How to use social networks to advance your career

A few years ago I may have begged to differ. However after starting up my own social networking presence I have to say that this is a critical component to opening career doors (at least the good ones). The serious professional really needs to be up and running on the major social networking channels to stay current. Even when you are not looking for a job, you are developing your skill sets. This is because there is so much idea sharing that occurs if these sites are harnessed to their fullest potential. I’ve gotten hooked and love the world of networking.

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Survival of the Learning Fittest

For some years I have followed a little Wiki called “Shift Happens” (learn about the blog at http://shifthappens.wikispaces.com/, watch a recent video at http://youtu.be/XVQ1ULfQawk).  I follow this blog and video that keeps evolving because it keeps me humble every time I think I’m getting smarter.  I invite you to watch their more recent video to see what I’m talking about.  One statistic alone quite frankly frightens me every time I watch it.  According to the Department of Labor today’s learner will have 10-14 jobs by the age of 38.  Goodness gracious, that thought alone exhausts me every time it runs through my head.  I then tally up my job experiences since I was in college.  Not sure if I’ll be one of the statistics but I’m creeping close.  I’ve got four more years to go and the proof will be in my life career pudding.

So why do we all have to keep learning and changing jobs in today’s workplace?  Why can’t we just find that old fashioned manufacturing company where dad started after an apprenticeship at age 17 and retired at age 65 (but not a day later).  The reality is that this world is long gone. We are competing in a global marketplace.  Our American mindset is just a fraction of the mindset whole.  Do you realize that America is only about a third the size of China and India individually?  We are less than 1/20th of the world’s population.  Yes we have consumed the majority of wealth for decades, but that is slowly slipping. So, the hard reality is that for us to compete in the world today we need to start learning more, quickly, and applying creative knowledge to create new products and services and maintain our competitive edge.

For me this journey has meant that while I pursued my PHR (professional in HR) certificate a few years back after my four year degree was completed, I didn’t stop here.  As times changed I changed too.  I was charged with joining the implementation team for a 27-state wide EHS system rollout and I had to support as the division’s HR leader.  That meant I needed to learn about change management quickly.  So I did, and quickly.  In two healthcare organizations I was charged with greatly reducing the time to fill for the higher turnover healthcare support roles.  This was unchartered territory for me.  So I embraced the field of process improvement and studied six sigma and using the DMAIC process to change the recruiting process.  I could not have filled 300 jobs in the last four years if I didn’t learn those skills.  Fast forward to earlier this year and I was commissioned with doubling training in a 340 employee organization with a resource team of three.  This time I had to study the best LMS systems that existed for the best price and then study adult learning styles and create an environment where technology plus live training support could accomplish this. I’d say every year just to survive some crazy challenge presented before me I’ve added another certification, read another book, played in the sandbox of new technologies, met some new business professionals to learn from and network with, gone back to school for more education and so forth.  Pure survival.

So I’m curious to hear from all of you.  How is the world of rapid information exchange and faster development of new products changing your business?  How are you competing?  How do you teach your staff the new skill sets they use?  What approaches do you use — web learning, coaching and 1:1 learning, outside learning resources, etc.

I look forward to your responses!

A Culture of Sharing

This is insightful. It is so true that the most dynamic and effective leaders are masters of storytelling. When we strip away all the professional mumbo jumbo, we all are at heart still kids who like a good story. Our attention spans can take in only so much before we zone out. But when an interesting story grabs us, something magical happens. The information itself transforms into a heart grabbing topic. Daniel Goleman once again hits the nail on the head with his insights into emotional intelligence and people stuff!

The Culture Difference

I really enjoyed Daniel Goleman’s article, “Effective Leaders are Effective Storytellers.” This statement is incredibly true. When I think of some commonalities in the effective leaders that I have worked with—one in particular comes to mind: they are all good storytellers! An effective leader and motivator at my current firm, has a background in journalism. She has an incredible ability to take highly technical (sometimes boring) information and craft an engaging story that can resonate with anyone. Her ability to craft a story is an invaluable skill and watching it unfold is inspiring.

Daniel writes, “Good storytelling is a hallmark of effective leadership. It’s a medium that allows leaders to move others. It also lets others know who the leader is. How the leader thinks and feels.Howard Gardner talks about three kinds of story telling approaches. One is the ordinary story. These are the stories that everybody tells, in this sector, in this domain…

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Diving into HRD as a 19-Year-Old Recreation Center Manager

My journey into the field of training and development began some years back when I was a college kid working in an apartment complex recreation center.  I have always been a kinesthetic (“hands on”) learner you might say.  My duties ranged from running senior citizen events to backwashing pools and scrubbing algae off the tile, to helping lease apartments in the sales center.  Varied you might say.  It was here that I learned the value of good training.  At age nineteen I was given the chance to run this little activity center and health club.  Perhaps I was not ready for the challenges of managing peers and workers three times my age.  But ready or not, I plunged head first.  This experience taught me one incredibly critical lesson.  Never undervalue the ability of a person just because of age.  Respect and calling a person up and out to new and strategic possibilities at work is a key to leading learners and creating a workforce that can actually achieve excellence. My motto is to always train my replacement and never be threatened by my team members, but rather to champion their success even if it surpasses my own some day. I was a youngster someone believed in once.  That belief put a passion in me to do the same for others. No matter what others say, anyone can achieve success if they put their minds to it.  Brilliance and break through strategies accompany drive and creativity, not age.  I have since in several companies trained my replacements and coached for success.

In any event in my management job of youth I learned quickly that to succeed I had to figure out how to hire workers, keep workers and train workers well.  Health club jobs at older apartment complexes in the 1990’s didn’t pay too well.  Minimum wage was pretty normal, no more.  So I had to take what I could get.  To survive and create an environment for success I starting compiling work instructions for all kinds of things.  Never backwashed a pool before?  Well, you can.  And I created step by step instructions.  Add to that list all kinds of technical training to operate this facility.  Of course given the level of workers I could hire on my no benefits, minimum wage, shoe string budget I learned that the extra secret sauce was making work fun and being a coach along the way. I soon came to delight in training my team members and making that place shine with joy and fun.  We put on fashion shows for the senior citizen club.  We had beach volleyball tournaments across the parking lot (sans the beach!).  We had kids holiday parties that included Easter Egg Hunts, Dress Up Parties and more.  We hosted interns from local businesses and created social get togethers for them. My minimum wage team members got a chance to bond with the residents at these parties.  I taught them to host and create a joyful environment and it worked.  I discovered at the very young age of nineteen that by training well, coaching well and even daring to become a “friend” at work, one can create a recipe for success.

Well, from here my journey into the formal world of training and development evolved.  I eventually went into the field of HR by becoming the part-time HR leader for this little property management company. That led to some consulting gigs, and eventually  I moved into larger corporation HR leadership.

The funny thing is that it’s the same thing.  Whether it is a nineteen year old kid teaching her 50-year-old workers to backwash a pool and have fun, or a HR Manager hiring new employees and helping train and equip them for success, the secret sauce remains unchanged.

My personal recipe is as follows: People + Shared Knowledge + Joy + Thoughtful Structure around a Solid Strategy = Workforce Performance

So, I am beginning this humble little blog as a way to start the discussion at a new level.  I am in the process of earning my masters degree in HR training and development, fifteen years after beginning my peculiar journey.  I invite you, the reader and fellow blogger, to join me and share your thoughts!  I will be posting as I continue to learn about learning.  The journey never ends.  And that makes it all the more fun.