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Business, Diversity & Inclusion, STEM

Be Sure These Two Persons Are On Your Team In 2018

teamwork-never-under-estimate-itIt’s Week 2 of Calendar Year (CY) 2018. My morning ritual usually includes listening to and/or watching various news and talk shows while eating breakfast, working on a particular task or project, checking email, reviewing social media updates, writing, etc. It’s no surprise that during the first week of 2018, most of the morning shows have focused on ways to help their viewers or listeners keep their New Year resolutions.

According to a Marist Poll (December 20, 2017) losing weight and being a better person are at the top of the list of New Year’s resolutions for 2018. I’m not against New Year resolutions, however, I don’t make them and haven’t done so in over 20 years. Here are some comments about New Year’s resolutions from those sitting at the anchor desk of the Today Show on January 1, 2018:

  • All year you should try to make yourself a little better. Al Roker, meteorologist
  • I like having a goal, even if it only lasts from January 1st thru January 5th. Hodi Kotb, co-anchor [P.S. Congratulations Hoda on your new appointment as co-host of The Today Show!]
  • Whether you make a resolution or not, there is something beautiful about beginnings. Savannah Guthrie, co-anchor

In my last post on this topic, It’s 2017: Resolutions, Goals and Opportunities, I shared that setting goals and making decisions happens year-round for me.  However, I offer this advice to those who have weight loss goals for 2018: Eating a healthy diet should be a part of your daily routine and not something that one aspires to at the beginning of each year. If you fall off the wagon and over indulge, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and climb back on the healthy diet wagon, again. Also, if you want to shed pounds, you’ll likely need to incorporate exercise into your regular routine and that is something that needs to happen, if not daily, on a regular and weekly basis.

My nephew, Avery Brown, sums up his New Year’s resolution experiences this way: I’m not waiting a whole year for a resolution. I need every year, every month, every day, every hour, every minute, and every second to be resolved. How do I make this happen?

Answer: I just start whatever I put my mind to. In my process and understanding, time will reveal itself as long as I’m open to listen and learn.

Now, since this post isn’t really about New Year’s resolutions, let’s transition to the meat and potatoes. In addition to a gym membership and practicing mindfulness to be all that you can be in CY2018, what else should business and STEM professionals bring with them into this new year? Here are two suggestions that I give to collegiate students and early career professionals, but it applies to everyone: a human resource (HR) professional and an attorney. Why? Because successfully navigating the blows, punches, sharks, and land mines in the work place and business may require the knowledge and skills of one or both professionals.

First, this post is not an assault on corporate human resource employees or their counterparts in the legal department. I have worked with a diverse group of these professionals over the years and consider most to be knowledgeable of the work that they do. I also consider most to be “good people”. Going further, I count a few of them as dear friends that I have either developed a professional and/or personal relationship with over the years. However, the nature of business, STEM, and the workplace is forever changing. In most organizations, the needs of the organization or the corporation will take precedence over an individual or group of employees.

In a Knowledge@Wharton management post, Is Your HR Department Friend or Foe? Depends on Who’s Asking the Question, [Ref 1] critics of HR rate it this way: “…HR departments can be needlessly bureaucratic, obstructionist, stuck in the “comfort zone” of filling out forms and explaining company benefits, and too closely aligned with the interests of management yet lacking the business knowledge to be effective strategic partners. Dealing with these types of HR departments “is like going to the dentist,” says David Sirota, author of The Enthusiastic Employee: How Companies Profit by Giving Workers What They Want (Wharton School Publishing).”

I have certainly experienced some HR departments that reflect the mirror image of the above. The good news is that all HR departments do not operate this way. Mark Bieler shares in the Wharton article, the bottom line is that “the quality of HR functions correlates more than anything to the quality of culture and management they are supporting. If you put me in an environment as head of HR in a company that fundamentally doesn’t respect people and has a short-term orientation toward them, I would have a difficult time either championing the needs of the people or furthering the objectives of the organization through HR policy or practice.”

Thank you, Mark Bieler! Your analysis fits well with the saying: You can’t fix stupid, but you can stop doing stupid things. It also speaks volumes to my recommendation to acquire your own HR friend or representative. This friend or representative should definitely be someone who does not work for your employer. Why? Because you want this person to have an objective view of you, the organization, and any issues or problems that may develop. You also do not want to place yourself or them in harm’s way for a potential conflict of interest.

For similar reasons, you’ll find that having a friend or confidant who is knowledgeable of legal matters, especially those governing the work place, to be a beneficial resource as well. As we watched so many powerful men in Hollywood, politics, and elsewhere, fall from grace over the past six months, I often asked myself the question: I wonder how many people surrounding this person/problem knew about it but didn’t say anything?

How often have I heard someone in the workplace say:

  • I didn’t’ think that what he/she was doing was right, but I didn’t know what to say or do.
  • I didn’t agree with what my manager was telling me to do, but what other choice did I have? I didn’t want to lose my job.
  • I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to get anyone in trouble.

Having a consiglieri in the legal field can also help one to navigate these land mines, and better address situations like those above. Some of the best employees may be very knowledgeable about the work that they do, but all too often ignorant of the rules, policies, statutes, and regulations that govern employers and employees.

What if you don’t know an attorney or a human resources professional outside of your workplace? Don’t worry, networking can help with that. Even if you don’t know these individuals, some of your friends do. You can always hire an attorney or an knowledgeable HR consultant, but knowing them in advance of needing their services is a big plus.

Once you come to know these individuals, do not abuse the relationship! Like you, your friends work for a living, and have demands on their time and resources. In lieu of payment for services for shared knowledge and expertise, consider a quid pro quo (you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours) arrangement. Instead of paying for services rendered, complimentary tickets to a concert, dinner, sporting event, spa date, maid service, etc., will show your friend how much you value them and the knowledge that they bring to the table.

Here’s wishing the best for all of my readers in CY2018!

Sources Cited:

  1. Is Your HR Department Friend or Foe? Depends on Who’s Asking the Question, in Knowledge @ Wharton, August 10, 2005, http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/is-your-hr-department-friend-or-foe-depends-on-whos-asking-the-question/





About Vi Brown

Vi is principal and CEO of Prophecy Consulting Group, LLC, an Arizona firm that provides business and engineering services to private and public clients. Prior to establishing her consulting practice in 2001, Vi worked with Motorola, Maricopa County Government, Pacific Gas & Electric, CH2M Hill, and Procter & Gamble. As an adjunct faculty member, Vi teaches undergraduate calculus classes and graduate level environmental courses. She is also a professional speaker.


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