Worst Open Enrollment Ever: 10 Sure-Fire Steps To Disaster

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Life is full of hot messes.

Honey Boo-Boo.

Orange “circus peanuts.”

Shia LaBouf.

Black licorice.

Gary Busey.

The list goes on and on….

But when you’re in HR, just about nothing feels more disastrous than a bad benefits open enrollment. So jump aboard the “Hot Mess Express” with me, and let’s look at the 10 open enrollment practices you should always, always avoid.

  1. Wait until the middle of December to decide on your next years benefits plan. Nothing says “I love you” like giving your employees 1 week to enroll. And watch your benefits administrator do back flips when they have to cram 2 months of admin prep into one week. Well, they may not do back flips, but they certainly will be flipping decision-makers something else.…

  2. Try to succinctly explain the math on how your plan deductibles and premiums work when you’re not 100% sure yourself. (Ever experienced flopsweat? You will!!) Seriously, don’t feel bad about passing the buck and letting your broker do this for you.


Read the rest of my post (and the other 8 great open enrollment disasters) on the ALEX Blog.  

Deliberately Disrupt Your Comfort Zone

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“I gotta go through the fire and brace the flame, let it burn real deep to get over the pain, I gotta break through.  I gotta break through.”  —My girl, Mary J. Blige!

So, I did a speaking gig for #DisruptHR Chicago a few weeks ago.  A new speaking format where you get 5 minutes, the slides are on auto pilot and you just go.  No notes. Just go. And it was uncomfortable.  Which turned out to be a fabulous thing.

Getting out of your comfort zone is the same feeling as riding a roller coaster.  See, I’m scared of heights but I love me a roller coaster.  Although parts of it are unimaginable (am I really on a flying-train-car-mobile, without some sort containment?), I still feel supported.  And for all-intents-and purposes, am pretty sure I’m gonna make it through the ride (aka won’t die).

When the ride is over your adrenaline starts to drop, you exhale and start laughing really hard.  You made it.  And then you want to do it again.

This was the same Same with #DisruptHR Chicago.  I’m pretty good at public speaking, but this format was simply new.  When I stepped on stage in front of 250 folks doing this presentation for the first time, I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be.

When it was over and I didn’t die, and folks seemed to like it — I exhaled, laughed really hard and wanted to do it again.

So here are some of my thoughts on how to disrupt your comfort zone once you’ve ID’d your new challenge:

  1. ID what transferable skills you have that will help in this new arena.  In this case I referred back to my theatre days.  This new format was the same as learning a 5 minute soliloquy.  No sweat.
  2. Ask for an opportunity to take on the challenge.  In this case I reached out and asked some Disrupt HR folks, namely  Jennifer McClure and Charlie Judy to be considered for this gig. Going for the ask  may have been the hardest part of the whole process.  It’s easy to cover up fear of disrupting your comfort zone by “waiting” for someone to give you an op.  
  3. Get support.  Tell people what you are doing and what you need help with.  I asked my Daxko team to watch me practice my presentation.  This was invaluable.  My buddy Kris Dunn shared some tips with me.  A group I’m a part of called Boondoggle (Jason Lauritsen, Joe Gerstandt, Stuart Chittenden, Maddie Grant, Jamie Notter) were full of hugs and love that night (I’m big on this).
  4. Find others in the same boat as you, struggling with the same challenge, and have counseling sessions.  You are never the only one working on a challenge.
  5. Remember this is still your jam:  Some folks you count on will disappoint.  Some folks will simply be too busy or distracted to pay you attention.  Some folks will think you really don’t need the help.  You do need to remember at the end of the day, this is your adventure to drive.
  6. Get quiet/ Find zen.  Before any new challenge you need quiet time to think.  Absorb.  Be creative.  Focus.  Before the DisruptHR Chicago event the energy was so high in the room I had to find a quiet corner at the other end of the building to just be quiet. And yes, some of this time was in a bathroom stall just sitting. It was the only quiet place! This is essential.
  7. Do a post-mortem.  I was fortunate to get a video of my performance.  Although I feel I did well, I learned so much by just watching.  Believe you me, I’m gonna change much of my delivery.  This is the second hardest part to the process — reviewing the results warts-and-all.

THEN, last but not least:

  • Eat Ice Cream
  • Get a Massage
  • Hug your cat-spouse-kid
  • Sleep

Enjoy knowing you just grew a little.

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Game Of Thrones + Performance Planning = Awesome Webinar

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“Shame…Shame…Shame…” if you miss this AWESOME webinar.

You guys know I am addicted to TV (I can think of worse).  And you know I share the good news on leadership practices.  And you know I am a member of the Fistful of Talent Crew.

I’ve got a win-win-win for you.  Join me and Kris Dunn in Winterfell as we serve you up a tasty knowledge mashup…

Join us on May 19th at 2pm Eastern for RAISING DRAGONS: What Game of Thrones Teaches Us About Performance Coaching and Building Teams,” brought to you by Fistful of Talent and Halogen.  We’ll use Castle Black and King’s Landing to explore best practices in performance coaching by giving you the following goodies:

A quick rundown of the history of Game of Thrones from a leadership perspective. Have a favorite character who’s dead? Whether it’s Ned Stark or Khal Drago, we’ll go rapid fire and tell you what they did well from a coaching perspective, then tell you what dysfunction caused them to be… well… cancelled.

We’ll feature the 5 most notorious leaders currently alive on the show and break down their coaching style—where they’re strong and where they struggle—with the help of the performance management experts at Halogen Software. Odds are you’ll find a mother of dragons, a short fellow anddire wolf owner in this breakdown.

We’ll breakdown the five most common coaching conversations in corporate America today and tell you which Game of Thrones leader your managers should emulate to nail the conversation—so they can maximize their team member’s performance.

We’ll wrap up the webinar by telling you what the coaching styles of the 5 characters featured means for their future—and the future of the teams they lead.

You’ve signed up for enough boring webinars, right? Break the pattern and register for our Game of Thrones webinar, and we’ll deliver the performance management/coaching science with a layer of pop culture you’ve grown to expect from Fistful of Talent.