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Showing posts from December, 2019

Even when I feel right, there is a lesson

This is a challenging post to write because it's about something I'm still wrestling with. From experience, I know that when I feel passionately right about something, I likely have a lesson to learn that will prove the situation is more nuanced than my current understanding. If you read my posts here or know me in person you're probably already nodding: there is something more to be learned here.

The situation (i.e., why I feel right)
Long story short: We are trying to get support from another team in the organization for some creative concepts to support specific wellness messaging for employees. The team has indicated a willingness to help in spite of being stretched pretty thin. But the process they insist on, ostensibly to protect them from extra work, has produced design concepts we can't use. Twice.

The approach they've taken is to develop the concepts in isolation—with no space for discussion of what we're trying to achieve with the people doing the work…

People are the constant

When I first joined a high tech company in my second real job after university, back in the early 90s, I received some truly sage advice from one of the people who had been at the company for a few years and in the high tech sector her whole career.

She acknowledged that the companies in tech may be more fleeting than the government agency I came from—they form, grow, shrink, ultimately morph into something else, and maybe disappear altogether—but that, if you are lucky and deliberate about it, you will work with some of the same people over and over again.

After that I rode the ups and downs of that particular company, and I did eventually move on to work at a different, larger tech company. Then, as a consultant, I worked for a whole slew of (mainly start-up) companies headquartered around the world.

The one constant was the people. The same people in my network brought me all of my business, either directly or by referral, and they popped up over and over again. I called on them wh…

The professional advantage of playing musical chairs

I've had a busy few months at work. The desk is unkempt and dusty, under various piles of paper... I am hoping to get some quiet time next week to clean it. I have to! There is a new person starting in the new year who will take my desk, and I will move to a vacant one on the other side of the floor.

Which brings me to my topic -- the advantage of playing musical chairs at the office!

My role is unique in that I work for the whole department. Every HR leader and every team works with me at one time or another; I get involved whenever they are designing changes to their programs or approaches and whenever they are rolling those changes out to the organization. Depending on the impact, I get more or less involved. At any one time, I am working with two or three teams on those kinds of changes, while also supporting the whole department when I wear my corporate planning and reporting hat (another part of my role).

I can sit anywhere! And I am glad to do it. I think more people should…

Some simple steps to creating psychological safety

I recently joined a reading circle at work, something set up by our employee resource group for women. There are so many things I love about it... one of which is that I will be able to count on it for so many blog post ideas in the future!

For the November meeting, the reading list included a great New York Times article about what Google's research into what creates their best teams.  Bottom line: it comes down to psychological safety. That's after studying dozens of variables in more than 100 groups in the organization, and correlating them to team performance.

Teams of all kinds in the study, with wildly different group norms, achieved psychological safety. That comes down to the ability to speak your mind, and to know you will be heard. Here is a pithy excerpt:
[...] no one wants to put on a ‘‘work face’’ when they get to the office. No one wants to leave part of their personality and inner life at home. But to be fully present at work, to feel ‘‘psychologically safe,’’ we…

Getting people excited about the work ahead

I facilitated a short brainstorming session today, and thought I'd share a bit about the experience.

The meeting was with a newly re-constituted employee committee; I led a short segment to help them start thinking about their work plan for next year. I had no time to prepare (I was asked to do it about 20 minutes in advance) and we had only about 15-20 minutes for the discussion. 

Clearly, we weren't going to be able to tackle a detailed plan! It was more about whetting their appetites for the work ahead and ensuring alignment on main focus areas.

Rather than facilitate a round-table discussion around the two questions provided to me ("what would you like us to focus on?" and "what are we best positioned to make progress on?"), I decided to frame the question a bit differently: "Imagine we're meeting a year from now. It's December 2020: looking back on the past year, what is the one thing this committee has done that you are most proud of havi…

Sunday cuddles

This blog is for me. I really want to make it daily, even if I start the post not knowing what I have to say.  Or even if I have nothing to say that sticks with the main theme of the blog -- which is what I am learning professionally.

So today's post is about Sunday morning cuddles. 

My youngest daughter crawled into bed with me this morning for a cuddle and chat before we headed out on an errand; she wanted to deliver a birthday gift to a friend whose party she missed yesterday. It was a treat. Cuddles like this are getting rarer, now that she is 15 and her sister is 17.

I also got some great mother-daughter time with my eldest the night before, when we decided to see a Korean movie that's in town (Parasite) and we talked about it on the way there and on the way back. It was NOT what we expected (think Parenthood meets Reservoir Dogs) and so we had a lot to talk about!

My daughters clearly love me for who I am... warts, wrinkles and all.  That's one of the perks of being …

What makes me happy (at work)

Here's some of what I love about my work, in no particular order:

It changes every day.Sometimes I can get lost deep in thought, and sometimes I can just churn stuff out, one thing after another, rapid fire. (Next!)I am respected for my unique abilities.I trust my colleagues, even when they disagree with me or I disagree with them. I get a chance to laugh pretty much every single day. (Often enough at myself!)I work for an excellent organization, doing meaningful work. I like to think I am helping in a small way to make that happen.The people are great. It's rare in the extreme that there is someone I have to work with that I truly can't abide. The ones I like less often bring something unique that helps me grow and see things differently.We have an amazing physical space, and great technology...... and more! This is starting to sound like an ad, which is weird because that's not what I want this blog to be (otherwise I would give you a link to our job postings!). But I…

Sometimes our body knows more than we do

I want to write something every day, or close to that, about something I'm learning. Something brand new, something learned long ago that's been reinforced, something where the lesson is still taking shape in my mind.

(This blog is mainly, for now, focused on the stuff I learn professionally.  While I learn something almost every day about what I need to do to be a better friend, mother, partner, I am not yet ready to share some of those more personal reflections. I may get there.)

Today was one of those days in which I was in back-to-back meetings, running a couple of them, and I didn't really get the chance to pause and reflect. I barely got the time to prepare. 😏 Still, I did observe something worth sharing — that my body was giving me signals all day long, and that I need to stop and notice them more often.

I had a good day, ran good meetings, got good feedback. But I still noticed the noise my body was making a couple times. It's really important to acknowledge t…

Lunch, and learn

I connected over lunch with my colleague Gord today and, as often happens, I was reminded how much I am still learning. In my 25-plus years of working, I have mastered a certain skillset — communications, writing, analysis, planning, synthesis, etc. — that I leverage every day, whether in my former role as a communications advisor or my current one leading change.


But I still have so many opportunities to develop as a person and a colleague.


We were talking about what we both feel is an essential quality in a good colleague. It's a trait that has to be present, we agreed, if someone is going to be able to grow on the job. It is an essential soft-skill for an increasingly cross-functional and agile world of work. It's a characteristic that balances the counter-productive desire to point the finger and blame others when something goes wrong. 


It's curiosity


Personally, I have grown the most when I got curious. 


I had a big professional "growth spurt" about 3 …