Welcome to our Conference

Opening remarks made by Maxine Attong – President of HRMATT at HRMATT’s one day Conference – Business Unusual held on June 29th at the Trinidad HYATT

The word disrupt is in the air.

Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School hosted its Disruption Day Conference in May 2018.  At the Conference, Professor Luke Williams stated “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste”, and emphasized that companies are now required to “innovate”.

Ronald Hinds, the President of the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce’s echoed these sentiments at the Chamber’s Annual Business Luncheon, themed “Make Bold Moves To Change Your Predictable Outcome. “Perhaps we can see the current crisis not as the shattering of our perfect world but an opportunity to remake it.” Hinds advised that, “We need to change and change quickly. Sometimes, it takes a burning platform for people to make the leap.”

All strategies that are implemented in the organization have an impact on the people. Projects are done by the people, the new processes and the new technologies impact on how people work. It is our job as Human Resources to work with the leaders of the various initiatives to ensure that the ethics, the core values, and the culture of the organization are retained. We need to ensure that whatever is done for the business is done within the limits of the Industrial Relations Acts and that all  legal and statutory requirements are adequately met.

That is the traditional role of HR. We are the care takers. We pick up the pieces and ensure that all is in place for the organization to function. We are tagged after the changes are made and implemented.

Today we at HRMATT – Human Resources Management Association of Trinidad and Tobago – are sending a strong signal that this is the old way. We are challenging HR professionals to innovate. HR too is required to make Bold moves.

HRMATT has its own burning platforms and we know that we have to take the leap. We are committed to making different decisions that will redound to our own bold moves.
We are questioning everything and will change the way that we are doing everything. We are building a repository of articles from our members on Linked in and Facebook. We are inviting our members home. We are being transparent with the decisions that we make and the things that we do. We are being strategic in the way that we step into partnership with other business associations, educational bodies and professional membership institutions.
We at HRMATT have already made the Bold Move of pledging our commitment to seeing the Draft National Policy on Sexual Harassment come to fruition. And we will continue to boldly to make our presence felt on the national landscape.

HRMATT invites our membership to be involved with us. Join a committee, volunteer at the office, renew your membership, write an article or pitch an idea that you’re willing to bring  to fruition.  There is a place at HRMATT for each and every one of you.

Today is not about HRMATT. Today we will hear about the Bold Moves that are being made in the Caribbean landscape and most importantly the Bold Moves that HR professionals have made and are required to make.

Welcome to our conference.

Maxine Attong is an Organizational Development Consultant, author and coach. If you enjoyed this post, please share with you colleagues, friends and network


The thrill of the new

When I traded in a Friday lime to meet a new person I admitted to myself that I like meeting new people. I love liming with my friends, there is a familiarity that allows me to show up as I am, in whatever mood that I am in and spend a good time with them. Yet when my friend called me on Friday, I declined. I wanted to meet someone new, a complete stranger who reached out to me on Linkedin. The thrill of the new tugged and I happily gave in to it.
I get a rush when I am meeting new people, because I just never know. Curiosity demands to be satisfied, to see if the face matches the perfectly polite voice on the phone and to read the expressions beyond the beautifully written and thoughtful notes.
The possibility of a new connection, a new relationship or a new way to relate pull me in and I show up. I feel anxious, I am uncertain and have flashing concerns about how I look and how I feel, all while reminding myself to slow down, to listen, to be open and to share.
These uncertainties challenge me to stay in the present, have no expectations, make no assumptions and see how the meeting plays out minute by minute. From the onset I am setting boundaries for the relationship and watchful for breaches. I have to gauge if the questions posed to me and by me are inquisitive or nosy, and gauge the right amount of push back if I am uncomfortable with any questions or comments. I have to limit distractions, ignore my phone, will myself awake if I am bored, and not pick a fight if there is any contention.
As the meeting progresses, the suspense unfolds, and I am fascinated to join the dots to learn about the new person, just as they are learning about me.

How do you feel about meeting new people?

An Ode to AND Rebooted

I am reminded today that I need to show up – in the realm of impossibility.
I work a full time demanding job and I write books. That is the life that I have created and that is the life that I want.  And I have a social life. I like to go out and chat with friends for countless hours, look at movies and I have to maintain an exercise schedule that keeps me in relative good health so that I can do all of the above. People ask,”How do you do it? How do you write books and work full time? I really thought that you were doing your own thing.” 
The answer is that I love the word AND. We learned that AND is a conjunction that joins two sentences together. It also joins thoughts, dreams, options and gives us the ability to coexist in multiple realities. BUT is also a conjunction, used to express concerns and to tell ourselves that there are limiting factors to getting to what we want.  “I want to go back to school but my kids are young.”  We have just negated the fact that we want to go back to school. We believe that having young kids makes it impossible to return to school. There is no solution, the problem trumps the desire. BUT strips away our power.
I have taken the word BUT out of my vocabulary and replaced it with AND. “I want to go back to schools and my kids are young.” AND sets up the possibility to increase our options. The fact that the kids are young becomes one more variable in the going back to school equation and not a stop sign. Now we are thinking about possibility. “Hmm how do I get the kids taken care of while I get to school?”
That is my story. I embrace AND I leave out the BUT. I am an author. I have published two books – Change or Die and Lead Your Team to Win – and I have some thoughts for my third book, and I work a full time job with heavy responsibilities and I want to do more public speaking, and I am a coach and I want to do more work with women and I have a life.

Loving Connections

On Sunday I met a friend for coffee. I started the commitment of connecting with the people whom I like late last year and now, I have renewed the practice. It’s never about the coffee, nor about going out, it is about sharing time and space with someone whom I like.
Thus far, I have been going out with women; on Sunday I hooked up with one of the men that I like.
I listened to him as intently as he did to me. I shared with him honestly and spoke from my heart and in between we had long moments of comfortable silence. After two hours I felt that we should have carved out more time to spend together. He later confirmed that he felt the same way.
This was not a love connection, it was a loving connection between one man and one woman.
I thought about all of us single women and wondered how do we connect with men? There are so many men who are available for us to love in a true way and yet we close off the possibilities because we want the love connection while ignoring our need for loving connections with men.
What would it be like if we had men who we don’t sleep with in our lives? (Not only the work husband who we have lunch with and goof off with in the office or the ones with whom we grew up.)
What would it be like if we could just be completely safe in their presence?
What would it be like if we could develop true friendship that stays with us even when either party meets his/her significant other?
What would it be like if we could be lovingly connected to members of the opposite sex as we are with those of the same sex?

How do you connect with members of the opposite sex?

Let the bridges I burn light the way

Adults often warned “Don’t burn your bridges. You never know when you need people”. The older the people, the more successful they appeared, the longer they knew the family, and the higher their place in society meant the safer their bridges were from being burnt.
As a child I felt uncomfortable with the notion, and as I grew older I confirmed that it was unbalanced and unfair, since different rules applied at different ends of the bridge and the weight of keeping the bridge intact was placed on me.
I noticed that the bridge was a one way street. While some of us were called on not to burn it, persons at the other end often crossed the bridge and dumped stuff on our side. I also noted that I was behaving nicely for the probability of a yet-to-come, just-in-case favor.
As I grew more confident, I rebelled against the notion. I determined that persons who repeatedly crossed my boundaries, or demonstrated an unwillingness to treat me as I desired did not have a place in my life and therefore I could burn the bridge. This was not always a logical and rational decision, sometimes it was made from a position of self protection, sadness or pain.
When I burn a bridge I am liberated. I make a choice that serves me and I courageously face the consequences. The brightness of the fire lights the way forward and shows me other paths. The ashen remains are reminders that I have no regrets.
Over time some bridges have been mended with each party sharing maintenance responsibility, but most remain burnt.
These burnt bridges have not prevented me from doing what I want or getting to where I needed to be. Where there is no bridge I happily take the long way around.
Any relationship or situation that does not work for me, I am free to burn the bridge.

What bridges do you need to burn?

Pass me straight

When I told my girlfriend that I saw her ex at breakfast yesterday,she asked.” Did he say Hello?”
“No” I responded, “and that’s OK.”
When I was younger and someone whom I casually knew did not acknowledge my presence I used to feel annoyed. Being ignored by girls with whom I attended high school used to bug me out, almost as much as being reintroduced to people who appeared clueless that they met me before.
Yesterday, I realised that I had no feeling attached to a lack of acknowledgement by someone whom I casually know. In the moment, the warmth of a smile, a peck on the cheek, a quick hug or a hello from someone, all feel good, but after that…what?
Am I keeping that person in my thoughts?
Am I going to visit with them?
Will I ask after their well being?
Sometimes I don’t even know if they are married, have kids, where they work, what they do or any other personal details, and I don’t try to find out.
When I look through these lens I wonder. Does my girlfriend’s ex have to acknowledge me? Does anyone have to acknowledge me?
Now I know that it’s OK for people to pass me straight, to not acknowledge my presence and to not remember me at a party. It is a reflection that we share no mutual interest and while our paths may cross we are not connected. And that is perfectly OK with me.

Whom do you acknowledge?

Heart Moments

I have been saying “Yes” a whole lot more in 2015. Thus far it has led me to interesting people and places. I have been excited and thrilled by what unfolds in the moments that I expect nothing and open myself to the experience.
Yesterday one of the persons that I said yes to was explaining how she felt about me. She identified what emotions she felt as we interacted and explained how some of her assumptions changed as our relationship deepened. As she shared I realized that I could not participate in the discussion, since I could not tap into any feelings about her. I sounded unconvincing as I explained that I like her, I enjoy the time that we spent together, and I look forward to spending more time with her.
As I walked away from that exchange I realised that I fooled myself into thinking that I have been fully present in each moment that we shared. I can recall the places we have been to, the conversations that we had, the experiences that we shared but I could not associate any particular emotional response to them.
Today, I admitted that I have not been fully participating in the moments. I have been an observer, watching the stories go by, without being vested in the outcomes. I have been riding the waves and not dipping into the ocean. I have been gazing starry eyed at that moments, enjoying the thrills while being disengaged.
Today I realized that I cannot truly experience and engage in the moments and the people without my heart.
Today I reaffirm my commitment to being in the moment. I am saying yes to the moments with my heart.

How do you engage in the moments? With heart or head?

Carnival Connections

It’s Carnival Tuesday in Trinidad and Tobago. This is the culmination of the weeks of partying, the various events and competitions. Today, the day before Ash Wednesday, thousands of people will take to the streets in and out of costumes, dance and have a good time. For each reveler there will be many people like me who are at home, chilling.
Carnival for me is an opportunity to meet and greet with people, both those who are fully part of my life and those who I don’t regularly see. I hook up with my friends who live abroad and travel home for the revelry. My time with them is a reunion, during which we share the stories that we could not share over the internet.
Then there are the newbies, the people who somehow are in the same parties and each time we see each other another layer of comfort in being around each other is established. Most of these are immediate pops that fizzle by Ash Wednesday, but sometimes they last. Then there are the folks who I only see once a year, at a certain event. These say “Hi” with a peck on the cheek and then they are gone until the next year.
There are many Carnival love stories, in which people have met their significant others and travelled to other countries to get married. After the season, I have seen friends claim relationships and been introduced to a new boyfriend or girlfriend.
The Carnival festival serves our human need to connect. The alcohol, the music, the freedom of the season makes it easy for us to tuck away our veils, show our shadow selves and become exposed and raw. At this time of the year, we go with the flow and live in the moment. We surrender to the now, fully aware that we are not in control and excited that anything can happen at anytime. We let down our guards and are friendlier and more open. We blame it on the music and the alcohol and we gayly connect with each other. After the season most of us, return to our watchful position, shutting the door on possibilities and wait for the next year to connect with others again.
I am challenging myself to stay in the Carnival mode of openness, friendliness, to remain excited about the possibility, to live in the now and go with the flow.

What makes it easy for you to connect with others?

Craving Connections

I was at the airport’s information desk when I noticed her. She was sitting at a stool leaning over the counter and her face was furrowed. I overheard the hostess admonishing her, “That does not make sense. Please do not send him anymore money.” As I completed my transaction I understood what was going on.
The woman dated a man online for several months and they decided to rendezvous in Cape Town. She sent him money to buy the airline tickets and they agreed to meet at the airport on the appointed day and time. When she arrived at Cape Town, he was not there. After waiting several hours and making several calls to him, he related that he was in transit and needed some assistance. The airline incorrectly sent his bags to another transit town in his country and he was at that town collecting his bags. Since this was an unplanned trip, he incurred additional expense and he needed more funds to get back on the route to Cape Town.
As she relayed her story, the hostess became stern, “Why would he travel to get his bags? Why did he not come to Cape Town and wait for his bags? Do not send him any more money.”
The more the hostess spoke, the more the woman shrank. By the time I left she was curled up over the counter, with her head down.
I empathized with the woman. I have been lonely before and have felt the hope that the possibility of a real connection brings. I have felt the spark that ignited my entire body when I thought that I connected with someone special. I have also leapt at the chance of being close to someone and gone through lengths to extend that connection and keep it alive. Sometimes I have been rewarded and other times I have been forced to accept that the connection was a dud. The failure to connect is always painful, and the intensity and duration of the pain is directly correlated to how hard I tried or how much I wanted it. I have been left embarrassed and ashamed when I opened myself to someone, only to be tossed off like yesterday’s garbage.
The pull of the possibility of a true connection is very sexy, and the more unlikely it seems the luckier we feel. We all want something special, we all crave the attention of another, and we all want to have a singular connection that seems just for us. We have been conditioned to think of a soul mate, the one, the other half and without questioning the veracity of this we are hell bent of finding it.
Online dating extends these possibilities; it takes us beyond our normal pool and introduces us to new and exotic possibilities. The emails, the texts, the Skype conversations, the late night calls all build the intensity of the possibility and we get excited about meeting this person we have constructed in our heads. The further the other is from us the more we want the connection to be real.
We have all fantasised, left our existence and travelled miles to step into another’s world hoping that in this new reality we will meet the the promise. It has worked for many and for others like the woman at the desk it did not.

What have you done to connect? How has it failed you? How did you feel?