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Member Spotlight: Srinidhi Varadhan, aPHR

Posted By Editor, Monday, October 15, 2018
Updated: Monday, October 15, 2018


Srinidhi Varadhan, aPHR
NCHRA Volutneer

  1. What led you to Human Resources as a profession/How did you get into your current role?

    My passion for HR began when I was doing pro bono work for my law school. It was an employment law telephone advice line, we provided advice to employees who had employment problems. Being the first point of contact for employees and acting as a liaison between employees and volunteer employment lawyers intrigued me to pursue HR.

  2. In your opinion, what is the future of HR? How do you see it changing over the next few years, especially in terms of HR innovation?

    Technology, especially Artificial Intelligence, is the future of HR. From enhancing and automating business processes to reducing bias through algorithm assessment program. AI can really revolutionize human resources.

  3. What do you find is the greatest reward working in HR? 

    Culture and people. Working with diversified people and learning their culture has always been my passion.
    In developing the people around us, the work done in HR goes a long way in the professional development of other employees.
    With performance reviews and interviews, HR professionals can collect valuable information that guides employee development plans.

  4.  What role has NCHRA played in your career? 

    NCHRA and certification that I prepare for with NCHRA is a playing key factor in my job search. Companies recognize that I am a member of a reputable HR association.
    Volunteering with NCHRA has improved my network and helped me attend conferences and networking events to keep me up-to-date with HR and HR technology.

  5. What is something people might not know about you?

    The National Park service in the U.S. is a fantastic idea. I am a big fan of this concept. I would like to complete visits to 60 national parks in U.S.
    So far I have visited 9 national parks in California and 5 in Utah. 


If you’re interested in talking to Sri or have an HR job opening
, please send us an email at

Tags:  candidate  HR professional  nchra member spotlight 

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Six Reasons to Consider Upon Adding a College Savings Option To Your Benefits Suite

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Wednesday, October 3, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, October 3, 2018

** Contributed by Julio Martinez, Executive Director, ScholarShare Investment Board **

As an HR professional, you are probably always on the lookout for new, competitive benefits to help retain your employees and attract the best talent. With college costs exponentially rising, today’s parents are looking for the best ways to save for future higher education expenses. There’s a growing trend in HR that addresses both of these important goals...

Read this article on Next Concept HR Magazine.

 ScolarShare529 is a NCHRA Platinum Sponsor


Tags:  529plans  benefits  employee benefits  scholarshare 

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Creating a Coaching Mindset in Organizations

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Thursday, September 27, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2018

*** By Allison Holzer, InspireCorps ***

Leaders today invest in coaching more than ever before. In fact, between 25 to 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies hire executive coaches. According to a recent Harvard Business Review (HBR) article on the subject, leaders “see personal involvement in the development of talent as an essential activity for business success.”

Research supports the investment in coaching in organizations, with meta-analytic reviews showing that coaching significantly increases “performance and skills, well-being, coping, work attitudes, and goal-directed self-regulation” (Theeboom, Beersma & Van Vianen, 2013).

In today’s highly competitive and turbulent market, organizations cannot afford high turnover or the loss of their greatest talent, so there has been an increasing priority on attracting, retaining, and cultivating top talent.

Coaching is seen as a key strategy in doing this. Managers who are either trained to coach internally or hire external coaches do so to invest in and accelerate the performance of their top talent and steady performers.

In our experience collectively, leaders don’t just hire coaches to retain and accelerate the performance of their top talent. Leaders hire coaches because they want their teams to think and act like coaches.

Coaching Mindset Contagion

On a personal note, I first fell in love with coaching in 2006. Participating in a coaching certification course changed my orientation to the world, my mindset, and what I saw as possible for both myself and others.

Prior to that time, I had more rigid views of myself and the world, often judging myself harshly for setbacks or making fear-based decisions. The process of both coaching and being coached shifted my mindset to allow more flexible and growth-oriented views of myself and the world, being more empathetic and emotionally agile, learning from setbacks, and making decisions based on resonance.

After speaking with hundreds of coaches over the years, I have found that this experience is not uncommon. There is power in the process of being coached — it can fundamentally shift how one views oneself and others in a way that has positive ripple effects going forward.

I believe that this coaching mindset and the opportunity for positive change is what leaders seek when they hire external coaches. They do so with the hope that the process will fundamentally shift those who go through it in a transformational way that leads to more effective decision-making, better problem-solving, greater well-being, and more flexible approaches. These shifts benefit not only the client, but also the team and organization at large.

Companies that want to cultivate a coaching mindset culture do not have to send all of their employees to coach training programs, though. These mindset shift and skills can be learned through the process of being coached or even through an internal company training or peer-coaching program that focuses on key characteristics.

Five Characteristics of a Coaching Mindset

Although a coaching mindset includes many different qualities, the following five characteristics align tightly with organizational success. The majority of our clients over the past five years have identified these characteristics as top priorities for their talent to ensure business success:

1. Deep, Full-Body Listening

Coaches are trained to listen deeply with their bodies, eyes, and ears. They listen to what clients are saying verbally and look for what’s being communicated non-verbally. They listen for “resonance” — the emotion behind the words.

And they listen to their own bodies as clues for what is happening for clients. Leaders who more deeply tune in to their team, their customers, and their stakeholders have a better understanding of their needs. This leads to stronger interpersonal connections and better decision-making.

2. Radical Curiosity  

Coaches learn how to ask powerful questions. These are questions that have no clear answer and cannot be answered with a “yes” or a “no.” Instead, powerful questions open up clients to think about a problem differently.

The most powerful questions are those that make clients stop in their tracks, get quiet, and go deep to answer them. Radical curiosity and deep, full-body listening are essential elements of empathy, which has been shown in recent research to be directly linked to commercial success in business.

3. Practical Empathy

Coaches are trained to be empathetic, but in a practical way — with some emotional distance from their client. This allows them to get into their clients’ heads and hearts to understand what they are experiencing without getting pulled in too far. They learn how to be empathetic without experiencing “compassion fatigue.”

Empathy is a critical skill in coaching and in business. As I wrote in a recent InspireCorps blog post and according to a recent HBR article and the 2015 Global Empathy Index ratings: “there is a direct link between empathy and commercial success.”

4. Possibility Focused  

Coaches learn to be possibility focused, rather than problem-focused. They look for emotional “resonance” — what is leading to excitement, joy, optimism.

Leading coaching researcher Anthony Grant has studied the impact of solution-focused versus problem-focused orientation in coaching. He has found that when people focus on possibility and future solutions, they create more concrete and actionable plans towards achieving their goals. A possibility focus can benefit everyone, from managers working with their team in performance reviews to employees generating new ideas for a product launch.

5. Relationship First

Coaching is often referred to as a way to accelerate performance. However, at its core, coaching is about the person first and foremost and the coaching relationship — a relationship that focuses on strengths and possibilities. When the person feels supported, inspired, and motivated through the coaching relationship, the growth in performance happens as a result.

Leaders at all levels struggle with many personal challenges that can affect their business. And it can be lonely at the top, especially for women. The process of coaching often reminds people of their own humanity, the importance of seeking support from others, and cultivating key relationships.

How a Coaching Mindset Leads to Business Results

My appreciation for the impact and power of coaching is rooted in both personal and professional experiences. The positive paradigm shifts I’ve seen my executive clients and their teams go through as a result of developing a coaching mindset includes greater emotional agility and empathy, more flexibility and openness, stronger resilience, and better decision-making.

In a business environment characterized by a fast-paced culture and rapid change, hiring an executive coach and developing a coaching mindset is one of the most sustainable, cost-effective, and agile interventions a leader can make today. It is not only an investment in the performance of that leader, it is an investment in a mindset shift that can lead to cascading positive impact across the organization.



Braunstein, K., & Grant, A. M. (2016). Approaching solutions or avoiding problems? The differential effects of approach and avoidance goals with solution-focused and problem-focused coaching questions. Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice, 9(2), 93-109.

David, S. (2016). Emotional agility: Get unstuck, embrace change, and thrive in work and life. Penguin.

Holzer, A.A. (2017). Empathy Works and You Can Work It. Inspired Insights:

Parmer, B. (2015). The Most (and Least) Empathetic Companies. Harvard Business Review:

Pudrovska, T., & Karraker, A. (2014). Gender, job authority, and depression. Journal of health and social behavior, 55(4), 424-441.

Pritchard, M. (2016). Executive Coaching: The FORTUNE 500's Best Kept Secret. LinkedIn:

Theeboom, T., Beersma, B., & Van Vianen, A. E. (2013). Coaching in Organizations–A Meta-Analytic Review of Individual Level Effects. In Academy of Management Proceedings (Vol. 2013, No. 1, p. 11881). Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510: Academy of Management.

Waytz, A. (2016). The Limits of Empathy. Harvard Business Review:

Weintraub, J. & Hunt, J. (2015). 4 Reasons Managers Should Spend More Time on Coaching, Harvard Business Review:

Tags:  coaching  effective leadership  HR coaching  hr leadership 

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How to Retain Your Star Performers

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2018

** Contributed by: Ingrid Stabb, Head of Marketing, NCHRA *** 

It’s been well documented that employees quit managers, not companies. A recent article in Harvard Business Review, Why People Really Quit Their Jobs, extends this common wisdom to say it is the responsibility of managers to design jobs that meet employees’ critical needs. Managers have to represent HR on the front line to tailor engagement programs to each employee because the cost of losing a star performer can be devastating. For example, some studies predict that for every employee you replace, it costs the company 6 to 9 months' salary on average. For a high-potential Millennial making $50,000 a year, that's $25,000 to $37,500 in recruiting and training expenses. That doesn’t even begin to account for the momentum you lose on your initiatives or disruption to your team’s culture and morale. And often times the effort required to retain a star employee can be quite small.

I remember early in my career the VP of Marketing stopped by my cubicle and discreetly handed me a certificate of achievement. He whispered that I was receiving some big company award for excellent performance and that I would see a cash bonus in my paycheck. He requested that I please keep this information on the down low so that others would not feel left out that they didn’t get the award. I didn’t know whether to feel honored or sad or to just laugh. In my heart I felt the company could better retain me, and save itself a nice chunk of change, by just calling me forward at an assembly and letting everyone clap. The competitor firm who later recruited me over to them did just that—gave me a big award at a lunch reception that involved no money, just a few kind words and a plaque. I was pleased as punch and still have that plaque at home.

Of course, many people would have the opposite response. They would prefer to skip the pomp and circumstance and just get the cash. Everyone is different. Years later I was impressed to see how my employer, Great Place to Work®, handled this. During onboarding, every new employee was given a questionnaire about what types of small gifts they liked and how they most feel appreciated. The company did a good job, not only of onboarding, but also of recognizing employees in unique and creative ways.

In your organization the key to retaining your wide range of star performers is to personalize how you treat them and show them appreciation. A little effort can go a long way in keeping them performing and preventing them from jumping ship to your rivals.

Here is a cheat sheet I created of what to offer, based on the strengths you observe in your talent. You can also use this list with them as a conversation starter. Let your prized employees tell you in their own words what they need and value. I’ve mapped out nine different types of high performers that you may encounter on your team. You may find that these predictions, of what to offer, turn out to be uncanny in how well they capture what you need to do.

Employee Retention Map© by Ingrid Stabb

1.       If your star performer shines most because she makes improvements and brings order to your processes or products, most likely, she wants:

  • To be respected
  • To get things right
  • To feel the workplace is fair
  • To see that others are working hard, too
  • To release stress

2.       If your star performer shines most because he attends resourcefully to others’ needs, most likely, he wants:

  • To be appreciated
  • To be treated well
  • To fit in socially
  • To make a difference
  • To work in a place with a pleasant appearance

3.       If your star performer shines most because she achieves a successful image and wins for your organization, most likely, she wants:

  • A sophisticated reputation
  • Competition & big goals
  • Distinguished recognition
  • To mentor and be mentored
  • Forced stress reduction (like the office closing for everyone—she might not reduce stress on her own, otherwise)

4.       If your star performer shines most because he lends authenticity, creativity or originality to your organization, most likely, he wants:

  • Authenticity to be honored as a guiding principle
  • Beauty in the office or products and creative outlets
  • Idealism in the work you do
  • Openness for expressing emotions
  • Time apart from others to re-charge

5.       If your star performer shines most because she understands complexity and acquires knowledge for your organization, most likely, she wants:

  • Extensive independence
  • Intellectual stimulation
  • Plenty of work time alone, office doors shut or possibly WFH
  • Opportunities to share expertise or give lectures
  • Self-satisfaction with good work vs. big shows of recognition

6.       If your star performer shines most because he manages risk or fights for a cause for your organization, most likely, he wants:

  • Certainty
  • Intellectual and physical stimulation—to burn off energy
  • Physical security
  • Reassurance from his boss and others
  • A cause to fight for

7.       If your star performer shines most because she explores possibilities or develops new ventures for your organization, most likely, she wants:

  • Being liked and getting to socialize with co-workers
  • To tell entertaining stories
  • Fun and excitement
  • Lack of limitations
  • Idealism and optimism

8.       If your star performer shines most because he clarifies boundaries or masterfully negotiates for your organization, most likely, he wants:

  • Autonomy
  • Challenge
  • To be in control of his universe
  • To have his energy matched
  • Truth and directness

9.       If your star performer shines most because she maintains harmony or dependably repeats tasks in your organization, most likely, she wants:

  • Comfort
  • Fairness
  • Not too much distraction
  • Lack of conflict
  • Connection


I’d love to hear feedback on how this “cheat sheet” works for you. Feel free contact me at or on Twitter @IngridHRWest.


Ingrid Stabb is Head of Marketing at Next Concept HR Association, HarperCollins author of The Career Within You, and Co-Host with Adrienne McCue of Podcast, Enneagram Life

Tags:  Employee retention 

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Have You Been Emotionally Hijacked at Work?

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Contributed by Theresa L. Garcia, The NeuroLeadership Coach
** Session Speaker, The Power Hijack: How Your Brain Hijacks Your Power at Work
** Women in HR Leadership Conference, September 21, 2018 #WomenInHR


Knowledge is Power.

Knowing how to short-circuit, in-the-moment, an emotional hijack that would undermine both self-confidence and presence, remaining composed and focused during a high-stakes meeting or high-conflict conversation - is knowledge worth acquiring.  

Read the article on Next Concept HR Magazine.



Tags:  HR Leadership  HR Leadership Coaching  Women In HR  Women Leaders 

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