#ProOpinion: Closed Mouths Stagnate Progress

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Made with Photofy

Campaign/FTC disclosure: I will receive compensation for promoting this campaign. I only work with companies I feel have great products, services and offerings. In accordance with my blog disclosure statement, I will only work with and showcase products and/or companies I believe my readers will benefit from. Pro Opinion has hired me as a brand ambassador for this campaign because of my influence on social media and in business. I am not formally employed by Pro Opinion. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Working in HR you get your fair share of discussions around the need to have a town hall or to administer a survey. I’m pretty sure most of the workforce is over surveys, because two things happen: 1) They end up answering questions leadership knows the answers to and 2) There is usually no action behind the surveys- making employees’ efforts fruitless. I believe in soliciting feedback from the very people we serve: employees and customers. Despite the stigma around surveys, they still have an important use in many areas of business when utilized appropriately. It is clear that, businesses focused on new ways to serve their customers and employees are poised to see continuous growth in their organizations. It goes back to the old saying:”You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” How can businesses stay ahead-of-the-curve while operating their businesses blindly? The truth is they can’t and many CEO’s are adjusting to this new reality of data-driven decision making.

A 2015 Global CEO survey by PWC found that 60% of CEO’s are concerned about threats to their businesses given the increased transparency around business operations in the past few years. Additionally, they found that 67% of US CEO’s feel their are more opportunities for their business today than three years ago. Even in this instance, you can see the power in surveys and soliciting feedback. We simply have no way of knowing where we have been, where we are currently and where we are heading; unless we ask the those connected to our markets how we are doing.

You can question the efficacy of surveys, but what I do know is closed-mouths stagnate our progress in business. If a product is terrible and doesn’t do what it purports to do- the business never knows they need to make a change unless consumers speak up. If a business process is slowing down the productivity of employees, leadership has no clue and carries on as usual- if none of the employees speak up. One of the ways we get people to let us know where we can improve is via surveys. Per my earlier sentiment, if those customers and/or employees don’t think their voice is important enough to record their thoughts in a survey; nothing will change.

This is why I am so happy to be working with ProOpinion as a brand ambassador. ProOpinion allows business professionals to make data-driven decisions that will drive results. Essentially, they are a survey partner for businesses that need to get feedback on their products or market behavior from professionals like you and I. I just completed a survey today about business communications, the providers I use and why I use who I do for my communications needs. I have had so many trials and tribulations with phone and internet providers that I was actually happy to provide some feedback on my experiences. Will my feedback change certain providers behaviors? I certainly hope so. However, I can rest easy knowing I didn’t sit in silence when my voice and opinion could have made all the difference.

Image Courtesy of ProOpinion

Image Courtesy of ProOpinion

I need a favor from you. You all are professional rockstars and have shown up for me in the past. Sign up for ProOpinion here. It is free and will enable you to have input into some of businesses most pressing concerns. Additionally, you have the ability to earn rewards like Amazon.com Gift Cards and gift cards from many other retail outlets. In addition, you will have access to their infographic vault and blog filled with timely business information and metrics. Your initial profile creation will be around 20-25 minutes, but that is just so they are clear on what surveys to send you. Surveys come straight to your email inbox specifying the time it will take to complete it and the amount of reward points you will earn for your efforts.

Join me on ProOpinion and start allowing your voice to have an impact on business while earning great rewards. After all, it isn’t often that you get so much for free. The only thing that isn’t free is your time, but what better way to spend a few minutes than to chime in about topics that are important to you. Check it out you won’t be disappointed.

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From Root to STEM: Why I’m Raising My Daughter To Appreciate Coding and All Things STEM

FTC Disclosure: I participated in Dice’s Hour of Code event on December 9th, 2014. I have been compensated to discuss my experiences and thoughts in relation to this event. In accordance with my blog disclosure statement, I will only work with and showcase products and/or companies I believe my readers will benefit from. All views contained in this article are mine. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

DiceCode1294

Representing women in technology and science begins with raising girls to become a part of those fields. ~ Lexi Herrick, Marketer for Global Technology Company

You may not know this, but I am a sucker for science and technology. Before I started down the road of studying behaviors in the workplace and my career in HR, I was biochemistry major with aspirations of becoming a forensic pathologist. As a teen, I took science classes long after it was still required for me to do so. I often went to county finals with my science fair projects and participated in my high school’s Intel program. It is fair to say that I had a natural affinity for science early on in life. However, I am sure that my fascination and curiosity may not have been as robust- if I was not introduced to science and technology at an early age; while also being given the chance to explore my abilities in this area.

I ultimately gave up the hard science for a soft science discipline, but have never lost my scientific edge. Now that I have two little girls and a boy, I will not miss the opportunity to spark that same wonder for science that I possessed at a young age. This is why I was so excited to work with Dice on their Hour of Code event in NYC earlier this week.

Dice in conjunction with Code.org put on an event in support of coding called a #HourofCode. The idea is to get kids to spend at least an hour coding in hopes that it will spark an interest and appreciation for the Computer Science field. With Computer Science slated to inspire some of the most essential jobs of the 21st century, it is clear that we must get kids engaged earlier and on a consistent basis in STEM learning. Code.org has made the learning part easy and fun by creating free coding exercises on their website that not only exhibit beloved characters that kids are already familiar with, but encourages them to code simply.

Did you know?

Only 4.9% of all Bachelor’s degrees in Computer Science in 2010 were awarded to women?  More importantly, less than 2.4% of college students overall graduate with a degree in Computer Science, and the numbers have dropped since last decade. There will be 1.4 million computing jobs to be filled by 2020 according to Code.org. We have a STEM shortage and crisis on our hands.

Courtesy of Dice.com

Courtesy of Dice.com

It was an amazing experience to be able to learn with and champion my daughter as she progressed through the Frozen™coding exercise. It starts off simple enough to grab their attention but also presents the right amount of challenge as you get to higher level puzzles to allow the child to critically think through creating the proposed scenario. In case you hadn’t heard, a lack of critical thinking is a common complaint from primary school through post-graduation- our kids are being starved of creative and critical thinking so much so-that it is nearly non-existent by the time they are looking for jobs.

In November, Dice reported that job postings seeking candidates with Hadoop experience are up 43%. There are currently 2,192 Hadoop-related job postings on Dice. Further proof that we need to be inspiring next generation STEM Enthusiasts.

It’s clear that we need a bigger push for STEM learning in our schools. However, I’m also a firm believer that you cannot force a child to be what you want them to be. That said, I think it is my job as a parent to provide a varied enough sampling of activities to allow my daughter to find her strengths, weaknesses, and passions. Dice is passionate about inspiring future leaders in STEM which is why they asked me and all of their employees to participate in this event with their children. How smart and cool!

DiceCode1293

Event Swag Alert: For those of you that have attended other Dice events- you know they usually spare no expense when it comes to their gifts. Guests received a cool, sling backpack full of fun Dice-branded goodies.

I encourage each of you to try an hour of code and share it with the young people in your life. You will be surprised at what you can do. Who knows you may even find a new hobby while you’re at it.

Need some more convincing? Check out the video below from some familiar faces in support of the “Hour of Code.

“Out of Her Comfort Zone”-The London Sessions: Mary J. Blige Album Review

FTC Disclosure: I participated in the Mary J Blige: The London Sessions album review program as a member of bLink Marketing Network. I was provided a free album to review but all opinions are my own.

Reader Comment Disclaimer: Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.

Even on Mary J Blige’s 13th studio album she is pushing herself outside of her comfort zone. With everything that I have done this year, this concept of remaining in a state of both professional and personal discomfort resonates with me. Mary was asked 20 questions that led to 20 fun facts for her album launch. My favorite question was: “when was the last time that she felt nervous?” her answer: this morning. Nothing is gained by dancing through life to the beat of the status quo. “The London Sessions” is proof that great things can be achieved when you remove yourself from your comfort zone.

Influenced by the late, Amy Winehouse, Sam Smith, Adele and young talent such as Disclosure, Mary recorded this album in 3 weeks and didn’t miss a beat in the process. The overall feel of the album is soulful, honest, and musically pure. If you’re looking for her usual hardcore Hip-Hop beats this isn’t the album for you. From the first track “Therapy” (co-written by Sam Smith); you get a strong tune with a jazz background that draws you into the album narrative immediately. You certainly fall in love with the range of Mary’s voice all over again. “Therapy” is an evolution from “No More Drama” of 2002 where the message is why be unhappy or bitter when there’s a place you can go heal. Whether it is meant for you to literally go to therapy or figuratively for you to go wherever you find healing- it is a great song.

Mary packs more power in this album with “Not Loving You” recorded with Sam Smith. The strength of this song is the lyrics: “There’s only so much I can do, if you’re not loving you”. This is another song that shows growth and a healed Mary from her earlier music that mirrored her pain and real-life struggles.

Now let’s get to my favorites…

If you are like me and you like to dance, “Right Now” is the jam. It is urban meets melodic synth house beat. Plainly, the beat is hypnotic. If you dance, it will get you dancing. If you’re kind of a background guy or gal, it will certainly make you nod your head. I love this song and have had it on repeat. It’s grown and sexy and what I think Mary fans have been waiting for. “Pick Me Up” is simply whimsical. The lyrics are all about what it is to struggle while wanting to be whisked away to somewhere beautiful to escape it all. It’s a feel-good song that had me smiling the whole time.

“Whole Damn Year” is another track that I adore. When you’ve played an instrument like I have, you tend to hear instrumentals before vocals. This song has a beautiful piano melody with subtle kicks and snares that give it almost a soft rock feel. The song was written by Emeli Sande and talks about the struggle of self-love and trusting when your trust has been tarnished by someone you love. Mary brings her usual depth and soulfulness to this song. You will feel her and her message by the end of the song.

I rarely buy whole albums anymore, unless it speaks to me musically. I am a fan of Mary since “What’s the 411” in 92′. This album feels like Mary and I have evolved together. We started out as kids in baggy jeans with our hats backwards and now we’ve struggled, grown and know a lot more about life. We haven’t lost that urban edge on this album but we’ve evolved into something more sophisticated, wiser and eclectic.

“The London Sessions” is a beautiful journey and I’m urging you to come along with me on it. The album will be available for sale on December 2nd. You can pre-order a digital copy here. Since it is the holidays, why not share the beauty of music with your loved ones. The album will also be available for sale on:

Since we’re a social community here at “The Aristocracy of HR”, here are some links to her social profiles. If you’re a fan like me, you will enjoy her Facebook page and website where you can unlock exclusive, behind-the-scenes content from the album.

This may be an HR blog, but one thing we can agree on is that we HR types love good music. I hope you will love it as much as I do. Check out the official video for my favorite, “Right Now” below. Let’s keep the momentum going on the following hashtags: #TheLondonSessions #HRMusicShare #hrjams

I participated in the Mary J Blige The London Sessions album review program as a member of bLink Marketing Network. I was provided a free album to review but all opinions are my own.

Optimism: The Future of Talent Strategy

Campaign/FTC disclosure: I will receive compensation for promoting this campaign. I only work with companies I feel have great products, services and offerings. In accordance with my blog disclosure statement, I will only work with and showcase products and/or companies I believe my readers will benefit from. Xerox has hired me as a brand ambassador for this campaign because of my influence on social media and in talent management. I am not formally employed by Xerox. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Image courtesy of Deviantart.net

According to Merriam-Webster, Optimism is defined as “a hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something.” I believe every new employee starts out with an abundance of optimism for their career pursuits with a company. It’s sort of like you waking up with an abundance of money in your bank account, but due to cost of living and other expenditures the money becomes less and less and more often than not- it is depleted. Optimism works the same way. The pot of optimism is essentially there to be nurtured, invested and increased. The issue is companies that are unaware of its value and impact will blindly deplete it.

Where does the love go?

We are still hearing reports about 70% of the workforce being disengaged. Why don’t more companies get it? The problem is business leaders understand the business but they seldom have their finger on the pulse of the true motivations, intentions or wishes of their employees. Furthermore, they seem to be missing the mark on keeping that account of optimism funded as the employee continues to work for them.

Being able to harness and sustain the enthusiasm for the company’s objectives as well as providing meaningful work experiences will be key factor in deploying a successful talent strategy in the future. Today’s top talent comes with high expectations, fleeting loyalty and a drive to make an impact. Companies that are able to inspire and sustain enthusiasm will likely be most successful in being able to retain and mobilize their employees to achieve business objectives.

All along, we thought that retention was about nurturing employees such that they would remain with a company. Given this notion that Xerox puts forth of the Return on Optimism (ROO), we come to understand that when individuals are recognized and understood by the business-the company realizes increased productivity, teams are more innovative, clarity around business objectives is commonplace and in return the company retains happier employees.

It’s not a generational thing

It doesn’t matter what generation you belong to, most people prefer to do work that is meaningful for them. If we had to define what ‘meaningful’ would look like – it would be a cross between something you are great at and something you are passionate about. Businesses have a choice of having a miserable workforce that will likely be unproductive and even destructive to the business or they can intentionally ensure that they do all that is possible to help people succeed in their careers.

How many times during the course of your career, have you been asked about what you are good at and the work that you enjoy?

In my case, I have seldom been asked this question. Admittedly, it is a loaded question since the answer will vary from person to person. What do we gain if companies looked at aligning people to their goals; while also satisfying individual career goals and aspirations? All things being equal, you would have your people doing what they love and excel at-which would in turn empower them to give you 100% of their effort in achieving business outcomes. There would be less heavy lifting where it comes to performance management, because we all would be speaking the same language of constant improvement and building on successes. Sounds like a simple solution to a nagging business issue.

How do you see “return on optimism” being used to develop talent strategy?

Want to see how your company stacks up? Take Xerox’s “Return on Optimism” quiz for further insights from top executives at Xerox and other Fortune 500 companies. Click here. Also, see my survey results here.

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