Tagged: Trust

Your Desk Needs a Makeover

I think I’m somewhat becoming claustrophobic these days and I believe there to be one culprit and one culprit only for this sudden spike in spatial awareness. My cube. My two beyond neutral beige toned walls, the color most likely selected as to not distract anyone and prevent anyone from thinking something innovative might be happening, have recently grown quite mundane. On these walls I have important work documents scattered around, pinned up behind my computer and around my desk so I can reference them easily.

Sounds pretty typical and to be honest, it really isn’t all that bad. I have a Mac desktop with a screen larger than my TV I had in college and by luck of the draw I get to sit by a window with a beautiful back drop of some Ohio forestry. I will say these two facets of what I walk into every day are nothing to criticize.

However, like in the AT&T commercial with the little kids… “We want more. We want more. Like if you really like it. You want more.” What I realized was that I need more of what I like around me. I like simple, clean cut, and I like people. A couple quotes on the wall, a few pictures with my family, and my favorite classic Michael Jordan photos should do it. I would even venture to cross my fingers, close my eyes, and wish I could sit at a table with no walls.

My Desktop with original wings poster. "No bird soars too high, If he soars with his own wings." - William Blake

My Desktop with original wings poster. “No bird soars too high, If he soars with his own wings.” – William Blake

Office design is a top trend noted in Sodexo’s annual Workplace Trends Report for 2013. The report reads, “Organizations are increasingly recognizing the importance of the built environment in creating quality work environments and positive work experiences; each playing a crucial role in performance, engagement, and productivity.”

HR and Talent roles are people oriented and directly involved in performance management, employee engagement, and dare I say it… productivity. How is your company productive? The people are productive. Until a robot can operate a business with no human capital, your people create productivity.

Business leaders are rolling their eyes and saying, “ So now you’re telling me to spend money and rearrange the office? Paint some walls? Get a basketball video arcade game? Ha. Right. Make me money, don’t spend it.”

I can look at dollars and cents all day, but there is someone behind a desk, on a plane, working from home, or sitting in a coffee shop making those dollars and cents. Remember that. Can ROI be drawn directly to HR and Talent? Too many people have argued that before me and I’m too young to know or even comment.

But, what I do know is people make up your business. People drive your business. People make your business money. If office design can improve your people’s performance, engagement, and productivity, no wonder it’s a topic of conversation in the HR community for 2013.

Your workplace is where you spend about 10,400 hours per year of your life. Why not surround yourself with what you like at your desk? Some may think this is another narcissist ploy as a Millennial so engulfed in my interests that I bring what I like to decorate my workspace. But, to those who believe we’re all too self-assured and consumed with telling the world what we’re doing on social media, I say count how many articles are written on Personal Brand. It might take you 10,400 hours to do so.

HR professionals can improve workplace design by working with the appropriate parties. However, one individual, millennial or not, can’t build their office’s Rome in one day. But, you can get pretty darn close to building your own personal Rome in a day. Look at your desk. If the item is irrelevant, throw it away. If you need to reference it, make it a digital document you keep on your desktop.

What drives you to be better? What do you like?

Maybe that’s what you need to be looking at everyday. Just a thought.

How to Defend Against Helicopter Parents

Inspector Gadget - Helicopter I am thoroughly grateful for my helicopter parents. Due to their hovering they have successfully put me through college and are ¾ of the way there with my sister. They’ve given me the opportunity to excel in sports and the classroom along with my younger sister. With two college athletes for children I can confidently say I would not be where I am today without the opportunity my parents afforded me.

With that said, when I read the SHRM We Know Next blog Helicopter Parents Descend Upon the Workplace I had to take a step back and think about what was missing. The cited report by Michigan State University and their Collegiate Employment Research Institute startled me even more than the blog itself.

Why are parents directly involved in the employment of their children? Unless it’s a family business this shouldn’t even be a conversation. I’ve been going back and forth whether or not to make a category specifically devoted to what I learned playing for Suzy Venet in college. But, this was the tipping point. This is the debut blog for “Lessons From Coach.”

In the fall of my freshman year, on the first day of class – I had a team meeting with all of the women’s basketball “hopefuls” aka freshman and the rest of the team. We started out with almost 30 freshmen and on senior day there were 4 of us – so yes, I’d call them hopefuls. Our coach was going through rules and protocols and you guessed it – she specifically addressed parents

Fresh from high school, where most of us were the best on our team and an athletic system that is quite political, biased, and can be bought with some cash – our COLLEGE coach wanted to make sure our parents knew where they stood. Also, you realize she didn’t address the parents – she told us, to tell them. Already drawing a clear line of communication between player and coach – no triangle with mom and/or dad.

“If you have a problem with me, playing time, another teammate, get in trouble, have difficulty with grades – I want you to talk to me. I want you to come to my office and tell me. I don’t have time to answer parent’s e-mails and phone calls. I have one job and that is to coach you to a championship,” Coach said. Wide-eyed and nervous, we were getting a dose of what it was like to be an adult. First day of college – welcome.

No more buffer ladies. Solve your own issues. Our coach cared and still does care about our families – but she also understands that in order to grow as an individual we were all 18, legally adults, and needed to start having our own difficult conversations.

Gen Y: We’re the real problem

As much as I’d like to blame helicopter parents who are just too involved in their children’s lives, by the time you’re in college it is up to the student, and now adult, to ask their parent(s) to politely back off.

If you’re a helicopter parent reading this – know your kids love you but, they also need to play the game of life on their own. And if you don’t believe me, you’ll probably continue to hinder their opportunities.

Helicopter Kid: Do’s and Don’ts


  • If you value your parents opinions that is most certainly acceptable, ask them for thoughts and advice on companies, career path, and job search
  • Discuss their network – they might be able to make an introduction and get your foot in the door


  • Let your parents attend the interview
  • Let your parents advocate for promotion / salary increases
  • Let your parents negotiate salary and benefits
  • Let your parents call and complain if the company does not hire you
  • Let your parents attend a career fair for you
  • Let your parents discuss promotions with the hiring manager
  • Ask your parents to submit resumes on your behalf

It’s important to note that all of the “don’t” points were questions in the survey concerning parent involvement by Michigan State. Except for submitting resumes, all other actions are ones that students can prevent. And as for submitting resumes, if you’re not willing to fill out your own job application how in the world do you think you’re going to do the actual job?

If you have a chronic helicopter parent, sit down with them. Explain that it’s time for you to take responsibility for your career. Their interference will hurt you in the long run. Helping you and doing it for you – are two different things. Some Millennials may be saying – if they want to be involved then why not? According to the “grown-up” manual and the study completed by Michigan State – companies do not look favorably upon Millennial candidates who allow their parents to take part in the recruiting process.

Direct communication should always be between you and your employer. Just like player and coach. It’s an A – B conversation, no C.

Calling all HR. Everyone is not equal.

Quite the bold statement above but, I will begin with my defense. While at the Ohio SHRM conference attended by 700+ HR professionals, I heard multiple presenters discuss this theory contrary to what we’ve always been taught. Everyone is created equal. In the previous statement lies truth, we are created equal but, as we go on in life we don’t all end up in the same place.

Now, why is it important for HR to focus on this statement? Michael Couch President of his own management consulting firm discusses the “Peanut Butter Effect.” Think of yourself making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. If it’s me making a PB&J there’s peanut butter on both sides with just a little bit of jelly in the middle. Spreading the peanut butter evenly is of the utmost importance in making an epic PB&J. HR uses this technique when programs reward everyone, when performance reviews reflect “above average” for low and high performers, when compensation remains the same among everyone on a team.

The high potentials, the top performers are not being recognized and they’re being put on the same playing field as those sucking the life out of the organization. How does this affect retention of your high potentials? You be the judge.

Your executive team wants to trust their HR department. To have a successful organization it’s important to know how HR can establish open communication with senior leadership. The cornerstone for this relationship is based on the treatment of high potentials. Are you rewarding top performers? Is there a distinction among those who will move up in the organization? Do you as HR have a plan for talent necessary to retain in order to keep a competitive edge?

I understand that the overall thought of treating individuals differently is taboo. But, in the case of creating a healthy relationship with the executive team as well as a profitable company, HR must understand everyone is not equal. But, why? Why shouldn’t we spread the peanut butter so that everyone has a taste for success, everyone gets the 3% merit increase. Won’t that make everyone happy? No, the most important people to your company’s success, you’re high potentials become discontent.

Tim Sackett spoke on “What Your CEO Wishes HR Would Do” and answered the burning question. Why does the executive team want HR to treat high po’s differently? Why do they want these folks to stay? Because I will bet more often than not, your executive team is a group of high po’s themselves. Show your C-Suite team there’s a commitment to fostering talent with a chance to lead.

Are you working toward a relationship with senior leadership? Are you retaining high potential talent? Or are you just spreading the peanut butter?

Committed Millennial. Oxymoron? I think not.

Commitment, what does it mean to you? It could be marrying the love of your life, helping those less fortunate than yourself, or making every one of your daughter’s gymnastics meets. I think commitment can be an ambiguous term but, broken commitments no matter how small will always lead to dissapointment if you don’t follow through.

In reading a blog by the Lead Change Group, Married to the job? – How Leaders show commitment in a fast changing world, it discusses how leaders convey commitment. A common stereotype of Millennials consists of their lack of company commitment. Let’s assume the stereotype is true. Loyalty? It’s extinct for us young kids, right? If you believe there to be an issue with the younger contingent and their commitment to your company, your leaders have to understand how to show their own commitment. In the article it mentions a young senior executive replacing a tenured executive who just retired. She explains to her “followers” that she only intends to stay for 2 years. If you’re a Millennial and you hear that your boss only plans on being there a couple of years? You’re probably not interested in hanging around too long either.

The issue here is not how the new senior executive addressed her tenure but rather it’s that she addressed it at all. The article goes on to explain how you convey your tenure by describing the job you came here to do and when those outcomes are supposed to be achieved. Which is all well and good, but if you’re a leader – the first time you introduce yourself should not involve discussing your end date. It would be like my coach recruiting me and telling me, “Well Nicole, your sophomore year I’m going to be moving to a Division I school to coach so you should probably look to transfer.”

Gain the trust of your followers before beating around the bush about your departure. Talk about how you’re going to help them and what value you’re bringing to the role. No matter the generation – we all want a leader we believe in. If you talk about all of the results your “supposed” to achieve in the role, then half way through aren’t reaching them? You might not even be there 2 years. Don’t set yourself up.

It is no longer seen as company commitment but, rather occupational commitment. We need to be passionate about our job before we can be passionate about the company. We’re committed to our careers and if that growth comes from the current employer? Great. If not, it’s not personal if we want to explore the next opportunity. To combat this, employers must understand that it all starts at the top. If your leaders aren’t living your brand, don’t be surprised if your group of 150 interns isn’t either.

Again, leaders change – they move up, they move on. But, when you’re a leader everyone is watching you. The guy who delivers your lunch to the conference room, the direct report who is begging you to come say hi to them, your executive assistant who makes you whole, the intern deciding whether or not this is the company they want to work for, and even the junior level marketer walking through the halls on their interview.

Whether or not you think Millennials have issues with commitment – evaluate your leadership. Commitment is a top down action, not bottom up. Think about it.

Work Ethic. You either have it or you don’t.

If there’s one piece of advice I want to tell my fellow Millennials, it’s read and read a lot. I’ve heard this consistently throughout my years as an over-achieving student and athlete but, not really having to try as hard to be that way. It kind of just goes in one ear and out the other, however, I’ve always been one to enjoy reading. Even if you don’t like it, you can’t deny that you learn when you read. While I’m not truly into romance novels or the latest teen fiction series, they are still a way to use your brain and stretch your thinking capacity. I’m more of a Nixon junkie who likes to read about sports and government, non-fiction is what I like. Now that I’m out of school I find myself still wanting to learn and it’s because I never really minded school, I found it kind of easy once I learned how to study and do as little as possible to still graduate with a 3.9 GPA. I could definitely be a professional student but, teaching was never my passion, at least for now. Whatever you enjoy or find challenging – read about it. Knowledge is power.

With that PSA out of the way I want to talk about work ethic. In my blog readings I came across a title that I couldn’t pass up Slackers or Stars. The article discusses the work ethic of the two youngest generations, “X” and “Y.” It states that the question should not be “How do I improve the work ethic of my younger employees?” but rather, “How do I recruit, retain, and motivate younger employees?” This is a key difference because with work ethic, you either have it or you don’t. It’s not something that can just be cultivated. You’ve got a young kid that’s hungry or you’ve got one who’s just along for the ride. It’s as simple as that.

For Gen Y, what’s our strength? We aren’t just technically savvy; we’re “technology sophisticated.” It’s engrained in us. For the younger part of Gen Y, we never had to learn how to use a smart phone, we’ve just always had one. While employers may think we’re high maintenance, I think the point made in the article that we have more potential, is finally a glimpse of hope for us tykes. Now where employers need to be careful is identifying not only high potentials within their organization but, identifying high potentials with work ethic. Our work ethic may not be that of our parents, it doesn’t necessarily mean working overtime or having one bread-winner to bear all of the economic pressure. But, maybe what was once done in 8 hours of work? We quite possibly may be able to do in 4 or 6 with technology. You’ll attain that type of production with high potential Millennials who work hard.

What do you do now that you’ve identified these hard working high potentials? There’s a quote in the article that has been a mantra of mine for a few years now. The author writes,

 “Management will need to give Y’s a lot of positive feedback and only after you have their trust, coach them on the value of constructive criticism.”

 If there is a young kid out there worth your time, then take the time to earn their trust. If they don’t trust you, they won’t work hard for you. In all of my small-town college glory of being a nobody on the court but, elected a three-time captain? I have always told those younger than me that “saying something positive is much harder than saying something negative.”

You’ll never connect with a Millennial jumping out to a negative start, telling them how spoiled, inexperienced, and high maintenance they are. It’s like that freshman on the basketball team who is constantly throwing the ball out of bounds, it’s easy to write them off. But, if they are worth my time? It takes a hell of a lot more guts to walk up to them and say, “Hey let’s get it next time,” than to roll my eyes and talk about them to the other seniors. You’ve got an entry level HR coordinator who can’t seem to schedule candidates with the right hiring managers? Help them. Show them. Be their advocate.

I have torn into some of my teammates at practices, speaking up, I’m the leader right? But, if you watch in pre-season and all the events leading up to that boiling point? I knew I had to be that person always talking to them, helping them along, and earning their trust. Without it? No amount of criticism will end in positive results for your company. It’s the Millennial’s job to prove their high potential and their work ethic, it’s up to the leaders in the organization to recognize it and earn their trust. Yes, even in the role of “boss” you’ve got to put some effort forward for us to succeed.

It’s what leaders do, make sure those around them are the best they can be. You’re not a leader if no one is following you.

Do you have a LeBron in your organization?

Over the last few days a portion of our firm participated in a training session called The Speed of Trust presented by Denis Stoddard, Ph.D. This training is supported by Franklin Covey and it emphasized the importance of trust within the workplace, the most important reason to trust those around you? It’s going to affect your bottom line… you’ll make more money if you trust those around you. Seems easy enough right? You might even win an NBA Championship if you trust your teammate right?

The past few nights I’ve been thinking about trust and when I read Rick Reilly’s article on ESPN LeBron being LeBron, I couldn’t help but respond, it’s the NBA Playoffs after all. Now let’s just keep in mind folks that I was born a die hard Cleveland fan, if born and die can be used in the same sentence. My dad threw me in a Browns onezie when I was just shy of 2 years old, wrapped me up in blankets and took me to my first Browns game in the Dawg Pound at the old Municipal Stadium. Mind you the pride of Cleveland sat in this section in the late 80’s and early 90’s, mainly ex-cons as noted by my father. Nevertheless, there I was, innocent yet entrenched in middle-aged, He-Man America all for the love of a city and sports team.

In the rant Rick goes on defending LeBron in all his glory. Let’s address a few of his statements:

  • He’s won 3 MVP’s in 9 seasons – Correct. But, those are individual awards, remember?
  • Hundreds of people move from Cleveland to Miami a year – One, I’d like to know the actual statistics on this. And two, I’m pretty sure that is false. Not really the same culture. One arena has a night club, the other? A Kid’s Club.
  • Dozens of NBA players switch teams every year – Really? I didn’t know. But, not every player is the superstar or THE best player in the league for that matter. If Matt Barnes leaves a team? NO ONE cares, 98% of people reading this blog probably don’t even know who he is. By the way has Kobe, Dwight, Dwayne, or KD left? Hum. Nope.
  • He goes on to discuss all of the “moral” wrongs others have done and LeBron has yet to commit, cheating on wives, getting in fights, being arrested – you are right on this point. But, again I’m a big KD fan and he hasn’t done any of this either and still manages to be a nice guy who isn’t arrogant.
  • Last, he botched one thing, The Announcement, get over it – Now, this is a statement that I just don’t agree with. Get over it? Read The Whore of Akron by Scott Raab, a long-time writer for Esquire and other publications and you probably won’t just get over it.

By “botching” The Announcement, LeBron broke Cleveland’s trust. It takes a while to build trust, some may say 7 years, and it takes one statement to completely destroy it, “I’m taking my talents to South Beach.” LeBron it’s not about you, it never was. You could put any star in your role, who accomplished the same things and I would love them, not you, because it’s about the city. It’s about not having won any type of championship since 1964 when the Browns won the NFL Championship Game, not even a Super Bowl! You took away “our” chance at being the sports town that gets to stay up until midnight watching “our” team go to battle. When you left Cleveland LeBron, your press conference only included “I” statements, “I did what I could – I gave you 7 years.” Really? Do you want me to thank you or something? If there’s anything to get over, it’s you.

It boils down to TRUST my friends. Peyton Manning left Indianapolis… finally. But, he cried when he announced his decision. He didn’t put on a spectacle during primetime, there’s a character difference there. There’s a feeling of, he really does care. LeBron? Negative. He goes on to have a welcoming parade of the “Big Three.” So much for the team, I guess only the good players matter. Yes, Lebron has been in the league 9 years and as for MJ at this point in his career? No rings either. But, did MJ go around promising not 5, not 6, not 7 NBA titles? I’m fairly young but, I don’t think so. When you go around parading your greatness? Yes, you deserve ridicule for not following through.

Millennials… this is a clear perception of you and LeBron fell right into it. Do not over promise and under deliver. Arrogance is not attractive.

If you’re not a Cleveland fan? You can give LeBron a break, maybe you should. But, if you are, you have no reason to give him a break. And I never will. If Rick is upset about sports analysts giving him a hard time, clearly ESPN is only about ratings. If Skip Bayless is hating on LeBron non-stop and people are watching? I’m pretty sure it will continue. It’s their job to analyze and nit-pick. LeBron is the best player in the league, since when do people think he’ll fly under the radar?

Trust. It’s been lost and I don’t see the guiding light yet to welcome it back. I appreciate your insights Rick, I really do. But, at the end of the day LeBron broke Cleveland’s trust. That is one action that will take a lot to overcome. Value trust. It can only help you, whether you’re an NBA star or recent college grad starting your first job this month.

Please stay… You’re the best employee we have!

So you finally did it. You found a job. In fact, you may be at your second job. For the older Millennials who have been in the job market for 2 – 8 years they understand what it’s like to pursue another position other than the one they’re currently in. Whether it’s internally or externally, the prospect of a higher title or more money has probably crossed your mind and with a little effort, you’ve explored the possibilities.

I typically work with folks in middle management and senior executives in the Baby Boomer generation but, with a few difficult searches looking for specific skill sets, I placed two individuals in more junior level positions. It is interesting to see the changes in the conversations I have depending on what generation I’m dealing with.

Resigning and taking another position is probably one of the most difficult and ambiguous situations to be in. I’m nervous my boss will hate me, they’re going to be so mad, hey they actually may even try and keep me. There are so many emotions that come into play.  Younger individuals think that because they’re somewhat lower on the totem pole, if they decide to leave there’s NO WAY their current employer will counter offer them. But, don’t be so sure. Companies want to retain talent. But, think of it this way… Why are you looking outside of your current company? Have you addressed these issues with your supervisor? If you’re company counter offers you, it’s more of a Band-Aid approach. If it takes you to say, “You’re leaving,” for the company to act, it’s probably not the best place for you to be.

We’re young, we’re influenced by the dollar sign and we just want to be loved. Which is exactly what a counter offer intends to do. “Wait, no no… please don’t go! We can’t lose you. Big title, more money? Here take it.” These pieces play to the ego of the Millennial. Drumroll please… here comes the red carpet treatment.

Don’t have the ego. Do what’s right for your career.

Are you lucky?

It is now 2012 and the job market still has not recovered from 2008/2009, which continues to hurt the Class of 2012 as well as about the 6 previous classes. You need experience but, you can’t get a job without it. It’s a broken record and employers continue to play this a-track over and over. Sorry but, you don’t have this and that. So if you do manage to reach out, close your eyes, and magically scoop up employment? You’re lucky.

I cannot tell you how many times within the last year and a half I have been called “lucky.” Prior to graduation when I asked if I had plans after college, I said “Yes, I have a job and I start in June.” The most certain reply? “Oh, that’s great Nicole… You’re so lucky the job market is tough out there.”  Not one time was I ever told, “I’m sure you worked hard for that Nicole, great job. You’re a winner.” Employment isn’t just a handout like some other things in our society. It’s earned.

My dad is a testament to this, growing up in a small town of about 1000 people and never really having the thought that one day he could leave and be somebody.  A few years ago we were eating dinner at my grandmother’s house and she said to him, “Hal, you know what? Look where you are now, you’re a very lucky man.” The worst thing in the dictionary my father could be called… is lucky. He corrected my grandma and said, “No Mom, I just found a way out with work ethic.” No one in my dad’s family had gone to college, in fact, he didn’t go to college right after high school. Until little me came along 10 years later. There I am a new born, waving my hand and saying, “Hey dad, look over here!” My dad went to night school for 5 years, earning his Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees in that time frame. He applied for a job in close proximity to graduating and was the only individual with a college degree, guess who got the job? My dad. Now do you call that luck? I surely hope not.

Anytime I hear, “Nicole, you’re lucky.” I smile and nod but, cringe on the inside. There are jobs out there. There might not be as many as there once was, but they’re there. Employers might need more sound skill sets, but the jobs are there. The question is, are you going to be hungry enough to be the 1 out of 10 candidates chosen now, rather than the 8 out of 10 a decade ago? Employers are doing more with less.

Don’t be lucky, be a winner.