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Take Your Seat at The Table

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, May 9, 2018


Take Your Seat at The Table

As Human Resources (HR) professionals, we’ve all heard the phrase ‘seat at the table’; this notion that we must manage our careers in such a way to be included in senior-level business decisions in order to be considered successful. Many of us are over it.

Amy Lein, who is the Director of Human Resources at Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, and currently serving a two-year term as President of the Greater Orlando Society for Human Resource Management (GOSHRM), is taking a much more meaningful approach to the phrase.

Encouraged by her faith, and her collaborative effort through The Gotham Fellowship, an intensive training program offered by The Collaborative Orlando, Lein is working to blend her personal beliefs with her professional life. “Using the parable of people being invited to a banquet table – a lesson about choosing where to sit, serves as a great analogy for HR’s desire to gain a seat at the table in the business world,” said Lein.


Interested in reading more? Click here.



Written by Amy Lein. Originally posted on the HR Mouth of the South Blog, the official blog of the HR Florida State Council, Inc. 

Tags:  GOSHRM  HR  Leadership  SHRM 

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Effectively Managing Employee Conflicts

Posted By Leslie Mizerak, Friday, October 20, 2017

I have heard many ways that companies attempt to manage employee conflicts.  They range from yelling at the employees to firing them to ignoring the situations.  These issues don’t go away just because the manager tells the parties in conflict to “stop”.   This only serves to create underground conflicts that decrease productivity or increase turnover.  A perfect example of this is when I was hired to assist an organization with a dispute between two executive secretaries.  I will change parties names and keep the company name confidential.  


Ethel was a long time company employee and was the executive secretary for the company VP, Hank.   Marie was the executive secretary for the new CEO, Gary.  Although Marie and Gary were new to this company, they worked together for many years.  When I received the call from Hank, the VP, I was told that Marie and Ethel could not get along and he needed me to get them to play nice.  He went on to explain that he had already sat down with both ladies separately and told them they needed to stop acting like teenage girls and put on their big girl panties or they would be fired.  As crazy as it sounds, this example is very common.  What’s wrong with this approach? This is a classic example of a Band-Aid approach.  When I asked Hank how that worked, he said things were quiet for a while and then the S--T hit the fan!  


That was an example of what not to do.  What should you do?  First step is to stay as neutral and judgement free as possible.  Then assess the conflict by meeting privately with the parties involved.  In the example above, meet with Ethel and Marie and let each of them know that you are meeting with the other person privately and then will make a recommendation about how to proceed.  This way employees feeling singled out can be avoided.  


Once you meet with the parties privately, you should create a suggested plan of action.  Not a plan for how the parties should resolve the conflict, just the process or tools you are suggesting.    It’s important to reassure the employees involved that you are on the case and their issues are important.  Definitely do not demean them by using language like Hank used.  You may suggest that one or more parties work with a senior employee as a mentor or you may suggest hiring a conflict coach.  Another possible suggestion is training for the parties to address lack of skills in a specific area.  Ideally the underlying conflict should be addressed and resolved first before offering training or coaching.  It is highly unlikely that Marie and Ethel will benefit from coaching and training if they do not resolve the underlying conflict first. 


I often get asked “When should I hire an external mediator?”  Here is a list when a company should consider hiring a professional mediator.  When…

  • an employee has retained legal counsel
  • an employee is threatening to file a lawsuit
  • the conflict has been stewing for a long time 
  • there is no one inside the company who’s comfortable and skilled in workplace conflicts
  • the dispute has created a toxic or hostile work environment
  • all internal tools have been exhausted
  • the conflict is too time consuming for internal employees
  • one or more parties involved in the conflict do not feel comfortable with the HR manager or person assigned to help.  This is usually due to real or perceived lack of neutrality. 


Perception of neutrality is a key issue when choosing someone inside the organization to help parties resolve their dispute.  If the person chosen to help is not viewed by both sides as impartial, there could be problems with a meaningful resolution.  Perception of confidentiality and neutrality is critical to the mediation process and a long term successful resolution.  Managing employee conflicts successfully will help your organization decrease turnover, lawsuits and improve employee morale.  


Sheryle S. Woodruff holds a Masters Degree in Conflict Studies and Analysis.  She co-founded Conflict Management Associates, Inc. in 1997 and is now located in Orlando, Florida.  Sheryle has been a mediator, conflict coach, trainer and consultant specializing in workplace conflicts.  She has worked with companies across the United States ranging from government to non-profit to small family owned businesses.  The names in this article have been changed in order to keep confidentiality.  Sheryle can be reached by email or phone 407-417-7791.  More information can be found at

Tags:  Conflict  Employee  HR  Leadership  Manage 

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Stress in a Time of Urgency

Posted By Leslie Mizerak, Thursday, September 7, 2017


I am writing this blog post in the midst of hurricane prep in Orlando (Hurricane Irma).  As an executive coach, I have been checking in with my clients to support them with their strategies around communication, safety, and business response - before, during, and after the storm. 


The thing that has surprised me most as the storm nears is the need for support around stress levels. And it’s not as much about my clients’ stress, but instead how they can best support the people around them.


How does this matter to you HR professionals?  It matters a great deal because during times of urgency (like a storm, M&A, re-organization, etc…) stress levels elevate and you are often asked to support the needs of others.


There are a few things you can do to support others needs

  1.  Listen actively to understand what people are saying (helps you to answer the correct question)
  2.  Don’t do tasks for them, give them the tools to do it themselves 
  3. Instead of answering the question, ask them to answer it for themselves
  4.  Help them prioritize their requests or needs


What can you do to take care of yourself during times of high stress?

  1. “Teach others to Fish” (see 2&3 above)
  2. Say “No” when appropriate (prioritize for yourself)
  3. Take a few minutes now and again to breathe deeply, fully take in the air, let it fill your lungs and exhale slowly - do this a few times
  4. Walk or move around, don’t just sit at your computer; do some stretches
  5. Write things down that you want to remember; at times of high stress we tend to forget things
  6. Take care of yourself - if you don’t, you’ll never be able to do 1-4 above!

Be safe in the storm (be it a hurricane or just a busy season at work)


Leslie Mizerak

Communications Director – GOSHRM

Executive Coach - Mizerak Executive Coaching


Tags:  HR  Leadership  Listen  Storm 

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