We Thank our Happy Clients!

Happy-ClientsThis time of year is a time for reflection and gratitude. At The Lindenberger Group, we know we couldn’t survive without our incredible customers. We’re so grateful that these amazing businesses have entrusted us. We want to give our customers the chance to succeed in a big way and are grateful they’re letting us come along for the ride!

We noticed that many of our customers are grateful for us as well, which makes us even more grateful!

With that in mind, here are some of our customer quotes for November:

We’ve certainly accomplished a lot so far and there is still much more to do.  I look forward to working on this together.

Terrific session!

I learned more in this workshop than I ever expected to. Thank you.  

You’ve done a great job … I am blown away by everything that we have accomplished in such a short time.

There isn’t anything I would change about what you are doing for us.

One of my key employees stopped me and told me that if I ever doubted that I made a good decision when I hired The Lindenberger Group a year ago, that all I needed to do was to walk around the office and see how happy and productive the team is today versus where we were a year ago.

 

Posted in HR, Learning, Live and Learn, Sales, The Lindenberger Group | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Women Networking with Women Pays Off

Women-networking_Photobucket_free-useIt’s been said that it all depends on who you know. And who you know might depend on how well and how often you network with others, even when there’s no immediate payoff.

I have been a member of a local women’s networking group for nine years and at the last meeting I attended I was thrilled to hear that it is expanding nationally. I was curious how this small group of women, who meet several times throughout the year in the Princeton, New Jersey area, had grown so I asked Tracy Fink, Marketing Director with CohnReznick, a top ten accounting and consulting firm in the US, (see photo below) and originator of the group, some questions.

Tracy

Me: How did you get involved in the Executive Women’s Forum (EWF)?

Tracy: The Executive Women’s Forum (EWF) was created by in 2005 to position CohnReznick’s women as leaders in the community as well as create relationships that could yield business. In the course of developing the program, we found that working women outside of our firm were also searching for ways to connect with women and share their challenges and experiences in a non-competitive and comfortable business environment. We solicited advice from women inside and outside the firm about the best ways to get started. We learned that there were not many networking groups that did not have a short-term lead generation expectation.  We realized that we were onto something different – building long term relationships based on trust while helping others succeed without the pressure.

Me: That’s interesting. I think that women network differently than men do and that building trust and friendships is a big part of how we approach networking. So why did you decide to put together a networking group just for women?

Tracy: The current business climate has required us to use more strategic and creative ways to develop business relationships and retain clients. Couple that with the career demands of a multigenerational workforce as well as increased awareness of women’s leadership. These factors have led to the creation of EWF, a client-facing, business development initiative for women leaders at the firm. Professional service firms, such as accounting and consulting, do business through building and deepening relationships and most new business comes from referrals. We recognized the need to create a networking group because our rising female leaders needed close and meaningful business relationships with referral sources. The Office Managing Partner was supportive and encouraged the other partners to share their contacts to help launch the group with the right people at the table: women decision makers and business owners.

Me: How have you grown the Executive Women’s Forum over the years?

Tracy: We focus on topics that resonate with women leaders such as leadership development, mentoring, managing expectations, mindfulness, the power of kindness, and image consulting. We work with presenters who are leaders in their respective fields. This has created a wave of interest in our other offices. We have successfully implemented the EWF model in six offices and we are on track for four more rollouts in the near future. Through the years the program has gained traction by highlighting successes and recognizing the rewards of long-term relationships. One of the events we are most proud of is the women’s golf event. We created this to take the intimidation out of playing golf as well as providing an opportunity for women to reap the business development benefits of a day on the golf course. The program includes a networking lunch, hands-on clinic, option to play nine holes and cocktails. It is an effective and fun networking event. We’ve been doing it for five years and in 2014 had more than 70 women attend – our largest one to date!

Me: I was thrilled to be invited to speak on the topic of mentoring, which was very relevant for your audience of women leaders wanting to grow their networks and careers. Tell me …what steps did you take to get the green light to bring the EWN to the national level?

Tracy: First I recognized and acknowledged my passion for women’s leadership. I then prepared a proposal which outlined the business case to show how a strategic and targeted women’s networking program can lead to business opportunities while developing and retaining clients. I presented the proposal to the Chief Marketing Officer and included the successes of the EWF. The program has a number of supporters who are key influencers within the firm who championed the idea of a national roll-out. During the process, I witnessed the power of internal networking to expand this program which would benefit me as well the firm.

Me: Great insight! How do you track success for the project? Can you relay one anecdotal success story?

Tracy: Most of the success of the program is anecdotal although we can trace approximately $400,000 of new business and $300,000 of open opportunities directly to the EWF. We track the ROO – Return on Opportunity – by measuring how many clients, as well as how many prospects and referral sources attend our event. We also track opportunities such as an invitation for a board position or a request for a follow up meeting with our industry groups.

A favorite success story involves Kim Brandley, an audit partner.  At that time, Kim was a new partner with the Firm and was focused on increasing her business development efforts.  A regular at the EWF meeting, Kim connected with a woman who was then Regional President of a large bank.  She was also on the board of The College of New Jersey, Kim’s alma mater.  There was an open position on the foundation board and the banker, who knew Kim from their interactions at the EWF, invited her to explore the board opportunity.  Kim eventually joined the board and was then able to create a network with the other board members leading to business referrals and other professional opportunities for her as well as the Firm.

Me: Wow what a great success story! What advice do you have for women about how to use networking to enhance their careers / business?

Tracy:  Find a way to build and deepen authentic as well as strategic relationships both inside and outside your organization. Keep in mind that it is quality, not quantity that matters when developing relationships as you cannot be all things to all people. On a regular basis, find ways to help people without necessarily having an immediate benefit to you. Use your power and influence for good. As a “connector”, you will be rewarded in ways that you will be surprised.

Me: I agree. Networking is like gardening … you have to plant the seeds, tend the garden, and patiently wait to see where your connections lead you. Is there anything else you want to say on the topic?

Tracy: I’m incredibly grateful to work for an organization that recognizes the value of women initiatives and the importance of positioning our women as leaders in the community. We have a strong internal women’s network, WomenCan, and I am so pleased that the EWF complements the effort.

Me: Awesome! Thanks, Tracy, for answering my questions. I hope that those of you reading this blog can use some of these great ideas to jump start your own networking group.

Want to learn more? Contact Tracy Fink at tracy.fink@cohnreznick.com or 732-380-8677 or Judy Lindenberger at info@lindenbergergroup.com or 609-730-1049.

Posted in Career Corner, Leadership, Learning, Live and Learn, Mentoring, Networking, Sales, The Lindenberger Group | Leave a comment

So You Think You Can Dance …. your way into a career in HR?

Elaine

The first thing I wanted to be when I grew up was a Rockette and dance at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. However, I didn’t take dance lessons and my dancing ability is only slightly better than Elaine Benes from the TV series, Seinfeld. If you’ve seen Elaine dance, you know that my career as a Rockette never took off.

I made my way into Human Resources instead by getting an MBA in Human Resource Management and taking jobs as a trainer, HR generalist and HR director.  It took a lot of education, experience and mentoring to get it right. Yet, as a human resources consultancy owner, I often work with companies that have a person with little or no background or training in HR in charge of HR.  So it shouldn’t surprise anyone if their “dance moves” sometimes include limbs flailing, arms akimbo and spasms like Elaine. It’s not their fault. They haven’t been taught how to dance smoothly.

One important job of HR is to protect the company from employment lawsuits. You don’t know what you don’t know and a wrong move can mean trouble. One client called us after a former employee complained that his boss gave him an offensive nickname. The company thought it was safe because “nobody seemed to mind” and the boss made up derogatory nicknames for all of his team. An HR expert would have recognized this as harassment and taken immediate steps to discipline the boss.

Human resource professionals also need to stay up to date with employment laws. In just the last year, we’ve seen private sector employers being required to provide paid sick leave, statutes regulating employer access to social media, adoption of wellness programs, questions about employees using their own Smartphones and Blackberries to conduct business, and litigation challenging the use of unpaid interns. Just as in the TV show, So You Think You Can Dance, where contestants have to test their ability to adapt to different dance styles each week, human resource professionals need to learn and perform new moves continually.

In my experience, HR also needs to give advice about managing difficult employees. One client, who’s responsible for finance and HR, but whose educational background is just in finance, asked how to manage an employee who continually disregards dress code policy. Our client knew what she wanted to communicate but did not know how to say it. We walked her through the conversation. Human Resources, like dancing, gets better with practice sessions.

A good HR person will make recommendations to enhance your employees’ morale and productivity. We helped another client implement quick, low cost ideas including a suggestion box, performance appraisal process, regular department meetings and Town Hall meetings, which increased employee satisfaction and performance.

IMHO the best HR leaders are experts in their field as well as good business people. If you want to manage your company’s HR, but don’t have formal training, you have a leg up because you already know the business.  To dance your way into human resources, take classes, keep up to date on employment law, and hire an HR firm to guide you from performing like “a full body dry heave set to music” (George Costanza describing Elaine’s dancing on Seinfeld) to having “the moves like (Mick) Jagger” of the Rolling Stones (song by Maroon 5).

Judy Lindenberger is President of The Lindenberger Group, an award-winning HR firm in New Jersey that helps companies manage small to complex HR issues. She can be reached at 609 730 1049, info@lindenbergergroup.com, or learn more at www.lindenbergergroup.com.

Posted in Career Corner, HR, Live and Learn, Mentoring, The Lindenberger Group, Training, Trends | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Learning from the Best HR Bloggers

blogIf you search the Internet for the best HR blogs, two that make the top of every list are Evil HR Lady and HR Bartender.

In her blog, Suzanne Lucas, otherwise known as the Evil HR Lady, answers questions, posts tips, and has garnered a large following.

Sharlyn Lauby, creator of HR Bartender, cleverly compares herself to a bartender – “that friendly face who’s there when you need them” – and blogs about human resources and social media, as well as food and drink.

Because I want to attract more readers to my blog, Open Door HR, I contacted Suzanne and Sharlyn to ask them a few questions about how to be a more successful blogger.

  1. When did you start your blog?

Suzanne – I started my blog way back in August 2006. It was completely anonymous back then because I was employed at a very large pharmaceutical company and I didn’t think the people there would take kindly to my blogging.

Sharlyn – I began blogging in 2008 after my husband, who is a marketing professional, starting nagging me about writing an electronic newsletter. As a busy professional, I know what often happens with newsletters – we have every intention of reading it but time gets away from us and the newsletter is deleted. So over dinner one night, I suggested starting a blog.

That being said, I should clarify. We do have an electronic newsletter but now with the blog we’ve really defined what each accomplishes. Every communication medium does not have to do the same thing.

Me – I started my blog in 2010 when my website designer told me that it was one of the newest, best ways to market my business. I love writing so it was a fun task to take on.

In 2012, I was listed as one of the Top 25 Women HR Blogs and my blog was described “taking a “more professional, serious approach to Human Resources (where) visitors can scroll through … a broad range of topics.” That description is accurate and complimentary and I’d also like my readers to think, “Ahhhh …. I’m finally here and I can get my questions answered and she’s going to understand!”

  1. What is your goal for the blog and how have your goals changed over the years?

Suzanne – My goal, at the beginning, was to have fun. I always wanted to be an advice columnist, and then suddenly, I was one! Cool. My goals have changed over the years. For a long time it’s been financial. You’ll notice I’ve done a shift from full articles on the blog to links to articles posted elsewhere. Why? Because other people pay me. To be honest, I’m kind of unhappy with that situation right now, so my goals are evolving. I still want to make money, but I may move back to my own platform and see what I can accomplish alone. But, my overall goal has always been to help other people. That’s why I went into HR in the first place–I like people. I want them to succeed. I want bad managers to go away. I want bad policies to go away. I want more brownies in meetings. :)

Sharlyn – Great question. I originally started HR Bartender to be a marketing tool for my consulting firm, ITM Group. And while I write about our business (being leadership and management training), it’s not exclusively focused in that area.

Over time, HR Bartender has become a place for me to talk about human resources and share information. I get a lot of reader questions and really enjoy answering them in the “Ask HR Bartender” series.

Me – My goals have always been to drive more readers to my company website, www.lindenbergergroup.com, to share best practices, to start interesting dialogues, and to have a creative outlet. Human Resources lets you view first-hand the some of the craziness of the human race so I also want to have fun with my readers!

  1. What do you attribute to the success of your blog?

Suzanne – Consistency, humor, and the ability to explain things to non-experts. This is a problem in all fields–we all get so wrapped up in our own lingo and with our own knowledge that we forget that not everyone knows everything we know. Sometimes I think, “How on earth can you not know that FMLA is only 12 weeks!” but then I remember that this person has probably never dealt with FMLA before, so why on earth should they know?

Sharlyn – I try to include a takeaway in every post. I’m asking people to take a few moments of their day to read HR Bartender. The least I can do is provide a takeaway.

Me – I’d like to achieve greater success with my blog. I define success as having a large number of loyal readers and new readers, who “Like” and share my posts, relay their experiences, ask questions, enjoy reading the posts, and get something out of them.

  1. As a relatively new blogger in the HR space, what do you recommend that I do to increase my readership?

Suzanne – Lots of links to evilhrlady.org, of course! But seriously, write things of interest, and keep your own voice. Don’t try to copy other bloggers, do what works for you. Post often and on a schedule, and make the most of social media.

Sharlyn – IMHO, here are 3 things every blogger should do:

Market your blog. I wish I could say that writing is enough, but it’s not. If you’re serious about blogging, you have to put together a plan to market your blog.

Write regularly. When I first started blogging, I wrote one day a week. Then when I knew I could handle two days, I added another post to the schedule. I believe part of success is publishing regularly. Readers want to feel like they are getting to know a blogger. You can’t do that if you publish once every four months.

Read other blogs. Adding to my last point, if you’re having trouble finding topics to write about, start reading other blogs. There are tons of lists available about HR and business blogs to read. Find the ones you like and use them as creative inspiration.

Me – I’ve gotten some great advice from these two smart, funny women who are masters at blogging in the HR space. Thank you Suzanne and Sharlyn! My takeaways? I’ll keep working on posts that let my readers know more about me, The Lindenberger Group, and what’s new in HR. And I’ll try to do it on a regular schedule!

Posted in The Lindenberger Group, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

What We Can Learn About Happiness from Costa Rica

happy-girl-costa-rica1My family and I just got back from a week-long vacation to Costa Rica. We hiked through the rain forest, went white water rafting and swam under a beautiful waterfall, spent lazy days on gorgeous beaches and shrieked with delight each time we saw a sloth, parrot, lizard, crocodile or pelican. But what made the trip so fabulous were the people. Costa Ricans are genuinely kind, easy-going and happy.

In reading up on Costa Rica before the trip, I learned that Costa Rica is rated as one of the happiest countries in the world. What contributes to its high rating are its beautiful landscapes, access for all of its people to good nutrition, health care and education, a deep belief in peace (in fact, they have no army), a commitment to ecological sustainability, and living long lives.

Costa Ricans have and enjoy spare time, strong social networks, and long and healthy lives. “Costa Rica enjoys a privileged position as a mid-income country … that allows most citizens to satisfy their basic needs,” says Costa Rican economics professor Mariano Rojas. “Costa Ricans,” he adds, have not entered the “race for status and conspicuous consumption.”

Coming back from vacation, I have thought about the pace in Costa Rica … not just our pace while on vacation but the pace of the Costa Ricans we met and talked with.  I believe that I am a happy person … and that my happiness comes, like Costa Ricans, from having my basic needs met, not taking on more debt than I can manage, staying healthy, spending time with friends and family, and giving myself regular down time. In addition, I have found, personally, that running my business and doing volunteer work gives me a sense of accomplishment and purpose that adds to my overall well-being.

What about you? What makes you happy? And how is that similar or different from what we can learn from Costa Rica?

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments