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Author Archive for Jorden Bartlett

Wait, Work From Home is a Bad Thing?

You might be sick of reading about Yahoo and the work from home reversal. Or Richard Branson telling us all that working remotely is the way of the future. I, for one, am really enjoying the discussions.

I feel like there are some definition challenges here. Working from home and telecommuting, because you work at a distance, are two different things.

I believe that telecommuting has a strong future. Top talent isn’t always located right where we need it. And these are people, not resources. You may be able to order parts from another country, but human effort is not the same. An internet connection can unite your business need with talent located anywhere. I see this as something HR can support. We can be there to guide managers when they enter a telecommuting relationship. Working through the challenges an arrangement like this brings is the best way to ensure it is successful.

On the other hand, working from home seems to be a life choice and not a matter of sourcing talent. It’s about wanting to work somewhere that is comfortable and close. Making this choice, as a member of a team, can have some implications that should be appreciated. Is it that the person does not want to interact with the team? Do they hate their boss? Is your office a place they don’t want to be? These are all valid concerns. Avoidance is not a reason to work from home. But if a person is more effective and efficient at home, I think we would agree that it’s a good thing. The only detractor is if it takes away from the team or business results.

I think the biggest challenge in both situations is supervision. Managers get anxious that people will underperform, or more accurately underwork, when they can’t see them. If we can all get our heads around managing by performance, in it’s truest form; working remotely can be a success. All members of the team have to be committed to the work from home model though. If it is seen as a perk or a punishment, the team may function at a decreased level. Telecommuting, likewise, has to be embraced by the team. As HR professionals, we can teach our organizations how to make remote work situations impactful. We can introduce performance based management tools and provide support.

Of course, this doesn’t address the millions of people employed outside the knowledge workplace. The workplace progressions in those fields will have to wait for another blog post!

Learn About Life at Work in 5 Hours and 53 Minutes

What an honour to post on eolist.com again. As I set out to write my contribution this weekend, I settled in to watch what turned out to be an epic 5 hour and 53 minute tennis match at the Australian Open between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

The match got me thinking – what can we learn from those 5 hours and 53 minutes that applies to our life at work? We’re not likely to find ourselves up against the number one seeded tennis player at work, but we can learn a few things.

Don’t give up. Don’t count yourself out until the match is over. Every point counts. Don’t give up until they award the cup. Keep pushing forward with your idea or your development. You’ll hit a few long balls but keep swinging.

A little rain is nothing to freak out about. When some rain started to pour in through the open roof, the announcers got a little excited. They were calling for a delay of game. An official break in play. The players didn’t seem bothered at all. They saw an opportunity for a rest. For some reflection. Find the positive if a little rain falls through the open roof.

Wear something that makes you feel successful. Djokovic changed his shirt a few times in the match. Granted, he was sweating up a storm and wanted to be comfortable. He changed in to something he thought would help him win. With most companies abandoning formal dress codes, don’t forget that what you wear says a lot about you. Wear something that makes you thrive.

Be a gentleman. Or a gentlelady. You get the idea. Some feel that there is too much pomp and circumstance in tennis. The principle is to treat people with kindness and respect. Regardless of whether we are competing against them for several million dollars or if they are handing us tennis balls. Do the same at work. Treat everyone with kindness and respect. Even if they are up against you for a promotion.

Think for yourself. And don’t be afraid to have a support network. There is no active coaching during tennis in the way there is in football, baseball or hockey. Players are required to pump themselves up, give themselves tips and calm themselves down. That being said, the coach is always sat nearby in the stands. Players often look to the coach for a signal. Or even just a smile. Nadal’s coach even moved down a few rows to be closer to the player. There is a support network even though the player stands alone. Be an independent thinker at work. Spend time cultivating a network of people to support your efforts.

Celebrate victories. Without a lot of fanfare. A wee pump of the fist will do. While tennis matches end in a bit of grandstanding, each point is a victory that the player celebrates relatively quickly and quietly with himself or herself. Celebrate your victories at work.

Find a way to tune out the distractions. This match had rowdy crowds, rain and amazingly loud seagulls. Both players found a way to ignore all that and focus on the match. Find your own way to ignore the seagulls.

Don’t get cocky. You’re only as good as the game you’re playing. Both players, having just won their last match, could easily have arrived full of swagger. Instead they knew that they prove themselves with each game they play. Every day you have the opportunity to prove your worth to your organization.

I can’t imagine that Nadal and Djokovic know that in addition to entertaining us over those 5 hours and 53 minutes, we also learned a thing or two about being better employees.

Why We Should Stop Talking About Respect

We’re whiny. We’re sulky. We pout. HR people spend a lot of time focused on gaining the respect of an organization. We complain that we’re not taken seriously or that we’re not included. We love to talk about seats at the table and how we’re not in them. We are annoying. Wait, am I whining now?

We should stop whining, sulking and pouting. People who are respected don’t do those things. We should stop telling people we aren’t taken seriously. People who are taken seriously don’t tell people they are not taken seriously. Didn’t your mother ever teach you about self-fulfilling prophesies? You know that thing about your face staying that way if you make a silly face for too long. And seriously, let go of the table thing. Do you think anyone who has a seat there talked getting a seat at the table?

Maybe you’re thinking “fine Jorden, but we do want to be respected for what we do. If you’re so smart, tell us how to do that without whining, sulking and pouting.” There is a simple solution here. It might take time and patience. Show your value. Demonstrate how you make the company better. Illustrate examples of how HR is more than interviews and potlucks.

Now you might be thinking “well Jorden, I took your advice and my company says that HR should stick to HR. Now what?” To you, my friend, I ask why would you want to work somewhere that doesn’t value your work. Go find another job. Two things will happen. One, you will find somewhere that appreciates your work. And two, your previous employer will realize how much value you added and beg you to come back. While I can’t guarantee they beg you to come back, they will realize that you were valuable to the team.