Month: March 2014

Hey Girl in HR, Whatcha Reading March 31, 2014

I thought that I might try something new here and share with you some of the great articles that I read this week that I want to share with you.

  • Simplifying life has nothing to do with all your stuff from Penelope Trunk — what a fun site, she’s honest and straightforward and has a lot to say. “Simplifying” was one of my New Year “words” so I’m very interested in anything that I come across on the topic — plus, I the thought that I can simplify AND keep all my junk… I know, I know … not the point of the blog, but still a good read
  • College Players Granted Right to Form Union from the NY Times —  I can’t express how big this is — its actually pretty big news, not only from an HR perspective and labor unions, but business in general — even if you don’t know much about unions or care about college sports

  • 10 Life Lessons to Excel in your 30s from Mark Manson — I’m still in my 30s, so hoping I didn’t “screw up” too bad — but seriously, I LOVED this .. .wish I saw this when I was in my 20s — but its never to late to take in these life lessons.

  • Why millennials love apartments from — This one really caught my eye — I think that this is meant for the “younger” millennial, but still find it fascinating. Its not just about apartments and convenient living… there is more to this …  — check out the video. Economy, employers, and business are driving some of this, but that’s not all.

What was on your list of reads this week — and if you are curious to know about all the articles and news that piqued my interest over the week check out the Facebook page or the Girl in HR board on Pinterest (or other boards).

‘cuz you’ve got to know what people are talking about in order to make the HR connections,


The Girl in HR Speaks to Students about College and Career Planning

This past Thursday I had the extreme pleasure of speaking to a wonderful group (3 to be exact) of middle schoolers. My Guy’s mother is a science teacher and has been asking that I come to speak to her students, many of them in a program that helps to prepare them for college. .

The timing finally worked out and I had SO much fun. Although I wasn’t all that sure what I might say that might that could further inspire them — other than maybe some fun swag and the opportunity to have a guest speaker — after all, their teachers are TOP NOTCH and clearly committed to the success of their students.  It was a small gesture, but I made Friday “Thank a Teacher” day on the Facebook page – and pleased to say that its my highest viewed post (ever!).  I can’t say enough awesome things about the group of teachers who were at the session — truly, they are remarkable. (… and so proud that one of them is my “MIL”.)

I was honestly a little nervous about the speech — not in speaking — I can do that all day every day, but that they kids would hate me or think that I was “not cool.” While I feel like middle school was not that long ago and I can relate – the truth is that I can’t. My Guy and I had a “laugh” the night before the speeches and joked that we’re about as cool as the kids’s parents — and then it hit us that it really wasn’t a “joke” because we COULD be about the age of some of their parents (easily) — aside: which freaked us out a little bit because we don’t have kids yet.

I didn’t chance not being cool, so I brought gadgets and stickers to give away. Anyhoo, I digress.

I spoke about careers that would be growing about the time that they would enter the workforce – which, no surprise are largely in the STEM areas.  What’s crazy is that in the preparation of the speech I came across some great research! Long story short — the careers and jobs are in the STEM areas, but we don’t have the interest AND the skillset to accommodate the skill gap in the future. Furthermore, its not enough to get students into STEM degrees, they need to go work in those areas. I found a stat that 50% of students who get a degree in a STEM area don’t go into that field of study. While I’m happy to be an HR professional, I also have a twinge of guilt as someone who LOVES math and science, has a degree in a science field, but does not actively use it. Another stat, only 16% of HS seniors have the skills AND the desire to get a college degree in a STEM area. 😦 Yet the growth of jobs, all in STEM areas … and the highest growth areas are actually in biomedical sciences.  So the real question — how do we get more people into these areas?  What can we do NOW to get some of these students ready and really interested? How do we move the needle from 16% to 25% or 35% or even more? Are there things that we can do to get students more STEM ready out of HS? STEM isn’t about magnet schools, which is how I got exposure, even my niece who is now a freshman in college. We are past that approach– this stuff has to be the basics now… for every student.

I am not sure of the answers, but I want to find out and I want to help. I’m just not sure how yet.

I also spoke to the students about some of the things that they should thinking about to get ready for college. They seemed to have a lot of questions in this area and some real concerns about getting in, picking the right major, and finding a job once they graduate. Clearly its on their mind and they have some folks in place to continue to prime the pump. I must say, that I was VERY impressed with the students — they were mature, engaged, and had clearly given this some thought even prior to the session. Education is KEY and I hope that every child who wants to go to college finds a way to do it. I didn’t paint it as a cakewalk — because its not — but I hope that they took away that if they have the will and desire, they maintain focus, there IS a way to make it happen. I also spoke a bit about trade school, associate degrees, and apprenticeships– which I don’t think enough people talk about… but I think that we should.


I may have overdone it with the resources and research, but I wanted to know that I was credible :). I’ll be adding in some of the resources that I put together for the presentation. I think that they are helpful for everyone, not just middle school students.

I know that this isn’t one of my normal posts, but you bet there is an HR connection to be made here. Its huge and staring us right in the face. How do we help get them ready? Many of the seem willing and interested, but will need help to be successful!

EDIT: here are the materials that I prepared for the students

… and these links I found helpful for researching and preparing

Making the HR Connection, yours,


Wanna Sell to HR people… Don’t be a Bug a Boo

I’ve been going through some “old school” pop in my Spotify (shout out to all my #HRMusicShare peeps) playlist and Destiny Child’s Bug A Boo has been on my mind— because I feel like I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic, its a catchy song. This time of year an HR person can get pretty popular 🙂 — your phone, LinkedIn, and email may start blowing up from people wanting to sell something to you.

It can make you want to hide a little bit… but don’t sweat it.  Let me walk though some realizations that I had several years ago and a list of some of my “suggestions.”

When it comes to sales, you probably totally get that one has to make sales and cold calls. You get that you attend conferences, webinars, meetings and that by filling out the forms or putting my business card in a large fish bowl, you’re likely going to get a sales call about services that you might be interested in. I bt you also get the concept of  warm leads and follow up. You get sales — you buy stuff (or sell things) all the time.

However, what many of us don’t get is some of the aggressive tactics that some organizations take.

In general, for me,  I like to know what is out in the industry and in the market — so I’m generally pretty happy to do a demo and see what one has to offer. After all, I may not be looking for something now, but maybe in the future — or I may know of a colleague who is looking (… hmmm, this concept is sounding a lot like good networking practices in general).

In all likelihood I may actually be interested in the product or service, but the timing is all wrong. It doesn’t mean “not interested ever” but “not right now.”

Things like calling several times a day, asking to connect only to follow up immediately with a sales lead, asking me lots of leading and probing questions — well it kinda puts me in an awkward position and… could make you want to run and hide.

You know, I sold Mary Kay for a while (long story), but I used to get slammed all the time from the people in my unit that I wasn’t aggressive enough with closing the sale or massing a huge stack of “leads”… but its not how I like to sell things and its not how I like to be sold to. My style is more it to establish a rapport and then throw in, oh by the way, I sell Mary Kay, and then continue on. Its a plant. I generally wouldn’t sell anything that day, but I’d get follow up at a later time and generally had great repeat customers.  It was stress-free — they knew I had product that they were interested in and when they followed up, I knew that they had a genuine interest in learning more (and for me, that was where some of the real work came in).  My way, was just trying to meet and talk to people, put a bug in your ear, and then see who might be really interested. Some people would (and did) say that I was lazy .. but I thought it to be strategic. But then again, what do I know about selling anything… pink Cadillac never I had. Maybe I was doing it wrong. I’m just a girl in HR.  😉

My point, people should be running towards you and not away from you and you should be working with them at THEIR pace. It should be sincere and genuine. Not pushy or forced. We all  get quotas…. and commissions…  but I think you’ve also got to get people and how to be effective so that you’re spending time in the right place.

Okay.. .so enough about what we get and don’t get… here are some of my suggestions:

  • Do send a quick follow up email after a meeting, webinar, event, etc and say a bit about yourself, HOW WE MET (important) and some of your services – strike while the iron is hot.
  • If sending a LinkedIn connection be transparent about WHY you want to connect, especially if we don’t know each other. If we met at an event for sure throw that in there — helps make a human connection. If we don’t know each other, the first message shouldn’t be about what you want to sell me. Don’t use “connections” for that, that is more appropriate for the inmails or offers feature of LinkedIn.
  • Call once, but that’s it (maybe twice). I may be in meetings, out of the office, in training, busy, or not interested. All valid reasons. I’ll find you if I want to know more.
  • Do follow up with other information that I may find helpful, but don’t spam me and sign me up for all your email lists so that I’m getting one a day (or multiple) — that’s just going to annoy me and send all your stuff to the junk folder.  Back to my example, I might send out a quarterly letter of helpful skin care tips (often not even calling out my products) — just a reminder that I’m helpful and “still there.”
  • D0 ask for a good time to follow up or when might this be a more relevant time to talk.
  • Don’t take it personally, sometimes the answer is “no” .. that’s okay.
  • Take a hint… if not getting a response, its likely not the right time or the right contact, or it could be your style/approach– consider backing off a bit or trying to re-engage if you’ve started on the wrong foot
  • Show sincere interest in me as a person- its not just about selling me something, its about starting a relationship.
  • Don’t be pushy, rude, aggressive — meet people at where they are in the process. There is no wrong place to be.
  • Don’t try to call my colleagues and ask them to send a message to me or get them to call you back — in the ballpark of being too pushy and aggressive.
  • Be memorable, but for the right reasons.

Remember, people talk and share — so even if the answer is “no” or “not now” from me, if I have a good experience, I’m likely to pass you on — and even more likely to tell colleagues to of a bad experience if you’ve been to pushy.

So these are some of my thoughts and suggestions.. what are yours?

Making the HR connection, yours,

Still don’t know what a “bug a boo” is… check it out for yourself, consider it a bit of “its not news, its a distraction” treat for you.  Be forewarned, its a *catchy* song (and great to work out to).

I’m Stressing the Children I Don’t Even Have Yet

Photo credit: Olimpia Zagnoli

I lead a pretty stressful life — I like to work, I like to work hard, and I like to be involved in a lot of activities — coupled with a high sense of responsibility and accomplishment — yup, I have a lot of stress.

So imagine my “stress” when I read this article in the NY Times,
Inheriting Stress, which explores the question: Can children inherit stress from their mother? My initial thought, “YIKES!”

WE intuitively understand, and scientific studies confirm, that if a woman experiences stress during her pregnancy, it can affect the health of her baby. But what about stress that a woman experiences before getting pregnant — perhaps long before?

It may seem unlikely that the effects of such stress could be directly transmitted to the child. After all, stress experienced before pregnancy is not part of a mother’s DNA, nor does it overlap with the nine months of fetal development.

Nonetheless, it is undeniable that stress experienced during a person’s lifetime is often correlated with stress-related problems in that person’s offspring — and even in the offspring’s offspring. Perhaps the best-studied example is that of the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors. Research shows that survivors’ children have greater-than-average chances of having stress-related psychiatric illnesses like post-traumatic stress disorder, even without being exposed to higher levels of stress in their own lives. — excerpt from article

Okay, okay, okay. So I don’t have any kind of post-traumatic stress, but the piece goes on to explore if the stress has an impact on parenting style?

I’m always concerned about the amount of stress in my life–  barring the impact to my future children, I know that its not very helpful to me, but the thought of my stress potentially having this kind of ripple effect, takes stress management to a whole… ‘nother.. level.

I met with a friend last week and she swears by yoga and feels that it has made positive changes to her life and her sense of stress. I’ve always viewed it as just a means of exercise, but she urged me to get into the meditative pieces of it as well (maybe Bikram is out?), but silly as it may sound, I have a new found motivation.

Even if there is no link — we all know the benefits of a life with less stress.

The battle goes on… how to “relax, relate, release” … but still maintain my “intense” and competitive edge with my career. Could meditating be the answer?

Do you have employees who have this truly mastered, or is just as elusive as a purple cow?

Still searching… 🙂






Photo credit: Olimpia Zagnoli


Listen Better: Change How You Listen

Sometimes I find myself listening to respond or rebuttal and not really listening to understand or comprehend. I hate to admit it, but its true. 😦

However, knowing your weakness or areas that need attention is half the battle — so I’m always interested in articles and resources that are aimed at making me a better listening. Tonight during my regular look of articles on the net, I found this gem from Ted — and you KNOW how I love me some TedTalks. In his talk, Julian Treasure says that we spend about 60% of our unconscious time listening, but we’re not good at it — and only retain about 25% of what we hear.  WOW… only 25%… but what is it that you’re actually hearing?

What’s cool about this video, is that he is literally talking about listening better. I’ve never really admitted it before, but I’ve always had trouble with my hearing (maybe one reason why I don’t listen better, but just of course, “one” of the reasons 😉 ) so the thought of actually retraining the way that I hear things is fascinating.

If you heard things differently, would it make you a different kind of person? Manager? HR professional? Wife? Son? Neighbor? Friend?

Its a short video and totally engaging (you need to watch!) — but just in case you don’t get all the way through it, here are his 5 tips:

  1. Silence – have 3 minutes of silence a day
  2. The Mixer — how many channels of sound can you hear
  3. Savoring – enjoying mundane sounds (the “hidden choir”)
  4. Listening positions — move your listening position to make it appropriate to what you are listening to
  5. An acronym — RASA (which is Sanskrit for “juice” or “essence”—. Receive, Appreciate, Summarize, Ask

How good is your listening? Do you think you’re a good listener? Should listening be taught in schools like other skill sets?

I think this is huge.. and important to you as leaders, managers, HR pros… and as people in general. How many times have you felt that someone wasn’t *really* listening to you? Maybe people don’t really know how to do it….

Making the HR connection, yours




PS.. this Julian Treasure is pretty cool — check out some of his other stuff!