I use many forms of technology throughout my day. I have two different types of days, as well. The first is my day off of work. The most important tool that I use is my cell phone. I have a Blackberry Edge. This is not my phone of choice, but as my children and husband get new “smart phones”, I get their old phones. I like my Blackberry. I mainly use it to text and call my friends and family. I also use it to check updates on Facebook. I store all of my addresses and phone numbers, and sometimes use the calendar for reminders. I do use the alarm to ensure I don’t forget an appointment. I do not have a hands free unit for my phone, but since it will become illegal soon to talk and drive without the hand free unit, I will be purchasing one soon. While I am off, I also use the internet quite a bit. I am slightly addicted to Twitter and Facebook. On Twitter, I follow a lot of human resource related contacts. I find their stories interesting, and, if I want, I read their blogs and respond to their comments. Twitter is a very powerful tool for business. I also connect to my Facebook daily. I mainly read what my kids are doing, and chat with old high school friends. I do have some photos that I download onto my Facebook. My phone doesn’t take great pictures, but I have a Kodak Sure Shot that I use quite a bit. I also have a blog that I write about work-related topics. I started using these forms of media in a class I took over summer, and have continued to utilize these sources. I also do all my banking and bill paying over the internet. I seldom use a stamp anymore. I have an IPod. I use it to work out with. I have had it for several years. I haven’t quite figured out how to load music onto it, my kids have always done that for me. For entertainment, I love watching movies. I still go to the movies often, but I also use RedBox and rent several DVDs weekly. I do not travel without my GPS; I am directionally challenged. We take quite a few weekend driving trips where the GPS comes in use.
At work, I am constantly on the computer. I use company programs, and also the company intranet. We also have our own company internal twitter called Wiki. We have several kinds of programs on PDAs for internal processes, and also have an extensive POS system. I teach a lot of classes at work, such as orientation, and utilize a DVD player for that. We have a lot of online teachings for continual development for our employees. I still use my personal cell phone at work, to keep in touch with my colleagues and family.
I chose to not use any technology on one of my days off; of course, I want to keep my job. I didn’t realize how much I depend on the internet to look things up quickly. On this particular day, my daughter, who is away at college, needed to go to urgent care for Strep throat. First, I had to answer my phone because she was calling me. Second, I had to jump on the internet to find a doctor who was covered under our insurance plan; two strikes. I didn’t answer my phone until noon after that. I missed 3 calls, one from my mother, one from my son, and one from my sister. With my children away from home in college, I can only feel connected to them through Facebook and my cell phone. I don’t know how people survived without cell phones and keeping connected. I went to the gym and road the elliptical for only 30 minutes. It is too boring without music. I survived the rest of the day. I didn’t even watch TV, I read a book instead. The night ended at 9pm, when I got another call from my daughter. I had to talk to her. I wouldn’t have been able to succeed without using technology if I would have had to do homework that day either. All papers have to be written on Microsoft Word, and uploaded to be turned in. Yes, I could survive without technology. I am not a Gen-Y. If I were to ask my kids, they would say absolutely not! Why live without technology, when it’s so readily available?
Add comment September 28, 2011 Tessa Duckett
I have had the pleasure of having 4 interns work for me this summer. The experience has been overwhelming. Now that their internship is coming to an end, I have come up with 5 reasons if I should make a permanent job offer.
1. Intern engagement
Intern engagement in your purpose, mission statement or business goals is ultimately the first step into making a job offer. How enthusiastic were they with your processes? Did they seem engaged? Engagement can be judged by how often they asked question, and were they meaningful, or were they just speaking to speak?
2. Right Person, Right Place, Right Time
Do you see them fitting in with your team? What will they bring to the company? Business growth is dependent on having the right people in the right position at the right time. If they don’t fit with your company, don’t hire them.
3. Willingness to learn
How teachable are they? Are they resilient for the ever-changing world for business? Can they adapt to your organization? Did they fit the roles of the position desired? A student is more adaptable and willing to learn new things. This is crucial on one hand, on the other, can they make a decision without being told the answers?
4. Graduation dates
Believe it or not, having an open position is key to filling a position. With payroll being a company’s biggest expense, you need to have a succession plan of what positions will be open and when. When the intern graduates helps fill the gaps.
5. Are they interested?
If you extend them a job offer will they accept? Hopefully, you have been giving them feedback during their internship. This is key to their success with your company. Can they take feedback, and what do they do with it? IF they have initiated conversations about wanting to stay on with the company, this makes the transition easy. If not, ask probing questions about what they liked and didn’t.
I had a great success this summer with my interns. We had weekly feedback sessions, and I was able to watch them develop into great leaders. It starts with recruiting the right candidates, teaching them, giving them feedback, and allowing them to make mistakes.
Add comment August 20, 2011 Tessa Duckett
Many employers ask that you leave your personal baggage at the door before you step into work. I have asked many of my employees to put on a smile, don’t let your personal life interfere with your work life- BUCK-UP and FAKE IT ‘TIL YOU MAKE IT!
This is easier said than done!
Today was a sad day for me. My baby girl(18 years old) left for college. She packed up her room, every single thing, packed her car, and waved good-bye. I have been excited for her, helping her with every decision, buying dorm-room items, and happily packing. I was not expecting this emotional rush to come over me, like a slap in the face! She may never come back. My heart dropped.
It was 6 in the morning, and I had to get ready for work. I am the fun girl. I can’t let this life-changing event get me down. For goodness sakes it is not cancer or death, it’s just another chapter in my life.
So how do I do what I have been telling everyone else to do? How do I go to work and put a smile on my face, focus on my job, and be pleasant to everyone? How do you just act like nothing is wrong?
You have made connections with your colleagues, peers, manager, even the janitor. Sharing life is how we stay functional at work, how we seem human and caring. Having your team see the “softer” side of you is ok-as long as you don’t do that everyday- I think I just contradicted myself-
It’s ok to have A day to go in your office, shut the door, and focus on your work, take a deep breath, and let life sink in. We all have seasons of life changing events in our lives- share them. It will keep you connected. If all else fails….
FAKE IT ‘TIL YOU MAKE IT!
Add comment August 14, 2011 Tessa Duckett
Does your company complete mid-year reviews? Do you know what you are getting on your end of year review, or is it a surprise? Maybe, how we think we are doing, management thinks otherwise. Do we go through the entire year thinking we are doing great, with nothing to improve on, we are just steady-eddy.
If we do not have monthly, or at least quarterly feedback, how are we to improve? So it’s the beginning of August , time to sit down with your boss and have a conversation. Here is a list of 4 topics to ask at a mid-year review.
1. What’s going well?
This is the time to ask what you are doing right. This is where all your wins are listed. These are the successes you have had, the projects or tasks you’ve completed, any measurements or results exceeded, and your team’s wins as well.
2. What needs work?
This is where your opportunities are discussed. Hopefully, you understand your opportunities and needs for improvement. Don’t just come in with a list of weaknesses, come in with an action plan on things you are doing to improve We will always have opportunities, but how you work to strengthen them is good for your development.
3. What are your peers and others saying about you?
A great way to react to feedback, is to ask for it up front from your peers and other managers, besides your current supervisor. This gives you a different perspective, and will help you to become more well-rounded.
4. What do you need from your boss?
A time to give your boss feedback. What they are doing well, and what they could improve on for your development. Be professional and thoughtful, this is a chance for your boss to grow as well
Mid-year review tie is a time to reconnect with your boss, yourself, and to keep ou on track for that “Outstanding” review,
Add comment August 9, 2011 Tessa Duckett
The final aspect of well-being that I want to discuss is healthy well-being. How can your company help you with your health and fitness. This can mean many things to many different employees.
The first thing that employers can do is to offer benefits. Many companies do, but do they do a good job of explaining them. Yes, I’m sure many pamphlets have been printed with information, and I’m sure it’s all over their website. The most alarming thing is that the employees don’t read any of it. I’ve had numerous employees come to me saying they went to the wrong hospital and weren’t covered. So, the first responsibility is to offer mini-chats regarding benefits when it is open enrollment time. Easy enough.
My company offers free flu shots, free biometric testing, free fat testing(ugh!), and there is also a free health wellness coach on-line. Our job as employers is to communicate the benefits to ensure everyone knows.
I did have a “Biggest Loser” contest at my place of employment. We took 3 months to lose whatever weight that each person wanted to. We used the friend/coaching/mentor program to motivate each other to our goals. We used percentages, and of course no names were posted with weight. Each week we had a challenge. These would include push-ups, wall-squats, jump rope contests, sit-ups, obstacle courses, and more. It was a lot of fun, and kept us motivated. We lost a total of 90 pounds with 23 participating. Now that is a way to put fun into work and keeping your team healthy.
We do not claim to be experts at health in my place of employment. We do care about our team, and want them to be their best. Remember that healthy employees are more productive! It’s a win-win!
1 comment August 9, 2011 Tessa Duckett
The third part of our well-being discussion encompasses financial well-being. When we are financially secure, not millionaires or billionaires, but secure and content with what we have, we are more productive and happy. Our lives are more enriched, and we are more susceptible to change
Finance, ugh! Who wants to even talk about that with the way the economy is? But think about our teams, if we, as executives, are struggling, what about our hourly entry-level employees? How can we help them?
Raises are far and few between, but what else can we do? What other perks can we offer? Does your company offer a 401K? Do all your employees take advantage of it? Maybe those that don’t need to be educated on the 401K and what your company match is. Some don’t even know how to use the 401K, the investments are daunting. Do you offer a service to help the employees to understand the benefits? There are so many teaching, connecting moments here.
My company has offered budget workshops, where we have experts come in and speak with employees about budgeting and investing, saving for college and for retirement. There are many services available. It’s still about connecting to your teams to make them feel valued and ease the stress of their financial issues.
Discussing finances in hard economic times is challenging, but this is the time that your team needs you. This is where they can benefit and stay connected to their employer and feel secure about their finances.
Add comment August 7, 2011 Tessa Duckett
The second aspect of well-being is community. How well does your company support your community? Do they give back significantly? What about events that the employees can participate in? Do they sponsor good will events?
One event that a previous employer implemented was a “loving fund”. This was an employee based fund that only the employees contributed to. It was run by a small committee of employees, and as employees had certain situations, life-changing situations, we would use the funds to buy them things out of the fund, such as groceries, gas, transportation, medication, school supplies, there was no limit. We would have different drives to help raise funds, bake sales, car washes, candy-grams, and other creative events.
My company has participated in Food Drives, Coat Drives, Blood Banks, Cancer Walks, Disaster Relief funds, Education Funds, and many other community events. The great thing about this is that none of the events are run by leadership. The employees gather the team for the events and participate. They are enthusiastic about representing our company and supporting our community.
Even during hard economic times, people are still giving. Individual giving rose 22% in 2010. Corporate giving, which is tied to corporate profits, rose an estimated 10.6 percent to $15.29 billion, according to the American Association of Fundraising Counsel.
You may never know when in your life that you may need assistance, so be a cheerful giver!
Add comment August 5, 2011 Tessa Duckett
Should companies care about their employee’s well-being? Not just if they are happy, but their total well-being. A full circle encompassed of career, community, finance, and health? What would the benefits be for a company? And what recourses could companies use to educate their teams? I will take a look at career for our first text.
1. Career seems to be easy because companies have career paths to help the development of their teams. There are probably several positions within the company that not all employees are aware of. What about internships, international opportunities, sales, planning, buying etc? Educating your employees on internal possibilities and promotions will keep them connected to the company and they will be interested in long-term growth.
How about the career paths of the current employees from the CEO to the project manager? How did they get to where they are at? Having a career day at your place of employment could just be the ticket for long-term developmental goals. For the company, it is a great tool for succession planning. All Companies should have some plan of who will replace who when the position opens up. Don’t be stuck with an open position for three months while you are busy sourcing, interviewing, and hiring. We should all have back-up plans. Remember, we are all replaceable including you and me!
My career path starts with my parents owning several business. They’ve had a pool supply and service company, sporting goods store, roller rink(yes I was the cotton candy girl), a fishing and cross-country ski lodge, a hotel, and now a gift shop. I’ve seen them struggle, so owning my own business has never been appealing to me. I look forward to my biweekly pay check. What I did learn was that I liked people, customer service, leading teams, and getting results.
Career paths are cool and keep you connected with each other and find commonality with others. Educating teams and connecting with teams about careers is part of the total well-being of individuals.
Add comment August 4, 2011 Tessa Duckett
How far would you go to have fun at work and engage your team to feel valued? With the every day mundane tasks that accompany some entry-level positions, how can companies keep retention low and employees happy? I have a policy at work, and that is to work hard and play harder.
For an HR executive, team engagement is a top priority for building team culture within your organization. Each level of employee has a different motivational factor that will keep them engaged. I had some company priorities that I had to share with my leaders, so in turn they could convey the priorities to the rest of the team. How can I make this fun, and have a learning experience as well? Sometimes we play to play. But most of the time, there is a learning experience behind it.
So, I wanted to get my semi-annual priorities out to the team, and I wanted to tie in some recognition and fun in the day. Why not take a day to play? So we had a circus theme day at work where all the executives dressed up in different costumes. We had superman, Bert from Bert and Ernie and of course the clown, amongst others. We had a teaching moment where we had to get our company priorities out. We divided our leadership team into groups, and presented them with props to put on a skit for the rest of the employees. It was sort of like “Chopped” on food network, where you have a basket of stuff and you have to make something out of it. (see my about me page – I love food network!) It was hilarious! We of course had food and carnival games-ring toss, balloon toss etc. The point is that the boss was not afraid to play. She had fun with the team and we got to laugh and learn a lesson as well. Wow- if every day could be a play day!
Add comment August 2, 2011 Tessa Duckett
Companies spend thousands of dollars annually on surveys to determine how happy their employees are. They are anonymous, and ask a variety of questions, such as how satisfied are you with your rate of pay. Is anyone ever satisfied? Don’t we always want more?
The survey will break down specific questions into categories like team engagement, plans to stay, how effective is leadership, company mission statements, communication within your company, recognition, growth opportunities, and are you being treated fairly. They will even go into asking questions about diversity.
*Very Good *Good *Neutral *Dissatisfied *Very Dissatisfied
The key to the survey is what companies do with all the data that they uncover. The smart ones will talk about the results with the employees. They will dig deeper into the root cause of why they are dissatisfied. They will come up with action plans to make a cultural shift. For example, If recognition is an opportunity for your firm, the company would need to ask the employees what type of recognition do they like, is it meaningful, where do you like to be recognized(in public, or one-on-one), and how do you like to be recognized(verbally or written). After they receive the feedback, they would need to implement steps in order to change behavior of the leaders.
I think that surveys are a great way to get an overall view of how people are feeling within your company. Yes, some surveys can be skewed. But the true connection is in the verbal discussions leaders and employees have together, the engagement that the employee feels after knowing that their opinion matters, and that management listens. There is no greater way to drive employee retention.
Add comment July 29, 2011 Tessa Duckett