Category Archives: HR

Use Your Strengths to Improve Your Relationships

What are your strengths?

Hundreds of self-directed tests and assessments have been created to help people figure this out. It’s one of the most commonly asked interview questions, and many companies aspire to build a “strengths-based” culture, which encourages employees to discover and develop their strengths.

Studies continuously show that focusing on your strengths leads to higher levels of engagement and better performance. When you focus on using your strengths, rather than improving or “fixing” your weaknesses,  your confidence and self-awareness increases.

Conversely, when you are focused on your weaknesses, you are more likely to have lower levels of confidence and be more stressed, which can negatively impact self-esteem and your ability to have healthy relationships.

Discovering Your Strengths

You may have an idea of your strengths based on past performance reviews, feedback from others, and by looking at your past successes. These can be helpful, but they are contextual and subjective. Here are a few tools for helping you discover your strengths:

  • The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator has been used consistently in organizations over the past 40 years to help people become more aware of how they judge and perceive situations and others. For example, are you more externally focused (extroverted) or internally-focused (introverted)? Do you look to logic for decision-making (thinking), or do you consider how you or others feel first when making a decision (feeling)? Through a questionnaire, you are assessed across four main dichotomies and given your personality type. For a fee, you can take the test and receive personalized courses and guides about how to make the most of your strengths. Because this test has been used for so long, it has been refined and validated by many professionals. There are endless resources available based on the test that help you leverage your personality type and strengths in both a personal and professional context.
  • For an assessment about your character strengths, the VIA institute offers a free character test for you to identify whether things like teamwork, gratitude, and curiosity come more naturally to you than other character traits. These not only give you insights into your own strengths, it also helps you recognize strengths in others, which can improve your relationships and the gratitude you feel towards others in your professional and personal life.
  • The DISC Assessment Test is a free psychologically-based assessment test that is commonly used for teams and motivational purposes. Based on your answers, you are placed into one of four different personality types: dominant, influence, steadiness, and compliant. Although you’ll likely exhibit one type more than the others, you may demonstrate the other personality types in varying degrees.  Because this test is widely used, there are many free resources that help explain the implications of your result and help you understand the traits of the other personality types as well.

An important thing to remember is that there are advantages of all of the personality types, character traits, and categories that these tests diagnose, and one type or category is not “bad” or better than another. Also, while these tests are a great start to helping you determine your strengths, they have their limitations. It is impossible to capture the full essence of someone through online tests and questionnaires. To make sure you’re not missing anything important that such assessments did not detect, ask your friends and colleagues about your strengths and competencies as well.

Choosing a Career Based On Your Strengths

Knowing your strengths also allows you to choose opportunities for which you are well-suited. For instance, if creativity is a strength, choosing an R&D position rather than a sales or administrative position might be a better fit for you. Similarly, if you shine in client-facing tasks, choosing a client representative role over a position that is more focused on research and analysis will help you hone your strengths and increase your likelihood of success in that role.

In addition, being aware of your strengths can help you determine the value you can add to a team or a group, as well as identify the types of people with whom you work best. For example, if you are very detail-oriented, then you might add a lot of value to the team by taking note of the action items from each meeting and holding people accountable. If you have this trait, you would work well with someone who is more big-picture focused, since they will complement your detail-oriented approach by keeping the overall project or purpose of the task in mind.

Using Your Strengths To Build Positive Relationships

Authentic relationships are the key to unlocking your true potential. Understanding your strengths and recognizing others’ strengths will help you find and build positive professional relationships that will be mutually beneficial. The Enneagram Test is a tool commonly used in the workplace to help improve team dynamics and business relationships. It measures your personality across 9 personality types, giving you a better understanding of your tendencies, stressors, fears, and strengths. It helps you understand how you interact with others and how others will interact with you based on their personalities. The better you understand your strengths and how to use them, the more you’ll be able to bring to a relationship.

For example, if one of your personality strengths is making people feel connected and comfortable, help your contacts connect with others and start conversations. If you’re task-oriented, use that strength to stay in touch with your contacts on a regular basis or help them accomplish a task they’ve mentioned to you.

Using your strengths in relationships will likely feel natural to you in situations or relationships in which you feel comfortable. It may take a little more effort and practice when you’re feeling vulnerable, but that’s when focusing on using your strengths, rather than worrying about your weaknesses, will help you build and develop relationships that create opportunities.

Using Your Strengths To Serve Others

Understanding your strengths and confidently using them will allow you to serve others in meaningful ways. Serving others increases your sense of purpose, which leads to greater happiness. Conversely, knowing your strengths also enables you to set boundaries and say “no” to projects, requests, or relationships that aren’t a fit. Focusing on how you can use your strengths to best serve others, rather than how you can please others, will enable you to thrive in your relationships and career.

Going through the process of discovering your strengths and the best ways to use them will also improve your ability to help others discover and use their strengths successfully. Bringing out strengths in others is a highly desirable leadership skill, one that will serve you well in business, relationships and your career.

Key Takeaways

  • Focusing on your developing strengths rather than “fixing” your weaknesses will help you build a successful career and positive relationships.
  • Use the available personality tests and assessments to get an idea of your strengths, weaknesses, and relational style. However, recognize that automated test results don’t fully define you. Ask trusted friends or colleagues to share their feedback and do some self-reflecting to fully understand your strengths.
  • Knowing your strengths and using them to serve others is the best way to build authentic relationships, feel a sense of purpose, and thrive in your career.

How are you using your strengths to serve others in your career and relationships? Write down a few ways you are or want to and let them guide you!

 

Looking for a new opportunity to tap into your strengths?  Check out all of our available positions and apply today!

 

How to combat business e-mail compromise scams

A human resources representative at a small mining company received an e-mail purporting to be from the CEO and requesting employees’ W2 information. That rep—who had been trained on the risk of e-mail fraud just a month earlier—complied, providing the requested data to the source via PDF.
Fishing hook catches email.The problem: It was a business e-mail compromise (BEC) scam. Because HR hadn’t taken the time to confirm the request, highly-sensitive employee data was now in the hands of fraudsters.
The potential fallout from such a mistake is significant. Employees of the breached organization and their families are now at risk, as the scammers could monetize the stolen information by filing false tax returns with workers’ compromised Social Security numbers, as well as access past tax filings to steal personal data on spouses, partners, and dependents.
With the employee having recently been trained on avoiding such scams, HR also could face challenges. Some are questioning how seriously the department takes security issues, and the trust that employees and the leadership team put in the organization’s HR professionals has taken a hit.
BEC scams have been around a long time but they’ve become more sophisticated in recent years. These old scams are getting new twists, largely due to social media and the widening availability of valuable business information. Hackers can now gather insight online into how a business is run and who’s who in the hierarchy.
Fraudsters are able to target their scams to specific individuals, using their names and sometimes even nicknames, and they know who in the organization is likely to have the authority to request highly sensitive information. They also know to hit a business when things are busy, impersonating high-ranking people within the company and quickly extricating cash or data while everyone is too swamped to notice.
The W2 scam is a popular flavor at the moment, but other common BEC variants involve requests for wire transfers of large sums of money—either to a third-party “business partner” or sometimes to the supposed requestor directly—or for help in accessing other valuable accounts or internal systems.
Even with their increasing levels of sophistication, these attacks can still be avoided. Fortunately, HR is perfectly positioned to deploy some choice strategies that can help prevent the organization from becoming a BEC victim.
The risks of BEC
Criminals stand to reap big financial gains any time an organization falls for a BEC scheme. Wire fraud losses, for example, vary widely. Some companies have been being impacted for as little as $5,000, others a whopping half a million dollars. These scams hit companies big and small, and the FBI’s figures show the average loss to BEC victims is $130,000.
Near-term monetary rewards are the primary objective in most BEC scams, but cyber thieves may also target valuable data such as bank routing numbers, personnel lists, or salary details.
Other threats associated with BEC include the compromise of network credentials, which are often heavily guarded and can be difficult and time consuming for criminals to crack. This makes gaining quick access to internal databases and financial systems a tantalizing prospect for a determined crook.
With a well-crafted BEC, it may be much easier for a cyber thief to trick an unwitting employee into divulging passwords and protected account information than it is to hack into a system the old-fashioned way.
Why is BEC a threat to HR?
Human resources typically holds a privileged position within the organization. Executives share highly sensitive information—strategic, legal, and financial—with HR. In turn, it’s not uncommon for an executive to request the assistance of HR in a matter that requires a quick response or discretion in seeking additional approval, and that trusted relationship is exactly what cyber-thieves prey on when executing a BEC scam.
Compounding matters is the fact that HR is often the gatekeeper for the types of data these criminals use to initiate their ruse. Human resources is commonly the department that verifies employment and maintains personnel records. They also often have contact information and other details about board members, another layer of data that cyber criminals sometimes target.
In all, these scammers count on the recipients’ fear of disobeying upper management and they know that targeting employees who handle sensitive data offers the best chances of success. This puts the bull’s-eye squarely on the HR department.
Preparing the HR team against BEC scams
A solid preparation strategy is key in the fight against BEC threats. Since BEC scams are caused by human error, rather than a technology weakness or sophisticated hacking techniques, they often fall into the gray area between the IT and HR groups. With its focus on human capital, HR can step up and play a critical role in minimizing exposure to cyber threats by educating employees on these avoidable threats.
The first tool HR should leverage is education, both within the department and across the rest of the company. Employees must be aware of the risk of BEC and have the knowledge necessary to avoid becoming a victim.
In addition, the entire workforce should know what to do if they suspect a BEC exposure has occurred. The steps to limit BEC risks aren’t complicated, but some may not be obvious to employees trying to quickly respond to what appears to be valid, time-sensitive requests from senior-level management.
First, advise the executive and leadership teams that they should only use their company-provided e-mail account for potentially sensitive work-related activities. On the flip side, warn employees about the dangers of acting on any message that originates from a Google, Yahoo! or similar free e-mail address, as it’s far easier to forge e-mails using a service that’s outside the IT department’s control.
Employees who would normally process wire transfers, vendor invoices, incoming customer payments, and employee payroll need to be on the lookout for changes to established routines. Put protocols in place that require workers to verify any modification regarding where vendor payments are sent or who has authorization to increase signatory levels. Multistep verification processes are encouraged for wire transfers so that fraudulent transactions can be spotted and stopped.
The HR team can take steps internally to help protect the organization from becoming a BEC victim. Cyber criminals commonly use social media to harvest data about which individuals would make good targets and how companies operate, and HR professionals must be judicious about posting information about employees or the company’s dealings. Personal information on high-ranking leaders should be kept to a minimum, but even knowing who to contact within the HR team could get hackers one step closer to successfully carrying out a BEC scheme.
Given the tremendous level of financial and reputational harm that could befall a company that’s stricken with a BEC scam, organizations may also want to consider additional support tools. Cyber liability insurance is available to help provide protection from monetary damages and many policies include proactive tools such as assistance identifying weak processes and educating employees about good information security practices.
Source:  blr.com