KET Legislative Coverage

Life Coach: Value Diversity and Human Potential

by John Gregory | 06/11/14 12:38 PM

As workplaces across Kentucky and the nation become more diverse, human resource professional Colene Elridge encourages businesses to embrace these changes as one way to enhance the bottom line.

"I think people really underestimate the financial gains that they can make when they make diversity a value within their organization," Elridge said on a recent edition of Connections with Renee Shaw. "The problem with that sometimes is when you don't know how to effectively communicate with people of diverse backgrounds."

When conflicts arise, Elridge may be called in to investigate the situation and provide mediation or training to help employees address the issues. She says workplaces today not only encounter challenges around racial and ethnic diversity, but also with age diversity as individuals stay on the job later in life.

"For the first time ever in American history, there are four distinctly different generations in the workplace at the same time that are having to learn how to interact with each other effectively," Elridge explains.

She believes multi-generational workplaces provide tremendous learning opportunities for everyone involved. Yet conflicts can arise when the work ethic of a millennial clashes with that of baby boomers. "Our values look a little different. That doesn't mean that we don't value the outcome the same way, but the road that we take to get there can sometimes be very different."

In dealing with employee interactions, Elridge says it's important to have the courage to ask people what their capabilities are, rather than make assumptions about them.

Life Coaching
In addition to her human resource work for the Office of Diversity and Equality at the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet, Elridge consults with individuals as a personal life coach. She helps people who may be considering a career change, or who want a better work-life balance.

"I think a lot of times, people come to where they're very happy with what they're doing, they love the career field that they're in, they just want something more," Elridge says. This doesn't have to result in significant life changes, she counsels, but may be as simple as a small tweak that brings about greater fulfillment, or an opportunity to better connect with family and community.

Elridge's father died when she was three years old, which has caused her to think deeply about the fleeting nature of life over the years. She says she challenges her individual clients to consider creating a legacy rather than simply building a resume. That often leads to conversations about personal passions and how to make a difference in the world.

"If you're passionate about something, it will fuel so much light into the world versus ‘I'm just doing this to build a resume’," says Elridge. "That doesn't feel good to you and that doesn't feel good to the organization."

Watch the full Connections program to learn more about Elridge's human resources and life-coaching activities.