Anniversary thank you

If you have been following my social media posts this week, you will know that it is anniversary week here at RARE HQ. You will also know that I talk a lot about the importance of recognizing your team, and I encourage my clients to say thank you to their people for the littlest of tasks. 

So, this week, in honor of the 1 year anniversary of RARE being my full-time gig, I want to say thank you to my crew, my people. Because even though RARE is a practice of 1, it takes a village.

My clients: This past year, I have been lucky to work with the most incredible people and interesting organizations. Thank you all for trusting me with the things that have challenged you and giving me to opportunity to partner with you to create solutions. It has been an absolute privilege working with each and every one of you.

My mentors and advisors: To say that I couldn’t do it without you would be an understatement. Beth Plante – RARE would not exist without your gentle pushing me to get it started in the first place. Michelle Bihary, our FaceTime chats, your wisdom and insight, they inspire me to think deeper, get curious and learn moreSarah Rowley, you taught me so much of what I know, and I continue to learn from you. Jess Lilly, you came to hang out and co-work the first week that RARE was my full time gig. Your support means the world to me. Josh Rosenthal, my social media guru. Thanks for showing me how it is done. Zak Eichenbaum, thanks for being my IT genius and teaching me websites and all things tech.

My friends: Thanks for supporting me and for taking an interest in this gig. Love you all.

My referrers: You guys – you know who you are. Thanks for sending the most wonderful people my way. It means a lot that you recommend RARE to people who are near and dear to you. And these people are now near and dear to me too!

My family: To my parents and mother in law, thank you for all of your support, interest and cheerleading. A special shout out to my dad, Sam Eichenbaum – the original people whisperer whose impact of people and workplaces cannot be understatedYou thought up the name RARE, and I owe so much to you I work in the hope that RARE can make a fraction of the impact that you have had on people and workplaces. My son Arthur, thanks for being my number one fan and all your encouragement. And of course, to my husband David. You believed in me and RARE well before I believed in it myself. Thanks for insisting that this little idea became real.  

And finally, to you dear reader! Thanks for coming on this journey with me and reading my musings each week.  I love getting to share it with you.

Year 2, let’s do this!

Until next week,

Unexpected chats

In my coaching practice, we talk a lot about time – and you have probably figured that out, because I often write about time here. Time management, where time goes, prioritizing time, organizing time.   

And when we start to look at how we spend our time during our work day – especially if we are managing people – something that comes up is dealing with the unexpected. Specifically, people stopping by to chat about something.

Being available to your team, your people being comfortable to come and chat with you, run ideas by you, ask questions is really important. And when they do that, you need to be fully present, to give them your full attention so that they feel heard, and that you can give them the answers or advice or suggestions that they are looking for.

But it’s challenging to be fully present when there are a million other things swirling in your head. The email that you were just reading, or the meeting you are about to go into or all the things you need to get done today. It can be hard to shut that all off and drop into the moment when the chat is unexpected.

So, today I want to share a little script for you. Experiment with the script and see if you find it helpful in managing your time, and dropping into the present when accommodating unexpected chats with your people. 

The opening: 
Someone comes to your desk and seems to have a question or want a chat. Before launching into the answer or the conversation, try sharing:
I have about xx minutes to chat right now. Do you think that’s enough time? If not let’s schedule a time for us to chat. I want to be fully present with you. 

The conversation: 
When it comes time to have the conversation, you are responsible for keeping time. So if you agreed to 10 minutes, then you need to keep the conversation to 10 minutes. Other than keeping time, you now need to be fully present. No emails, phone calls or anything else. And because you have carved out the space for the chat, you might find you have more space to be present. 

The ending: 
About three quarters of the way into the allocated time, it is time to start rounding the conversation up. The chat might be ready or end or it might need more time. Try sharing:
I wanted to let you know that we have about 5 minutes left. Are you feeling complete or should we schedule a time to continue this conversation?
And if another chat needs to be scheduled, set a time now.

Three steps to managing time and being present when dealing with the unexpected chat. 

And remember, you can also model this to your people. When you have an unexpected question, or need to have an unexpected chat with your people, you can start by saying do you have xxxx minutes to chat about xxxx.  This might help give them the space to be fully present or give the permission to schedule a time for the conversation when they know they can be present.

Try this experiment and let me know how you go. Is it helpful? And what happens when you model the script when you have an unexpected question for your team? I can’t wait to hear. 

Until next week,

Story telling

This week at RARE HQ we have been focusing on interviews, both from the perspective of a candidate and employer. 

Monday’s social media post reminded candidates that interviews are a two-way street –candidates you are interviewing the employer just as much as they are interviewing you. On Wednesday we looked at something that many hiring committees say about candidates they like that may in fact be a major red flag. 

When my clients are preparing for an interview, they are often nervous about how to answer questions without rambling. And I get it, it’s hard! In an interview you are trying to showcase all your skills and tell the story of you.  You have a lot to share, but you want to keep your answers concise. It’s a tough balance.

So today, I am going to share how to shape your answers to interview questions, so they showcase your skills while keeping the story concise and to the point. Here we go:

Step 1:  
Context – set the scene. What was the background? What was the problem?

Step 2:
Intervention – what role did you play? How did you contribute? 

Step 3:
Outcome– then what happened? 

Boom! Context, Intervention, Outcome. When you use these three points to shape your story-telling, you are giving the interview panel insight into the situation, showcasing your skills and then sharing a tangible outcome – your impact.

And here is a fun trick- you can also use this format when highlighting skills in your cover letter, resume, and LinkedIn profile. Context, Intervention, Outcome.

Need help prepping for your next interview? Reach out- I would love to work with you to hone your story telling skills.

Until next week,

Nice to meet you

Happy Friday friends. It’s been a while since I introduced myself, and there are lots of new people around here. So today for blog day, I wanted to take a moment to tell you a little about me.

I’m Helen Slucki, founder of RARE – a people practice. 

After spending over a decade in Australia building a career in people management and organizational development, leading teams in top 200 public corporations and privately owned retail brands, I moved to Charleston, SC in 2013. 

With over 15 years of people management experience, I am a people whisperer on a mission to transform people and workplaces. I am passionate about creating workplaces where people thrive. This means developing strategies to recruit, attract, retain and engage top talent while coaching people through transitions in their work lives.

What does that all look like? My coaching has helped people re-enter the workforce after a career break, helped a hostess and former teacher land her dream job in higher education, and helped an administrative super-star take the leap into the tech world – just to name a few. My consulting practice has helped businesses revamp their vision, mission and values to better reflect their greater purpose, trained hiring managers to spot top talent in a crowd and created remuneration structures that retain top performers so they are not poached by the competition.

Whether you are looking to recruit, attract, retain and engage top talent for your business, or looking for expert support in your own work life, I am here for you.

Now it’s your turn. Introduce yourself – I can’t wait to get to know you. 

Until next week,

Managing Up

I write a lot about managing people, managing your team. How to create workplaces that recruit, attract, retain and engage top talent.

And all of that is really important– it’s the core of what I do. 

But today I want to focus on something a little different. Managing up. Managing your boss. Or to put it another way, managing our relationships with and expectations of our manager.

When my clients come to see me about their relationship with their supervisor, we start with two clear objectives: understanding the role of a manager and asking for what you need. And so that’s what I am going to share with you today dear reader.

Understanding the role of the manager.
Your manager’s job is to be your manager. They need to set clear expectations, define what success looks like and then ensure you have the tools you need to get there. They need to be able to give you feedback- both when things are going well and when things are not. 
And that’s it. Anything else is icing. You may want your manager to be your mentor, your friend, and it’s great when that happens. But being a mentor is very different from being a manager and often for one reason or another your manager can’t be both.
So, get 
really clear. What would it look like if your expectations of your manager were simply that they defined what success in your role looked like, gave you the tools you needed, and gave feedback? Without expecting the extra. What would be possible in your relationship from that place?

Asking for what you need.
Your manager can’t read your mind. Remember how I said that it’s your manager’s job to provide the tools you need to do your job? Sometimes that will be really clear, and they will be able to provide that. And sometimes they will need you to tell them what you need because they just don’t know.
So, have you set up the space in your relationship with your manager where you can ask for what you need? Do you meet with them one-on-one on a regular basis? If not, how can you and your manager work together to create that space? Maybe in your first act of asking for what you need, you ask for regular meetings.

A little disclaimer: the vast majority of people and managers have the best of intentions for their workplace relationships. And there is a tiny minority who don’t. But that’s a whole other post.  

So, think about your relationship with your manager. Would it be helpful to adjust your expectations of them? And how can you create the space to ask for what you need. 

And if you need some help, reach out! That’s what I am here for.

Until next week,

When caring responsibilities and work collide

My social media feed has been a flutter with talks about “secret parenting” these past few weeks. Don’t know what I’m talking about?  In her article for The Atlantic, Emily Oster, an economist at Brown University, says that in addition to employers providing paid parental leave, we need to normalize the experience of parenting while working. She calls for the end secret parenting, where workers feel pressured to pretend that they do not have child-care obligations when at work. It’s well worth taking a look if you haven’t seen it yet.  

Oster gives examples of parents hiding or minimizing evidence of their children at work, calling in sick for themselves when it is actually their child who is unwell – felling that a sick day for themselves is more acceptable than sharing that they need to care for a sick child.  

Cue parents furiously nodding everywhere. Me included. Oster has perfectly described why so many of my new parent clients reach out for support upon their return to work. They feel pressure to parent in secret. Boom!

But parenting in secret is mostly impossible. And when this shows up for a client, I support them to stop compartmentalizing their worlds and to show up authentically as they are. As a real-life human being with parental responsibilities that they are still figuring out how to balance with being a rock star employee. It takes time, and as Oster rightly says, cannot be done when we are hiding what the challenge actually is. 

The end to secret parenting is particularly challenging for those workers who are not desk/office based. Which is actually most of the workforce. Think retail staff, teachers, healthcare professionals, most of the hospitality industry, food and beverage workers, call center workers. And the list goes on. Most retail staff can’t bring their child to work with them when childcare arrangements fall through. Most teachers and healthcare workers can’t work from home.  

And so, in order to end secret parenting, most business leaders (who may be parents themselves) actually need to reconsider what flexibility looks like in the context of their workplace and how they might cater to workers with caring responsibilities.

And sometimes it’s really simple – allowing a retail worker to carry their phone in their pocket while on the shop floor, because their child is unwell, and they need to be contactable. Sometimes it’s more complicated. But it starts with workers being able to ask for what they need, and business leaders being willing to partner with their staff to find creative solutions.

So why? Why should business leaders care? Why should they provide these things? Oster herself points to research that found that “the presence of children is a main driver of the gender gap in career outcomes, even for highly educated workers, because women drop out when their employer can’t accommodate their schedule”. 

Did you read that – parents dropping out of the workforce. Organizations losing talent. Talent that is hard to come by. Talent that the businesses have invested in. Gone. Talent that now needs to be replaced. And that has a cost, both financial and human.

And it’s not just about new parents. What about workers caring for aging or sick family? Or grandparents who have caring responsibilities? How can business leaders create environments that support those workers show up and do good work. What flexibility do they need?

These are big questions – and I love partnering with clients (both businesses and individuals) to figure out what the answers might look like.  So, if you want to chat, reach out. I would love to talk it all through with you.

Until next week,


When it doesn’t work

Hands up if you have ever hired someone and it didn’t work out. Didn’t go as planned. Or maybe things were great for a while, and then they weren’t.  

Friends- it happens. Even the most experienced people managers out there make hiring decisions that in the end, just don’t work. 

And when it does happen, a lot of energy is spent parting ways with the person who didn’t work out. Rightfully so. Thoughtfully parting ways in a manner that preserves everyone’s dignity and manages risk to your business is important.

AND once that part is over, there is another very important step. Reflection.  

You need to take the time to reflect on the whole hiring, on-boarding and people managing process, and with benefit of hindsight, see where things went wrong. On your end. With you. Yes you.

That part can be really hard. Hard to hear and hard to do. But it’s only by taking a moment to pause and reflect on where things went wrong, that you get insight on what you would do differently next time. Reflection is where the learning happens. 

So today my dear reader I am sharing some jumping off points to help you with your reflection process. 

  • The job ad and/or position description– were they an accurate reflection of the role that the person was coming into? Did you advertise and hire for the role you thought you needed, or the actual role – the role that would be the reality for the person coming in. I see this over and over. We hire the perfect person for the role that we THINK we need, but that person is not a perfect fit for the ACTUAL role. And then it doesn’t work.
  • Interviews and reference checks – with the benefit of hindsight, what did your interview process and reference check system miss? What could you add in to help deal with those blind spots? And, is there anything that you need to take away? Something that distracted you from what you really needed to see? 
  • On-boarding – what was missing from your on-boarding process to help set the new hire up for success? What training/systems/processes needed to be added sooner? What training/systems/processes needed to be more detailed? What training isn’t working? 
  • Were there any red flags? Think about this one. There usually are, but we miss them, dismiss them or push them away because we don’t want to see them. So be honest with yourself and use hindsight to help you hunt for the red flags. And then ask yourself, have these come up for you before? And if so, how did that play out? And what can you add to your process to help you see these red flags sooner and then do something about them?

The biggest lesson in hiring for many of us is resisting the urge to fill a vacancy when you haven’t found the right person. This is when we may dismiss red flags. Especially when everyone is having to do extra work to make up for the fact that there is an empty seat. There is a real discipline in carrying a vacancy until you find the RIGHT person to fill the role. It might even take a failed search or two until you find the perfect person.   

But making that investment in time up front, taking the time to find the right person for that specific role will save you on the other end. Because parting ways with someone who does not work out is not pleasant. It’s not a position that anyone wants to be in. Especially the person you hired!  

So, when things don’t work out, take the time to pause and reflect so that you can learn from it. And, if you need someone to help you with the reflection process, you know who to call. Your favorite people whisperer. 

Until next week,

Succession Planning

When was the last time you worked on succession planning in your business and/or team? Hint: if it was more than a month ago, it’s time to start working on it more often.  

Many business leaders don’t make plans for both the career progression of their people, or for what they are going to do when (yes WHEN not IF) key people leave. They don’t have a succession plan.

And while many business leaders want to have a solid plan, they can’t find a way into a succession strategy. 

So today dear readers, I want to share a way in. Drum roll please: Professional development (PD).  

Most of us know that our own development is important for our growth. And these days, business leaders get that investing in the growth of their people is an investment in their business. But they are more likely to think that PD is important in terms of employee retention.   

Yes, it is. AND… 

What does retention look like? Top talent/high performing employees are going to be looking for career advancement. They are not going to want to stay in the same role forever. So, in order to retain them, organizations need to offer a path for advancement and plan for how to replace employees who leave. 

Because here is the thing about succession planning: when the time comes, your people need to be READY for that next role.  

So, what types of PD do you need to be thinking about when looking at succession planning? There are three key categories: 

Technical skills development: these are foundational skills and what most of us think of when we imagine PD. Think sales training for a sales person. It’s the training that you need to do each year to keep your license. And many of us get stuck here – but there are two other kinds of PD. 

People management skills: knowing how to manage, inspire, and lead a team. Having a basic understanding of HR, interviewing skills, and how to give feedback. 

Peripheral vision skills: these are the strategic skills, financial literacy, understanding the broader industry context, having networks, imagining what is coming and what is next. 

Here is why PD is your way into creating a succession strategy. Imagine a retail store. Let’s call it RARE retail. It has a store manager, assistant manager, 3 FT sales people and a team of hourly temporary staff for the holidays. One of those FT sales people is an absolute rockstar. They are a top sales person for the region, consistently exceeding sales targets. One day the store manager resigns. The assistant manager is promoted to store manager and because the rockstar sales person is so good at what they do, they are promoted to assistant manager. And it’s a disaster – the store’s sales plummet. 

Why? Well, the sales person was a rockstar sales person. They had done lots of sales training. They probably even led some sales training for new employees. But no one said they were a great people manager, no one said they had peripheral vision. And they had not had training in these two areas. But as a new assistant manager, they now spend most of their time managing people and running the store, rather than being on the floor selling (so, the store has essentially lost its best sales person). And they are now struggling because they don’t have the skills to run a team. And suddenly they are not enjoying their work, and now are thinking about looking for another job.  

I see this over and over, across every industry. You probably have seen this too. People who have strong technical skills being promoted, but without the people management skills and peripheral vision training. It doesn’t work. A successful succession strategy needs to be support by a PD plan. It’s your way in. 

In my consulting practice, I work with organizational leaders to develop a comprehensive PD plan that incorporates ALL THREE kinds of development: technical skills, people management skills and peripheral vision training. And that PD plan then supports a succession plan. With this kind of PD plan, the sales person would have received the training that they need to manage a team and run a store, so that when the times comes, they are ready! 

In my work with my career coaching clients, I ask them to create a PD plan for themselves that incorporates all three kinds of development. It creates possibility, it prepares them for their next steps, and it diversifies their skills. It makes them a desirable candidate for their next role, and ultimately, having skills in all three areas, technical, people management and peripheral vision, positions them well if there is a downturn. 

So, this week, have a think about the PD you have done recently. Is it preparing you for your next steps? Does it include people management training and peripheral vision development? And if you manage a team, start to think about succession planning- your way in is through PD plan that includes all three elements for your people. 

If you get stuck, you know who to call for help, your favorite people whisperer. I would love to work with you to figure it all out. 

Until next week,

The weekly 1:1

What should I cover with my people in our weekly one-on-ones? Many of you have asked this question. So today friends, I am going to share my how-to for supervision meetings. So, without any further ado:

Step 1: Decide to have the one-on-one.  
Yes, the first step is to decide that regular supervision meetings with each person are important, a priority, and something that is valuable to the whole team. Because they are all those things. Effective supervision meetings provide a space for feedback and open communication. They signal to your team that they are valued and their needs matter, all of which increases employee engagement. People often wonder what regular means. I would say that supervision meetings should ideally be scheduled weekly, or at least every other week. And how long? At least 30 minutes. So, if you have 5 direct reports that is at least 2.5 hours per week in supervision meetings. Plus, a meeting with your own supervisor. Side note: if this sounds like too many meetings, consider that you might be supervising too many people.

Step 2: Set it up.
Schedule a regular day/time with each of your team members. Put it on your calendar, and each of your people’s calendar. Then stick to it. Remember, these meetings are a priority. Next, find a space for the meeting. Supervision meetings should be at a time where your people have your complete, full attention.  You need to find a private space where neither of you will be interrupted by phone calls, emails or other people. This might mean meeting somewhere where you can’t see your computer, you can’t hear your desk phone (ie not at your desk) and turning off your cell. 

Step 3: Start the meeting.
Sometimes, getting started is the hardest part. Here are some questions that can help get things going:
How are you this week?
Where would you like to begin?
What has been coming up for you this week?

Step 4: During the meeting
Some of us are nervous about the format of a supervision meeting. “What should we be talking about?” is a question I often get. A model that I learned that has worked well is the 5 Ps
Projects– going over the things that your team member is working on right now
Problems– talking through things that aren’t going well
Praise/Positives– making sure your team member knows about all the things that they have been doing well
Professional Development – what is their growing edge? What goals have they set for the year.
Personal  this is about getting to know each of your team members as a person, with life and demands beyond their work.

Is there a particular order that works best? I think this is a question of your own style. I like my team member to run the meeting. I see it as my job to make sure we cover all 5 Ps, but I want to start where they want to start. And often they start with what they need from me, which is great! 

The part that both supervisors and team members often struggle with is the “personal’. And this takes time. Building trust. Creating the habit of having the meeting. Remembering the names of their partner/kids/pets and asking about them. Deep listening.  

Step 5: Closing the meeting
At the end of the meeting, go through the tasks that have come out of the meeting – both the things that you now need to do, and that your employee needs to do. Make sure you are both clear and in agreement on these next steps.

So, there you go – my how-to for supervision meetings. I hope you find something in here that you can use with your team. Or maybe there is something here that you could bring to your manager for your supervision meetings with them. Let me know how it goes, you know I would love to hear all about it.

Until next week,

Precious time

This week on the socials, I have been talking about time management. Monday’s post was about seeing where your time goes, and Wednesday’s post looked meeting overload. 

Time management is a huge part of the work I do with all my clients- people and workplaces. So today, in classic Helen style, I want to share the why behind time management. Why is it such a crucial part of my work? 

Managing time is not about creating more space for something new- though that might be an happy outcome. And though managing time might improve your organization skills or increase your efficiency and effectiveness, it’s not about that either. It’s certainly not about creating balance- friends there is no such thing.  

No, for me it’s not about any of that. So, then what is my why?  

Managing time effectively, allows us to be fully present to where ever we are in the moment. And as my yoga teachers tell me, “You are either now-here or nowhere”.

There is a time to check email, a time for meetings, a time to dive deep into a project and time to mentor and coach. There is a time for family, for friends. And most importantly there is a time to take care of yourself. And to do any of these things well, we need to show up completely for the task/job/person. We need to be fully present. 

And I have found that when you managing your time effectively, by creating a specific time for email, for meetings, for projects, for your team, friends and family, for yourself- you can more easily show up to what is happening right now. When you have set aside time for each of the things whirling around in your head, you can pause and show up to what ever is happening right now.

The truth is that our time is a precious gift. Give generously by being fully present, by being exactly where you are.

Now-here or nowhere.

Until next week,