Tag Archives: professional development

My Internship – Part 2

Jessica Lau, CHRP Candidate Vancouver, BC

Jessica Lau, CHRP Candidate
Vancouver, BC

So I’m slowly approaching the end of my HR internship, it’s been more than ten weeks since I’ve been doing this. Though the drive between Whistler and Vancouver every weekend may be tiring but let me tell you, it’s really worth it. My experience so far has been very good and when you are so involved in what you are doing and learning along the way, time flies by very quickly. I can’t believe there’s only a few weeks left.

During these ten weeks, I have gotten the opportunity to take on HR project such as the Colleague Engagement Survey and initiated “Game of the Week.” Taking on the Colleague Engagement Survey, I was able to utilize my organization skills and persistent trait to execute the survey with 98% completion rate. I would have loved to help the hotel reach 100% completion rate but learned that a lot of factors play a big part in this big organization. In particular, with this location being a resort location so a lot of the colleagues are away during this time of year and a lot of them are casual. It was a very fun project!

To add some fun for the colleagues, I created “Game of the Week” to help the colleagues stay positive, engaged and involved during the slower season. Last week, I put up “Guess who?” for the colleagues. It was very fun to see the colleagues surrounding the game and trying to guess the person. Every day, I had colleagues coming in and emailing me with guesses. Though it is something very small, I really enjoy being able to create something to help the colleagues have fun while at work, which is what Whistler is about.

To help better understand the hospitality industry and the operations of this organization, I took on many opportunities to cross train in different departments. I cross trained from banquets, sales to front desk just to name a few. As I mentioned in my last blog article, the colleagues in this hotel have been helpful and great to work with. When I cross trained with them, they were very willing to help, teach and work with me.

During these ten weeks, I supported various HR professionals in different areas and now have an even better understanding and clarification in the area of HR I’m truly interested in.

I am very excited for the work I have planned for the next few weeks like preparing for the HR audit and job fair.

Evaluate Leaders Around You; Set Goals for your Future Self

“Patience is not the ability to wait but how you act while you’re waiting.” Joyce Meyer

Geraldine Sangalang, CHRP

Geraldine Sangalang, CHRP

I was speaking with a professional in a leadership position recently when this person said, “I don’t believe that email is a tool for communication, so I don’t answer emails.  It’s easier to delete 200 emails than to respond to 50 of them.”  This was shocking to hear because it showed me that this person proudly admits to ignoring client inquiries; it was a demonstration of just how ignorant a leader can be when they are out of touch with those they lead.

I am connected with a number of leaders in the public and private sector.  As someone at the beginning of my career, it’s fascinating to watch those in high positions manage unique situations from the sidelines.  Some actions are inspiring, while others make me question how I could have made the situation more positive if I was in their place.  Would I have had the gumption to ask a few more questions before making a decision?  If the onus of the decision was mine, would I have acted differently?

We posed a Coffee Shop HR World Café topic a few months back asking what entry-level folks can do to gain interviews. Essentially, what can you do at the beginning of your career to get your foot in the door?  Looking at this question in another way, I’ve begun to ask myself what I have learned from the leaders around me, and how can I best hold onto those lessons for the future.

Seeing the struggles and successes of various leaders, these are the attributes I hope to embrace:

1.       Listen and evaluate more than you speak.

Everyone has an anecdote about being in a meeting (often a lengthy meeting) and having zero engagement for the duration.  The speaker is there to deliver a message rather than engage in a conversation, and that’s infuriating because it feels like a waste of time.  When you engage in conversations with employees, hear what they have to tell you, evaluate their position and offer alternatives if they are seeking advice.  Sometimes employees just need you to recognize their point of view.

2.       Respecting staff means being able to communicate with them; know as many names and positions as you can so that you can respond thoughtfully.

I’ve always believed that the key to being a successful leader is being able to communicate.  That statement has become ubiquitous in our world of text messaging, and other forms of photo messaging, but the same is true.  Knowing the names and positions of your employees allows you to connect with them in a more thoughtful way because you can better anticipate how to deliver messages to them.

We all learn in different ways – some people need pictures, some prefer formal documents, while others require a conversation to gather their thoughts.  Recognize that some people respond to information immediately; others need to contemplate what they’ve heard, process the information and then respond.  Just because an employee who takes a lot of meeting notes doesn’t pipe up immediately after you’ve announced news to the group doesn’t mean that person is not engaged.  The opposite may be true.  Because that employee is engaged and has an opinion, he/she would prefer to choose the appropriate language to share with you later on.

3.       Provide alternative solutions each time you want to oppose an idea; own up to your choice of words.

I will always be an agent for change as long as the change supports what’s best for the business, with minimal impact to staff.  But it irritates me to no end when people respond with a resounding “no” without offering alternative solutions.  By offering options, you demonstrate that you understand what management was attempting to improve, have a solid understanding of the business, and can be counted on to support the change in the most positive way.

If you can foresee pitfalls that others can’t, why wouldn’t you communicate that?  While people are outraged and scared, be the source of information that they are seeking.

4.       Embrace technology.

This may sound odd, but remember that leader I mentioned who does not believe that email is a useful communication tool?  I understand this individual’s concerns with misunderstandings caused by tone, but in leadership roles, I believe you must possess a strong service orientation.  If those around you feel comfortable communicating with you via email, be grateful that they are willing to connect in the first place, and respond using the medium they chose.

By receiving an email and saying “I do not believe the use of email is conducive to communication” you are showing those around you that you can only support them on your terms.  Responding using the source that they provided is similar to shifting down to the height of a child when providing direction. 

In the future, who knows what the equivalent of email will be.  I’ve spoken with Gen Y leaders who outwardly say “email is useless, I use Google Docs to communicate with staff en masse, and it’s free.”  So when I’m trying to connect with staff at different levels who communicate using a technology that you can’t see or touch, I hope that I have the gumption to embrace it, and learn to use it well.

5.       Do not take criticism personally; be prepared to defend your work.

This will always be a challenge, and it should be.  The day that you have zero emotional attachment to criticism is the day you completely disengage or suppress your emotion.  But I think it is positive to control the emotions that you show to people.  The most positive thing you can do is respectfully and intelligently defend your work when criticized.  Take ownership and be accountable at all times.

Amazing Things Can Happen When You Decide to Take That First Step

Geraldine Sangalang, CHRP

Geraldine Sangalang, CHRP

It is truly amazing to me that coffeeshophr.com has been live for six months. When I first started the site, my intentions were the same as they are now. But our successes continue to surprise me on a daily basis.

One of my major goals was to recruit writers from three different continents. I hoped to achieve this goal in three months. It took me six months, but with the addition of our newest writer Gareth Cartman, there are now ten Coffee Shop HR Contributors writing from three different continents.

The main reason why I started coffeeshophr.com was because I enjoy facilitating thoughtful discussions, I appreciate the talents of others, and as someone at the beginning of my career, I wanted to show the world what I can do in my own way. Although my day job involves working with HR data and employee files, I`m not really able to engage in the conversations that excite me; payroll is not my greatest passion when it comes to challenging HR issues.

I took a big leap of faith in my own abilities when I began the site. But I was (and continue to be) inspired by HR sites including Fistful of Talent and HR Bartender. Something I realized from following Fistful of Talent in particular was the value in bringing other writers on board. One of the biggest challenges when it comes to writing is having a great idea; being open to inspiration is the key. If I was the only writer on Coffee Shop HR, it would have been a huge challenge to keep discussions fresh and relevant to what`s going on. But because I have invited contributors to share their abilities, the onus isn`t left to me alone.

On this six month anniversary of coffeeshophr.com, I want to commend the two writers who have been with me from the beginning: Bonnie Milne, PhD and Michelle Yao. Thank you so much for sharing your work, and enlightening us with your perspectives. Thank you genuinely for trusting me along this adventure of ours.

I also want to thank you, our readers, wherever you are. It amazes me to see where our readers come from, and how they`re directed to Coffee Shop HR. It`s astounding and inspiring to see where traffic comes from on a map.

So I say to you dear reader, I truly have no idea what`s led you to my site. And honestly, unless I connect with you personally, I could never guess why you`ve decided to lend me your attention. But I do wish you the best of luck with your career. I hope you learn that any step you take involves simply that: one step. I thought about creating Coffee Shop HR for at least a year before I finally told my friends, “that’s it, on Nov 3rd, I’m going live.”

The concept of just taking one step was never as clear to me as when I took on a challenging hike in Vancouver called The Grouse Grind. It’s an extremely steep climb up a local ski mountain. Most people ride a gondola up the mountain, but in the summertime you can hike stairs made of rock, wood and earth. It was definitely one of the most physically challenging things I’ve ever done.

I remember having climbed for an hour, and taking one of the many breaks I took during the hike. I stepped off the trail with a friend. I looked up, completely out of breath and nearly out of water. I remember thinking, “holy crap, how am I going to make it up the mountain?” Then I looked down, and the steepness scared me more than I could have imagined because we had somehow traveled so far. Although I was breathless and scared quite frankly, I knew it would have been more cumbersome to trek my way down the mountain than to press on. So I kept saying to myself the rest of the way, “just this step, just focus on this one step.” And I did – somehow I made it up that mountain.

Coffee Shop HR has come a long way, and I intend to direct the site to grow in countless other directions.  But please know that all things – personal and professional development included – start at the beginning. I challenge you to take that first step, whatever it may be.

Related Pages:

Facets of Motivation by Bonnie Milne, PhD

A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes, Even if All You Wanted Was a Tiki Bar by Geraldine Sangalang, CHRP

Agony and Elation: Searching for Work in a Turbulent Market by Nicole Davidson

What are your Career Objectives for 2013?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve already submitted my vacation requests for the year.  It’s not uncommon for leaders to ask for vacation requests in January for operational reasons.  But since its only January, and we’re still in that optimistic season when people are attempting to make good on their New Year’s Resolutions, take your mind off of vacation for a bit and think about the trajectory of your career for 2013.

Where do you want to go, what do you want to do, and what changes would you like to see for yourself this year? Be appreciative and consider what you’d like to repeat or maintain.  It’s important for your own professional development to set goals for yourself, and to have an idea of what you want from your career.

But I understand the underlying intimidation factor here: perhaps you’re afraid of change, you don’t like the idea of marketing yourself, or you don’t like the idea of setting goals because they seem so out of reach.  Most changes in our lives don’t happen over night: consider physical changes to your body, how long it took to complete school, or even the time it took to move on after the disillusion of a marriage.  Change takes time.  So when you’re thinking about making changes in your professional life, realize that you can start small: you don’t have to map the course of your entire career in one sitting.  It’s January – take the time to do a simple temperature check for yourself to think about where you are, or where you’d rather be.

So give this some thought today: What are your career objectives for 2013? Where do you want to go, what do your want to do, and what would you like to repeat from last year?

Change is inevitable and adaptation is essential.  Take responsibility for your own professional development this year, and decide on some career objectives.