I was recently honored to be the speaker/facilitator for a team building holiday celebration of a respectable high tech company in Silicon Valley. The HR contact advised me that this group did not like touchy feely stuff.
Although I understood her intuitively, I wanted to ensure my facilitation reflected her concerns.
What is “touchy feely?” We hear this term often mentioned in a negative or pejorative way. Business people typically don’t like it and, sadly, HR work is often referred to as touchy feely work. Touchy feely is attributed to a group exercise, activity or workshop where people share their feelings and innermost thoughts that make them vulnerable. The formal definition in the Merriam Webster dictionary says: “touchy feely is characterized by interpersonal touching especially in the free expression of emotions; openly or excessively emotional or personal.”
Understandably, nobody wants to feel vulnerable in the workplace. No one wants to lose control, lose face in front of his or her co-workers or be uncontrollably emotional. I’ve had a successful career in HR, both in a corporate setting and as a consultant, and I have never wanted to engage in these kinds of touchy feely activities.
I covered this concern early-on with the group. I said I was cautioned not to make this session touchy feely. “Let me assure you”, I told them, “that I don’t like to be touched and I don’t like to be felt”. I got laughter from that comment.
Seriously, while achieving results is very important, there is a personal/human side of business when we work with people, and whether we like it or not, we need to develop effective interpersonal and communication skills to develop teamwork, but it does not need to be touchy feely at all.
When we work virtually or in person, we need to use positive behaviors that bring out synergy in our teams. Synergy, as defined by Human Synergistics, “occurs when the interactive efforts of two or more people produce or fully utilize their resources. Synergy within groups improves the efficiency and effectiveness of individual and group decision making”.
Synergy happens when people collaboratively work on the best possible approach and solution to work problems without voting on or imposing one person’s point of view. Even if there is disagreement, each member of the team can voice their thoughts, will feel heard and can stand behind and align with the team’s solutions. Synergy is hard to achieve, not all teams reach synergy.
Most leaders I know wake up in the morning with the best intentions. As they go through their day, things happen that causes their behavior to unknowingly turn negative. Sometimes our intent does not automatically create our desired impact. It is important to remember that we have a choice in our behavior; we can use appropriate behaviors to create a work environment that is positive and supportive, and brings out the best in others.
Breaking down the necessary elements of effective team building, and achieving synergy in a fun interesting activity using language that the team can relate to, will ensure that the team building activity is not touchy feely.
Life is like a buffet plate
One of the fantastic women I interviewed for my book on work life success, Kimberly Foss, told me that a professional woman’s life is similar to a buffet plate. Everything looks good and as you go through the buffet table. You keep on piling up food. The problem is our plate size is limited. Some things need to be removed from our plate before we can add-on more.
How many of us are living our day-to-day life with overflowing plates? It is not only unhealthy, it is also difficult to digest. We have work commitments, care for our spouses & children, do countless household chores, travel, manage our finances & try to keep ourselves healthy. For women, it’s mostly our downtime and eventually our health that suffers, while we desperately try to do all things and have it all.
Are you feeling overwhelmed by trying to have it all? Instead of living life with an overflowing and unhealthy plate, perhaps it would be good to take some time out and visualize what’s on your plate. It is never too late to take things off your plate. This can be done once you are clear on your priorities. Priorities change, so it is totally fine to coach yourself to reorder them periodically as needed.
Break your life into categories
I like to visualize my full life as a full plate with the following categories which I prioritize depending on my situation.
- Spiritual Life or centeredness
- Health & Fitness
- Financial Management
- Family & Relationships
- Child &/or Elder Care
- Career or Business
- Fun and recreational activities
- Housework or maintenance work
I like to regularly assess where I am on each of these areas and adjust accordingly. During my corporate life, most of my time was committed to work, with very little time left for fun and recreational activities. The awareness of how unbalanced my plate looked was enough for me to make some simple changes like walking regularly. Eventually walking was not enough and I took on a more intense cardio and flexibility workout, I discovered and eventually got hooked to hot yoga. It was not only a healthy workout; I enjoyed what it did to my health and overall wellbeing.
When I needed to add something to my plate, something needed to be given up. It either goes off the list, gets outsourced or delegated. Several years ago, as my career took off and travel increased, my husband picked up managing our day-to-day budget. It was not easy for me to give this up, but I noticed my stress levels decreased as he ramped up managing our finances. Years later, I am glad we made this shift; he became so good at managing our budget & investments that I was able to retire from my corporate life as soon as our youngest daughter graduated from college. As my career took an even bigger portion of my plate, finances, gardening and cooking moved over to my husband’s plate. He’s a much better cook anyway and loves to garden.
What’s on your plate? What can you move out?
Liza Sichon explains how the Power of Intention helped grow her career. Liza reports:
One evening, I was pondering my next career move and thought it would be cool to take the kids on a trip to Europe the next year. The idea grew on me and before I knew it, I entertained a string of “What If” possibilities for my career and my family.
What if we actually move to Europe for a couple of years? What if I take an international assignment in Europe? Wouldn’t that be really nice? The more I thought about it, the more attractive the idea became. I started thinking of what is possible: new experiences , new learning, meet new people and all the tangible and intangible benefits that my family and career could have.
That night, I did not sleep at all. I planned, strategized and got really excited about the possibilities. This desire and intention continued to grow day by day, a seed was planted and it started to grow. I shared the idea with my husband – he thought I was crazy. I shared it with my trusted colleagues and a few months later, I was offered the job to lead human resources International – responsible for the regions outside the United States.
I cannot forget my boss’ words to me – you can live anywhere, as long as it is outside New Jersey (our headquarters). I narrowed our choices to London, Singapore and Brussels and eventually chose Brussels. It is where our company’s European headquarters was located, a central location between Asia and the US and a more convenient time zone to connect globally.
My husband saw the possibilities and with his support, we were on a plane to Belgium a few months later.
The entire preparation and move was of course, complex and difficult, and we focused to get it done. I do not know if it was desire, focus, intention, God’s will, family support or a combination of all that made it happen. The intent was strong enough to handle any hurdle or obstacle that came our way. If you find yourself wanting something more from your career, here are a few things to think about:
- Think and Dream It – What is it that you really want?. Visualize it and see the picture in your mind. Stay with the dream. If it is strong and coming from your heart, continue to think about what is possible. Eventually your heart and mind will align and focus on the dream.
- Speak It – Share it with your loved ones, your supportive colleagues, your mentors. Speak your career aspirations to others, no matter how outrageous it may sound. Ask for advice and listen. Filter your listening to what is possible.
- Work It – Take the first step to get closer to the goal. Ask around, pursue some leads. Take some phone calls. Work on the details. Work hard at it and do not give up.
Moving our family to Europe and back was not easy. It was exhausting, the experience tested our resilience while we attended to the many details of the move, selling our home, moving our stuff to storage, giving away some items, settling down and going though the repatriation process after two years. It was well worth it. It was one of the most enriching experiences for our family and my career on all fronts.
If you have the desire for a career shift, listen to that inner voice and work with a coach to make your career goals happen.
Yes. You have to expect your future employers will check you out on social media
“Social media is where the world is today, whether we like it or not” Sichon of Executive HR Coach said. You have to expect your prospective employers, customers, friends, business associates, potential girlfriends or boyfriends, future in-laws to check you out on social media. It’s like asking someone, “Do you eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner?” It’s the way it is. It’s not a new strategy or a fad. It’s not a policy for the moment. It’s just the way the world is today and who knows what it is going to be like in the future.
High school students are now being coached to be very careful about their social media presence. They learn that college admissions officers will most likely look at their social media profiles. It’s the same advise I give job seekers. Employers may look at the social media profiles of their candidates, how professional their profiles are and would they want you to be associated with their company?
My social media manager tells me one if his clients does social media checks on job applicants. These people are applying for minimum wage jobs. If someone applying for a minimum wage job is getting their social media presence reviewed, you can expect a prospective employer to check your social media presence too.
Start by checking out what your social media presence looks like. Google yourself and see what comes out. List the sites you visit often. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Pinterest, You Tube, Instagram. Look for anything that you would not like to see. Look for pictures that do not paint you in a positive light.
Content originally from http://www.linkedin.com/in/lizasichon and
Need a change in career? Can’t decide how to make a living while doing what you love? Is your career giving you stress? Are you thinking about a career shift? How would you like to have a career that pays well and gives you the balance that you want?
Here are some things to think about.
Read this article by Terri Williams published at Yahoo. http://education.yahoo.net/articles/low_stress_high_pay_jobs.htm
It has been several years since our expat assignment in Belgium but the experience remains fresh in my mind. The two years we spent in Belgium strengthened not only my career and understanding of global business but also my family’s bond. The experience enriched our lives. Being an Asian American female executive in Europe sent by an American company holding the top job was not common those days. I was not the typical expat, therefore I was not stereotyped and eventually, I think my uniqueness worked to my advantage.
- I learned what it takes to work closely and intensely with people from different countries. I learned to accept and appreciate differences including my own uniqueness. I learned that No did not necessarily mean No and Yes did not mean Yes. I learned to probe further to understand others. I learned to flex my style to be effective.
- Since time was limited and we knew this experience would not last, we made instant friends. We valued our new friends and chose which ones were going to remain our friends even when we moved back home.
- I learned a lot about myself. My executive coach was invaluable to me. At our very first meeting he said since I am Filipino American, I am viewed as an Asian in Europe even if I came from the US. They expected me to demonstrate typical Asian norms, because this what they know. I realized how much I’ve forgotten or abandoned being Asian having lived in the US for most of my career years. I took a journey back to who I really am. It was quite an experience to have the freedom to be me again and get in touch with my “Filipina-ness”.
I will never forget my coach, Robert Brown, who helped me navigate through several difficult situations. He became an ally to me, a trusted advisor, mentor and friend. He introduced me to a new business network who helped me understand local business better. He genuinely cared for my success and became a close family friend. Sadly, Robert passed away a few years ago. His influence on my life, career and our family was invaluable and we are forever grateful.
If you are in an expat assignment today or working outside your home country, you may be experiencing a range of emotions – from excitement to frustration. From loneliness – missing your friends and family , to enjoying meeting new people and discovering new sights and experiences. How are you viewed by your local colleagues? What impact does your presence have on them? How can you make the most of your expat assignment?
Join us at The Conference Board, Global HR Academy on June 9-12 and learn more about what it takes to be successful in a global role. To read more about the Academy, click here http://www.conference-board.org/globalhrleadersacademy/.
To apply and receive special pricing, contact Fana Tekle at email@example.com or call her at 212-339-0210.
You do not need to feel stuck and overwhelmed in the job search process. Job searching is a skill and a process that does not yield immediate results. You need to have a positive mindset and energy to take your career to the next level. JobDash, a new on-line tool will help you navigate through the confusing search engines, resume writing, follow-up and interviewing process to get you hired.
JobDash develops software solutions for job seekers and career services professionals. Individuals create free accounts to set a target hire date, follow an effective path to success, and track their progress along the way. An intuitive dashboard and CRM makes it easy to check and modify personal behavior for best results. If you track your finances and fitness to save money and be healthy, why not track your job search to get hired?
JobDash for Enterprise helps colleges and universities guide students from classroom to career with real-time metrics to predict and analyze employment outcomes. I am pleased to be the Career Coach for Jobdash, view their interview on my career at https://jobdash.com/blog/liza-sichon-inspiring-career-coach/#.U3FGra1dVm0
She is a new mother of 15 month twin girls and is having a tough time balancing her work and personal life. After working in a senior role for 15 years in a major company, she felt compelled to put in her resignation. She needed time to rethink her career, finances, and family life and hopefully find a family friendly employer. She is now in the process of winding down and closing this chapter of her life.
Transition times are tough and can be very stressful. There is a sense of loss, maybe some humiliation, and a lot of anxiety about the unknown future. There is also a tinge of excitement and anticipation about creating something new.
You may find yourself in the midst of a major transition. Here are some coaching questions that could help you during these times.
- As you go through this process, notice how you are feeling. Label it and acknowledge your feelings of the moment. Do not judge or make this feeling wrong. Whatever you are feeling is yours and you are entitled to this. Notice the change in your feelings as the transition progresses. Do not be alarmed if it gets tougher before it gets better.
- Notice your thoughts. What would you like your team and colleagues to remember about you? What would you like your transition theme to be?
- Who are you being throughout all this process? I’ve been through several transitions throughout my career and continue to do so during my encore career. We moved 17 times and lived in 3 continents, all transitions have been very stressful, some more than others. I have a theme or mantra that helped me tremendously whenever I am in transition and that is — “Move with Ease and Grace”. I meditate on these words every spare moment I have and it never fails to center me. It keeps me calm and greatly influences how I behave.
Transitions are wonderful, they give us hope, enable us to change to have a better life. When I think of my major transitions, I was fortunate to have a coach guide me through it. My coach helped make a cloudy and foggy journey clearer and certainly made me aware when I have reached my destination.
I had a conversation with an HR Executive recently about her business leader who needs an Executive Coach. In the process of our conversation, she realized that she also wanted to have her own coach. But she is hesitant to hire one.
Why is it that HR professionals quickly diagnose when a situation needs coaching but rarely do they raise their hands to ask for their own coach? Here are some reasons:
1. They may be embarrassed to admit that they cannot resolve their own leadership gaps?
2. They are used to solving other people’s problems, and are hesitant to face their own?
3. They do not think they deserve to have their own coach. We are conditioned to being viewed as an expense.
4. They don’t want to call attention to themselves or be viewed as having a “problem”. To the unenlightened, having a coach was traditionally and incorrectly viewed as being a failure.
During the course of our conversation, I offered to coach her. She was very thankful for the coaching conversation. She is sharp, energetic and strategic but suffered from having everything in her head. Talking through her options and choices empowered and refreshed her. She became clearer on her course of action.
Working through issues with my coach have been some of the most powerful dialogues I’ve had in my career. The answers have always been within me, I just needed a trusted advisor and partner to work through my options without judgement.
If you need to work through certain choices, or are in the midst of transition or change, feel stuck or overwhelmed, work it through with a trained executive coach or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a complimentary session.
Have you just moved halfway around the world, sold your belongings or placed them in storage? Do you struggle to learn the local language? Are you on a plane most of the time, constantly jet lagged and have a huge fog in your head? Is headquarters calling you for regular updates? Do you feel like you owe your company for sending you in this assignment that you are willing to work day and night to prove your worth? You take conference calls at all times, they seem to forget that you are in a different time zone.
In the meantime, your personal life is non-existent, business pressures don’t seem to lighten up and you have not had the time to explore your new world. You set some goals before you took this assignment – trips to explore the local sights, learn the local language, make friends with locals, but your work and travel have taken priority and you are stressed and lack sleep.
As glamorous as the word expat may sound, the reality of many expats lives are far from it. Expats do not travel for leisure or live a life of discovery and exploration. Expats work long hours and take on the pressure of running the local business. They do not have their support system and they miss their family and friends.
The difficulties of expat lives can be managed and the assignment can be memorable and career enhancing. Handled well, this could be a period of huge growth and development for the expat, their family and their careers. What are some of the ways that your expat assignment can be successful?
- Keep headquarters regularly informed. Set up regular calls or emails to let your bosses know the local conditions. Try not to surprise them. If you have bad news, deliver bad news in a timely manner with a couple of solutions that you have vetted out with your local team members. Stay connected with mentors back in the home country and set up regular calls with them.
- Develop a new support system locally. Find people who you can trust inside the company and outside. Join your local professional organization and make the time to nurture new relationships.
- Learn at least 10 most popular local words – words of greeting, respect, agreement or disagreement, common courtesy words.
- Find a way to exercise regularly or find ways to keep your mind, body and spirit clear and centered.
- Figure out the number of weekends or vacation days that you have and plan to see the local sights. Book your tickets. Before you know it, your assignment is up and you would not have been able to see the sights if you didn’t plan in advance for it.
- Plan your home vacations yearly so you have something to look forward to. Keep connected with friends and family through social media.
- Hire a local coach, find a trusted mentor. This has been the most valuable thing I have done while on expat assignment, one that I would recommend to everyone outside of their home country. Your trusted coach will help you gain perspective, reframe your thinking, challenge you when needed or push you out of your comfort zone to grow.
Being out of your comfort zone, while difficult, is a period of high growth and eventually high rewards. An expat assignment is not for everyone, but you have that call inside you and you have it in you to succeed. With the right moves and a trusted support system, the benefits of an expat assignment far outweigh the challenges and difficulties. Enjoy the journey.