Monday, January 31, 2011

2 Goals to Resolve Conflicts With Peers

Giving peers feedback can be difficult.  Add to that an upset peer, and you're in for a wild ride. This is a particularly difficult issue since there is no authority differential.  When we discuss difficult issues with our staff no one is surprised (or at least they shouldn't be!).  When we review these with our boss it is certainly sensitive, but again, the authority differential is clear. However, when we're speaking with someone who shares the same level of authority as we do, the process can be particularly....well...treacherous.  And if they're all ready angry....oh boy.

Let me say right away that I have never enjoyed addressing conflict with my peers. Who do I think I am anyway?  Am I so smart, that I know what it is right, and they are clearly off-base?  Since when did I become all-knowing?  The truth is I'm not, and neither are you.  But once in a while something happens that requires us to have a heart-to-heart with our colleagues.

Over the years I've handled these situations well.  And, over the years I have completely messed up these moments so badly that I wanted to die.  Literally. What has evolved however, is a two-step goal system that dramatically changes the dynamics of "the moment."

The ability to successfully execute this strategy, particularly if the other person is upset with you, hinges on stating two goals at the very beginning of the meeting.

Goal 1:  Explain that you are committed to having a good working relationship with the other person once you complete the meeting.

Goal 2:  Explain you will answer every question they have about the issue on the table.

With your goals out in the open, you have effectively disarmed your colleague (in a good way) so that the two of you can work through the task at hand as professionals.  

It doesn't mean that by the end of the session you'll be adding each other to your holiday gift card list.  But, it does mean that you were the one that took action.  You took the risk.  You were the leader.

When have you had a conflict with a peer?  What approach did you take:  denial, avoidance, or at least a long slow burn that erupted in the wrong setting?  Do you have a strategy that works well?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pics courtesy of and

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Is It Hire_Friday Yet?

I'm so pleased to write a post for #Hire_Friday in support of the terrific work that is being done to support job seekers.  If you're not participating each week, you're missing out!


I want to talk strategy with you.  Let's take the emotions out of the conversation for a moment, and simply talk strategy.  If you are disappointed with your career path, or are making that all-important decision about starting your professional life, you need to be strategic.  

So let's begin with a simple question:  If you knew the industry you worked in was going to have 70,000,000 customers over the next 25 years, would you be interested?  If you knew these customers had no choice but to access your services in some way, would you want to learn more?  Would you like to do something that actually makes a difference?

Of course you would.  You're bright, motivated, and want to do something meaningful with your life.


See full size imageHealthcare.  Perhaps you're already in the industry, perhaps you're noticing that it is one of the few sectors in the American economy that is growing. And will continue to grow.  The baby boomers we've been hearing about for so long are finally starting to retire.  Remember, no emotion. The reality is that a huge number of people who are going to need healthcare services are at an age when utilization increases dramatically.  That means a steady stream of customers will be pouring into healthcare facilities across the country for the next 25 years.

I know what you're thinking - "I don't want to do patient care."  You don't have to. Healthcare organizations are businesses just like any other, with one exception - they have the greatest mission of them all.  Time for a bit of self-disclosure.  I'm the Vice President of Human Resources for a Healthcare System based in Florida.  That means I see the explosive growth all around me, and the corresponding need for good people to be part of the excitement.


The range of positions in the healthcare industry is extensive and ever-changing.  Take the time to speak with a local recruiter, connect with a professional Healthcare organization like The American College of Healthcare ExecutivesThe Institute for Diversity in Health Management or explore healthcare careers and get moving. Investing your time now, will mean a life time of opportunity.

What do you think?  Your decision may save a life some day.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pics courtesy of and

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Power Post - Comfort Zones are for Coward-Leaders

"Let's check best practices."
"What is the competition doing?"
"I'd like to study this for a few months first."
"I don't like to rush into change."
"We better be careful or this will get out of control."
"I prefer to stay in my comfort zone."

I'm sorry, stay in your what?  Comfort zone?  What the hell is a comfort zone?  Are you taking a power nap in a recliner; or, are you leading a complex organization in 2011?  Seriously?  SERIOUSLY?  Comfort zones are excuses.  Period.

I don't like excuses.


How many times have you heard these phrases? Do you find it hard to respect the leaders you work with that say these things over and over?  Me too.  (And when I catch myself saying them I absolutely cringe.)  So here's an option for us all - stop saying them.  Coward-leaders strive for mediocrity and comfort.  Working hard to maintain your comfort zone is an exercise in futility.  Stop doing it.

Push yourself to be better.  Push yourself to take on new challenges.  Push yourself out of your comfort zone, and lead.

You're not a coward-leader are you?  (I hope I'm not one either.)

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Road to HR is Paved With Good Intentions

We've all heard the comment: "I could never do what you do in HR!"  Why? Is it that bad?  Really?  What exactly am I doing that is so awful? Confronting people?  Developing leaders?  Implementing strategy?  Firing people who've lost the privilege to stay?  Integrating diversity and inclusion into the organization?  Mentoring?  What??

HR / People Rectangle MagnetIT MUST BE THE PEOPLE PART
As I've considered my leadership journey, it seems apparent that the challenges of dealing with people must be the primary reason so many others shy away from HR work.  Here's the funny part - don't all leaders deal with people?  Sure, HR folks get more than their fair share of drama.  Yes, we also deal with the 0.5% of the organization that misbehaves in some way.  But overall, the majority of our time should be spent supporting:  

  • employees
  • the organization's mission
  • leaders
  • execution of organizational strategies
  • other customers
  • and holding both employees and management accountable

Does that sound so awful to you? 

Have I found myself in a role that puts me right up there with going to the Dentist as a favorite thing to do?  I certainly don't feel that way, but maybe some of our colleagues in HR do.  Could it be that some of our brothers and sisters have become disillusioned in their work?  Have they lost the passion they felt earlier in their careers when they believed they could change an organization through hard work and dedication.  (Do you think they realize they still can make a difference?)  I hope we haven't given ourselves a bad name.  However it's happened, the word is out and many effective leaders simply don't think HR is worth the effort.

It seems odd even asking why we're in HUMAN Resources.  It's so much more than simply wanting to help people, or being a people-person though.  If those are the reasons you're in HR, then it's time to quit and volunteer somewhere that doesn't require you to step up in difficult situations and lead.

Here's the reality.  It isn't easy to confront people, or develop leaders, or implement strategy, or fire people, or integrate diversity and inclusion into the organization or mentor future leaders.  It takes confidence, energy, passion, and the ability to accept failure as a stepping stone to success.

It isn't easy to lead.

We're here because at the end of the day the leaders and employees in our organizations deserve the best HR support anywhere.  That's why we're here.

How do you respond to "I could never do your job."  Do you lament your plight publicly, which just tears HR down?  Or, should you try this answer - "I have the best job in the organization."  It works for me.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pics courtesy of and

Monday, January 24, 2011

The One Second Rule

How many times have these words flashed through your mind: "I wish I could take back what I just said!"?  How many times have you worked with a leader on a complicated employee issue only to learn they said something that makes a difficult situation impossible to resolve?  

If only there was a simple way to head off these foot-in-mouth moments.  So much time, energy, and embarrassment could be avoided.

Just Give Me A Second, Literally 

Slowing down to think before we speak is not as easy as it sounds.  Sure, we're professionals and we're supposed to be good at this stuff, right?  But what tool can we realistically offer to the leaders we support that is easy to use and easy to remember? 

The One Second Rule.

I know we're all busy, and have a hectic life full of drama, projects, deadlines and more drama.  However, I have to believe that we all have at least one second to spare.  It's in that one second of time that the magic happens.  Give yourself just one second to affirm, or change, what you are about to say.  Think of the implications:

- one less insensitive remark
- one less racial slur
- one less harsh comment to an employee
- one less arrogant statement
- one less gender-biased remark
- one less homophobic comment
- one moment to lead -> GAINED.


We can not wait to implement this rule.  If we strive to create organizational cultures rich in cognitive diversity as Joe Gerstandt so effectively describes, then we can ill afford to have our leaders cutting off these opportunities before they even begin.

Think before you speak.  Give yourself a chance to do the right thing before it's too late and you find yourself wishing you could "have those words back."  

I know it's difficult to do...I struggle mightily with this every single day.


How do you ensure you don't regret making comments that deflate instead of empower?  How do you make the conscious choice to say the right words at the right time to the right people?  How do you invest your One Second?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pics courtesy of and

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Taking You & HR Social - Confront Your Fear!

Several years ago I received an odd request in my Inbox - "Join my network on LinkedIn" was the message.  I thought to myself, "what the heck is LinkedIn?"  I wasn't sure if I should accept or not.  What was I afraid of?

I seem to hear this response more and more when I discuss social media with my colleagues.  Typically their fear is masked in criticism or a joke.  Are they simply afraid to learn?  Maybe they won't catch on quickly enough to be accepted; maybe they will look foolish and lose respect, or maybe they won't have enough time to spend on social media because they are too busy. Yeah, sure.  I have lots of free time to spend on social media.  (Sorry for the moment of sarcasm.)  The classic excuse is that if we start using social media at work, every single employee will never work again and the entire organization will come to a grinding halt.  (Anyone remember rolling out the Internet on employee's desk tops?)

What are they afraid of?

What I understand now is that I was missing out on so much content.  The opportunities to learn, network, stay current in my business, and also contribute were moving past me so quickly I didn't even know they existed.  I was still waiting to network at my next semi-annual conference.  Sad, but true.

The more I engaged and learned about twitter, LinkedIn and other tools, the more I grew professionally.  God forbid I ever believe I no longer need to learn in order to do my job effectively!

So, what is everyone afraid of?

My perspective has changed so dramatically that I can't believe anyone in HR (or quite frankly, anyone at all) isn't involved.  Ranging from my personal facebook page, to an active LinkedIn site, to daily tweets, and even this blog (soon to be upgraded in a big way) - social media is now fully integrated into my personal and professional lives.  But going social is much more than a personal branding exercise.  

Let's look at a quick example of the transition in my workplace relative to recruitment (there are many, many other applications).  Twelve months ago we did not have much of a recruitment presence on any social media platform. Fast forward to today - we're hiring great candidates through a contract with LinkedIn, our recruitment team is becoming active on twitter, our facebook page is beginning to find it's "sea legs" and we now consider foursquare a potential recruitment tool.  Considering that most, if not all, of the employees I (read here -> "we") will hire in the future are active on some form of social media, can you afford to miss out?

I'm not afraid anymore.

Where are you on the social media journey?  Are you taking your time and learning about the tools available to help you get current?  Are you reaching out to others in your network to help you?  

Or, do you still believe that this is just a fad, and social media will never catch on (just like those cell phones in a bag that you plugged into your car never did either). 

What are you afraid of?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pics courtesy of and

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Power Post - Soft-Boiled Grumps

Soft-Boiled Grumps.  That's right.  Those people that have refined the skill of laying on a guilt-trip to pure art.  They are so good, your eyes glaze over and you almost find yourself being impressed, until you realize how bad you feel.  

But why?  How is it possible that after so much work with people day after day, we can fall so easily into the trap?  Just to be clear, I am not someone who falls into the trap.  I leap head first into the trap.


We all know the solution to these behaviors.  At least we know in our head   -> confront and hold accountable.  There simply is no other way.  Being direct and honest with people in the workplace is the best option.  The delivery of the message is obviously critical, but whether we're comfortable with it or not, we must address their soft-boiled grumpiness.

At least that's what we know in our heads.  But what about our hearts? Damn, that complicates things, doesn't it?  Are we cold-hearted if we disregard the feelings involved and plow ahead, knowing that our message will be hurtful?


How do you reconcile the conflict of your head and your heart?  Do you step-up and deliver the difficult but honest message; or, do you find yourself (like me sometimes) watching the master as their soft-boiled spell is cast before your very eyes?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bad Decisions - 3 Steps to Overcome Them

There are few things in life I dislike more than making a bad decision.  My Human Resources work allows me to deal with other's bad decisions.  But when they are mine, it's a whole different story.  I absolutely loathe making bad decisions.


Now for a bit of self-disclosure...sometimes I like it when it's all about me.  But not when I'm the one who messed up.  Not when others realize I've stumbled and am now reaching for a towel to wipe the egg off my face. 

really loathe making bad decisions.


The results of these decisions can stay with us.  Sometimes, for a long time.  Can you remember a decision you made as a child that you still regret today?  (Yeah, me too - rock through the garage window - ouch!).  Unfortunately for those of us in leadership we can not afford to allow our missteps to haunt us for very long.  The reason is simple - our employees are watching, our peers are watching, our customers are watching.  We are there to lead, not feel sorry for ourselves.

Replaying mistakes over and over in our minds will only destroy our concentration, and thus our ability to be effective.  Mistakes are part of life, and demonstrate to those around us that we're real people just like they are.  The difference is how we handle our mistakes.


Dealing with mistakes involves reclaiming control.  These three steps serve as the foundation for taking control back, and moving beyond our blunders.

1  Confront It

Do not shrink away from your mistake.  Acknowledge it, define it, and understand whether or not you have any control.  If you can not control what is happening now, LET IT GO.  Stop dwelling on it, and move on.

2  Organize and Respond to What We Learned in Step 1

We can not change the past.  We can not control what others think of us.  However, we CAN control how we respond.  And we certainly can do a great deal to affect the future.  So define what you need to do to get back on track, and take action.  Organizing our response in small (realistic) steps will dramatically increase the likelihood of success.

3  Believe You Will Get Past This

There is no special leadership magic here.  Decide you can get past your mistake, accept the fact that you made an error, and move forward.  No wallowing in self-pity allowed.  (More self-disclosure -> that is hard for me to do.)


What decisions have you made that still haunt you?  Are you ready to let them go and move forward?  Or, do you glance around your office and greet those ghosts as you begin your day?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses. 

pics courtesy of and

Friday, January 14, 2011

Heroes, Cancer, & More Humble Pie for an HR Guy

Wednesday night I went to an NHL game and watched my Tampa Bay Lightning win against "our" arch rival for first place.  I cheered, the crowd roared, and our team played well.  As part of that experience, I had the privilege of enjoying the game with a family whose child is battling cancer and is a patient where I work. 

Following the game we visited with Vincent Lecavalier, now Captain of the Lightning, in an exclusive behind-the-scenes experience.  

You see, "Vinny" is so committed to supporting children with cancer that his Vinny4 Foundation donated $3,000,000 to build a world-class cancer unit in my hospital.  

When Vinny came into the holding room after the game for our visit, and that young boy recognized him (because he had visited the boy when he was in the hospital), his little face lit up, he smiled, and stretched out his arms and ran over to hug him...and hug him...and hug him.  And Vinny leaned over and hugged him right back.

And I stood there.  We all stood there.  Watching this powerful moment. Suddenly the game didn't matter, hockey didn't matter, HR and Corporate strategy didn't matter.  Nothing in the world mattered.

All that mattered was that a boy who is fighting cancer so valiantly, wasn't thinking about being sick.
He was hugging his hero, and nothing in the world was more important than that.

No Excuses. 

pics of Vinny on the ice and on the "Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorder Center" courtesy of 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Power Post - More Humble Pie Please

In Monday's post I challenged myself to embrace an opportunity to be humble this week.  It didn't take long to have that opportunity stare me right in the face.

While I was speaking to a room of 200 hundred people.    Twice.

This is a big week at work.  We recognize all of the Employee of the Month nominees from 2010 at two luncheons (800 or so), and then have a fabulous banquet and select an employee of the year.  All three events are terrific, and allow us time to actually slow down and recognize those who do some of the most amazing, life-saving work for the pediatric patients we serve.

So there I was, standing before a crowded auditorium speaking about the incredible impact on the sick, injured, and premature little souls -thousands of them every year - that these employees perform miracles on. 

And suddenly I didn't mean a whole lot anymore.  In fact, I felt fortunate to be in the same room with them.  I felt proud to say that I work where they work.

So after finishing my remarks and taking my seat, I couldn't help but think that my job is to be the best damn HR practitioner on the planet.  Those miracle-workers deserve nothing less.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of

Monday, January 10, 2011

GNOSIS - You Have It, Right?

I've worked hard over the years.  I bet you have too.  It's one thing to find a measure of success in life; but it's even more fulfilling when that measure of success is in a professional discipline you love.  That is quite a combination.  Obviously we (read here -> "I") must be pretty bright to have achieved all of this.  Right?


The ancient Greeks have a word for knowledge - Gnosis.  This was more than your ordinary knowledge though.  This knowledge set certain individuals apart from the masses.  If you had gnosis, you were something special.  You were a player.  Just like we (read again -> "I") am.  Right?

Do you believe you have gnosis?  Do you find yourself believing you are the smartest person in the room?  That, my friends, is a dangerous world view...or corporate view...or department view.  Sadly, sometimes, it's my view too.


When we believe we truly do have all the knowledge, when we have all the gnosis, what might we miss?  If we're able to step outside ourselves for a moment, the list becomes quite clear.  We miss the diversity around us, the opportunity to maximize new ideas, and the creativity of those on our teams.  We miss the chance to shape the cultures of our organizations from being a good employer, to being a world-class employer.

Simply said, we miss a lot.


What happens when we no longer believe we have anything left to learn because we're in a certain job title, or have achieved a certain level of professional or financial success?  Have we become a modern Apollonius of Tyana?

Did we accomplish all of this ourselves?  Is anyone that good?  For those of us that have become too full of ourselves, I challenge you to join me in looking for a humbling experience this week.  Embrace it.  Come back to earth.


So who is going to take my challenge?  Who will actively embrace a moment to be humble...ordinary...real.  It's hard to admit we aren't special, or on the cutting-edge, or whatever other adjectives make us feel like we've really made it in life.  As it turns out, Apollonius wasn't so special after all either.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Power Post - Are You Content?

It's the start of the New Year.  You may need a job, you may be looking to switch jobs, you may just feel restless.  Your work/life "balance" may be anything but balanced.  Or, you may appear to have the world by the tail...job is good, family is is good.  Right?

Maybe not.

So, what are we chasing?  Is there always something better just ahead of us?  Maybe if we just work harder, or smarter, or whatever the new catch phrase is for those of us in the self-appointed Overachievers Club, everything would be fine.  Right?

Maybe not.


Luckily for us the search can end today. We do not need to forever chase an elusive goal of contentment from someone, something or some place.  We need only to look within ourselves.  The real struggle is an inner one.  

Are we willing to reach out to friends, colleagues and advisers who will help us discern our own contentment?  That is the hard part.  I know it is for me.


Are you willing to stop chasing, and start reconciling within yourself just where you are on your contentment journey?  Is achieving that next goal just what you need to "make things right?"  Or, is it time to stop looking so far ahead that you miss the amazing things happening right now?


I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of

Monday, January 3, 2011

Diversity & Inclusion - Part 1

Today begins an occasional series on my Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) journey. Obviously these issues are important, but I'm looking at them not only from the standpoint of "the right thing to do"; but, that I need to address them in order for my organization to excel.  This isn't about a regulatory mandate or compliance pressure.  This is about making D&I part of how work is done, not an additional task to complete each day.  This is about being world-class.

So here I am, ready to take a deep dive into D&I.  Gut-check I the right one? Am I the most knowledgeable? Am I the "expert?" So far the answers are easy - No, I am not.

Now what?  Do I throw in the towel because I'm not ready?  Do I wait for the perfect time to kick things off?  Do I invest months of time preparing so the launch will be perfect?  Or, do I take Joe Gerstandt's advice and:  1-Start over in my understanding of D&I, 2-Focus on human nature; and, 3-Get going?

I'm going with Joe's advice.

To assume I "know" the fundamentals of an effective D&I initiative is more than a stretch.  So I'm going to listen, and learn, and push myself to throw away my first reaction to things and go farther.  I've spent years trying to standardize the behaviors, style, and reactions of the employees in my organizations, but Jason Lauritsen turned that view upside down with his recent post at Talent Anarchy.  Standardization does not help, it waters down, distills, and fails to leverage the unique talents and experiences of the employees all around me.

So, I'm starting over.

I now find myself in an interesting place...I'm excited about this process not only for my own growth, but for the impact it may have on my organization. However, simply because I am engaged in this process does not necessarily mean it is going to be a success.  Recognizing now that I need to leverage the talent both inside and outside my immediate circle of influence is essential to achieving sustainable results.  

Do you have valuable lessons to share as part of your D&I journey?  Where did you stumble?  How have you succeeded?  Or, do you still think diversity is an annual ethnic foods picnic and an EEO-1 report?

I'd love to hear from you, and please pass the rice and beans.

No Excuses. 

pics courtesy of and