About Me

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Fishers, Indiana, United States
Brenda gained career expertise as a human resources leader at a global company before becoming an HR consultant. She gained functional experience in a variety of sales roles in the health care industry achieving success for over 20 years. Her passion is participating in, writing about and observing the evolving workforce. For the first time in history four generations work together. It keeps things interesting. Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) are redefining retirement and what it means to age in the workforce. It is not just about money. Okay it plays a role! At 76.4 million members strong, Boomers are leveraging technology to continue their careers and the personal fulfillment working brings. Managing a late-stage career requires more thought than 20 years ago. Unexpected changes in life force us to consider the future. There is no roadmap or one size fits all answer. This blog is about sharing, networking & finding your own right answer to working later, managing your career, redefining retirement, looking for work in your 50s & 60s and reinventing yourself.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Horrible Bosses

People asked if I went to see the movie, Horrible Bosses, that came out a few weeks ago with Jennifer Aniston and others. The answer is, “No.” Nothing against Jen & friends, but I’ve survived horrible bosses, so I didn’t need to see the screen adaptation. I’m not being cranky or anything (okay, maybe I am) but anyone that’s worked a while has survived their share of supervisors that were far from super and managers from hot places with pitchforks.

Personally, I can report being happily managed by a guy who is supportive and encouraging. That’s not always been the case, but I have been more fortunate than most. In the sales part of my career, so much is about producing results; if the numbers are good, you are rarely disturbed. Many of my human resource roles had very tangible outcomes with deadlines and project milestones that allowed me a fair amount of autonomy. You probably see a theme, that freedom and not being micromanaged is very important to me. But, I’ve had some real doozies—and I won’t bore you with them here

Horrible Bosses, the movie, exceeded financial expectations grossing $28 million for the weekend after 4th of July and it earned $10 million the Friday night it opened. This is an R-rated comedy about employees plotting to kill their bosses.  A lot of people must have had a really rough week at work. On a more serious note, bosses are changing a lot. With fewer dollars to invest in leadership development; employees end up with managers, bosses, supervisors and not real leaders. I hear about managers that would have never been promoted 20 years ago—who have made it because of their tech savvy.

There is an absence of training for leaders in companies to understand how to manage multiple generations in the workforce. Today there are potentially four generations working together at your workplace. The Traditionals—born before 1946. Baby Boomers born 1946-1964. Generation X-born 1965-1981. The Millennials (aka Gen Y) born after 1981. No wonder the directors, leaders, managers, supervisors, team leaders are bewildered. Each generation has a different view of being motivated, rewarded, recognized, and their work ethic, attitudes on work/life and perspective on life in general is shaded with the lens of their entire generation. With budget cuts, recessionary fears and new regulatory environments in many industries; I’m enjoying my role as an individual contributor. Leaders have a tougher role than ever. HR professionals (I am a lifetime member of the HR community) have a tough job designing employee benefit plans, compensation arrangements and employee relations strategies to attract and retain these disparate communities.

So, I won’t be visiting the local multiplex to see Horrible Bosses, I lived through that already. You can share your views on today's bosses (horrible or not) anonymously on this post by clicking the comments button and choosing "comment as" anonymous.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Why You May Not Be Retiring

Don’t order that gold watch just yet!  You can also postpone the cruise you were planning, keep the hammock packed up and tell your boss to delay your “surprise” retirement party for about five years. That’s the result of the “SunAmerica Retirement Re-Set™ Study” released last week. In this nationwide survey of pre-retirees and retirees age 55+ the concept of retirement has changed significantly and I don’t think we should be surprised.

The bottom-line is 54% of the respondents in the 2011 survey viewed retirement as a new chapter for opportunities in their lives. In 2001 only 31% held that view. Retirement a decade ago was looked at as a time to “wind down.” In addition to the financial aspects, 2/3 of those surveyed wanted to remain productive, active and connected with some type of “job” as the primary means to accomplish those goals. Lastly, pre-retirees planned to delay retirement until age sixty-nine.

Unexpected health problems and job losses forced many of the current retirees surveyed to leave work earlier than planned. In the current survey, SunAmerica renamed their four profiles of retirees: Ageless Explorers-Cautiously Contents-Live for Todays and Worried Strugglers. Use this link to access the study and see which category fits you.

While SunAmerica is interested primarily in the financial aspects of retirement, there are other considerations as well. Where will this new generation of “never say retire” workers find a job? The brain drain of Baby Boomers was supposed to be a risk for employers, but they seem all too eager to replace 47-65 year old Boomers with GenX, Gen Y and Millenials. The prestigious company names where Baby Boomers built their careers and resumes are handing out severance packages (for the lucky ones) like Halloween candy. Many large corporations replace the intellectual capital and maturity experienced workers offer. Privately, HR professionals and workforce planners offer a host of reasons from perceived employee benefit costs to tension between Boomers and workers of later generations as reasons mature workers are offered “a package”. I’ve also talked to younger managers who say they don’t feel comfortable with older workers reporting to them. Their reasons varied.

So if you feel good and want to earn money by working longer; it is important to find companies, industries and managers that embrace experienced workers. Despite lists that profess to have found the “Top Companies for Baby Boomers” or “Best Companies for Senior Employees” these have to be reviewed critically like any other “Best” list. Department to department and manager to manager, companies change. The list ranks the overall policies and hiring practices. A new term, “Encore Career” combines mature workers, earning a paycheck, doing work that is meaningful to them with flexible hours. Some sectors to consider for your “Encore Career” are health care, membership organizations/associations, nonprofits, educational services companies, companies that provide services to older people and smaller companies. Perhaps a lower level role within a large global corporation is a possibility if it is in the same industry as your primary career (the hiring manager may have to challenge HR to bring you in). Some state and local governments still have opportunities and there’s always the possibility to experience entrepreneurship. The opportunities are as varied as franchisee, independent consultant, proven multi-level marketing organizations to opening an independent business. Go For It! Take Your Encore!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Jobless Rate Climbs For Older Workers

Jobless Rate Climbs For Older Workers

Is It Illegal for the Boss to Play Favorites?

This week I had an interesting e-mail about bosses that play “favorites” with their employees. I’m not qualified to give you legal advice and what is shared in this forum is personal observation and opinion. With that said, when managers create a two-tiered work environment where some employees perceive they are not being treated fairly, it is bad for the department’s morale and dangerous for the company if the supervisor steps over the line into behavior that is illegal. At a high level it is not illegal for the boss to have favorites, even though it creates an unpleasant work environment.

In April 2011, there was an appealed case where the 10th Circuit Court upheld a ruling that favoritism by a hiring manager was not illegal (Villalpando v. Salazar). In this case, the issue was about a promotion. When the employee didn’t get the job, he sued under Title VII claiming discrimination due to race & national origin. The court agreed there was evidence of a poor working relationship between the manager and the plaintiff and confirmed the plaintiff’s evidence of favoritism toward the candidate selected. Prior to the promotional opportunity opening, the person selected for the position was given additional training and supervisory experiences to overcome weaknesses in his credentials and work history. The plaintiff scored higher on tests for the promotion, but had lower written evaluations by his manager. The lower court found that three other more qualified candidates were also passed over that did not have a claim of race/national origin. The plaintiff appealed. On appeal, the situation was deemed unfair, but not illegal.

There are laws against age discrimination (ADEA) protecting workers 40+ as well as a host of other federal employment laws and acts protecting employees against a wide range of inequality. This case illustrates that the law can only protect you to a certain extent in the workplace. There are many types of unfairness that are legal. It is stressful to work in a situation where you find yourself outside of the “inner circle.” Most people who spend a long time in the workforce experience this and just because it is sandbox mentality it can happen at any age, not just for those 40+. There are several alternatives if you experience an unfair boss and talking with them doesn't work: (1) wait them out—if you were there first, the manager may be on a fast track and working in your area is just one stamp they need on their passport to a job far beyond their capabilities. (Remember the Peter Principle)? (2) transfer to another department—the boss may offer to help you; (3) if waiting them out or working it out does not seem to be an option and you can retire—consider it; (4) get some (career) counseling to deal with the situation—many companies offer an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) and employees don’t realize the many facets of services they offer. It’s like Las Vegas, what happens at EAP, stays at EAP; (5) if your supervisor’s behavior begins to affect your health (physically, emotionally, mentally)—get the professional help you need and consider your long-term options with a qualified member of your personal support network.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Re-Inventing Your Mid-Life Career

While you are at work, do you ever think "is this all there is?" Do you wonder if you could perform the job you have right now until you retire in 10 –15-20-25 years?
After a week off pursuing work-life balance, I was reading the July 4 issue of Fortune Magazine with the title, “Reinvent Your Career!” As I flipped through the pages of More magazine's July/August issue, their feature article was, “Give Your Career Some Oxygen.” Since Oprah left her talk show after 25 years, the media has focused a lot on mid-life career reinvention. We might not all go out and start a television network, but it is worth considering your next career moves before you have to make it.

There is almost a perfect storm of volatility in our 401(k) accounts, an economy refusing to recover and minimal job creation. What does that grim picture mean to you and me? It means we may be working a little longer than planned. And the jobs we have today— there’s no guarantee they will be there tomorrow. There’s no guarantee the company will be there tomorrow! Remember: TWA? MCI? Sharper Image? Circuit City? Gottschalks? Mervyns? Pontiac? or Wickes Furniture? Who could have thought Montgomery Wards, ATA Airlines or Enron would not exist today?

Here 5 quick thoughts that can help you generate some ideas about how to re-invent your own career if you choose to or if you are forced to:

(1) What is it about my job that I love? Is it a transferable skill another company or industry will value?

 (2) If my job ended today-who are the 10 people I would or could contact immediately to get the word out on my behalf? When was the last time I connected with them? Collaborate. Communicate. Share. Network.

(3) What is my hobby or past time I enjoy and is there a way to “monetize” it while I am still working? Monetize= my new favorite word, it means “generate income from it”

(4) Is there a new skill I can learn or improve on during my current job that will make me more marketable in the future? Marketable to your current company or to other businesses or industries?   (preferably eligible for tuition reimbursement).

(5) What are the companies hiring people in their late 40s? 50s? 60s? What types of jobs do they have available for people in these age ranges? Could you work for a smaller company?

So we need to keep this idea of Reinvention in our minds. I know so many of you have done it, and I hope you will share your stories in the comments section. Don’t be shy—you can do it anonymously.