We are entering the last year of the 2010s. One year from 2020, a year painted as the poster child of human advancement and something of a sci-fi fantasy. From all I can tell, we haven’t exactly accelerated into a Jetson reality of flying cars, robot maids, and buildings in the clouds, but we do have Sophia the first humanoid robot citizen of Saudi Arabia, the beginnings of currency beyond government-driven assets, and a shift in everyday living, retail, and consumerism as proposed by Faith Popcorn where everything we need and could want is available via our homes and/or our mobile devices (otherwise known as “cocooning”).
As resolutions and grand plans waltz together in the hearts and minds of the collective, I offer a few of my own perspectives on society, work, life and the challenges we ought to be focused on as we approach a new decade.
Here are 10 perspectives for you to digest in 2019 and beyond:
Lose the notion of “best-in-class”, “best practices”, “best-of-breed”. What seems to be the “best” is in the eye of the beholder. What your company deems a “best practice” is seldom the best set of solutions for your competitor. What works best for you in your life is not likely the blueprint for another human being. We have spent decades trying to be the best and create the best. Scenarios change. People change. Each passing moment diminishes the likelihood that something will be best or even suit the needs of those your practice or product are meant to impact. Focus on making a positive impact. Do your best whether through practice, action, or developing a product. Focusing on positive outcomes on a consistent basis is the best thing you can offer anyone.
How can we be creating things in the likeness of a human when we have yet to perfect being human? Nobody loves the prospect of the future and technology more than I do (well maybe Elon Musk). My concern is we are creating things in our image when we have yet to perfect what it means to be human. Let’s face it we are failing at humanity currently and have been just passing to borderline failing at being human for some time now. We’re smart enough as a species, but can we honestly say we have lived this human existence to the best of our ability? It is likely that we are creating things like AI and robots in an effort to pass the buck on this human existence thing. There is still time to get it right. The question is are we up for the task?
Fewer resolutions and more resolving to do a little better every day. Who are you trying to impress with your “new me, new year, who dis” posts? Better yet is this thing you plan to change or you wanted to be accountable to something you’re even passionate about? Most resolutions are baseless. When you resolve to change or accomplish something typically you have either grown tired or weary from the anguish and/or unfortunate outcomes a situation has brought to your life. In other words, those things that really caused you the most suffering in previous years are more likely to be a true catalyst of change rather than social coercion to make a random resolution. Change because it is necessary for you to do so, not because it’s popular.
There is only so much that can be achieved in a given year, so cut yourself some slack. I am guilty of assuming I could conquer the world in a year and then some. The truth is there have been years when I achieved all goals on the list and years where I achieved everything but what I set out to do. This life is a journey. Some years we are prepping the field. Other years we are planting and yet other years we are reaping from the fruits of our labor. Set goals, but leave some wiggle room for serendipity, failures, and setbacks. They are all a part of the process.
Are you good? Are you well? Do these questions make you uncomfortable? Wellness and wellbeing aren’t just some new age hippie concepts. People are suffering. Your employees are suffering some in small ways and others in some profound ways. Your pursuit of market domination is largely to blame too. You can’t operate in an industry that employs human beings to perform work and not be concerned with their wellbeing. I mean you could do that, but the road forward is looking disastrous. Prioritize your wellbeing and make sure your people do the same.
Hippies in HR. Yes, this is a thing. I spoke at an event this year where we got into a debate about the need to do our jobs as HR practitioners in a way that adds to the greater good. In other words, can we be effective at our jobs by being ethical and human-centric while also focusing on impacting the bottom-line? It may seem like an old gripe, but it is front and center for younger practitioners who have yet to be initiated into an HR ecosystem only concerned with being seen as something more than a support function. The younger practitioner I spoke with said Hippie HR needs to be a thing. What do you think?
Data isn’t our problem, accountability is. According to Forbes Contributor, Bernard Marr we produce 2.5 quintillion bytes of data per day. We have produced 90% of the data we have currently in the past two years. Having more data to equip us with better insights isn’t any longer an issue. The issue we have is we have no clue how to slice and dice the data to get to the crux of some of our more pressing issues. Even more disturbing is the fact that in some cases we are refusing to do the data cleansing and storytelling for fear of what it will reveal about our practices, outcomes, intentions etc. If we were that transparent we would actually have to be accountable to fixing some things rather than parading accolades that make us seem like we are doing the right things. More accountability, please?
Be careful. Your bias is showing. Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity is either part of the fabric of your company or you are simply looking to skate by on hiring the one or two poster humans that will serve to show how “hard” you are trying not to be diverse and inclusive. At this point, it would be much easier on diverse groups of people if you simply say in your job description that you are intolerant. You should simply have your CEO deliver a personal video message on your career website stating that you see no necessity in promoting the interests of a variety of people. He or she should say they are afraid of reasonable accommodations and have no desire to learn which is why you lack differently-abled people in your workforce. Your bias is showing and you will lose every time. Masking it doesn’t make it any less obvious. We see you.
Control is a disease. You can’t control anything but yourself. The deafening cry to end hierarchy isn’t because the hippies of the world of work just want to obliterate it; it should be reimagined because it is an old framework that has very little utility in our modern world. Every system we have created through the decades is flawed in some way. Nonetheless, the inherent flaws are ones we can manage so long as there is overall utility in using a particular process or control within a given time and circumstance. The abuses of power have been many and much of it has hinged on these tightly-wound organizational structures that were meant to wield power from the top leaving an unhealthy lack of power further down the food chain. How can we evenly distribute power without relinquishing the necessary order and structure needed for the run of a profitable business?
Privacy and boundaries take center stage. It’s fair to say there is no such thing as privacy. Every day there are breaches exposing us and our information in ways we couldn’t imagine a decade ago. Platforms like Facebook are busy selling our data to companies unbeknownst to us. Is privacy the new luxury? We started the decade with the message that sharing of information is the new currency. It’s possible that the end of the decade will bring more talk of sharing less and having more boundaries around how much of ourselves we give to the matrix and each other.
I almost gave you 19 perspectives, but I think these 10 perspectives are enough to chew on for now. My hope is that you walk away from this article with a more expansive focus on all of the things impacting the humans we employ, service, and the ecosystems we are all playing in. Increasingly, we have to step outside of our oftentimes narrow focus on executing HR or business strategy to see clearly where we can improve what we do.
Wishing you all a prosperous, balanced, and insightful 2019 ahead!
The need for a healthy and satisfying work environment is not up for discussion. Anyenlightened manager knows its benefits. The same need extends to remote workgroups, and that is still something of a revelation to many leaders.
Perhaps it’s because of the “environment”. The remote work environment is fleeting; all team members don’t work together. They cannot share the same jokes; they can’t feel each other’s challenges. At least not by default – that’s why building a culture of empathy and team spirit is critical.
As the remote workforce grows bigger, there is a serious concern for remote employees to remain connected to the rest of the team. A vibrant work environment that meets the requirements of remote employees can help reduce that isolation.
What exactly constitutes a healthy online work environment?
It’s a work environment where remote employees feel safe in their roles, an important part of the team and the company, and one where they have the opportunity to learn and grow.
A healthy online work environment encourages unrestricted communication, open discussions, and collaborations. It supports remote employees with educational and technical resources to enable and empower them. It overcomes hurdles like different time zones or different work methods.
A healthy work environment is one that promotes a healthy lifestyle, free of emotional strain. It is a place where employees feel that despite working remotely their work makes a difference, not only to the company’s bottom line but to the community as a whole.
The edicts of a healthy online work environment mirror that of an in-house team. Remote workers have the same need to feel safe and secure in their work. They still need to be challenged and held accountable for their actions. And they definitely need the support of colleagues to flourish in their roles.
A healthy online work environment translates to happy employees. And what is the business decision that underlies employee happiness? Research has shown that happy employees are 12% more productive.
How to cultivate a healthy online work environment
Trust and faith: Withouttrust no team will ever reach its full potential. That’s possibly truer for remote teams – who don’t always get to see the full picture and have to rely on other members to fulfill their roles. Likewise, having faith in a colleague, even when mistakes crop up, will go a long way in building an online work environment that is secure and reliable. Both trust and faith underpin the decision-making process and accountability – two qualities remote employees seek to feel part of the company.
Peer-review and recognition: Sometimesfeedback from peers is saved for occasional reviews. But it should be fluid enough to become a part of the daily routine so that remote employees can receive and share feedback without worrying about egos or hurting anyone.Open recognition of achievements is just as important to foster motivation and improve productivity. On the other hand, recognition of problems within the team and swiftly addressing them will also help promote a healthy remote work environment.
Intellectual challenge and educational resources: Remote work often relies on tools and apps that new hires may not be familiar with. And on top of that, given the flexible nature of online work, help may not always be readily available. A healthy online work environment should have resources in place for employees to rely on not only to fulfill their roles but fire up their intellectual curiosities. Because an intellectually challenging role is one of the bestmotivators.
Safety and security: “Remote” doesn’t take issues like discrimination and harassment off the table. In fact, these deadly problems have alreadymigrated to the online work environment. The danger for remote employees is that if they don’t speak up, their pain and the existing problem will continue. Both team members and team leads should be wary of these issues. Victims should be able to speak up and get the support they deserve.
Work impact and social responsibility: Knowing that their work matters not only to the company but to society is not a vague factor for employees. The new workforce, particularlyMillennials, prefer working for companies that have a strong social responsibility program. Giving remote employees the opportunity to participate in a company’s CSR programs will tighten their bond with the company.
Health and wealth: Companiescan’t dictate good health measures to employees. Yet the effect of a healthy lifestyle on the employees’ work and the company’s profit is far from debatable. This is why managers are now activelyreinforcing healthy habits. Remote employees shouldn’t miss out on the support of the management or colleagues because they don’t meet face to face. In addition, full-time remote employees have the same needs for time-offs that will help renew them for dedicated work.
Be it fun team-building activities or an open ear to a colleague’s troubles, measures that make the online work environment tangible despite being fleeting will help remote employees perform better, feel supported, and build relationships – and in turn make them feel like an important part of the company.
Perhaps a healthy online work environment is not measured in numbers. But lasting relationships, loyalty towards the company, and a remote employee’s pride in working for the firm is a good gauge for how conducive the environment is to dynamic remote work.
Guest Author Bio
Image courtesy of DistantJob.com
Sharon Koifman believes every company, from the biggest enterprise to the newly-launched garage startup, should have access to world’s top talent. That’s why he used over 10 years of experience in tech industry recruitment & HR to create DistantJob. His unique recruitment model allows DistantJob’s clients to get high-quality IT experts working remotely at a fraction of the usual cost – with no red tape and within two weeks.
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?
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.
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!
The holidays are upon us and as if most other times of year aren’t crazy enough- this time of the year is down right frenetic. It has been just around a month since I wrote something here. My absence wasn’t because I no longer care to write or that I am somehow lacking in ambition. Quite simply, I needed a break after an epic year of opportunity that left me exhausted. Actually, if I am honest with myself I experienced a bout of exhaustion- there I said it!
If you look around there are all sorts of cues around us urging us to keep going, work harder, and do more. What may be social cues for others is a daily log of messages in my head. It replays over and over again. There’s no question that success comes to those who work for it. Working hard and consistently is how you make your luck in life. The dilemma is: Sometimes over-achievement comes at a price and that price is very likely to be your health. All of this chatter about “hustling hard” is a myth. There is something called rest and your body needs it. There is something called “burnout” and that is also a very real thing.
The goal and sweet spot is to work smarter, not harder. That isn’t to say that when I need to get something done and it requires a late night that I won’t do it. I will do it and drink a half a pot of coffee doing it. What I am saying is we all need balance and/or a break. While it isn’t a perfect science for many of us day-to-day, it is certainly something we all should try to work towards on a regular basis.
This topic of “The Myth of Hustling” was so dear to me that I tackled it on a recent “Ask Czarina Live” episode. I urge you to watch the show below and share your stories and thoughts with me.
In just a few short days, I will be taking a more substantial break where I tune out a bit more to take in the holiday festivities and reflect on my year. It will also provide quiet, creative space for me to churn out some items that are sure to please when I return with a vengeance in 2016. This will mark another time where “The Aristocracy of HR” goes quiet for a bit. I wasn’t sure if I was fine with taking this break, but I have decided that it is fine and it is necessary. I will touch base here twice more before it goes quiet for about two weeks or so ( still deciding how much time I want to take). I will be back before you know it filling your brains with all things, tech, data, world of work, entrepreneurship and of course my newest baby “Ask Czarina Live”.