Wednesday, August 31, 2011

HRevolution: Did You Answer the Challenge?

As the newest version of HRevolution fast approaches, I thought I would give an update on a challenge I was, ahem, asked to commit to at the HRevolution session in Atlanta earlier this year.  I attended a high energy, and highly interactive session led by Jason Lauritsen and Steve Browne called “If HR is so bad . . . what are YOU doing about it ??"  Ouch.  I should have known I would have work to do after the session.

Echo Chamber
Exploring the social media world has given me the clear affirmation that progress is not made by wishing for it; rather, it's made by pushing.  Hard.  To that end, I worry that those of us who are committed to Human Resources leadership are simply talking, writing, and tweeting to each other about our passion, but aren't getting out of our comfort zones to push the agenda further.  Hearing similar messages back from those I respect and admire is absolutely terrific, but it doesn't make any progress.  Does it?  It's hard to tell sometimes.

After the Conference is Most Important

Jason recently published a terrific post outlining concrete steps that can be taken after returning home from a conference to not only reinforce learning, but to reinforce connections with attendees as well.  During my session last Spring I committed to raising an issue with a group of Executives I meet with regularly to push past their lack of knowledge and fear about social media, and to help them learn more, do more, and understand more.  I wrote about my initial follow up here, but that was quite honestly a "Jay calling my colleagues out" session.  Several weeks ago I delivered on my commitment in full that had me presenting on social media tools, how to get started, and how to incorporate those tools into HR practice.  It was great. 

How About You
Are you hitting the summer/fall conference circuit?  Are you inspired with what you're hearing, seeing, learning, and who you are meeting?  That's terrific.  So what?  If you leave all of that energy on the ballroom floor or in the Expo Hall, you might as well have stayed home and gotten some meaningful work done.  Answer the challenge and make a difference.  Don't make me get Jason and Steve after you.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of hrexaminer

Monday, August 29, 2011

Put Me In Coach!

As the new school year gets underway across the country I'm reminded of the anticipation of starting new things.  Whether it was a school, a sports team, or job, the mix of excitement and anxiety always gave me a rush. 

Look Around
Take a moment over the next couple of weeks and identify those new team members in your organization; particularly those early on in their careers.  They're living an emotional roller coaster lifestyle right now.  They are eager to learn and impress, and worried they might make a poor first impression and lose credibility before they even get started.  You and I need to intervene and serve as a mentor to help them along.  This doesn't have to be part of an official program; in fact, some of the best mentor/mentee relationships are informal which removes an additional layer of pressure on both parties to perform.

You Weren't Born in Management
As you consider your journey, consider who those important leaders were that helped you along the way.  Was it your supervisor, peer, or another experienced leader who saw potential in you and offered to help?  How do you pay it forward and support those that are hungry to progress in their careers at your company?

How About You (and me)
I think it's time to reach out to those that are excited and anxious in our organizations.  Let's make a difference in the life of a new leader, and in turn, make a difference in the life of our organizations at the same time.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of cafepress

Friday, August 26, 2011

Inspiration - What's Your Excuse?

I have a very busy life.  You do too.  But that doesn't mean we shouldn't keep pushing, keep trying, keep taking risks.  It doesn't matter if it's your work, your personal life, or your bucket list.

Stop making excuses and get to it.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.  Ever.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Duck and Run

Sometimes the world of work gets...well...complicated.  What was once a smooth operation suddenly isn't so smooth anymore.  The team that appeared to be on top of the many moving parts of daily corporate life aren't quite as sharp as they once were.  And the person at the top needs to do something about it.

Yes, I'm talking about us.

It's Not a Blame Thing
Far too often when the inevitable winds of change disrupt our work lives we start looking for a scapegoat.  Who can we blame to quickly deflect any responsibility from ourselves?  Well, that's not how it works.  It works by evaluating our own performance first, the decisions we've made (or not made), and putting together a plan to steer the ship back on course.  Just because the team, the policies, the strategies, and the flow of work once was smooth does not mean it will stay that way forever.  Nothing does.  It is imperative however that when we realize that the environment has truly changed, we must take action.

Avoidance is Not an Option
One of the "leadership" behaviors I've seen far too many times over the years in my HR practice is the avoidance approach taken by weak or inexperienced leaders.  Let's be honest, confronting issues or people is difficult.  But avoiding issues that must be addressed results in much more work, much more stress on everyone, and usually impacts the organization both operationally and financially.  Don't be "that leader" that doesn't step up when life gets difficult.  It gets difficult for everyone from time to time.  You and I are no different.

How About You
When have you faced a change to your world that required tough decisions to be made?  Did you make them in a timely manner; or, did you try the classic duck and run strategy that left everyone wondering where you were hiding during a crisis?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of acda

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Difference = Success

I've been thinking about the power of difference lately, and what it means to leadership.  My organization has successfully recruited several new leaders who are going to bring fresh perspectives, experiences, and energy to "our world."  We've also promoted others into leadership roles they've earned through hard work and dedication => and they're doing great.  But they aren't quoting chapter and verse of the company leadership manual; rather, they're bringing their unique approach to working with their respective teams.  Our new external leaders have also shown keen insights into our culture, which is exciting to see before they've even stepped foot in their office.

Difference is Cool
What strikes me about this phase of my organization's journey is that the energy I feel is not about another group of bobble heads showing up at our door step; but rather, that a team of high profile leaders from inside and outside the organization are joining our team with totally different perspectives than what we all grew accustomed to..."our way."  I think this is very cool.

Difference is Diversity
The real power of difference, of course, is that other term that gets us so confused -diversity.  It's a powerful word, that once you get over the typical "recruitment quota paranoia" you'll realize is the engine that will drive your organization out of its current rut.  If you don't believe me, think about those that "suddenly" make an impact in your corporate world.  Who are the leaders that do things "differently" and make such a powerful impact?  Hmm...leaders that stand out because they are different....are you with me?

How About You
Difference really is about success.  Considering all of the bad news that the media loves to push on us 24/7 about credit ratings, unemployment, and weak earnings reports; it sure would be nice to enjoy some success for a change wouldn't it?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of bisonbobbleheads

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What's Your Story?

How did you end up in your current role?  Take a few moments to reflect on the decisions you've made...the job choices...the opportunities you've taken advantage of...and the ones you've missed.

When you've hit a low point, how did you recover?  What were the risks that you took, or didn't take?  

What is still on your bucket list that you keep making excuses to put off?  Why are you still doing that?  Why am I?

It's Time
When was the last time you celebrated how far you've come?  When have you thought about the  people that helped shape your path?  Look around and find an up and comer who needs a role model.  Be that role model.  

Dust off the bucket's time to get started, again.  You can do it.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of marciebrock

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hokey Pokey HR

For anyone who's taken a minute or two to read this blog you know I hate excuses. To me, 95% of the problems in any organization are a direct result of leadership. Let's face it, our employees are talented, want to do a good job, and come to work every day hoping the organization is paying attention enough to give them the tools and support they need to be successful.

It's up to us to make it work.  The employees are already fired up and ready to go.

Giving Yourself
The longer I have the privilege to serve in a leadership role, the more I realize that so much of work, and life, is based on the quality of the relationships we have with others.  Yes, we need to understand our business and the specific duties in our jobs. But I'm guessing each one of us could rattle off the names of very bright leaders we've worked with who were absolutely terrible interacting with others.  Their brainpower resulted in absolutely zero.  Nada.  Nothing.

Old Song - New Perspective
So how does this relate to one of the most, ahem, "classic" songs of all time?  Simple. Think about the last verse...."Put your whole self in."  When we put our "whole selves in" to our work it makes quite a difference. The relationships that we cultivate in a public way with our team members are very often the result of how much of ourselves we give.

How About You
Have you retreated to a sheltered, protected relationship with those around you? Are you afraid that people might get "too close?"  Why?  Imagine what a difference you could make if you showed more of the real you?  After all, your organization hired you...not someone who hides behind a facade.  Are you ready to put your whole self in?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Yes! It's Employee Survey Time!

Not everyone gets pumped up about employee surveys.  But I do.  Many people think they are a waste of time, that no one will be honest, and that action will never be taken.  But I don't feel that way.  Employee surveys are terrific for one thing...pushing communication.  Survey results start conversations, they don't end them.

Get Started
I've been involved with the employee survey process for years (and years and years).  The best results I've ever experienced have nothing to do with the survey questions.  They come from the commitment of the leaders in the organization to continue the conversation with their employees that the survey helps to start.  It is through the ongoing dialogue that real progress is made; not in reading a report that says everything is fine, now let's move on to something else.  That doesn't even make sense does it? 

Organizations today are busier than ever, with more pressure than ever, and often times with limited resources to get the work done.  So how can a report that only reflects a snapshot in time serve as a meaningful indicator of how the organization's employees feel?  Simple answer => it can't.

What Are You Afraid Of?
There isn't anything to fear with an employee survey, unless you don't plan on following up.  Not sharing results, placing blame on employees, or simply ignoring that the survey was conducted are recipes for disaster.  Don't be afraid.  Take advantage of the opportunity to honestly engage your employees in conversation about the workplace.  It won't kill you, and the results will be something I like to call...progress!  

How About You
Are you rolling your eyes at this point; or, are you willing to actually sit down with your team and talk about the front line real world issues that need to be addressed.  Just imagine how much more respect they'll have for you if you'll simply do that?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of buildinggurus

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Vendors, Choices and Passion

This summer I’ve had the opportunity to serve on a team representing organizations from across the country as part of a large RFP.  Our team recently came together to hear vendor presentations in response to the proposal.  The vendors are all strong companies, with good track records in the industry, and have the talent and technology to deliver for their clients.  What struck me during these complex sessions though, were the choices these companies made relative to the delivery of their message.

The Right Mix
Since the issues involved require the expertise of more than just one person, each organization was allowed to bring several team members along to assist with the presentations.  Big decision #1 – Who should be on the short list that will provide the most value to the client?  Each group took a different approach, and consequently each group made a different impression on our team.

Does selecting the right mix of team members apply to us as leaders?

Thorough is Good
Since our process has clearly defined items that must be addressed, it was interesting to watch how each organization chose to include, or chose not to include, all of the elements of the RFP in their presentations.  Big decision #2 – Should the message play to their strengths and leave out other information?  Each company went out of their way to answer our questions and cover the material they felt positioned them best; but it was refreshing to have one company address just about everything up front.

Does being thorough in our messaging as leaders make a difference?

Get Fired Up or Get Out
As part of the two days of presentations, one organization clearly was passionate about earning the contract.  Why?  Yes, it’s a great opportunity for them…and yes, it will make a significant impact on their growth.  But they not only talked about being passionate, they showed it in their delivery.  You could feel it in the room.  Big decision #3 – Is it better to show emotion and enthusiasm; or is it better to play it safe [read here ‘dull’]? 

Being fired up about this contract should have been something each of the vendors showed.  I don’t want to work with anyone, inside or outside my company that goes through the motions.  You know who the high energy passionate leaders are that you’ve worked with over the years, don’t you?  Of course you do, because there are so few of them that you remember them long after you no longer work together.

Do you think your employees know if you’re fired up about your work?

How About You
These two days offered me a terrific reminder about my own leadership practice.  As I closely scrutinized these talented individuals representing their companies, I realized that as leaders we’re constantly being watched.  What do our employees say about us?  What words do we choose to convey how fired up we are about the work ahead?  What do you show?

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of cash620

Monday, August 15, 2011

Learning from Bad Leaders

Very early in my career I worked for a small company (several hundred employees) as a Credit Department representative.  I was on a team that supported our sales staff and worked with our customers to make sure their accounts remained current.  It wasn’t the most satisfying work for me, primarily because I always seemed to be in “worry mode” about who would pay their invoices, who was avoiding me, and what grief would I get from my sales reps when they learned I wouldn’t allow any more product to be shipped to their customers.  Candidly, I was a bad fit for the role.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
My reporting structure flowed up through a Manager and then to one of two brothers who owned the company.  He was a young, bright, and motivated man and I can honestly say I learned a lot from him.  Sadly, his example is on the “don’t do list.”  A brief illustration:

Although the failure rate among the businesses we sold to was incredibly high, our team maintained terrific metrics relative to past due monies.  However, when we met with the owner he would toss the A/R (accounts receivable) report across the conference room table as he sprinkled in a few f-bombs.  Not exactly a confidence-builder for anyone.

This scenario has stayed with me for years simply because I don’t ever want anyone that works for me to fear that I’m going to start tossing around paperwork and swearing at them.  I know the team I worked with came to dread the meetings with him because we didn’t know if he was going to attack us or not. 

How About You
Have you ever worked for someone who helped shape your leadership style because they were so awful?  It’s an odd way to think about leadership development; but for me it is a key part of my journey, and for that I have to thank him.   Can we learn from bad leaders?

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of michaelhyatt

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hard of Hearing

There’s a great quote that says “The person most interested in what you have to say is you.”  I didn’t know where it came from so I looked it up and lo and behold guess whose picture was next to the phrase to serve as an illustration of what it means:  Mine.

Damn, I hate when that happens.

Listening and Hearing
I’m in a job that requires a fair amount of talking on my part.  I present information, I facilitate meetings, I speak to community groups, and my team bounces ideas and questions off me regularly and expects an answer.  I do a lot of talking.  But effective leaders do more listening than talking…and that’s where I have to stay disciplined so I not only listen, but actually hear what others are telling me.

Listen to Myself
One of my favorite mantras is that I don’t have to come up with any good ideas…I just need to make sure I implement good ideas.  Here’s the challenge for me with this mantra:  in order for me to implement good ideas I have to hear them first.  Are you with me?  So I’m going to integrate a listening-focus into my work in the same way that I adopted low and slow many years ago and still use today.

How About You
Are you in a job that requires a lot of talking?  Do you find yourself planning what you’re going to say next even while the other person is still speaking to you?  How has that worked?  Are you hard of hearing?  What?  What??

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of immaci

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

New Social Media Tool: Introducing HRoverload

How much social media is too much?  Answer => there can never be enough!  So, today I'm excited to announce the launch of HRoverload. It's a new social media app that forces you to to connect with every person you are already connected with; except that it's on a great new platform that allows you to organize all of your connections in a special secret way.

I'm sure this is going to take off...really...I'm serious.  Well...maybe not.  But next week I'm launching HRminus.  It's gonna be great.  Who's in?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of gryphon

Monday, August 8, 2011

Why Don't You Understand?

Here's a familiar scenario:

Manager:  I've reviewed my expectations several times but I'm not getting the results I need.  I don't know what's wrong, but the team is not following through.  I go over the issues, but no one speaks up during staff meetings when I ask if anyone has any questions.  These people just don't understand.

Out of Touch
Years ago a Manager actually posed that scenario to me directly...during an organization-wide managers meeting.  Talk about having to think quickly on your feet!  I had to try to offer a suggestion while not embarrassing her.  That was not fun.  Sadly, too many Managers have convinced themselves that they are effective communicators, when in fact they don't have that skill developed to the degree necessary to lead others.  It's not that they can't become effective communicators, it's just that they aren't willing to accept the fact they they aren't effective right now.

Humility is Hard
The advantage I had in the scenario above is that the Manager was willing to ask the question. That left the door open for me to follow up with her once her peers were not all listening so I could dig deeper into her communication style. For those Managers that have absolutely convinced themselves that they are communicating well and don't need any feedback, the road ahead is often difficult. Sometimes those that believe in their approach so completely are tenured leaders which makes the whole feedback/learning option nearly impossible. 

Mirrors are Helpful
One of the more painful lessons I've learned over the years is to take a look in the mirror if things aren't going well.  Most of the time the person looking back at me is the reason I'm having trouble.  This approach is also helpful for those Managers that are struggling to get their message across.  Although it's difficult to accept that what we believed would work is now failing, all is not lost.  Part of being an effective leader is to keep trying when roadblocks appear...even when we are the roadblock.

How About You
Have you ever struggled with getting your message out?  Have others ever struggled executing on your plan?  Maybe it's time to reconsider your approach.  I know it's worked for me...over and over again.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of redbubble

Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday Inspiration - Life is Like a Cup of Coffee

I'm a big, and I mean big, coffee lover.  But more importantly, I try to embrace life in every moment.  This short video is a nice reminder of what it's really all about.

Happy Friday...and remember, No Excuses.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Terminations and Grace

For those of us who have spent years of our HR practice doing employee relations work, we know full well how difficult terminations can be.  From the initial coaching with leaders, to more detailed investigations and ultimately the separation meeting, releasing employees is for me the absolute worst part of the job.

But it has to be done.

It's Worse For Them
Although the impact of terming an employee is often a challenge, it's important to remember that the impact is far worse on them than it is for us.  Sure, they've behaved in a way that now requires action, but that doesn't mean their life is any less important than our own.  Their income is about to be disrupted, perhaps for an extended period of time.  Their family is going to feel significant additional stress.  Their sense of self-worth might also be an issue as many of us define who we are, in part, by what we do professionally.

Grace Is Always Good
The concept of grace can take on several forms but generally is associated with offering kindness in some way.  The opportunity for leaders during these stressful times is to remember the power of grace.  No, we should not expect the employee being terminated to thank us afterwards; but how we choose to behave during the meeting is powerful.

Are you nervous?  Are you angry?  Are you disappointed?  None of these emotions matter once you've arrived at this point.  That journey is complete.  Now it's time to be professional, communicate what must be done effectively, and to show grace.

How About You
What mindset do you bring to the termination meeting?  Are you focused on "showing them who's boss?" Or, do you see that moment as an opportunity to handle things in a very different way?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of jonathanjones2

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Today's Talent - Set Them Free

Thank your lucky stars for the recession.  Be grateful that the job market has dried up.  Sit back and relax, knowing that your top performers have nowhere to go.

And then snap out of your self-induced sense of entitlement stupor and start taking care of your people.  The weak economy won't last forever...downturns never do.  Let your talented people break-free...inside your company.  Don't wait until they have three offers on the table to suddenly get creative with their role.  It's transparent, reactive, and guarantees they will leave.  Why?  Because if you really cared about retaining them you would have let them take risks...try new would have set them free while they were still dependent on you.  Now, it's just a lame attempt to show you care.

What are you doing to set your talent free while they still need you?  If you show them how much they mean to you now, imagine how quickly they'll pass on other offers when they come in? 

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of politicsareparanoid

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Abuse of Power

Sometimes we don't realize what is happening at first.  An odd series of events, strange new voices suddenly "speaking out," or just that awkward feeling in the pit of our stomach.  Then we understand.  A more orchestrated set of actions is underway that were previously unknown.

And that is precisely when we need to do something about it.

Who Are They Kidding
Often times the sudden flurry of activity is hidden behind pressure for change.  Perhaps employees are being held accountable for their behavior and don't like it, and are consequently attempting to undermine their leader.  Maybe necessary organizational changes are being implemented and small numbers of staff would prefer to stay trapped in a "good ole days" mindset.  Or sometimes it is simply about power - who has it, and who wants it.  Regardless of the reasons, caving in to these behaviors is the death knell for leaders.

A Twist
Of course work is never clean-cut or straightforward.  What if the manipulation that you've discovered has a kernel of truth to it?  What if that work unit truly does have issues that need to be reacted to?  What if that leader is struggling?  What should you do?

Do not get soft.  Do not "wait and see."  Do not become a victim of analysis-paralysis.  Too many leaders are so worried about confrontation, that often times no action is taken.  The end result is that the people involved in the manipulation win.  They take the leader's power away and abuse it.  If that happens, it is not only the offending person's fault, it is also the leader's for allowing it to happen.

Be Bold 
Making the right decisions under normal circumstances is difficult.  Having the courage to step up in times of stress and pressure to do what must be done is extremely difficult; particularly when there are political forces at play.  Do not be intimidated.  You are the leader.  You are allowed to intervene, ask questions, and expose those with a "hidden" agenda for what they are actually doing.

How About You
When have you discovered an attempt to abuse power?  Did you jump in and expose the offenders for what they were truly attempting to do?  Did you hold them accountable and demonstrate to the team that you are not willing to accept that behavior?  Or, did you trust that the "adults would work this out" so you didn't get involved?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of everyjoe