Evolving Diversity – Is Toronto in it?

Have you ever wondered what diversity really means? Is it merely a buzz word made popular by the developing global markets? On a surface level, yes it is! However, I think it is much more.

Positive diversity in action: embracing, celebrating, accepting, and seeking that which is different.
More on that later. I think defining the term deserves a whole blog to itself.

Anyhow, I attended a symposium yesterday, hosted by Heritage Toronto on Our Shared Past: Toronto’s People, Places & Events, seen here –  http://heritagetoronto.org/culturalheritage/

It was a panel discussion, and quite an enlightening experience. Some very valid points were made. One, that heritage is not a past tense term. It is past, present, and future. It is part of our identity, and is constantly evolving. Two, that Toronto as a community contains many culturally isolated pockets, and very rarely do these sub-communities have an opportunity to interact with each other, much less the general populace.
Cultural festivals showcase a rather surface level snapshot of who people within these groups are. In fact, we meet a myriad of people daily, but how many of them do we really see?

I was well aware of such communication droughts within Toronto, though seeing it through this new lens has helped me piece together how I can in some small way work towards solving the dilemma. The concept needs work, but by combining my love for culture, learning, people, and tea, I hope to create a workshop tool that will aid Toronto in overcoming cultural barriers to establishing a sustainable inclusive environment. Some hard questions need to be posed. Ex. What is our current heritage? As a city? As a collection of smaller communities? How can we maintain our identities while exploring others? And more. Much more!

There is much to do and even more to organize, but I’m compelled to deliver this project.
Wish me luck!

Yours,
~HRSlinger

It’s not you, it’s us (but it really is you)

Organizational Fit

What does this really mean? It’s a well-known paradox around the HR table.
I’ve considered many angles to explain it, and have yet to come up with a trajectory that doesn’t violate some logic or moral principle. In my view, it’s a term that can take on so many meanings that to use it at all can, in some circumstances, be irresponsible. Organizational Fit can be suitably used in a professional context, only it’s best done so when all the variables are considered, and certainly never as a blanket term for why an employee doesn’t belong.

If a company looks to hire someone, quite often they will wade through dozens of interviews, only to determine that none of the candidates make for a good “fit”. Why is this? Have the specifications been set so narrowly that the candidate bank is run dry of a suitable sample?
Or perhaps the bar was placed so high that nobody appears to reach it, making the job description into a lofty wishlist.
It could be that the company is highly risk averse and unwilling to invest in new talent unless it is guaranteed to provide a sizeable return.
It is for these reasons, and many more, that even when recruiters go about using scientific methods, determining the required KSA’s, education and so forth that should yield the dream employee, the daily catch often fails to meet all expectations.
After all, at the end of the day, it will be future coworkers filling that slot. What if they turn out to be awful? Maybe it’s the daunting potential of working with someone who whistles the Flinstones tune all day long, or sitting next to someone who loves burritos (and then “hums” a different type of melody).
Perhaps the mountain of articles profiling the pitfalls of a “bad hire” have management spooked. In fact, I’ve witnessed this term (org fit) used as a way of “gently” letting an employee go.
Whatever the case, citing a bad “org fit” as a reason for not hiring someone is the relationship equivalent of “it’s not you it’s me”. It rings a rather hollow bell.
Rejecting an employee with this reasoning will ultimately harm the company brand, and fails to create a sense of goodwill. If said organization works in a tight industry, the employee in question may one day be a supplier, or worse, a potential customer. Moreover, people talk, and with social media spreading news faster than ever, a sketchy talent acquisition strategy could be why quality employees aren’t forthcoming. It’s better to lock down a lawyer approved disclaimer preventing any lawsuits, which someone receiving feedback can sign in exchange for personal feedback than leaving that person struggling to find answers, and what they could have done differently.

Beyond that, this long outdated buzzword can be redefined, in which case it would be entirely appropriate. Organizational fit is the flip side of workplace culture. It’s something an organization should work towards, and create with carefully placed perks, goals, values, policies and anecdotal stories.
In doing so, management can carve out a place for new employees to sit, and mold them into the culture; Change management, succession planning, strategic networking. These are the factors that will shape a company, and the employees, new and old, along with it.
Naturally, if a company’s defined culture is contrary to someone’s personality type, then they will likely not succeed in that given role. On the other hand, when a candidate’s character is a near match, it should be up to the organization to pursue it further. No candidate is perfect, and unfortunately, there is no airbrush equivalent. Thus, any skill or knowledge gaps can nearly always be addressed with training and investment in building a profitable long term relationship. After all, leveraging employee strengths vs their weaknesses in a teamwork environment is often what sets a company apart.
Otherwise, as George Costanza puts it… “You’ll never know”

Sources:
http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/magazine/missconduct/2013/01/cultural_fit_v.html

A rock and a hard place – Where can you go? (Case Study)

Have you ever been in a workplace situation where you felt cornered?
A colleague of mine is in just that situation, and I thought it made for an excellent case study.
This person works in a self managing role, within a larger company that has been around for several decades. Unfortunately, some new senior management has been hired. This director is not easy to work under, as he often makes personally offensive comments that at times could be interpreted as threats or harassment. These remarks are made mostly over the lunch hour, when the director arrives uninvited to the lunch table. The employees dislike this because it is their chance to decompress and socialize. They are afraid to report the unwanted behaviour. Human resources in this organization operates on a very basic level, mainly processing paperwork and ensuring that the workplace is safe to work in – physically that is.
It should also be noted that the new Director, after reviewing metrics for less than one month, has delivered a series of demands to each department.
Employees are unhappy, and have many are considering finding work outside the company.

What can be done about this?
First, it may the that the director is unaware that his communication style is grating on others. What he may consider friendly rivalry appears as aggressive and insensitive. Someone should take the director aside and have a non-judgemental conversation with him. Perhaps this is how his previous work culture operated.
Second, the Director has yet to evaluate the culture of the company. Many of his process changes may be redundant or inefficient, which could be uncovered by shadowing or interviewing the staff.
Third, some change management needs to be implemented. The reason behind everything should be explained to employees, and they will need time to acclimate. Objections and concerns must be sought out, and then addressed with potential plan changes.

If employees feel heard, respected, and valued, they will be less likely to leave.
Unfortunately, while the Director in this case study has the technical tweaking down pat, that is only one piece of what is required of him. People skills are essential to success in management.

If you were my colleague, how would you approach this situation?
Alerting HR is certainly one option, however most employees fear the impending retribution for finger pointing from both the Director, as well as the HR department.

Stay tuned for part two!

What Do Hiring Managers Want to See in a Cover Letter?

hrslinger:

I found this neat post about cover letters and their relevance today. It does a great job of outlining what you should include. The overall point is… RESEARCH!! Get inside the hiring manager’s head and ask yourself, what would they do they need to know about you, and in what context?

Originally posted on MyCareerBrand.net:

A cover letter that will get you some attention.  But will it win you the interview?

A cover letter that will get you some attention. But will it win you the interview?

Are Cover Letters a thing of the past?  If not, then what value do they add?  More importantly, what do Hiring Managers want to see in a cover letter?

To vote on the poll – scroll down.  Or read this article first, and then cast your vote to help candidates know what they need to provide.

For those who don’t see the need for a Cover Letter – their argument may be that the One Page Curriculum Vitae will sufficiently outline relevant experience, skills, and supporting achievements that resonate with the Hiring Manager of the role you are applying for.  And, that this in itself should provide evidence that you have researched the role before hitting the ‘Apply Now’ button.  To some degree I support this argument.  But the fact is – sometimes you…

View original 368 more words

Why I Love Television

I know it’s unconventional to admit this, that I harbor a habit that’s blamed for so many negative trends in society… but bear with me as I unleash this shameful, or not, secret.
As a child, I was never a movie lover except perhaps a trilogy here or there.  No, I preferred my weekly installments of familiar characters who’d become my loyal, if not one-sided, friends. In an age when peers were often fickle, I relied on my television to distract me from the trials of my adolescent, tumultuous reality. Let’s not talk about my teen career as an artful procrastinator.
Now that I’m socially adjusted and firmly in adulthood, I have a whole new, hopefully evolved logic surrounding my adoration for the small screen.
Yes, I still get wrapped up in dramas of the moment, and there are days when I come home pining for some mindless fluffy comedy to whisk me into a place where my troubles are moot… but there is so much more to it than that.
In learning about myself the last decade or two, while gaining self-awareness, I’ve discovered that what I really relish is studying characters. I enjoy becoming attached to these fictional identities who ideally(for me), soar above adversity with graceful aplomb. Identifying with their troubles- or atleast trying to see what their shoes look like (after all, who doesn’t love shoe shopping, ha!) is an exercise in witnessing the evolution of humanity. It thrills me to see unique characters represented, and it fascinates me how from one season to the next, they grow, adapt, and manage to seemingly leap over insurmountable barriers. I often sit quietly after watching a show, processing it’s meaning and potential ramifications.  In fact, I’ve no doubt that this penchant of mine for seeking out underdogs on the small screen fuels atleast part of my decision to pursue a career in diversity and inclusion.
Satires are great too, forcing commentary on momentary trends and pivotal historic movements.  Perhaps this is why I’m not much of a movie girl. Small details are less likely lost in television and I’ve never been fond of the goodbye’s I subject myself to with every movie I see. Besides, television is by far more cost effective.
Anyhow, I’m not naïve. I get that the world doesn’t operate in quite such a serendipitous way… but in my view, that isn’t the point. Television isn’t supposed to push the boundaries of reality, but imagination. Simply put, it’s inspiring.
Watching Jennifer Love Hewitt(Client List) making morally questionable decisions in order to protect her children, or seeing Claire Danes(Homeland) manage a serious mental illness while facing down terrorists brings new perspective to my somewhat limited world. Moreover, I’m a sucker for love! Watching the mating dance of two characters fumble their way through that awkwardly wonderful sidestep routine until they finally get it right never gets old.
Of course, I’ve heard condemnations that these shows are filled with cookie cutter plots, product placements and too many commercials. Sure, that may be the case here and there, but for the most part, I believe that context makes all the difference. If the criticisms were true, then we’d be saying the same about virtually every entity out there, from people to companies and so on.
Don’t get me started on the various competition based shows out there. Before they were around, I had nary an opportunity to watch aspiring yet struggling hopefuls become superstars under the guidance of world renown industry experts.
Nevermind the marketing gimmicks and manipulations they employ, that’s the model that works. It is what it is, so why not embrace it. After all, without the “Fords” of our world backing the “American Idols” and such, we wouldn’t have them.
As for violence and sexually suggestive imagery, well… I choose to ignore that. I have no defense against it except to say that shock value sells or else it wouldn’t be employed. No question about it, television’s got a nasty rep for being shallow or crude, especially some of the over-dramatized, over-sensationalized not-so real time (yet scripted!) fake-ality shows.
It makes me wonder, what does that say about us, as a society? Somebody is giving them decent ratings or else they wouldn’t make it past a few episodes. Not to mention, most of those shows aren’t meant for the eyes of influential children.  Shame on those that are, but let’s face it; every basket has a few bad eggs. All we can do is regulate it! And tv isn’t the only one with a stake in molding our future generations. I’m looking at you, villages…
Anyhow, my point is that there is plenty of unique and insightful programming out there, if you know where to look for it.
Also… documentaries? Now there is a whole other fascinating arena that I’ll have to cover in another blog one day. I actually think that they can be more powerful in society than any other medium. Take Supersize for example. I digress.
So yes, I do love television. I don’t sit in front of the tv zoned out like a trained monkey (I do have other hobbies!). I am engaged with it, and take time to consider the implications of its message. Whether or not I agree with the stance is irrelevant, though it can be highly entertaining and intriguing.
Is it so terrible to indulge? I don’t believe so. Judge me if you will. If not, there’s a spot on my couch for you!

P.S. Every show fits the bill for one demographic or another. Which one is yours?

HR is a Chameleon

Hello All!! Thank you for checking out my blog. What are your thoughts on HR? check out mine below!

What IS Human Resources??
Many people out there have no idea.  Don’t worry, if I was on the outside looking in, I would be confused as well! It isn’t clear cut like most other departments.
Accounting balances books, marketing promotes, and Human Resources coordinates the biggest asset of all, the employees.  No pressure! (Right??)
HR is dynamic, and fluid, binding an organization in ways that could otherwise allow circumstances to quickly unravel.
What makes it impossible to define is that each organization is an entity shaped by hundreds of factors, each with unique needs; Employees, industry, size and setting… for starters.
Moreover, they all have specific mission statements with various levels of strategic involvement and each one draws from other areas within the company.  HR “is” accounting, and marketing, and business development, only from a people perspective. A figurative spider web seen from all angles.
Thus… describing HR in a relatable way? First, there are a dozen aspects of HR that need attention.  It goes beyond mere paper pushing, meetings filled with jargon and chipper attitudes (although the latter is certainly helpful).
In fact, I’ll bet that many out there don’t know, there are three levels of HR!
The most basic, of course, is your standard business practice; Payroll, benefits, onboarding etc… The essentials.
Next up are the compartmentalized facets that businesses have officially adopted in the last decade or two:
Recruitment- finding the right people to make your company into a five star machine. Recruiters coordinate with compensation, training, and marketing experts. After all, branding isn’t just for the customers, but candidates as well.
Training & Development- assisting employees in tuning their stellar skills. Trainers assess gaps the organization might otherwise not notice, often doubling efficiency.
Labour/Employee Relations- mediating miscommunications and enforcing policies. The internal side of public relations.
Compensation & Benefits- organizing pay structures, both direct and indirect. Tenure, budget, strategy, and policy are balanced for optimal remuneration.
Health and Safety/Wellness- keeping employees healthy and supporting those who need it while maintaining a hazard free environment.
Other HR hats are often thrown in the ring, such as compliance, engagement, diversity/equity, charity and generally any other issue which impacts an employee’s ability to work effectively.
Finally, there is the often overlooked component of Strategy, which HR falls under the umbrella of and considers all of the above to assist executives in leading a successful company. In a standard SWOT analysis, HR offers pivotal information. For example, a positive work culture would show as a strength (S) whereas market conditions such as average wage increases would represent a threat (T).
Finally, these factors are pooled to determine the most effective alignment of goals in key areas (HR, Marketing, Finance etc) so that short and long term plans  can be devised and fed back into the strategy. Like a wheel spinning on it’s own momentum, if there is synergy between all components of an organization, it will thrive with few internal barriers. After all, what better way is there to face competitors than with a unified front?
In short, HR is shaped by the values and mission of an organization; It’s whatever an organization requires, within the scope of people management. That is… if they are doing it right!

Sources:

http://www.maverickec.com/index_files/Aligning%20HR%20Strategy%20epulse.pdf

http://yourbusiness.azcentral.com/seven-major-categories-hr-management-activities-6406.html

http://e-hrminc.blogspot.ca/2011/04/aligning-hr-strategy-with-business.html

 http://yourbusiness.azcentral.com/human-resource-swot-analysis-1288.html

 

Mentoring: it’s personal

Mentoring. A funny concept, full of hope and opportunity and growth.
I’ve had many mentors over the years, for different purposes, all sprung from various circumstances.
My first, an old professor from University, recruited me to mark exam papers and sort projects. From the outside looking in, an effusive woman with more energy than a red-bull. And the inside? well, let me tell ya… she can organize like nobodys business. Seems that teaching 8 courses every semester must be one of those do or perish deals. I learned alllllll about colour coding and the value of personalized attendance/name cards. Sure it sounds simple, but the implementation is no Sunday morning. Detail oriented? Oh yes, I get that from her.
Moreover, she inspired my passion for diversity and inclusion. It was her brilliant mind that pushed me to consider that hey, I think this is what I want my career to revolve around. THIS sounds right. A priceless gift and to this day, I’m very thankful.
Want to know the ironic part? at the time, I didn’t have an understanding of what mentoring was; Not until a few years later when I looked back at my resume. Retrospect comes in handy.
Mentoring is more than learning tricks of the job. It’s about making personal connections, embracing new points of view, and adopting values to which you can aspire. A heady epiphany that was and you can bet that it took me awhile to realize.
Since then, I’ve established various relationships and goals. A few evolved and others fell by the wayside, yet somehow I’ve managed to maintain a steady track towards where I want to be. Mentoring, networking, learning, they all roll up into the same bag.
Recently, I’ve taken a networking approach to job hunting and it’s opened up my world in ways I hadn’t dreamed of considering.
I’ve been invited to events, attended interviews, and met people from all parts of the globe.
No, it hasn’t gotten me a job just yet but one thing I’ve learned and come to honestly appreciate is that the journey really is more important. Focusing on the “find work” part makes things tricky, so if you get anything out of my meager wisdom, let it be that you should network, regardless of your employment status. Always. Keep an open mind, invite change, and regret nothing.
In fact, since August when I was notified of my contract termination, I’ve seen so much that I am relieved to not have found a job immediately. At first I was afraid… I was petrified (Oh come now, what’s a blog without some corny pop culture reference!) but then I realized that its allowed me time to branch out, process experiences and discover what they mean to me. From that, I feel more confident than ever before, and I’ve found an identity which I wasn’t even aware needed to be unleashed. I know this all sounds like a wild child gone corporate, but I promise you my story is true. Really!
So where do I go from here?
Well, currently I’m part of my University Alumni association and am helping to organize an upcoming mentorship event. Challenging, but in a most exhilarating way!
Meanwhile, I’ve signed on as a mentee to a highly qualified and knowledgeable mentor, all arranged by the HRPA. This will be my first official mentor, with regularly scheduled meetings etc, so I’m very much looking forward to the experience.
Beyond that, who knows? Though I am sure it will be enlightening, and full of surprises.

Pop (goes the balloon) Art

POP Art

Diversity at its finest- The art exhibit I encountered en route to the HRPA Conference last month. I love how the colours and textures vary so much in such a small frame! Reminds me of Toronto and our cultural collage

How big is your glass?

Hi! Welcome to my blog, where I’ll be sharing my insights, conundrums and qualms. I’ve been around the HR block a few times so know a thing or two, but there is plenty left to learn so consider yourself invited to witness my evolution as a perpetual student. You may see the occasional “life” post as well, just to keep things fresh of course.
I try to stay positive as much as possible, and believe in approaching things with an open mind. Sometimes that falls through, and I try to be the first to admit that… if you catch me defaulting let me know, please!
Keeping a fresh perspective is important to me, as I am working towards a career focusing on Diversity & Inclusion, Engagement, Wellness, and Training.
One day, I hope to be an expert in all of the above. Until then, I’ll make do with the tools I have at hand… such as blogging!

I’ll end my debut with this thought… When someone asks me if my glass is half full or half empty, I tell them neither! It’s all about fit- try a different glass :)

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