Effective Solutions Through Partnership

Category Archives: Employee Engagement

How to Plan Your Career Development

Corporate Training, Employee Engagement, Human Resources, KAIP Academy, Learning, Onboarding, Training

By Dr. Melissa McManus, SHRM-CP

Career development is the ability for you to manage your career. It involves goal-setting, awareness, and a willingness to learn. It is an ongoing process throughout the course of your career and sometimes, it can involve a bit of risk (don’t worry, I’ll come back to that later!).

You may have noticed in those first few sentences, I say ‘you’ or ‘your.’ There is a reason for this! Career development is driven by the individual—not by your employer, but by YOU.

While it is not uncommon for a company or organization to facilitate career development—many organizations these days offer employees certification training or tuition reimbursement—it is ultimately up to you to take the reins of your own career development.

Companies typically want to see their employees grow and improve, not only in their current position, but also so they can take on more elevated positions in the future. The better you are at your job, the better off the company is—it’s a win-win situation for all involved.

If you want a promotion, a position in a different department, or to simply be the best at what you do, then you must continue to develop your skills and knowledge.

And, you must be willing to take risks.

Anything worth doing involves some risk. While fear of the unknown and the ‘what-if’ part of your brain can keep you from doing certain things, when it comes to your career development, you should try to ignore that nagging voice. With great risk comes great reward.

For example, I recently obtained a SHRM-CP Human Resources certification through the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM). This certification provides me with more authority in my area, allowing me to advance not only my career, but within my organization as well. The SHRM-CP provides me with knowledge and skills in my chosen career, and ensures that I continue to be a life-long learner in my area through recertification activities.

While I didn’t start my career with a focus on HR, it was taking risks along the way that allowed me to follow a different path towards becoming SHRM-CP certified. If you don’t try new things, you could miss out on great opportunities—in your career, missing out can lead to stagnation and monotony, a situation I’m sure most would rather avoid.

At this point you might be saying, YES, I want to be in control of my career development! But where do I start, what do I do, and how do I do it?

The best way you can manage your career development is with a solid plan. Here are four areas you should take inventory of when planning your career development:

  1. Self-Assessment – this is something you should do on a periodic basis. This can be every six months, every year, or at an interval appropriate to you and your goals. You should assess where you are currently to help you plan for where you want to go.
  2. Career Awareness – this is understanding not only your current position, but other positions that are available to you based on your education, skills, and experience. This can include an awareness of careers that you want to have in the future, as well.
  3. Goal Setting – set goals, both long-term (5+ years) and short-term (1-2 years), as well as some immediate goals. These should include what you want to accomplish, how, and why. Keep it simple at first—you can always expand and make changes. Plus, changes will likely happen organically as you progress through your career.
  4. Skill Development – develop the skills that will assist you in meeting your goals and keep you informed in your career area. You can accomplish this though reading, seminars, trainings, conferences, etc.

Seems simple enough, right? The easiest way to get started with your career development is to start anywhere you feel comfortable. Famed sales coach Zig Ziglar said it well, “It is not what happens to you that determines how far you go in life; it is what you do with what happens to you.”

How do you incorporate career development planning in your life?

About the Author: Melissa McManus is a Human Resources Generalist and research guru and loves every minute of it. One of her greatest strengths is her resolute ability to soak in new information and her never-ending thirst for knowledge. Melissa has a Master’s degree in Counseling, and a Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership with a focus in Human Resource Development. Melissa’s professional interests include human behavior, career development, research, writing, training, and knowledge transfer. She is passionate about life and describes herself as an avid bookworm. In her free time, when she is not running her kids to gymnastics or karate, Melissa enjoys reading (a lot), wine tasting, CrossFit, being with friends/family, and spending time with her husband and two children.

3 Things You Need to Know About Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Communications, Diversity & Inclusion, Employee Engagement, Human Resources, KAIP Academy, Learning, Onboarding, Team Building, Training

By Danielle Cortijo

Much like the snowflake, we are all unique. There is no one else in this world who is exactly like you. Awesome, right? Yes ma’am and sir!

In the workplace, you may find the same is true. Any number of differences are present and create the diverse environment you call your day-to-day professional experience.

There are so many ways we differ from one another—cultural/ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, religious beliefs, sense of identities, lived experiences, and much more. Navigating these many varied differences is not always easy. Many of us have been known to slip up or trip over ourselves a time or two—or even downright get things all wrong.

But, fear no more! Today I share three things to remember when maneuvering through the workplace to help you do your best to recognize, embrace, and celebrate the diverse and inclusive environment we should all strive to be a part of!

  1. You get a bias… You get a bias… YOU GET A BIAS! (insert talk show host voice here)

I know it isn’t easy walking into a new and unfamiliar space. We’ve all experienced the subtle tensing of the stomach on our first day at a new office or work setting. Among the desk supplies, skillsets, and expectations we bring along with us, we also show up with an invisible bag of bias that we do our best to keep tucked away.

Bias is that thought in your mind, good or bad, that creeps into your head space and allows you to immediately form opinions about the people you meet at work—often at first glance.

While bias can sometimes feel like an ugly word, the truth is, it’s simply something we either knowingly or unknowingly bring to the table every day.

From infancy into adulthood, we venture through life encountering and experiencing so many different things; it can be understandable that we create beliefs about the things and people we have met. It is the onset of these moments that shape how we view the world and those within it—hence, biases.

In our professional lives, we encounter different walks of life and sometimes the biases we have can manifest snap judgments in our minds of who those people are, without even officially meeting them. It’s important that each person we work with or meet in our business environments are met without prejudice or bias. It can be counterproductive to make any sort of assumptions in a first introduction or otherwise.

We all have different life experiences that have helped to shape who we are today. It is critical to “meet people where they are.” Allow them to present their truth to you. There is no need to assume on your own who or what they are. Just as you would hope to be received without assumptions and respected for who are, so does everyone else—try to remain as assumption-free as possible. Which brings me to…

  1. Be Open!

I know all too well how difficult it can be to meet new people sometimes, especially at work. Each and every person has something a little different to offer and it is important to remain open so you do not miss the opportunity to find out what those things might be.

If you are too caught up in the fact that someone may have a culture or religion you are not accustomed to or comfortable with, you could miss out entirely due to your own hang-ups. What if you decide not to engage the new Business Analyst who is a guru at their line of work because you know they are a part of or identify with the LGBT community? The chance to network with this individual would be lost because of the inability to remain open to people who are different from you. Missed chances to engage with incredible people, regardless of their differences from you, is truly the biggest loss.

  1. Inclusion matters!

I cannot think of a time when someone did not want to be genuinely considered and included when it mattered. Including others in work settings assists staff members in feeling valued and a part of the organization as a whole. We all want to contribute or make our mark, right? When we fail to involve others, the ripples of exclusion can be a morale-crusher or could even result in turnover.

At some point in our careers, we all want to be included when it counts. Allow diversity to be a growing and supportive tool, not a hindrance, in your professional environment. There is so much we can learn from each other, largely due to the beneficial professional experiences we can share with others.

Let’s do our best not to alienate one another. Communicate thoroughly and share as often as possible. Be a proponent of inclusion and watch the beautiful diverse nature of your team and organization carry you all to new heights!

About the Author: With a Bachelor’s in Communications and actively pursuing her Master’s in Complementary Alternative Medicine, Dani has an extensive professional background in the public and private sectors focused in Contracts, Human Resources, QA, and Process. Currently the Procurement Specialist on the amazing Administrative team for KAI Partners, she is working diligently to assist in the successful acquisition of procurements for the company. When her world slows down a bit, she loves scouring for an incredible deal on retro sneakers with her partner in crime, listening to music 24/7, and laughing as much as humanly possible.

14 Job-Seeking Tips Straight from Human Resources

Best Practices, Employee Engagement, Hiring, Human Resources, Onboarding, Sacramento, Small Business, Startup Company

Photo Courtesy of EDD

By Angela Darchuk and Melissa McManus

We were lucky to recently attend the State of California Employment Development Department’s Honor A Hero, Hire A Vet event in San Francisco. We love meeting potential employees and seeing where they may fit within our organization. Attending job fairs also gives us the opportunity to meet people with a broad range of skill sets and experience. The world of IT is ever-changing and making sure we retain top talent is key!

When we’re not out and about at job fairs or career events, we run our two-person HR department for KAI Partners, a growing company. In this capacity, we interact with a lot of job applicants each day. Over the years, we’ve seen the best of the best…and the not so best. We thought we’d share with you our best practices when job-seeking—these tips may just put you above and beyond the competition in your next job search!

Resume Dos and Don’ts

Resume writing best practices change often (has there ever been consensus on the one-page resume rule?). Here are some tips straight from someone who reviews resumes day in and day out:

  1. Avoid spelling errors by always proofreading your resume—even more, ask someone else to look it over for you
  2. Include your name contact information—at least an email address and phone number (yes, we’ve received resumes with no contact information!)
  3. Say what you need to in as few words as possible—a concise and to-the-point resume speaks volumes
  4. Be targeted—include only those skills and experiences that best speak to the position you are applying for
  5. Use a customized resume for every position you apply for—generic, cookie cutter resumes can come off as lazy to the reviewer
  6. Avoid narratives unless specifically asked for—bulleted lists are the best way to present your information in a way that is clean, easy to read, and pleasing to the eye
  7. Keep your resume up to date—if there are gaps in employment, be prepared to explain or discuss why
  8. Eliminate all fluff from your resume—it should be a few pages as possible
  9. If you are submitting your resume electronically, it is best to save the file in rich text format (.rtf) to help ensure that your formatting stays the same and does not become lost in translation—you want the reviewer to see what you see!

Job Fair Best Practices

If you find yourself at a job fair—or even on a phone or first interview—make sure you employ these tips to stand out above the rest!

  1. Do research—if possible, look up the companies that will be in attendance so that you can be prepared to dazzle them with your knowledge…and to be able to explain why you would be a good fit
  2. Ask questions about the company—use your research to form questions and let the company you are truly interested
  3. Be ready to list some highlights about your experiences—you only have a few minutes to make yourself stand out!
  4. Have your resume printed and ready to hand out
  5. Dress professionally—think of a job fair as a series of quick interviews and be dressed to make a good first impression

These are just a few tips to assist you in applying for jobs that could help you get to the next step of the hiring process. Is there another HR topic you’d like us to cover? Let us know in the comments and we’ll tackle it in a future blog post!

 For those of you in the Sacramento, CA region, check out our current list of job openings here!

 About the Authors: Angela has a background in book-keeping and office management. She worked for Dept. of Child Support, EDD, and the State Treasurer’s office before making the jump back to private sector where she feels more at home to voice her opinion and help grow a company. Angela is currently the Administrative Services Manager for KAI Partners.

 Melissa McManus is a Human Resources Specialist and Researcher by profession and loves every minute of it. Melissa has a Master’s degree in Counseling, and a Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership with a focus in Human Resource Development. Melissa’s professional interests include human behavior, career development, research, writing, training, and knowledge transfer.

3 Things Leaders Can Do to Be Better Change Agents

Best Practices, Communications, Employee Engagement, Managing/Leadership, Organizational Change Management (OCM)

By Denise Larcade

One of the most common things I’ve seen through numerous mergers and acquisitions or other major change events within an organization is the lack of engagement and communications from leadership.

Oftentimes, leaders are so busy leading the change, they forget to play an active role in the communications process.

Unfortunately, not adequately communicating change events to staff can cause the rumor mill to start churning (at best) or employee upheaval (at worst).

Luckily, there are some easy ways leaders can mitigate the feelings of confusion and disorder for employees that often come with times of change:

  1. Be Present

As a leader, your physical presence is not only needed, it’s required. Your employees need to see you at town hall meetings, open forums, staff meetings, etc. Anywhere their presence is mandatory, yours should be too.

We know you’re busy; it’s likely not possible for you to attend every town hall meeting across all shifts. Plus, you are already involved in the planning process, so why would you need to be present at these meetings? Remember, your staff doesn’t necessarily know what you know, nor do they know how much you know.

Be present by attending the last 5-10 minutes of each meetings. At the meeting, engage employees by asking questions:

  • What did you learn today?
  • How was this meeting valuable?
  • What can we do better next time?

This shows you are engaged in the discussion while also getting direct feedback on how the communications process can be improved going forward.

  1. Be Honest

The rumor mill can start for numerous reasons:

  • Leaders themselves are not sure about what’s going on within the organization and so they avoid discussions about it
  • The information cascade is not working effectively
  • Employees pick up on small changes in attitude and draw their own conclusions about what’s going on—Joe seemed grumpy today, that must mean a layoff is going to happen.

No matter how the rumors start, it’s important to address them directly, rather than hope they go away. To identify which rumors are out there, try implementing smaller focus group-like sessions. These sessions should include people from across all different departments and should be facilitated by a member of the leadership team who does not directly supervise any of the staff in attendance.

Scheduling these focus groups can be tricky at first (you can schedule video calls with remote teams), but the benefits are numerous. Allowing staff to talk through whatever is on their mind in a small group setting brings about honest conversation, as well as informing leadership about which rumors are out there and need to be addressed.

You can squash the rumors in the focus group itself, as well as address the rumors at the next open forum or town hall. Remember to put questions and answers in a shared location so that all staff can see what was discussed. I recommended keeping the identity of the question-askers anonymous.

For longer change activities—6 months or more—consider setting up an internal webpage or SharePoint where people can ask questions and leadership can provide answers. If updated regularly, this forum can become the first place people look for an answer to a question, and a good way to stop a rumor before it begins.

  1. Be Early

Engage staff early in the change process. If their department is likely to be effected, let them know as soon as it’s appropriate. When possible, bring them into the process to get their feedback about the future state and how they think roles, responsibilities, and procedures should change. When it’s time to implement any changes, employees will be more likely to accept the changes, since they were brought in from the beginning.

It’s also advisable to communicate when you’re going to communicate. Set up a framework or schedule around when people can expect to hear communications and in what form. Whether it’s a monthly town hall meeting on the third Wednesday of the month or an informational email digest each Friday afternoon, set expectations early around when staff will hear updates. The rumor mill has less of a chance to churn if employees know they are scheduled to receive an update at a previously-appointed time.

Change is going to happen whether we like it or not. As a leader, remember to be honest, present, and early in your change communications so that staff is informed, accepts, and is prepared for the change.

About the Author: Denise Larcade is an Organizational Development Consultant and Merger and Acquisitions Expert. She has over 25 years of experience in training, development, and leading companies through organizational change management. Denise has worked in corporate retail, technology, and government healthcare and most recently has experience with large-scale implementations nationwide. She currently works as an Executive Consultant with KAI Partners, Inc., providing client support to one of KAI Partners’ state clients. Denise grew up in the Silicon Valley and relocated to Utah and Idaho before recently returning to her native California roots.

How to Engage and Motivate Employees [+INFOGRAPHIC]

Best Practices, Communications, Employee Engagement, General Life/Work, Human Resources, Infographic, KAI Partners, Managing/Leadership, Onboarding, Organizational Change Management (OCM), Small Business, Startup Company, Team Building

Our partners at BambooHR created an infographic outlining what employees really want. According to Bamboo HR, “Employees must be valued and respected at work while maintaining a healthy work-life balance or they won’t stay at a job. As long as employees’ pressing needs—empowerment, flexibility in the workplace and fair wages—are met, they’re more willing to tolerate lesser annoyances.”

So, how do you make sure your workforce is engaged and satisfied? Let’s revisit some tips and tricks for keeping your employees happy, whether during times of organizational change or just in their day-to-day work.

Via: BambooHR

So now we want to know: As an employer, how do you keep your employees happy? And as a employee, what do you want from your employer? Tell us in the comments!

« previous page · next page »