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. Her functional experience includes a variety of sales roles in the health care industry achieving success for over 30 years. She is currently in Consulting & Analytics Business Development for a health care firm. 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 a strategy. 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.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Resilience: A Skill to Increase Your Employability

Monday Morning Pep Talk

Do you bounce back from career disappointments, setbacks and frustrations relatively unscathed? Or, are you still angry about the “Meets Expectations” rating on your performance appraisal three managers ago?  Resiliency is one of the most critical success factors to develop as you spend time in the workforce. Being resilient is important for workers starting out as they face their initial disappointments of not getting the job they preferred or experiencing their first layoff.  As your career progresses, the stakes get higher, acceptable job options become more limited and the idea of bouncing back and landing on your feet is crucial. Resilience is a learned trait. Some of us may be born with a more positive outlook on life, a more bubbly personality or openness to taking risk—resilience can be developed.
No one writes or discusses the fact that work is a brutal experience for many employees. Like the school years that preceded it---work has a hierarchy, in-crowds and cliques, bullies and sometimes a bully-boss; workplaces have class clowns, prom queens and teacher’s pets. The special needs employees are mainstreamed into your workplace—and you could be working for or next to someone with very real emotional or mental issues. All of these personalities are made more complicated by having four generations in the work place for the first time in history! Does it make you feel better about your situation, knowing that no one taught your manager how to lead a multi-generational workforce? The key to surviving this potential madness is RESILIENCY.
Think of it this way, a well-inflated ball will bounce when it encounters resistance or a hard surface. So, your first order of business is to find an appropriate level of self-confidence, belief in your abilities, knowledge of your intrinsic goodness/worth and remembering that you matter. Pump up your self-worth by thinking about the obstacles and challenges that appeared insurmountable and you have already overcome. This isn’t your first job or the first setback you’ve encountered. You’ve managed tough times before probably personally and professionally. I was recently at a mall in Dallas and a billboard showed a well-dressed shopper wearing lots of bling (aka jewelry) and the caption read, “Of course it’s Flashy, this IS Dallas!” That is called swagger. While rebuilding your confidence, remember what happens when the ball over-inflates!
I have known people enduring terrible situations at work while they looked for a new opportunity. When I ask how they survived their passive/aggressive boss or harsh treatment by co-workers all of them have mentioned strong relationships and interests away from work. Whether it is being involved in your children or grandchildren’s activities, volunteering for an organization you are passionate about or doing activities with your family that bring you joy; don’t make your life about work.  If you do, you are setting yourself up for inevitable disappointment. Reaching out to others outside your workplace so you are not constantly focused on the situation is a critical step in building resilience. Seeking professional help through a therapist to build problem-solving skills and gain perspective is also an option. Therapists also provide an objective sounding board to the situation. Counseling services are confidential and often free through an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) or the cost of a co-pay through medical insurance.
It is also important to exercise adaptability and flexibility in building your resilience skills. Personal change management skills work together creating resilience as a core of our emotional intelligence. Researchers report empathy, compassion and self-awareness are attributes of resilient people. These are also components of emotional intelligence.  In today’s challenging work environment change is the only constant. Resilience is the only answer.  One of the greatest benefits of developing resilience is that it is a skill you can model for the children in your life because as we all know, these are even stressful times for kids.
You’ve got 168 hours, make it a great week!

Monday, July 15, 2013

How to Survive a Layoff

You will survive being laid off from your employer.
Monday Morning Pep Talk

 How well you survive and whether you thrive afterwards depends entirely up to you no matter what your profession, your age or where you live. This isn’t one of those kick-in-the-pants sermons, touchy feely “breathe and visualize the possibilities” moments or even the dismissive “one-door-closes-another-one opens, “you’ll be just fine” message. The fact is most people don’t know what to say to a worker who has lost their job. I’ve been suddenly laid off and it stinks. The company I worked for was sold 4 months after I relocated from Chicago to Los Angeles, which I had never visited before moving there for the corporate transfer.  I was a sales representative for a college textbook publisher and a buyer purchased the titles and did not keep the infrastructure—everyone from President to the lowest-paid employee lost their job when the Board of Directors made the announcement. The entire company literally shut down, the building was emptied yet the imprint still exists.
There are three areas to tend to when faced with sudden job loss for any reason. If you are not going to use the job loss as a bridge to retirement (which I do NOT recommend), you have to consider your emotional resources, your financial resources and your career resources.

You have probably heard of Kubler-Ross’ work on The Five Stages of Grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Some workers grieve for their jobs like losing a loved one. Others have different emotions connected to the disruption to their careers.  It is a very personal experience. How a person processes job loss often depends on how long they have been with the company, how wrapped up their identity is connected to the job and how much of your social life and work/life were meshed. No matter what, it is difficult. Just like losing a loved one, you have to take care of yourself, but don’t forget job loss also may affect people around you---your spouse, children, parents and other close friends. Once children are old enough to understand what is going on, it is important to communicate with them on their level and share with them what they can understand. If you need help figuring out what to say, call your employer’s Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) for help in developing that conversation.  Use your remaining employee benefits if your company is required to give 60-days notice under the WARN Act, and use your company benefits to take care of yourself and preserve your emotional, physical and mental health. A job search takes energy, good health and preserverance, so take care of yourself.

Job disruption can derail retirement plans and other goals employees set for themselves. Since everyone is in a different place financially, here are some general best practices. If your company offers a severance package and you need something more, consult an attorney in your state. Some companies use a verbal negotiation as a reason to terminate the severance offer. When I was laid off, I drove a company car and since Los Angeles is a city of drivers it was important that I had transportation while I figured out my next move. I called human resources and was able to keep the car an extra month before their fleet company picked it up. Did you know companies are under no obligation to offer severance benefits? Many companies do provide the severance safety net for employees in return for a signed release of lawsuits, EEOC and age discrimination complaints and more progressive companies are also adding bans on social media and digital to avoid disparaging remarks. Contact your unemployment office as soon as you have your paperwork to understand how your severance impacts unemployment. If your company offers a salary continuation severance, you may not be able to collect unemployment until it ends. If you are drowning in debt, you may want to contact your creditors to see if they offer some type of hardship assistance. After the recent recessions most banks and mortgage companies have developed programs to assist borrowers. It may be a good time to contact a financial planner to determine your options to meet your long-term goals.
Getting Back to Work:
Hopefully you networked throughout your career and everyone locally in your industry knows your name. Most of the jobs I have were through personal referrals. In turn, I have probably helped hundreds of others with introductions, leads on openings and giving what my friends call “the hook-up” to a recruiter or HR friend. LinkedIn makes this process a lot easier. I’ll put some LinkedIn tips in another post. Use LinkedIn, post your photo—we live in a visual world--connect. Don’t count on job boards to find a job (see post from August 6, 2011). Always apply on the company website and it does help to be a referral of a current employee in good standing. Other potential sources of employment leads include your alumni association and local job clubs. In Indianapolis there is a dynamic ministry hosting by The Church at the Crossing on the city's Northside. The work of Passport to Employment (p2e@golove.org) has helped over 300 people upgrade their jobs or find employment. Also, take advantage of outplacement services if your exit package includes the benefit. Outplacement counselors will help you write a resume, plan your job search strategy and you can practice interviewing with them.  They work with displaced people every day, so a good outplacement office will also understand what you are experiencing. Make sure you understand any non-compete clauses in your severance agreement or that you signed when you were hired. (It’s another good reason to retain an attorney to review and explain your severance paperwork even if you plan to sign it anyway). Realize that going back to work after a layoff is often more difficult than you think. Rigid hours, commuting, deadlines, stress and learning a new corporate culture are all part of going back into the rat race. Prepare yourself for the transition.

I’ll end where I began because it is true:  You will survive being laid off from your employer.