Three years ago, I was a part of a small social media team that was covering the NY Business Expo Summit in New York City. After several hours of busily typing soundbites of some of the brightest minds in Social Media, I sauntered to the nearest lavatory where I was approached by Dr. Hilary S. Berger, Ed.D of Work Like a Mother®. She was fascinated with the speed at which I was typing and covering the event and asked me if I could help her hone her skills.
Not too long after the event we met in a Panera Bread in New York City to discuss the possibility of working with one another. As we were sharing our backgrounds and journeys as mothers, we realized we both had a passion for seeing women thrive. We spent most of our time talking about what we might be able to accomplish together someday. These lofty wishes were wrapped up in us being able to provide programs, events, and workshops that could assist women who have lost their way with a way to become relevant again through unique learning opportunities- an academy of sorts.
Some three years later, I am happy to say that academy was launched in 2015 as the Work Like a Mother® Career Academy for Social Media and Job Search Training. I came aboard as a social media and personal branding instructor. In 2016, we are collaborating in a more formal fashion to create new programming and provide the next iteration of the Work Like a Mother® Career Academy for Social Media and Job Search Training.
Our first collaboration is a program that was one of my proudest achievements for 2015- my Talent Think Social Circle Virtual Mentorship Teleclass ™. I launched this program with an idea, shoestring budget and blind faith from October through December of 2015 following the conclusion of the academy and it was a success.
Class “Usie” after my Art of Personal Branding and Social Media Workshop.
With the interest and support of Work Like a Mother®, my program has an extended lifeline and has grown into a multi-level program serving two separate needs for the women we serve:
1) Some women just want to re-enter the workforce. As such, their primary interest is in enhancing their skills and building the confidence needed to become a marketable candidate in an ever-difficult and selective job market.
2) In complete contrast to the previous example, there are women who have ideas for businesses they want to launch and need a place where they can incubate and grow those ideas into businesses. They too require some up-skilling and coaching to get there and we want to serve that need as well.
Who better to nurture women who have either of these needs than two mothers/business women that understand and empathize with their journeys. Corporate America isn’t checking for them and certainly hasn’t made much progress in ensuring the career mobility and flexibility of women, so we are tackling it in the only way we know- through education and coaching.
Work Like a Mother Open House (1.15.16)
You may be thinking what does this have to do with Human Resources?
On the surface, probably not anything. Let’s dive a little deeper though. When I worked in HR, I recognized that people could skip along all day creating policies and procedures without any care or concern for how it impacts the workforce. We were keeping the organization compliant and that is necessary. However, I often wondered if things would be different if Human Resources could function in a truly altruistic manner. My HR buddy, Dave Ryan shared something rather profound in a recent blog post. The post titled: “A Utopian Workplace”drove home an important consideration which is: “it is hard for HR to create a utopian society in the way everyone expects when society has yet to right certain human wrongs. I have to agree and I believe one of the things we have screwed up left and right is how women are regarded and treated in the workplace. More disturbingly is how women who choose to become mothers are often displaced and forgotten. While my collaboration has really nothing to do with HR directly, indirectly Hilary and I are attempting to triage the ills of society from the outside-in-with the hope that these women can thrive and succeed in the way that is most meaningful for them.
If you are interested in learning more about our programs, go to: http://worklikeamother.com/Mentorship.html. In addition, if you are interested in featuring us on your blog, publication, podcast etc. to discuss our work we would welcome the opportunity to collaborate with you.
Here’s a little more insight on Dr. Hilary S. Berger, Ed.d and Work Like a Mother® worth knowing:
Dr. Hilary S. Berger, Ed.D. is the founder of Work Like a Mother® and is a Career Counselor and Board Certified Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor who earned her Doctoral Degree from Columbia University’s Teachers College. With office locations in Fairfield County Connecticut, Dr. Berger has pioneered a solution oriented career counseling system designed exclusively for educated mothers at home raising their families. She has counseled women in transition both in university settings and in private practice for over twenty years. Work Like a Mother®, a thriving and dynamic community for mothers, is a one stop shop for mothers rebuilding their professional relevance and marketability during and after their parenting years.
Courtesy of Pixabay.com
There is nothing more reassuring to a jobseeker than hearing that opportunity abounds in the company you are interviewing with. It isn’t the most important aspect for everyone, but for a good majority- it is the defining factor next to compensation and other candidate bait. There’s very little reason for candidates to doubt your claim of endless upward mobility. That is until they get burned. When they start a job and find out the yellow brick road to career greatness is more like quicksand; it leads to initial disappointment-but they haven’t lost hope in every employer yet. They start to search again and find another seemingly good company. To ensure that they don’t make the same mistake again, they ask your recruiter better questions during the interview process. They join your company with hope and promise beneath their wings; but this time there is a new set of tricks that halt their career progression. Now, it hits the candidate like a ton of bricks that there’s something wrong. Either they are really bad at choosing companies or they aren’t as great as they thought. To put it plainly it is utterly frustrating.
At a time where retention and talent management are all the rage, you would think companies would be more intentional about looking at practices that may be undermining their efforts.Whatever your sentiment is about how employees progress in the company, you have to agree that the following practices are pretty lame and counterproductive to your talent management strategy.
1) Bogus Job Postings– Here we have those highly-coveted positions where you have quietly identified your candidate of choice, but decide to waste your employees’ time, energy and emotions as they fawn over a job they have no possibility of attaining. The worst part about this is the imposition you put both your recruiters and candidates in. Both parties know how it’s going to turn out, but instead they have to go through the motions because you want it to appear that you conducted a competitive search.
2) Sneak-Attack Promotions- When you feel the need to confidentially promote employees followed by a celebrity-worthy press release announcing your decision- morale is going to plummet. It doesn’t say very much about your leadership ability, when you don’t think enough of your team to give them a chance to apply and interview for positions they are qualified to do.
3) Hold em’ and Fold em’- Are your managers undermining your employees’ ability to transfer by creating performance issues and personality narratives that never existed? This is typical when opportunity presents internally, but the manager does everything in their power to keep the employee from progressing further by sharing off-the-record performance fodder that influences the selection process. The problem with this is the employee catches on eventually and realizes they’ve been blacklisted.
4) The Relic on the Shelf- Poor tenured employee who has done well in becoming the go-to gal or guy in their department, but can’t seem to get any further. So you mean to tell me that this person who has been with the company for 30+ years with nary a bad performance review and happens to be fluent in the company rules, norms and culture is suddenly not good enough for any other opportunities in the organization or even their own department? Stop the madness!
5) Give Me More… more education, more experience, more skills, a third arm, the stem cells from your first child- I get it-you don’t have time to train and you need them up and running like yesterday. How do more KSA’s help when you haven’t established what is absolutely essential to your operation? In addition, why is it necessary when you have promoted and continue to promote people with no credentials? If you’re going to ask someone to go back to school or learn more, the request needs to be consistent and operationally-warranted. Last time, I checked Jesus Christ already has a job.
Here you have five scenarios where there is likely a disconnect between your intention and practice. The moral of the talent management story is this: if someone isn’t performing well, don’t promote them. However, have the decency to have a conversation about how they can fix it. When they do fix it, don’t hold their past performance mistakes and deficits over their head indefinitely. Strike a balance between what you want and what is needed. You may think you “need” someone with a PH.D and the ability to read minds for that receptionist role, but does it have to be so?
For God’s sake be thankful for your tenured employees, if not for them many of your triumphs and financial gains would not be possible. If they aren’t trained to the standard of the current workforce, blame yourself for not investing in them and insisting that they continue to grow professionally. Speaking of growth, stop hiding and withholding opportunity from your workers. Be transparent about present and upcoming opportunities. Allow your employees to apply for internal opportunities aligned with their backgrounds and interests. The best case scenario is you could find out you have been missing out on some unknown strengths of your employees. The worst case…you hire the right person and your employee carries on knowing that you at least gave them a chance.
Lastly, no more bogus searches. External and internal candidates alike know when you are full of sh%&! Stop putting out external postings knowing you want a qualified internal candidate and stop posting internal positions knowing there’s a VIP in mind. Interviewing for a job is stressful and we have all been there. There is nothing considerate about making someone go through the scrutiny that is synonymous with the interview and selection process for no reason. Being honest about opportunity is just one more way of building rapport with your employees. It also ensures that prospective employees aren’t deterred from joining your company because you haven’t committed to a consistent and fair talent management strategy.