Tag Archive | company

Strategic Disengagement


office_fun_MichalTaliStrategic Disengagement. It’s not a term you hear much and I remember the first time I did. I was working for a wonderful HR director who had at the core of her intention, the creation of a better culture in the workplace. We work hard in my company – just like people do everywhere. And one other thing we do is become too serious, sometimes too internally focused, and always intensely focused. The culture can quickly turn to too much stress. What I know about over-stressed people is that they go into survival mode, can become territorial, and collaboration can suffer.

That’s when I learned the term, strategic disengagement. It’s a simple concept really – it’s deliberate downtime even during the work day when the intention is to connect as people and not as co-workers. It’s sharing a bit of fun. It’s getting to know each other and our values, hobbies, families, and sense of humor. It’s a release valve for the pressure cooker of an overly focused workforce. It’s also a brilliant concept when trying to re-boot the culture.

The beauty of it is that it can be spontaneous or planned. Planning a work group outing or lunch to celebrate successes, acknowledge people’s accomplishments and milestones, and just have some fun is key to shifting the energy. But so is that spontaneous practice of a mid-day chat over coffee or a quick trip to the ice cream parlor or a walk around the building.

tacky-sweater1-290x284It may not seem intuitive but it is true that sometimes you have to “go slow in order to go fast”. That means, if you build in the down time in order to re-energize, you’ll come back faster. If you take the time to get to know the people as you go, you’ll have the foundation of collaboration when it’s time to solve a crisis or business challenge. I haven’t seen a team or work group yet that didn’t come back from some strategic disengagement with more energy, more focus, and a clearer vision. If it’s not part of your business practice you might consider starting small to test the waters. And this is a great time of year to test it. Laugh a little. Add a bit of holiday cheer and fun to a group meeting. Challenge each other to a “tacky holiday sweater” contest or some other little way of breaking up the monotony of the work day. Do this for you and for your organization and you will all reap the rewards.

Disengage and be blessed!

The whole enchilada


We have a concept in our company called “bringing your whole self to work”. With all the diversity and inclusion work that we do, that is our ideal goal. We do a lot to make our culture such that this is a reality and not just an empty slogan. The intent is that each person feels they can bring their individual passions, talents, skills, personality, and strengths to the workplace. And we are valued for who we are and how we see the world as a way to make our products better and our consumers more delighted. I love that concept and have been thinking about whether it is true for me. Here are the facets of myself that I do bring to work:

> Integrity/Moral Compass – I do not need to abandon what I believe in when I do my work and interact with people. This isn’t about religion but rather trust, honesty, respect, doing what’s right, etc.  This is so important – I would need to leave if this were not the truth for me.

> Passion for personality types – understanding what makes people “tick” and how they work together has been a long-standing passion and interest of mine. Being in HR and working with organization design and team dynamics is exactly what I need to be doing for this passion to come to work with me.

> Creativity – not just in problem solving, but also in creating a fun and energizing place to work definitely comes in with me. I especially love to bring this part of myself to “play” in my job. It’s much more about how I think and work rather than just what I’m working on.

> Compassion – is especially alive when I work with employee relations issues. I balance compassion for the person with doing the right thing for the Company. Being a principle-based company vs. rule-based makes this a lot easier for me to do.

> Spontaneity – while the workplace has much rigor in it, there are always opportunities for me to take initiative and be spontaneous within my own projects. For the most part, I’m the driver of my timing and schedule, which leaves room for my spontaneous side to thrive within the box.

> Leader – being in “middle management” brings opportunities to lead projects, as well as people. There’s a wealth of A-type personalities in my company so being a leader is important. I don’t just drive the strategies and priorities, but also influence the players. Leadership is an easy part of myself to bring and use at work.

> Humor – there’s nothing more fundamental to human beings than to smile and laugh. Luckily, I work with a group of folks who have just as much of a wacky sense of humor as I do. We get a big laugh quite frequently, which makes the hard work go down just a bit easier.

There are so many aspects of who I am and some do not translate into the workplace. That’s okay, because the ones that do relate all seem to be coming with me. I don’t feel like I’m abandoning “who I am” in order to do what I do. I know this makes me fortunate. I am grateful for the blessing.

What about you – do you bring your whole self to work? Are there some aspects of your personality, talents, or strengths that you leave at home because they are not valued? I challenge you to see if there is something you can do about that.

In the meantime, be whole, and be blessed!

My company blew up my world!


There are many things about my job and the company I work for that I really love. And over the course of my career, this company has changed many things about what I know and how I’ve developed. This is as it should be. But the greatest effect I have seen personally is actually cultural.

When I started working here at the age of 18, I was a fresh high school grad. I had lived in this city my entire life – actually within a 10 mile radius from where I was born. I was in a Catholic orphanage. I was adopted and raised by a loving Catholic family. I attended Catholic grade school and high school. I graduated from a Catholic college. I did (and do) consider all those things to be a blessing in their own right. And it was by chance that this is also the founding city and headquarters for this huge corporation in which I have built my career.  I had family, friends and neighbors who worked here. I felt very much at home.

As I worked my way through my career I found myself in a role as recruiter in our International division. It was my entry into HR and  by far my favorite role of my career.  Within one month my world went from being Cincinnati-centric to being global. Wow – my company “blew up” my world! What a change. I found myself talking to people all over the world. They came to visit and shared stories of their countries and their cultures. I was traveling to colleges across the US and interacting with students who were my age but from worlds I did not know and some countries I had never heard of before. With that single role I became an adventurer at heart. I created a list of places I want to see before my days are done. I was inspired to actually pursue bringing a foreign exchange student into my home and was delighted when Heidi from Norway became my daughter for a year.

This single aspect of my career has helped me grow in so many ways. I am privileged to have learned from so many people. I immersed myself in understanding other cultures to the point that I was able to create and deliver cross-cultural training sessions to my colleagues. I appreciate, live and breathe diversity and inclusion every day of my life. Today I find myself privileged to be in a very diverse and rich organization. My boss is from Mexico. I work on teams and sit by colleagues from China, Japan, Canada, Venezuela, Columbia, Germany, Puerto Rico, Nigeria, England, Egypt and so many more places. I know and appreciate not only Catholics but Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and more. I don’t know all the countries nor all the religions of those who I work and laugh with. Without leaving my company or even leaving my desk I now can say that I am not just a citizen of Cincinnati but a citizen of the world.

Even as I write this blog I am fascinated to look at my visitor counter and see that people from 15 different countries have read my words. I hope you have all felt welcome and/or inspired. I appreciate each and every one of you! Thanks for joining my world – be blessed!

A really, really good day!


Today is a good day – a really, really good day in the wild world of Barb.

As an HR manager for a huge corporation I can’t always say that this is true. We get to help dig people out of crisis of all sorts – from strategic and staffing dilemmas, to employee issues with plans, policies, and benefits to performance and personnel issues where we investigate and deal with misbehaving rascals. Yep, even the best of companies mirror the rest of society. But today was different.

One thing I love about my company is that in addition to our “day job” we are encouraged to follow our passions in pursuit of creating a better company culture and business success. We value diversity of all sorts and we strive to bring that value to life inside our company. In that vein I’m honored that today I got to launch a project that is so in line with my passion. I’ve been working for 1 1/2 years to bring to fruition a project pilot working with students with disabilities.  We are finally able to hit  GO on this project and have a couple of students come into the work place. We will start small and build awareness and success until we can bloom and spread this effort to other areas of the company.

The reaction of the organization when we launched the pilot program today was so heartwarming. To see the enthusiasm for the idea and the support and excitement for the students to come was frankly touching. I’ve had more people share their pride for our company and appreciation for our team’s effort than I dared to imagine. And I’m humbled because for me this does not need praise.  This is about joining hands and doing something really right with great love and compassion. This is about community, spirit, and valuing for all. This is what it means to be truly human.

So today I will get to go home with a big smile on my face and with a warmth in my heart that in my little corner of the world I am able to influence leaders and create opportunities for kids who have great hope, big dreams, and many, many abilities.

I think I’ll celebrate with a hug for my kids and indulge myself with a sentimental tear or two.

Yes, today is a really, really good day!