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Most of the time, a supervisor does not look forward to receiving a resignation letter. I did say most of the time. Unfortunately, there are times when that letter is welcomed! However, today’s blog won’t focus on that but maybe a future blog will!  Today, I’m focused on the actual letter itself and what works when you are putting your intent to depart in written form.

A resignation letter should be short and straight-forward. Yes, I’m stating this as an absolute. This is not the place to recite purple prose or wax eloquently on and on. It is particularly not the place to recite all the grievances you’ve bottled up over your tenure with the company. There are times and places for that but it’s not the resignation letter. For your official resignation letter, I recommend a simple three-part approach in the letter itself.

  1. A statement indicating that you are resigning and providing  X (number) weeks notice.
  2. An expression of gratitude for the opportunity of working for the company and with your supervisor. If you mean it, provide a specific compliment to both.
  3. Indicate your plan and willingness to ensure a smooth transition on your way out and give your best wishes for the continued success of the company.

Each of these should be expressed in your own manner but should not stray from the points. For item 1, please do not neglect to provide notice. It’s professional and expected. As an employee, this is an area that may or may not provide you with extra brownie points but failing to do it can hurt you, long-term.  To resign without notice is a very valid reason for a company to indicate you are not eligible for rehire during future employment verification. Your company may actually choose to waive the notice period that you provide. They can do this and, if so, you should be prepared for the date of your resignation submission to also possibly be your last day of work. The point I started out with bears repeating, do not fail to provide notice. Failing to can only hurt you. If your company has routinely waived the notice period, allow them the opportunity to do it in your case.

The true purpose of your letter will have been served in the first couple of sentences.  The remainder is focused on simply establishing “goodwill” but is also important. Burned bridges can not be crossed again. We live in a vast world that has been made smaller through tremendously increased means of communications. Six degrees of separation is probably more like two now! Social media have linked us in a manner that maintaining goodwill is essential. Your current co-workers and bosses may be already connected with your new company and/or any future organization to which your career may lead you. Go out on a positive note. The music may follow you for years to come. Make sure your work is not left dangling but in good form for transition. And, finally, thank your supervisor and wish your company the best.

Of course, you may have other sentiments you may wish to express. Do this in person or in the conversations that will inevitably and necessarily take place once you’ve handed over your official resignation letter. However, in writing, keep to the 3-part approach.  It’s what works at work!

Best regards,

Vivian L. Mora, MSS, SPHR

Vivian L. Mora is certified as a senior professional in human resources (SPHR) by the Human Resources Certification Institution and holds a master’s degree in sociology and economics. She is the founder and managing partner of Mora & Associates, a retained executive search and human capital consulting firm based in Katy, TX.

Vivian offers Online HR Certification Prep Courses as well as other workplace-specific learning sessions (http://www.morahr.com/hr-education.html). For more information, please contact her directly at (877) 310-6553, ext. 702.

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fish in waves

BIG Fish, small pond?

We are not going fishing but we are going to play a short game of “Would you rather…” in which you get to pretend to be a fish! Whether you choose to be viewed as a BIG fish or a small fish is all relative to the size of the body of water you choose to swim in. You may choose a little pond or small company versus Lake Michigan or a large company. Knowing the size of the pond that best suits you in the work world is important. Understanding whether you are at your best leading and setting the pace or whether you prefer to work as part of a larger team with common goals can determine your overall happiness and satisfaction with work and with your organization.

In my most recent work experience, I accepted a leadership position with a small company which was almost immediately gobbled up by a larger company. Overnight, my pond expanded without any input from me. In past work lives, I’ve worked for each a small, a mid-sized, and large company. Although I performed well within the different environments and I believe that I am very adaptable, each experience taught me something different about myself. The experiences provided insights into the types of environments in which I believe I excel best. Understanding that the position I accepted was no longer the position I held, I had to revisit a few questions that would determine my level of happiness with my future work. If you are facing a similar quandary, start your evaluation by asking yourself these “Would you rather” questions.

Would you rather be the architect or the builder? An architect designs and makes the decisions on the structure, whereas the builder follows the architect’s plans to bring the structure into existence. How much input do you need to have in the major decisions of your work? This question focuses on impact, the impact of your contributions. How critical is it to you to see an immediate or fairly swift impact in your work? In a smaller organization, you may be able to leave at the end of each day knowing and seeing the impact of your actions and your decisions. If that means a lot to you, it can be frustrating waiting for others to consider incorporating your input in a larger organization. But, perhaps you do enjoy knowing that you were part of a team that helped bring a project or plan to life? A builder’s team most certainly looks over a structure at the end of a construction project with a sense of pride.

Would you rather be MacGyver or James Bond?  This is in reference to resources. MacGyver didn’t do too poorly with string, duct tape, and a Swiss Army knife. However, Bond had the support of MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service, with fairly unlimited resources and state-of-art equipment.  This is not to say that well stocked small ponds do not exist. In general, larger ponds have a more ready supply of both physical resources as well as intellectual capital from which to draw. I’m certain there are many who love the ingenuity and creativity required to work with limited resources and still excel within small organizations. But it can be very appealing to have the road smoothed out so that you can move at a faster pace. Speaking of pace…

Would you rather be a tortoise or an antelope?  See how I avoided the hare? Okay, the pace of progress and the ability to be nimble varies greatly between the small pond and Lake Michigan. You can row across the small pond in minutes. In crossing Lake Michigan, we’ll see you…. I’m not really sure how long it would take but I can safely say it will take MUCH longer. Communications and decision-making can move quickly if all you need to do is travel down the hall a door or two. Within a larger entity there are levels of hierarchy that must be traversed, buy-in that must be gained from a larger span of people. If you are accustomed to moving swiftly to take advantage of an active market or address an unexpected complication or challenge within a smaller organization, you are going to have to become acclimated to the time-lag that is part of swimming in a much larger body of water.

The questions above were the essential starting point for me in evaluating, BIG verses small. There are others that will be specific to your situation but may revolve around new responsibilities, development and growth, as well as future opportunities for advancement within each environment. Your personal choice of small or BIG company should center on what fits you best, the magical pond in the woods or Lake Michigan where I hear the sailing can be very good!

Best regards,

Vivian L. Mora, MSS, SPHR

Vivian L. Mora is certified as a senior professional in human resources (SPHR) by the Human Resources Certification Institution and holds a master’s degree in sociology and economics. She is the founder and managing partner of Mora & Associates, a retained executive search and human capital consulting firm based in Katy, TX.

Vivian offers leadership development workshops as well as individual mentoring and coaching sessions (http://morahr.com/ExecutiveCoaching.aspx and http://morahr.com/CultivateSuccess.aspx). For more information, please contact her directly at (877) 310-6553, ext. 702.

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Mistakes happen. How you handle them is what matters most.

To not anticipate mistakes is futile. It happens. We are human and “to err” is in the nature of being. Shockingly, these statements are coming from a “perfectionist” but I am currently “on the wagon”.  I didn’t think of myself as a perfectionist for a long time. I had “exacting” standards. I demanded the very best from myself (and wanted it from others). Error-free was the baseline. These are just a few of the many statements perfectionists use to justify setting unrealistic targets and expecting unrealistic outcomes. The paradox within my own search for perfection was that although I wanted the very best from others I did not expect it. Why?  Because, of course, I knew that to expect others to live up to my standards was ridiculous and unrealistic. After all, my standards for myself were ridiculous and unrealistic!

For perfectionists, mistakes sound a death knell and then the kicking, head-banging, and wallowing begins. The error takes on monumental proportions and can ruin everything that comes after. We see some of the best examples of this in sports. The player who makes a mistake and compounds it play after play or round after round. We say that he was off his game that day. The player accepts that he was off his game that day. Nonsense! He wasn’t off his game that day. He just didn’t know how to get back on his game.  This same scene is also played out in offices, on work sites, and in homes day in and day out by people who expect perfection when they don’t get it. They beat themselves up in the aftermath of the error and it then affects the next thing and the next thing that he or she does. She’s having a bad day. Again, nonsense! She hasn’t figured out how to recover and move beyond the first mistake.

Recovery is a conscious act. It can be approached in a similar step by step manner used in many counseling programs. It’s a bit more concise than 12 Steps but is just as effective. The first step requires acknowledgement that we are human, errors happen, period. Next, acknowledge the current state just as a fact, placing no judgment on it as good, bad, or ugly. Just the facts, ma’am, as it is. Next, consciously take in that it is in the past now and no amount of “should haves” will change it so don’t go down that path. Next, move forward. Ask what can I do about the current state? What corrections can I make? If corrections are possible, make them. If corrections are not possible, ask what lesson can I take away from this for the future? Internalize the lessons and then move on by letting go.  Don’t continue to beat up yourself. Don’t wallow in it. You’ve corrected it and gained something from it.  It’s over and done.  Let it go.

Take it from a recovering perfectionist, following the steps above will change the way you handle mistakes when they occur and will lessen the amount of angst you suffer over simple human errors. The objective is not to strive for perfection but for excellence. Excellence is progressive and is acheived through learning. It becomes a synergistic process through which one gets better and better. Perfectionism leaves no room for this type of growth. Getting to this point doesn’t happen overnight. I’m still working on it, but it is working.

Best regards,

Vivian L. Mora, MSS, SPHR

Vivian L. Mora is certified as a senior professional in human resources (SPHR) by the Human Resources Certification Institution and holds a master’s degree in sociology and economics.  She is the founder and managing partner of Mora & Associates, a retained executive search and human capital consulting firm based in Katy, TX. 

Vivian offers HR technical expertise including coaching and mentoring (http://morahr.com/HR_Alignment.aspx).  For more information, please call (877) 310-6553, ext. 702 or email her at vivian@morahr.com.

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You’re working hard. Your team is working hard. Stresses have been present but they now seem to be building at a rate that could mean trouble for you, your team, and the organization. At this point, a year or two ago, you might suggest a day off-site for some serious de-stressing and teambuilding. Today, you fear that a day off climbing ropes and exploring things described as touchy-feely just won’t fly. However, you do know that you must do something. To just keep going when you are seeing signs of dysfunction that will limit your team’s effectiveness is not only irresponsible but could be seen as negligent. So what can you do?

Despite being a consultant who gets paid for ocassionally facilitating ropes activities (but avoiding the touchy-feely as much as possible) I’m going to suggest a much more cost-effective means of achieving the results of such a day off-site.  This is an activity that could be supported 100% by your organization and it does not involve games or ropes. It may involve a hammer and a nail or paint and a brush though. I am suggesting that you volunteer your team for a day with a community organization that is in need of help! Your company may already financially support one or more organizations with its checkbook. For many companies, the checks have been necessarily smaller in the past couple of years. Volunteering time can supplement the support that your organization provides to these groups in a manner that is far more impactful and could even be of greater value than handing over a check once or twice a year.

I’ve had the privilege of working for organizations that highly valued their ties to the community and offered both financial and hands-on physical support to the organizations they chose to become involved with.  A day on-site painting, landscaping, or doing repairs at a community center, a YMCA, a job-placement center can save these organizations thousands of dollars. This day can provide your team with a sense of accomplishment, comraderie, and unity that can only come from giving!

The act of giving in this manner brings about several major benefits with positive implications for teams:

  • Builds ties and deepens relationships;
  • Creates shared memories and becomes a part of your team or group’s history; and
  • Eliminates or reduces stresses by allowing each participant to focus on something beyond themselves!

Give this a try! Check in with the function in your organization that oversees community giving and/or social responsibility to identify a community organization that is currently supported. Determine what is within your team’s capability to contribute.  Finally, sign your team up for a teambuilding activity that engages the heart and leaves the bottom line intact!

With regards,

Vivian L. Mora, MSS, SPHR

Vivian L. Mora is certified as a senior professional in human resources (SPHR) by the Human Resources Certification Institution. She is the founder and managing partner of Mora & Associates, an executive search and human capital consulting firm based in Katy, TX.  Mora&Associates offers community-impact facilitated teambuilding in the following markets: Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, TX; and Overland Park, KS. For other regions, please contact us directly at (877) 310-6553, ext. 702.

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Well, don’t be! Pun intended. I am openly admitting that this will be somewhat of a rant. I’m still smarting from co-hosting a very, very poorly attended wellness presentation. Maybe the topic wasn’t sexy enough to compel the 100+ human resources leaders invited to make the drive over to the conveniently central location of the meeting. Each of these HR leaders were freely offered the tools and information needed to make the case for and incorporate wellness into their benefits offerings right along side their cost-overrun prescription plan. Most decided to pass. Did I mention that it included a free and healthy breakfast?

Now that I’ve gotten that out, let’s talk about wellness and healthcare costs. Who wants to keep paying through the nose and other orifices for healthcare? You? Really? I didn’t think so. Then, are you willing to sit on your hands and wait for Congress to work through all its contortions so that the US government can rollout a plan that we can almost guarantee will be under revision as soon as it launches and so many more times after that? Oh, I’m sorry, that sounds almost like I don’t have confidence that the healthcare reform proposals will cure-all our healthcare woes.  I’m a glass-half full thinker and even I can’t look at all this maneuvering with a sense of hope. There is something that does give me a sense of hope. It is wellness. Being the “can-do” person that I am, I don’t believe in sitting on my hands in any circumstances. I think wellness is our salvation. I wholeheartedly believe that it is the most effective weapon we have in this war against out of control healthcare costs.

Companies do not have to invest in wellness because they care about what we are eating or what we are doing to our bodies physically. But they should invest in wellness because those things that we are eating and doing are costing the companies an arm and two legs in benefit dollars.  The healthcare utilization habits of a company’s employee population determines just how much it will cost to insure that population. If we all keep eating donuts and soda for breakfast while avoiding exercise like the H1N1, we all continue to pay for it in real dollars and in health deterioration. If we all chose a breakfast similar to the one served at the aforementioned wellness presentation along with even moderate exercise, we all have a new leg or two to stand on against the rate increases and can see our costs stabilize while our overall health improve. Is that not a win-win situation you would want?

The line of thought above is not a fantasy. It’s real and actionable. I’ve put it to work in organizations I have worked with and reaped the savings. Yes, support our lawmakers in their efforts to make a difference but you don’t have to sit on your hands while they work. Creating a healthier workforce will help create a healthier nation. This is a solution, we can take action on today that will provide measurable and positive long-term outcomes for our organizations and our people. Keep feeding on wellness. I can’t seem to get enough of it.

Note:  If you are interested in finding out how to make wellness work for your organization, feel free to contact me. I’m on a crusade and I look forward working with others who believe in self-help and taking matters into their own hands vs. buying into waiting that costs even more. Find me online at Mora&Associates (http://moraHR.com). Just complete a contact us form.

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Here in the United States, we’ve now witnessed the greatest loss of jobs since the Depression. In the past two years, organizations found themselves seeking means of reducing expenses while they watched revenues dwindle. For many (I could probably say most) reducing jobs was one of the primary routes taken in this quest. Some took this route early and quickly while others took every other possible route before making the choice to eliminate jobs. Some companies handled this with skill, diplomacy, and a humanistic touch. Others did not. Tales of email notices and security escorts have run rampant. Organizations eventually reached what they term as efficient staffing levels given the current state of the market. Hmm, it’s the latter part of that statement that will pose the most trouble in the coming year or two as employees embark upon what I can only tritely refer to as The Great Job Hop of 2010.

The Great Job Hop is in the embryonic stage at this point but the signs are clear. The “high performers” that many organizations have worked diligently to retain over the last couple of years are starting to “look around”. For organizations, the traditional break-up line of “it’s not you, it’s me” would be a lie. It is you. However, for some, there is very little you could have done to prevent the pending break-up. You were not the only company to make layoffs and eliminate jobs. The company to which your “high performer” is moving may have made even more cuts than you did. The difference is — he or she did not experience it first-hand with XYZ Company. 

Organizations have done a great job in the past few decades of building cultures that encourage closer associations at work. One of the questions in the ubiquitous Gallup Q12 is “Do you have a best friend at work?” Our associations at work don’t fall along neat little lines where my best friend just happens to be my fellow “high performer” in the next cubicle or nor do all occupants of the “most crucial positions” go to lunch together daily. No, with all these close associations forming at work, many of your high performers watched their BF at work lose his or her job. They then rode the emotional rollercoaster with their BF as he or she looked for work in a very tough market. The high performer’s feelings towards the company that he and his best friend at work loved a year or so ago have changed. There’s probably a high degree of survivor’s guilt mixed in with some resentment.  Now, I’m not a psychologist so that’s about as far as I go into the psyche but I am a sociologist so I can tell you what the resulting behavior will be with a high probability of being correct.  An exit is the course that most will take when faced with this quandary. There will be a great urge to remove oneself from the environment that has brought about these feelings. Fortunately, for them, high performers and individuals occupying crucial positions generally have options when the employment picture begins to change for the better, as is predicted for the coming year. 

Companies who have looked ahead and have seen the writing on the wall are beginning to take steps to “re-engage” with their present staff to help mitigate the potential damage. Organizations who took the humanistic route have an advantage. These companies’ actions will not have caused as much guilt or resentment and may even be viewed positively if separated employees were provided with adequate severance benefits and communications remained open throughout the changes. The re-engagement should be approached much the same way as initial recruitment campaigns were approached. What are the positive attributes that attracted employees to your organization? Do you have a unique value proposition (UVP) for your employees? In business, every organization has a unique value it offers to its customers. It’s the reason customers will want to choose do business with you rather than your competitor down the street. You will need to make certain employees know what UVP you have to offer them and that the attributes which brought them to you are still very much a part of the organization. Do you conduct “internal” marketing? If not, you would be wise to quickly develop your messages and a campaign for getting the message into the ears, minds, and, hopefully, hearts of your most valuable asset, your people. 

If you sincerely want to keep your high performers and crucial staffers in place during the Great Job Hop, the most important part of your messaging will be that it rings true.

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If you haven’t checked in on AMC’s television show, Mad Men, where have you been? America has a new television love affair. It has even enthralled Oprah, the reigning Queen of Television! I openly admit that I, too, have been captivated. The show is set in the 60’s in a time-appropriate but politically-inappropriate Madison Avenue advertising agency, hence, Mad Men.

I’ve always been interested in the workplaces of the 60’s. Mad Men contains all of the usual sexism, racism, debauchery, and disregard for human sensibilities that you would imagine could exist at that time and in that place. Given this, why is America so caught up in this, dare I say it, madness? It is a well-written show with New York gloss but it is also something else. It’s an escape. It does not reflect our present reality and allows our minds to take a break. We laugh at issues and occurences that if faced with in today’s reality would appall us, anger us or at least make us a bit uncomfortable.

Being an HR professional, this show along with another of my favorites, The Office, provides comic relief to my work. I sit and for the length of the show I escape and laugh with the rest of America. However, since my vocation was derived from much of who I am, the show also puts my mind to work. I find that even as I laugh, I am looking for the one who will step forward and “do the right thing”. I am evaluating the situation and working out how this would be and should be handled in the workplace.  The assessments I find myself making center around  not just what would be appropriate today but also at that time and place.  This is the kicker, the responses are not always the same. 

As HR professionals, we are not merely called upon to apply unilateral and rigid rules to every situation. Although, I will admit there are some, even within our profession, who do think so. Each situation calls for an assessment of the factors that are present and at play within it at the time and in the given place. The factors may be internal and organizational in combination with or separate from possible external, legal and regulatory factors. We must also toss in societal factors. All of these impact workplace situations and occurences, to not take them all into consideration is to not craft the best possible response for the given situation.

The next time you’re watching AMC’s Mad Men, I hope you enjoy the show as much as I do, but I also want you to try this exercise.  Imagine yourself as the smartly-dressed (they all are)  HR professional who has the task of working alongside the Mad Men of Sterling Cooper! How would you handle the various situations that crop up? Who would ever think that watching television could help you to make better human resource decisions?

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