The Art of Feedback – Ask For It! Part 2

Yes, giving feedback is key to creating a dialogue with your team; however, it’s equally as important to ask for feedback… All of the time!  The best leaders, most productive teams and savviest individuals beg for feedback.  They want to know where they are, so that they can improve and avoid future mistakes.


I recently had an interaction with a leader, and he provided immediate feedback about a situation.  It was quick, to the point and very positive.  After he mentioned the positives, I said, “I need to know more.  What can I do better next time?”  He had great insight that made me want to improve and utilize my strengths in order to overcome a few barriers.  We now have open communication and regularly provide feedback to one another after one quick conversation.

Feedback truly is this easy, productive and positive. There are several reason why feedback is so important, but the first one should be obvious: most people want to do better.  The only way anyone knows they are lacking is if some one tells them.  We have several filters in our day-to-day lives that hold us back from seeing the full truth or the entire situation, so we have to rely on each other in order to improve.

If you don’t feel extremely comfortable asking for feedback, here’s a few questions you can start with.  Also, make sure your reaction to the feedback (no matter how critical), is calm, cool and collected.  If you ask for feedback, and then reprimand the provider, good luck on ever being able to get feedback from anyone else on your team, especially if you’re the leader.  Equally as important is to make relevant changes based on the information.

Once we feel comfortable giving this level of open, genuine feedback to one another, the better we will get at receiving truly critical, constructive comments about ourselves.  While this is not always easy, if the people on our teams are providing the feedback in an authentic, purpose driven way, teams will reap the benefits.

Make sure to stop back for Part 3 of The Art of Feedback – Do It Right!  Also, let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.  Thanks for reading.



The Art of Feedback – Give it! Part 1

Growth, development, learning, improvement… I find these words on every review, every job description and every candidates response.  They slide easily throughout conversations about goals and outcomes, but they can only be accomplished by providing feedback.

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Feedback is a gift.  I hear this all the time as well; however, there is also a cautious line set between team members, departments and even some leaders where it feels impolite, abrasive or challenging to give honest feedback.  In order to step over this boundary, an organization’s culture has to invite and create opportunities to provide feedback.

A company must focus on the positives of giving feedback and remember that learning is crucial to the success of team members.  An easy place to start is at the top.  If your leader is giving you regular feedback, you will feel more comfortable providing that same advantage to your team members, which can then spread to peer-to-peer communication as well.

Developing one another should come easy and naturally, and that’s all that feedback is!  Most people want to grow and understand their failures, so providing feedback should be the next step in helping one another.  As long as the feedback given comes from a place of genuine interest and consideration for the other person, the conversation should end on a positive note.  In fact, most people actually feel better about themselves and situations once feedback is provided.  Here are a few great stats about feedback in the workplace.

Equally as important to remember, feedback doesn’t only need to be negative.  Leaders and team members should be showering each other with positivity and appreciation any chance they get.

While it may make some uncomfortable, the good thing about giving feedback is that the more the art is practiced, the easier it will come.  Leaders owe it to their team to provide honest, open communication about performance in order to create a successful team, retain top talent and instill a culture of feedback.

Have thoughts about feedback in the workplace?  Please let me know what you think in the comment section below.


AI in HR

Everything is slowly gravitating toward becoming automated or processed by robots. Kiosks are replacing clerks, computers are becoming stronger and faster, and humans will soon need to think about how they will work in a world with artificial intelligence.

Technology is currently attacking the industries that are less customer-oriented, but how will HR function when robots take the human out of human resources? Will humans no longer need to work in HR?

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While there are pros and cons for AI in the workplace, Human Resources is people-centered. From training to recruitment to engagement, everything is tied to employees; however, I believe almost all jobs run the danger of being affected, or possibly even eliminated, by technology… Eventually.

Once our culture completely shifts to a technology-based system with less focus on customer service, HR will be required to complete the shift as well in order to use AI. Here’s what I think will happen in the three main areas of HR:

Training:  Robots can have access to an immense amount of information immediately and can actually learn through a variety of systems. Also, there isn’t much difference between an in-person facilitation and a computer based training.

Recruitment: AI can already be used in recruiting in order to screen applications and increase productivity for recruiters. If robots can be taught to pick the right application repeatedly, then there may be only a need for one interview with a hiring manager, if that. Also, in a world with social media, readers could be used to find the right candidates who use networking sites.

Employee Relations: While coaching conversations seem to have to be completed by humans, it could be possible that a robot could facilitate a conversation based on previous situations. If AI is able to piece together past experiences, it could come to a solid conclusion of how to handle the situation. This may even hold up against lawsuits since there would be no tie to emotional or irrational decisions.

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HR is about connecting with employees, but if a robot can provide those types of emotions and relationships then it’s possible that HR positions could be filled with AI.

While I’m not extremely thrilled about this idea nor do I think it will happen with any great speed, I think every department should be ready for AI.  I hope that humans will be able to work along side of AI without being complete replaced.

While efficiency, effectiveness and profits are important, what happens when the jobs run out? Let me know in the comments below.

The Power of Hello

Think about the last time you made eye contact with someone, shared a smile and then a genuine hello. The feeling of connecting with people is something most people crave. People love to be a part of something bigger than them, and it all starts with “Hello!”

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Now, I won’t pull any cheesy Adele references, but I think greetings can be absolutely powerful. By extending a warm hello, it shows that we noticed a person and that we want that individual to feel welcomed, especially in the workplace.

Sometimes all it takes is a good greeting to get people to completely open up about the crazy morning that they had or the frustrating issue that they are still dealing with. It spreads a culture of inclusivity and positivity.

It can also help us make greater connections and utilize our networking skills. Sometimes meeting someone new at a meeting or an event can be daunting, but it’s really just as easy as saying hello. Once you get passed the hello, here are a few tips to keep the conversation going.

Equally as important is to greet someone who doesn’t greet you. It could easily change the perceptions that are there and may even fix a broken relationship by opening the possibility for dialogue. Give it a try, the worst thing that could happen is they say nothing, like they always do anyway!

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Leaders also need to be critically aware of how important their welcome is for their employees. If a leader comes into the office day after day and doesn’t recognize the team with a good morning, it sets a tone that work is more important than a positive environment and a caring culture. If you are a leader, make a point of greeting each individual on your team if that’s possible. If not, send out a good morning e-mail message to the whole team and see what happens to the buzz in the office.

Speaking of e-mail, always, always, always include some type of greeting in the initial e-mail you send to a person. This again sets the tone, and if you are asking for a favor, you should at least take a moment to greet that person. Here is a complete list of other ideas to make your e-mails professional and polished.

Greetings have the ability to change someone’s day and can really infect a business’s culture with positivity, acceptance and friendliness. Saying hello is extremely contagious, so just note that you have been warned that once you start, you luckily won’t be able stop!

The next time you are at work, say hello to everyone you see and let me know what happens in the comment section below.

Let’s Kill The HR Stereotype

HR is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Employees see it as a place where peers go and never return while leaders see it as a checklist chasing, rule follower.   There are several reasons why people hate HR. However, HR can be such a pivotal strategy for any business.

When employees and leaders overcome the stereotype of HR, they really can benefit from having a great HR team that they can rely on every day. HR can be fun and it should be! HR can drive the culture throughout an organization and should be supported by all business members instead of dreaded or feared. HR is important, here’s ten reasons that prove it.

Employees should rely on HR to provide information about benefits, create useful, necessary trainings and create a fun culture throughout the organization. HR has all the perks, discount, and, most of time, all of the information on fun new things for employees to get excited about. They are also there to help when an employee needs to take a leave, gets the wrong medical bill, is paid incorrectly or wants a promotion.

Also, employees should see HR as a sounding board when things aren’t going right. Whether it’s through a one-on-one conversation or an anonymous feedback method, employees should use HR as a neutral party in the workplace.  HR should be pro-employee and pro-company (isn’t that one in the same?) by listening, sharing information and taking feedback into consideration.

HR is also a savior for leaders. When it’s time to complete reviews, have a difficult conversation with an employee or create formal documentation, HR should be the first contact because it provides an outsiders perspective to the daily challenges in a department.   Also, if a team is struggling with morale or needs a new incentive program, the HR team can share best practices. Leaders should also use HR as a safe-place sounding board to vent frustrations.

human-resources-management-masters-degree-programI think the view of HR is getting better, but in order for it to change, HR teams need to take accountability for this as well.  They need to be knowledgeable, follow-through on action items and work extremely hard for the organization.  They need to own their department and prove that they provide value to the organization.

HR teams also need to take their jobs of protecting employees and leaders seriously and really focus on their neutral stance within an organization, which isn’t always easy. All decisions should be fair, consistent and based on a reliable, thorough a handbook. Since HR doesn’t typically generate revenue in the formal sense, it has to show how resourceful and beneficial its tools are on a daily basis.

I truly believe that employees need to be supported and protected, and that leadership needs the influence of a third party to effectively lead their teams and ensure compliance.  HR has the power to support both leaders and employees in mutually beneficial means while ensuring a positive culture is spread throughout the organization.  By encouraging leaders, employees and HR to take an active role in changing the culture, all sides will benefit.

Stop by and get to know your HR team members this week, they may be more resourceful than you think.

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Not Another HR Training

Knock, Knock? Who’s there? Another amazing HR training that you are dying to attend! *Person slowly closes the door and turns out the lights! Why does this happen more often than not? When an organization sends out communication and sign-up sheets for required trainings, there is a collective groan from every department.

1458135452141It doesn’t have to be like this. There are ways to improve our training programs and make them more informative, more engaging and more useful. Being a trainer for more than four years now, I have found a love for trainings. I love to see different facilitators, different methods and different styles. I also enjoy seeing what not to do because that makes me a better trainer as well.

Everyone has been to the failed training program. Where nothing goes right, no one is bought into the course material, and nothing is really accomplished. But there are ways to overcome this. Here are my top five things that can help any training:

  1. Practice, practice, practice – If you are lucky enough to have a facilitators guide, practice your material until you know it completely and then add more material to ensure you can answer questions. All great trainers know the material to avoid embarrassment.
  2. Get senior leaders excited – If the boss is interested in it, you should be in love with it. If you can get managers on board with why a training is important, they will be more likely to speak positively about the class and the opportunity to learn something new.
  3. Listen to the participants – The whole reason the training even exists is to teach an employee something new, so listening to their feedback is key. Ask numerous questions to see if participants understand the concepts or, if they are already knowledgeable in the field, to get realistic examples that you may not be able to provide yourself.
  4. Have fun – Participants don’t want to be bored to tears sitting for hours on end waiting for the torture to end. The more participation you can get and the activities you can do, the more engaged the participants will be. For example, role-playing may not be everyone’s thing, but at the end of it people are smiling, it’s not scripted and it gets people out of their seats. The same with ice breakers, which are great ways to start a day or to come back from a break.
  5. Don’t tell them what time lunch is – Once you give people a definitive timeline, their minds go to the clock. It’s great to give an agenda and let people know what topics will be covered, but leave off the timeline.

Here is also a checklist to ensure you are set-up to provide an outstanding course. Trainings can be fun, engaging and most importantly productive if the proactive steps are taken to ensure it’s a great experience for everyone.

Have you ever facilitated a training? Tell me your best practices in the comment section below.

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Introvert or Extrovert – The Workplace Needs Both

Quite frequently I hear the question, “Are you an extrovert or an introvert?”.  While I think this is an important question to know the answer to, I don’t think it should force a person to be a certain way.  Being a person who can easily switch from one descriptor to the other, I find myself slightly cringe when one is seen as more positive than the other because, quite simply, the workplace needs both.

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Let’s start with introverts, only because I was ranked as an introvert based on the MBTI (just barely) and it’s what I consider myself more often than not.  Based on this article, introverts choose words more carefully, are extremely focused and can process a lot of information.  On the other hand, they may make bad first impressions, have limited networking skills and lack verbal communication.

Extroverts obviously bring the opposite and that’s a great thing… Even for introverts.  A few pros of being an extrovert include increased individual growth, being socially active and having the ability to be expressive.  The downside includes being unknowingly annoying, having a lack of self-awareness and saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.

Both types of personalities can be great leaders, excel in teams and be creative thinkers, which is why the workplace needs both. When these labels are used to tell us what we should or shouldn’t do or be, I think that’s when we let them do more harm than good. If businesses used only these two attributes during recruiting or promoting, the outcome would be a nightmare because these two descriptors only tell us so much about a person.

Introvert Extrovert
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Being a trainer, most people think I am a natural extrovert, but this is where assumptions can lead us in the wrong direction and can cause friction on teams. Introversion simply means you get your energy from being alone where as extroverts recharge by being with people. When someone’s personality is assumed based on a few interactions, the whole story is shortened to a few limiting descriptors that can dramatically limit a team and department.

With the increase in personality tests, employers and employees need to be increasingly cautious when using labels. While some jobs may fit certain personalities better, it’s important that we look at and listen to the whole person because most people can be successful and comfortable in all sorts of roles.

While it’s nice to have information about personalities, let’s not jump to conclusions and let something as small as introvert or extrovert dictate our roles, our relationships or our successes. We are always more than the labels that define us especially when it comes to a personality profile.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?  How does that impact you in the workplace? Let me know in the comment section below.