Each year, ISE team members have 40 hours allocated to them for Growth and Development activities. In the past I've used this time to take on-line classes, obtain various Agile certifications, and attend conferences. This program is a great benefit to our team members, and in turn, grows ISE's strengths and capabilities.
Last Thursday I attended the Beyond Rubies Women's Conference. According to their website:
Beyond Rubies is a conference for women of all generations and backgrounds to learn practical ideas on how to succeed, while juggling increasingly complex and diverse life demands. The conference will set the tone for building better lives while enjoying the journey. The focus will be to provide information on a full range of issues – in the workplace, at home, and in the community.
This is the third year I have attended. I have always obtained valuable knowledge that I could take back to ISE and apply to the teams I work with, and I was looking forward to attending again.
There are four breakout sessions with eight talks to choose from in each session, and a keynote speaker after lunch. I usually have to narrow it down from two to three sessions in each time block - not easy to do with such great topics! During the first two years, I took note of which speakers that I enjoyed listening to. Two of those were back this year and I were speaking on topics of interest to me.
What do They Really Mean?
Up first for the day was ways to better listen to people. At 8am, I was glad to have my morning coffee to give my full attention. The instructor kept us on our toes with an interactive session.
Why is listening important? There are many reasons, including building relationships, resolving conflicts, ensuring understanding, and resolving problems. Always keep in mind that there although there are two perspectives, both could be right.
There are many strategies that can improve listening skills. In difficult conversations knowing who and what pushes your buttons can help you prepare for the situation, which allows for a better conversation and listening. Additionally, try to step into their shoes, putting aside your personal perspective on the situation.
Change the Culture of Your Staff Team
So many great ideas for activities came out of my second session of the day on workplace culture. We stepped through evaluating the current culture, discussing what you can change, and where to begin.
When companies on-board new employees, what is the difference between what they are told the culture is like and what it's actually like? It's important that these do not differ, or that the new team member is given an explanation of the exceptions. Don't say your company has a professional dress code when people are walking around in shorts and a t-shirt. But, maybe that is appropriate in some divisions and not others.
When evaluating the current culture, don't forget that you are part of the culture, too. What attitude do you bring? You can't change others, but you can change how others impact you. Additionally, you can't change everything. Some things you will just need to accept or move on.
This was another session that I chose based on the teacher, but I also looked forward to being more motivated in work and life.
The one big takeaway from this sessions was to celebrate the successes - your celebrations inspire others. It doesn't have to be a large victory with an over-the-top celebration, it could be as simple as finishing your to-do list that day and doing a happy dance in your cube. Or giving someone a high five if they achieved some goal that day they set out for themselves.
Women and Wealth
The last session that I attended was all about how to manage finances to make more out of your money. Everyone wants more $ for no extra work, right?
The session was led by an agent at a financial services firm. I learned that property (house/car) insurance can vary greatly by company, so I plan to do some shopping around. We also went through an example of how powerful compound interest is - start investing early for even greater returns!
Finally, one of the great benefits of attending the conference is meeting new people. In most sessions we paired up with women around us to discuss various topics. The women at the conference come from a diverse set of backgrounds, and I enjoy learning about their passions and dreams. It's great motivation to continue my quest to become a better person at work and at home.
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