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Is It Enough that Your Company Has an Open-Door Policy?

Posted By Editor, Laurie, Tuesday, February 27, 2018

By Dana Barbato, HR West 2018 Speaker ---

At almost every job I have ever had, I was told during orientation or in the handbook that HR (and in some cases, management) had an open-door policy. And yes, the policies that I wrote as an HR professional contained that verbiage as well. But what does it mean? 

It is time to ask ourselves if our open-door policies are enough to drive the type of change we need to see in our organizations?

Read this article on the HR West Blog


Register today!



Tags:  communication  employee communication  employee engagement  hr leadership  HR West 2018  HR West speaker  leadership  management  open-door policies  workplace 

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Connect with Others at HR West!

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Thursday, February 25, 2016

By Karen Rodriguez

HR West is right around the corner! Many HR professionals will attend with the goal of connecting with peers and getting their message across. Whether networking with a group, conducting a small session or presenting a keynote address, your communication skills play a large part in how well you deliver your message and connect with others.

Eye contact is essential.

People have a hard time trusting someone who doesn’t look them straight in the eyes. While making eye contact can be difficult with one-on-one conversations, it’s even more difficult when networking with a group or presenting to an audience.

Anyone who has taken a public speaking class has likely been told to “scan the room.” The idea is to make eye contact with as many people as possible to get your message across. However, we’ve seen this method increase anxiety and make you appear less genuine.

When speaking to a group at dinner or during a training session, the best approach is to look at one person at a time for a complete thought, “One person: One thought.”

Each thought should last around five to seven seconds. That’s long enough to make a connection but not too long that it turns into a creepy stare. Following this approach will:

1.       Decrease your stress level. Looking at one person for a full thought simulates a one-on-one conversation. For that thought, everyone else will disappear and you will automatically calm down.

2.       Reduce “ums” and “uhs.” When you make eye contact, you are less likely to use filler words. As a result, you will sound more knowledgeable and credible.

3.       Help you avoid distractions. As you focus on one person, the audience member texting in the back of the room, the people walking in late, and the banter of a group across the room won’t distract you.

4.       Create connections. Not only does eye contact keep your audience’s attention, it demonstrates that nothing is more important to you than them in that moment. When you show your commitment to your audience, they will feel connected.

Focus on your audience and they will give you their attention. And, only speak when you make eye contact. The best communicators focus more on others and less on themselves.

For more communication skills tips, check out The Chat.  
There's still time to register for HR West 2016 - March 7-9, 2016 at the Oakland Convention Center in Oakland, California. 

About the Author

Karen Rodriguez is a passionate marketer, designer, and communicator. With over 15 years of experience, Karen Rodriguez currently manages Exec|Comm’s global brand including their online presence, web-based learning center, advertising, PR, classroom materials, and live special events. She recently launched the firm’s blog, The Chat, and lunch & learn series, The Learning Exchange. Additionally, she manages the delivery and expansion of Exec|Comm’s open-enrollment seminars in Chicago, Dallas, New York, San Francisco, and San Jose. Karen holds a BFA from Parsons, The New School for Design in New York City.  She lives in Aberdeen, NJ, with her husband and three sons.

Tags:  communi  communication  Exec-Comm  HR  HR conference  HR education  HR Leadership  HR West 2016  human resources management  interpersonal communication  Karen Rodriguez  NCHRA 

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The Top Four Ways to Communicate for a Happier Work Environment

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Monday, November 30, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, November 24, 2015

By Karen RodriguezExec|Comm Partner

Studies show that 25 percent of employees do not trust their superiors, and with more than 2 million Americans are voluntarily leaving their jobs every month, one of the top reasons cited is that they “just don’t like their boss.”


Getting along with your employees can be a complicated challenge. Everyone has his or her our own unique way of communicating. So an important first step to improving communication with your employees and co-workers is to first identify your own personal communication style. In doing so, you’ll be able to recognize how you and your employees, colleagues, or superiors are alike (or different) with regard to your various communication needs. The goal is to maximize attention and involvement!


Here are the four most common communicator types. Which one describes your style?


The Director
The Director has a short attention span, processes information quickly and is most interested in the bottom line. Because they are quick processors of information, it is best to come to them with a bulleted list of conclusions. This type of manager tends to guard their time, so you would prefer that people prepare thoroughly before they begin speaking with you and expect interruptions. Be sure to preface your meetings with the fact(s) that you plan to start precisely on time and that those in attendance know of or have an agenda in place.


The Free Spirit

The Free Spirit is typically a creative, "big picture" person who thrives on options, but is not always strong on follow through. This type of manager’s attitude towards time limitations or structure is relaxed and they have no problem making lots of changes in the direction in their meetings. Because they can be scattered those who hold meetings with this type of communicator usually likes to discuss lots of topics at once, and without necessarily finishing one thoroughly before going on to the next one. While they often tend to start and end meetings ...late, a Free Spirit also needs to have enough time to assimilate what is being said so that they can think about things thoroughly.


The Humanist
For the Humanist to be happy, everyone else has to be happy too. This type of manager is very concerned with the feelings of others and always wants to be sure that the needs of others are thoroughly met. Be prepared to have anything you present to them to be passed around the entire department for full consensus. Communicating with a Humanist requires patience and tact, as they like to spend more than the allotted amount time discussing issues during meetings. Humanist managers want people to be as open and honest with them. The more questions they are asked the better—it ensures them that people are being heard and their needs are being tended to.

The Historian
This type of manager thrives on detail and reacts best to structure and precision. They respect people who always provide them with thorough analyses and background information. They tend to process information in a very linear and methodical way and do not like to jump from subject to subject. It's important for the Historian to discuss things in an orderly and step-by-step fashion. The Historian likes everything and everyone to be on time, and stay on the agenda (or follow a timeline) to ensure that everything up for discussion will be covered. 


As you come to understand these types of communication styles, you will hopefully be able to have a better relationship with your employees and colleagues, which can ultimately provide a more enjoyable work environment!


So again, which “type” are you? How has our communication style shaped some of your success as it applies to communicating effectively in your workplace? Leave a comment below!

About the Author

As the manager of the Exec-Comm brand, marketing and design efforts, Karen Rodriguez oversees the firm’s identity, touching all aspects of the brand (online presence and web site, web-based learning center, advertising, PR, classroom materials, and live special events). Since joining Exec-Comm in 1999 and entering into partnership status in 2009, she introduced (and still manages) the firm’s blog, The Chat, launched the company's quarterly lunch and learn series: The Learning Exchange, and its open-enrollment seminars in New York and San Francisco. Karen holds a B.F.A. from Parsons The New School for Design in New York City, and lives in Aberdeen, NJ, with her husband and three sons.



Tags:  communication  employee  Exec-Comm  HR  Karen Rodriguez  meetings  style  success  workplace 

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Classroom writing tips that still apply to today's HR business environment

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Wednesday, October 28, 2015

As the 2016 fall school semester comes to a close, I am reminded of the dreaded research papers I was forced to write throughout middle school, high school and college.

But as I look back, I’m thankful as it helped me strengthen my writing, a skill that I continue to perfect today. For those of you that remember what it was like to write a term paper, here are three tips that applied then and still apply today in the human resources business environment.

Research thoroughly and outline completely, before you write.

Most non-fiction writers use extensive outlines to help them track timelines and events before they create the final manuscript. Even when writing a business plan or case study, an extensive and detailed outline makes it easier for the writer to stay focused.

Present information logically, as you write.

Newspapers and magazines are great examples of how to organize information. Articles and editorials lead with the key point and then add details to support it. Journalists call this the “inverted pyramid” in that you put your main points upfront followed by lesser points as the article continues. This structure makes a story easy to follow and even easier to skim. The fairly short sentence and paragraph structure of most periodicals also provides for a more reader-friendly experience.

Vary the verbs and involve your reader.

Weak verbs, especially the overused “to be” verb, bore readers. That’s why writers avoid it. Thrillers focus on action, with few superfluous words or details. Imagine if more business writing focused just on the action and omitted the fluff.

What writing tips have stuck with you through the years? Let us know in the comments section below.

About the Author

Karen Rodriguez is a passionate marketer, designer, and communicator. With over 15 years of experience, Karen Rodriguez currently manage Exec|Comm’s global brand, marketing and design efforts including the online presence, web-based learning center, advertising, PR, classroom materials, and live special events. She recently launched the firm’s blog, The Chat, and lunch & learn series, The Learning Exchange. Additionally, she manages the delivery and expansion of Exec|Comm’s open-enrollment seminars in Chicago, Dallas, New York and San Francisco. Karen holds a BFA from Parsons, The New School for Design in New York City.  She lives in Aberdeen, NJ, with her husband and three sons.

Tags:  blog  blogging  communicating  communication  HR  human resources  leadership  management  NCHRA  writing 

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7 Reasons Why it is a Great Time to be in Human Resources!

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, October 7, 2015

By Victor Assad Strategic Human Resources Consultant 

Human resources as an organizational function and its leaders are receiving heaps of criticism these days. I must say that some of it is justified! Pundits, academics and business executives alike have been criticizing HR for not being business savvy, having poor strategic thinking and analysis skills, not having predictive models, innovation, and even a lack of activeness, agility and competence.

Whoa! Enough already. But there is more….

Perhaps the most strident, recent criticism comes from management guru, Ram Charan (whom I admire), in the July-August, 2014 issue of the Harvard Business Review. Ram advocated splitting human resources down the middle, giving the administrative portion to Finance and redefining HR’s focus on developing the talent capabilities of the organization. He also advocated that future Chief Human Resources Officers (CHROs) should have multi-disciplined business experience and profit and loss experience.

Long-time human resources consultant and University of Michigan academic, David Ulrich, responded to Ram Charan (in the same HBR issue). David wrote that human resources shouldn’t be split (at least not like Ron Charan advocated) because HR is about more than just talent management – it is also about leadership and organizational capability development. David acknowledged some of Ram’s concerns, and he encourages human resources leaders to get out of their comfort zone and use “outside-in” thinking.

The debate continues…

So why is it a great time to be in human resources in the midst of all this criticism? Here are seven reasons.

  1. CEOs want and need a trusted talent management and organizational capability leader at their side. Ram Charan is not the only advocate for CHROs being trusted leaders, at the same level as CFOs. Many CEOs have advocated this, including Google executives Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg in How Google Works. As the US and many international economies expand, the need for smart talent management practices will grow!

  2. There’s compelling research on what works and what doesn’t in our profession. We know that comprehensive talent management methodologies work. Consider McKinsey and Company’s research on talent management showing that the companies scoring in the top quintile of McKinsey’s talent management index earned an average of 22% higher returns for shareholders than their industry peers. (The War for Talent, 2001.)

  3. Predictive models. There are awesome predictive models for accelerating hiring, improving selection reliability, leadership, performance management, the success of mergers and acquisitions, and increasing employee engagement, to name a few!

  4. Focus on operational excellence. Many human resources organizations have changed their names to “People Operations” to emphasize their alignment with business strategies and a focus on “HR that works.” (See Work Rules by Lazlo Bock and Retooling HR by John W. Boudreau). These HR organizations focus on flawless execution so that the business has a reliable and dependable partner. They use the best academic research and their own process metrics and analytics to understand what is going on in their workforces. The name change, for me, is not as important as the focus on excellence.

  5. Countless technology platforms targeted for small, medium, and large companies have been developed to improve the management of HR administrative tasks and free up HR leaders to move beyond bureaucracy.

  6. Enabling individuals, teams and organizations to succeed. Nothing is more career satisfying for me than seeing an individual, team, or organization overcome a major obstacle, learn new skills, and find new confidence. That is why many of us chose this wonderful profession. All the criticism in the world doesn’t change that!

  7. Monday is different from Tuesday. Whether coaching, working with executives on strategy execution and accelerating change, designing a new sales incentive plan for a global sales force, working through tax code issues for multi-state income taxes, or dealing with an emotionally charged employee relations issue, you can’t say human resources is boring!

It is a great time to be in human resources!

Demand for our profession will surely grow, but human resources is at a crossroads. That means change. We need to be more business savvy, strategic, analytical, and innovative. We need to use the best research, be active, agile and deliver flawless results!

Victor AssadVictor Assad is a strategic human resources consultant and executive coach who works with key decision makers and human resources leaders on talent management, accelerating change, leadership development, and other strategic initiatives, such as mergers and acquisitions, strategy implementation, and flexible workplace. He will be the presenter for the NCHRA, Sacramento Region event, Win-Win Conversations for Optimal Outcomes: HR Business Leader Series on Thursday, October 8, 2015, 5:30 PM until 7:30 PM at University of the Pacific -- McGeorge School of Law. As of posting time, space is still available (registration is open up until the start of the event). Click here for more information and to reserve your space. The following article was originally posted on Victor's blog in July 2015. 

Tags:  communication  employee  engagement  HR  human resources  management  strategy  talent 

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