me fans by way of my internal and external partners, but not with my own HR brethren.
Here’s what got me in trouble:
Working with my internal partners to ensure we had “real” and “practical” solutions to their concerns.
Advocating for candidates that were qualified, but would have otherwise been set aside for less qualified candidates.
Keeping up on HR and business trends, practices and laws in an effort to ensure that we were not only compliant, but remained relevant.
Doing what I knew was right.
If you can find anything wrong with what I detailed above, comment below and let me know. I am always interested in another viewpoint. As I said, I have trust issues with HR. It took me some time to muster up the courage to say this about a discipline I love, but that has so often disappointed me. Do you know how disconcerting it is to be bullied, harassed, thrown to the wolves all while working in HR and having to sell the value of what you do to employees? Moreover, it is painful to have to bite your tongue when employee after employee comes to you for help and an ear and you can’t tell them that you too – have trust issues with HR.
Here’s what I have learned:
1) Businesses need to stop involving HR in their dirt. That is to say, let HR do what they do. Don’t corrupt us or our efforts.
2) HR practitioners everywhere need to have enough backbone to call out unethical, illegal and toxic behaviors without hesitation. Stop being brokers for unethical and illegal practices. When the employees understand that you don’t have their back, your job is over.
3) Here it is all of these years we have been asking for a seat at the grand table, yet we let anyone and everyone sit with us. The same way we have to earn the respect of the C-Suite is the same way we should operate as we usher in new talent to HR.
Everyone can’t sit with us.
It takes a certain person, with compassion, business acumen, a desire to continue learning, discernment and above all the want to build cohesive, non-toxic work environments.
Personally, I get excited about providing solutions to workplace debacles, struggles and blindspots. I like to understand what my partners need and then I go to work crafting something they can use. This is how HR is supposed to work.
I continue to wait for the day, when I stop hearing how HR has failed employees. I hope we reach a point where we start to safeguard our discipline from those who would rather detract from it or turn it into the cesspools that exist elsewhere in business.
We have to do better. We need to do better.
Like what you read?
More insights on this topic will be on The Aristocracy of HR You Tube Channel this week. Click here to subscribe for more commentary on my articles.