Welcome back! I took a bit of a hiatus at the end of last year to rest, regroup and reflect on 2016. Of late, I have been hearing way too many stories about people namely bloggers and influencers that have effectively worked themselves to the point of being depleted. In one recent story, a woman worked so tirelessly that she ended up in a mental hospital towards the end of last year.
Why am I sharing this?
At the end of last year, I was lethargic and couldn’t get a hold of my energy. I wanted to understand why I felt so sluggish. It was at that point that I took to my Instagram to share my experience. Although hesitant to be this vulnerable, I was blown away by the response. Many of my friends and colleagues telling me it was the universe’s way of getting me to slow down.
And slow down, I did…
I took time to rest and reflect. I had plenty of ideas during this time. I didn’t launch anything; instead I wrote them down. I did not do any paid consulting work during this time. My days were spent in the present with my kids, reflecting on 2016 and looking forward to 2017.
What I discovered is I was beginning to recreate the very thing I ran from when I left my full-time position in 2014. That thing that I was recreating was an unhealthy balance between work and life. Suddenly, I remembered the reason why building my business was important. It was important because I wanted to do work I loved and to live my life fully. Living fully for me is being able to continue building my business while tending to the needs of my 3 kids. It’s to provide a nurturing home and environment for my husband who works tirelessly for us while also traveling the world. Living fully and success also looks like me getting back to hobbies that once meant the world to me.
Success is a word that gets thrown around rather loosely these days. Nevertheless, what I described above is what success means for me in my own life at the moment. Working to the point of being in a stupor or worse a padded-room is a long way from what it means to be successful.
When I had to think of one word I want to represent 2017, “preservation” came to mind. Due to many things in the past few years, I need and will preserve my energy, my sanity, my privacy. I plan to preserve my legacy by safeguarding various effects of life and business.
More importantly, it appears that the preservation and/or protection of my civil rights and the rights of others will be in the forefront as well. There’s a lot to do on this front and I am up to the challenge.
These aren’t resolutions by the way. I am at the point of recognizing the error of my behaviors and habits; as well as new opportunities for my talents. As a result, action is already in play.
What I want you to know is there is absolutely nothing wrong with chasing your dreams and working hard. The challenge is making sure your work doesn’t become all-encompassing and worst yet- toxic. What do any of us have if our bodies or minds shutdown on us? The answer is: we will have nothing.
I have already accepted that the juggle and balance will not always be ideal, but I am dedicated to striving towards it and being flexible on the outcomes.
From these realizations, I have created a new movement/community called: Growth on my Terms. This is my commitment and charge to see that people frame success in healthy and achievable ways. To see what I’m up to, you can check it out on Instagram at: www.instagram.com/growthonmyterms.
You can expect a lot more HR, Technology, and Business commentary here this year, but please make room in your psyche and heart for more of my journey and a-ha’s too. I look forward to sharing and offering you more insights.
Let’s grow, uplift one another and kill it in 2017!
Please share with me in the comments section how you are tackling 2017 so far?
This week, I am finding it hard not to reflect on being a mother with Mother’s Day coming this Sunday.
I sincerely believe that all of the blessings and transformative instances I have experienced over the past seven years can be attributed to me being a mother.
The act of having to put someone or in my case – three little someones before my own needs has taught me selflessness in a way I don’t think would have been possible without becoming a mom.
When it comes to my business, I believe I owe it all to my children. If I hadn’t had my two daughters whose ever-rising daycare costs took a healthy chunk of my salary, I may not have explored my former employer’s option for teleworking – which then lead me to thinking about building my own business.
All of the hustling, juggling, and lack of boundaries between work and motherhood were a few of the reasons why I took an extremely preliminary idea of starting my own business from concept to reality in less than one year.
Now, as a work-from-home mama, my days can be pretty crazy. Running a bustling business, wrangling a 4 year old, an almost two year old, and a seven year old – while supporting each developmentally, emotionally and academically can be exhausting.
Couple that with my business which is scaling nicely and imagine the angst and euphoria of figuring out who gets to stand-in for me while I pursue business opportunities- many of which are out-of-state. Like I said, both exhilarating and exhausting.
Thankfully, each of them are growing nicely in their own ways. They have gotten use to some of how my schedule and business impacts our home dynamic.
Every once and again, one of them will say to me: “You’re the best Mommy I ever had.” I usually say “thank you” and chuckle thinking: “I am the only Mommy you have ever had”; but I digress.
That “thank you” means so much more than they know.
I want my kids to know that I am thankful to them for forcing me to be a better person. They need to know that I was probably operating at a quarter of my greatness prior to having them.
I need them to know that when they pardon me for being imperfect – I am in return learning to be kinder and more forgiving of my own shortcomings.
The ability to see something both old and new through the eyes of a child is a gift.
Life has an unfortunate way of suppressing the aspects of the human experience that are innate to us all. Creativity, fun, laughter without abandon are just a few things I have invariably lost and regained as a result of wanting to live in the moment with my children.
I don’t say all of this to suggest that you will be a selfish, boring, non-creative person for not becoming a mother. From my perspective, I see my children as my divine counsel pushing me to be a better version of me in a very imperfect and non-linear manner.
They will never truly understand how they are doing that nor will their precious little brains understand now how much it means to me.
To all of the mothers (biological and non-biological), our one day per year is coming, but be sure to take time everyday to recognize the magnitude of all that you do. Know that even when you think you are screwing up, you are just fine.
Happy Mother’s Day to you all! Be sure, to put those little people to work on Sunday and enjoy the day!
In case you missed it, I have a show on Thursdays called: Ask Czarina Live ™ .
In the episode below, I talk about being a working mom and the struggles many of us face in juggling home and professional pursuits. I hope it is helpful!
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.
After being pregnant three times over the past seven years, I have seen, heard, and endured things that have both shocked me and made me angry. For starters, there are far too many employers that are still treating pregnancy as if it is a cardinal sin and a complete undoing to their business. Having children whether as an older more tenured employee or an early careerist is a life decision that need not be vetted or agreed with by an employer. Certainly, there are the usual considerations of the inevitable impact of having children depending on where you are in your career; but they are just that- considerations.
Consider this instead:
*The U.S. is one of only 4 countries that doesn’t offer paid leave to new mothers — the others are Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, and Lesotho.
*Having a baby is a leading cause of “poverty spells” in the U.S. — when income dips below what’s needed for basic living expenses.
When you are notified by an employee that they are pregnant, they haven’t just given you their resignation simultaneously. Pregnant women are not only capable of continuing their duties (unless sickness and or the physical nature of their job interfere), but they are worthy of having your support as an employer.
As a new business owner, I would like to impart some food-for thought for dealing with pregnancy in general and pregnant employees:
Stop saying dumb things to your pregnant employees. If you are hesitant to say what you’re thinking or you are unsure; do yourself a favor and be quiet.
Be kind.In as much as pregnant women are willing and capable, a little compassion can go a long way. Ask them how they are feeling. If they are struggling during the first trimester or beyond; allow some leniency. It’s that whole do onto others philosophy.
Did you also know?*51% of new mothers lack any paid leave —so some take unpaid leave, some quit, some even lose their jobs. If you can help it, get out of this third-world mentality that exists in the US and offer your female employees a dose of relief in the way of a paid maternity leave, the ability to phase-back to work, short-term disability etc.
While said employee is on leave, do your best to refrain from contacting her regarding work related things or anything in general. Maternity leave is supposed to be a time for healing, bonding, and family. Respect the employee’s time.
Lastly, if there are concerns about adequate time and the like- communicate your concern, but don’t over communicate. There are dr.’s appointments, unforeseen sicknesses, etc. Again, if this is a good employee do your best to work through these hurdles. In business, there are always workarounds whether you want to openly admit it or not).
Don’t forget your male employees. They are becoming dads too and may need your support as well.
Pregnant women are not second-class citizens. You do not have to fundamentally agree with the act of childbearing or its timing but you do have an obligation to respect the decision and support your employees as best you can.
Every year Working Mother.com compiles a list of the best 100 companies for the working mother. One of their requirements for application acceptance is that they offer at least one week of paid family leave or they must be on their way to implementing some sort of paid maternity leave. The list is great and proof that nothing I said here is pie-in-the-sky. Check the list of companies out here.
Here’s a wacky bonus tip: don’t touch your pregnant employee unless you ask. I once had a manager push in my protruding belly button because she thought it was odd and cute. Please stop doing these things. It doesn’t bode well for anyone involved.
What are some innovative arrangements or policies you have implemented to support your pregnant or even new mother employees?
I think it fair to start off 2014 addressing what I am doing and what my continued purpose is for being socially visible.In January of 2013, I started my own business called Talent Think Innovations, LLC. In addition, to having this new business I remain employed by Brookhaven National Laboratory. My move to start a business in lieu of working full-time was a goal and not something sparked by blogging or my involvement in social media.
Plain and simple, I knew after my last position in healthcare that my long-term goal and insurance plan for both my sanity and professional prowess was to be my own boss and call the shots.
So why am I still working full-time?
It’s quite simple, I have bills to pay, mouths to feed, and I still enjoy being a practitioner. Not everyone has the luxury of being able to quit a job where they are gainfully employed to go into business for themselves. I much rather keep myself afloat and gradually build my business for longevity and success.
I essentially get to have the best of both worlds by keeping my practitioner acumen sharp while expanding both my mind and capabilities through my business. It’s a win-win.
Who is Talent Think Innovations, LLC?
Talent Think Innovations, LLC is a Talent Management Consulting firm dedicated to helping start-ups as well as small to mid-size businesses focus on developing smart, innovative talent strategy, policies and cultures that value talent and put them first. This business is the heart and soul of everything I have preached on The Aristocracy of HR and beyond. It is about helping businesses operate in a way that makes sense and that focuses on talent-centric practices, programs and policies that truly favor the success of the workforce.
After working a few places and in HR, I have seen everything HR shouldn’t be about and how we not only undermine our value but also facilitate a diminished value of the business with poor practices from the perspective of both candidates and employees. I have long been known by co-workers and superiors as a change facilitator and initiator; always looking to improve or create something better. Unfortunately, my experience has also shown me that all of that enthusiasm, passion and knowledge can go but so far in an organization with the impact of politics, bureaucracy and ignorance.
I have decided that I want to work with the organizations that have made missteps and need help regaining inspiration and traction. This is my call to action.
They say you are not truly in business until you start making money and have clients. Well, I accomplished that prior to my one year anniversary. I am working with some fantastic people and even more important there is synergy between my philosophy and my partners.
You all know me best and first as the “CzarinaofHR” reigning over the popular Aristocracy of HR blog. It is finally on its own domain and also acting as the official blog for my company. It is only right that my two voices be unified on one platform. I will continue to blog my heart out as your “Czarina” as well as on my contributor platforms like Performance I Create, TLNT, and Achievers.
You can also find me on my new You Tube show “Ask Czarina” where I will make the blog experience a little more personal in 2014.
Lastly, in case you missed it, I am speaking now and so you shouldn’t be surprised to see me at select events or venues sharing what I know.
Regarding social media, my theme for 2014 and beyond is to “engage with a purpose”. For my business, brand and network purposes I must remain active, but how active and how frequently will vary. There’s something called life and while the digital life is great, real life is even better.
In conclusion, my aim is to help people and businesses whether through the blog or my services. If I can help you or anyone you know don’t hesitate to reach out.
I look forward to walking this new journey of 2014 with you. Thank you for your continued support!