Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Social Allies

Allies - To unite or connect in a personal relationship.

When I think of allies I often think of countries, armies, or movements all working together against a common enemy.  It's not often that I hear the term used in business.  It should be though.  It's a great word.  Allies.  I feel more confident just knowing I have allies out there...ready to help if I ever need them.

Allies Are Not Automatic
Developing the relationships necessary to build a network of allies takes effort.  Do you ever feel overwhelmed at work?  Have you ever needed to speak with someone outside your chain of command, even outside your organization?  When the pressures of work feel like an all out assault you need to have a network you can turn to for support.  You need allies.  I need allies too.

How do you get these allies?  You invest some time and reach out from the convenience of your desk.  No one is going to come to your rescue if you haven't offered support to someone else.  Real leaders do not wallow in self-pity; rather, they reach out to assist others, to connect, to learn, and try to make a difference. The end result can be an amazing group of people who are there when needed.  I've been discovering how powerful that group can be...and it's quite humbling.

What Are You Waiting For?
Have you been considering using social media?  Are you wondering what it's really all about?  It's time to stop holding back and start exploring.  No one will criticize you if you stumble.  We've all stumbled...and lived to tell about it.  You will too.  Get started, you'll already have an ally as soon as you start....me.

How About You
Do you realize how much support is out there waiting for you?  I didn't either...I was too busy worrying about looking foolish.  (Fortunately for me I have a lot of experience looking foolish.)  Turns out that your social allies are waiting...are you going to take that first step?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pics courtesy of Tech 2 Date and Social Allies

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Inspiration

Leaders aren't always the ones with the fancy job titles and big offices.  Sometimes they step into a situation when you least expect it.  Sometimes those leaders turn out to be the ones waiting in the wings...not the ones on stage.

Derek Redmond knows about an inspirational leader who came out of nowhere and helped him in an unbelievably disappointing moment.  Maybe you need to get out of the wings, and make a difference for someone in need today.

Who knows, your actions may inspire others for years to come.  Are you up to the challenge?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dumping Bad Employees...Internally

You know the scenario...

"John" has bounced around from department to department.  He's a nice enough person, but never really fits in with the team.  Once his true limits become obvious he quickly transfers to a new area.  His Managers are always so thankful that he's leaving that they never get around to updating the new Manager that John is a problem.

Why Does This Happen?
I'm not new to HR.  I'm also not new to large organizations that have many departments where employees can hide under the radar.  What still bothers me however, is that leaders allow this type of scenario to occur over and over again. Why? 

What could possibly be the reason that leaders hide behind a transfer form and an easy out?

Okay, I said it.  Leaders are afraid. They're busy, under a lot of pressure to perform, and quite honestly don't want to be bothered with "HR" issues if they don't have to. So they look the other way and approve the internal transfer.  In doing so, they are also dumping on their colleagues.  This is worse than a poor hire from the outside though, because the organization is still stuck with the low performer and the employee is not being held accountable.   Let's face it, you are not going to improve if you're never held accountable, right?  Aren't we supposed to support employees, particularly the ones that may have potential but are struggling at the moment?

Another Opportunity for HR
Since we know many (not all) Managers would rather pass along a problem employee than hold them accountable, it's up to HR to provide the leadership that the department leader can not or will not provide.  This intervention will not only stop this constant shuffling, but will also help the employee.  How?  Perhaps for the first time, they will get some honest feedback about their performance, and what it will take for them to be successful. Don't we want our employees to be successful?

How About You
Do you love to feel like you're in Vegas and can shuffle the deck of poor performers? Do you feel a sense of relief when your weakest employee submits a transfer form? Are you able to look the other Manager in the eye when they realize what you've done?  Or, do you actually work with your struggling employees to help them, and your organization to excel?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pics courtesy of Its How We Roll and Inperta

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Future of HR...is Awesome

Don't you think so too?  I mean really, how many other professions complain about having a seat at the table, lament that work is being outsourced, and seek out their colleagues to whine about how awful things are?  The future must be bright, right? Do accountants rush to huddle together and begin shaking and quivering at the very thought of not being relevant to their companies?  When was the last time you saw a web designer wondering if they would have a job?  

Stop it.  If you're worried about the future of HR, you should be worried about you...not the profession.  HR is in high gear.  You did notice, right?

Times Have Changed
Over the last year I've met many HR Leaders who are changing their organizations through new, cutting-edge HR practices.  They aren't wasting time wallowing in self-pity; in fact, they're taking action.  They take risks, push through new innovative strategies, and make a real difference for their companies and the profession.  It's not that they are that much different from you and I...they just go for it.  You and I should go for it too.

Get Fired Up!
I'm convinced there is a growing leadership void today, and that means endless possibilities for leaders with courage.  Courage to take risks, to push HR forward as an impact area in their organizations v. a transactional processing cost center...courage to do something.  

What's holding you back from trying new things? Is it uncomfortable?  Has your organization always done things a certain way?  How is that old approach working for you?

Reach out to a colleague today.  Don't wait for them to do it...send a direct message, an email, a text.  Better yet, pick up your smart phone and actually use it as a phone. Be part of the future of HR...it's moving fast and I'm fired up!

How About You
Are you waiting for the sub-committee on recruitment and retention to review the latest policy packet before you decide to set up a task force to take a closer look at next steps?  Or, are you going to actually provide some leadership in your organization?  Now pardon me, I need to grab my sunglasses...the future of HR is just so bright.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of ECW and Optics Planet

Monday, May 23, 2011

Biases - Never Knew I Had So Many

I like to think I am an open-minded leader.  I try to stay positive, support others, keep lines of communication open, and generally accept everyone in my organization as a valuable member of the team.  Everyone?  Really?

Time to Get Real
Despite the fact that I've just rattled off my little "holier-than-thou" opening about how wonderful I think I am; the reality is that I, like everybody else, carry biases around.  Yes I said it, everybody.  Coming to the realization that somehow I was part of "everybody" has been difficult to say the least.  Like it or not, we have all been shaped by our environments at home, school, socially and in the workplace.  These experiences influence how we see the world, and our place in it.  But if I'm going to continue to push out of my comfort zone, I need to hold myself accountable and accept that I too carry biases with me.  I try hard not to show them, but realistically do I believe I can hide them?  Can you hide yours?

We're Not Bad, We're Human
It's an odd thing, admitting that one has weaknesses.  It's even more uncomfortable when you list the areas you need to work on.  Turns out it's a long list...at least it is for me.  

I don't feel bad about it, but I do feel a tremendous responsibility to do something about it.  That's the real pressure - doing what must be done.  

How About You
Do you still believe your own "leadership-speak" about treating everyone equally? Or, have you decided to take a much deeper look at how you view the world...how you view yourself in the world?  A look that goes beyond sounding like a walking press release or policy manual, and actually talking like normal people do. Remember, no one speaks "policy"...at least the leaders that get any respect don't.   How long is your list?  Do you have the courage to start working on it?  

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of Happy Feli

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Interviews Should Be Torture

"I get nervous during interviews."  "She's a great employee, she just doesn't do well in interviews."  "He knows his stuff, he just gets worked up thinking about the interview."

Wait a minute.  I don't buy any of this nonsense.  Not for one second.

Finally It's All About You
The last time I checked interviews are the only time you can actually talk about what you've accomplished.  You are the center of the universe, at least for a little while.  So when I hear excuses as to why people struggle talking about themselves, and expect my support to bring them on board I am simply dumbfounded.  Are you kidding me?  The candidate isn't comfortable talking about himself?  Seriously?

Quick Question - How many of you have easy jobs?  That's what I thought.  So why do we allow weak candidates to slide through interviews when in reality they will be faced with challenging work in highly competitive environments under tremendous pressure to perform with limited resources?  It makes no sense.

Interviews Are Supposed to be Hard
Years ago I interviewed for a position and the team interviewing me was so ill-prepared (that was a Senior Management Team by the way) that I almost knew it wouldn't be challenging before it even started.  Since no one was ready, they asked questions about issues that had just occurred v. truly considering what they needed me to provide as a strategic member of the organization.  Tough questions like: "What would you do if you found someone sleeping on the job?"  Wow, that's a tough one!  I quickly put a look of horror on my face and said how awful it was...(their eyes got big)...I then said that barring some sort of medical condition it could be grounds for termination...(their eyes got bigger and they smiled).

Seriously?  How embarrassing...for them.

Prepare your questions.  Keep pushing until the candidate can give you specific issues, specific actions they took, and specific resolutions.  Make the interview difficult!  If they can't describe work they have already done, you don't want the guaranteed employee relations headache down the road that is now staring you in the face hoping for a job offer.

How About You
Stop making excuses for weak candidates.  Thank them for coming in, send them on their way, and only hire those that can actually speak about their successes, failures, and passion for work.  Do you make excuses for weak candidates?  What could possibly be your rationale?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of Teluglobe  

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Motivation is Simple

Motivation is simple. You eliminate those who are not motivated.

- Lou Holtz

Too harsh?  Need to think about it?  Dead on accurate? Some will tell you about the great tools they have developed to motivate people.  The training, the exercises, the company l0go-branded paper weights and key chains are all designed to fire up the team.  

I don't buy it.  Paper weights don't motivate me, they just clutter up my desk.  Hire the best people, trust them to do amazing work, and let them have balance in their life.  Do it, and you will create the best place to work on the planet.

What are you waiting for?  Go make it happen.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of Graphics Hunt

Monday, May 16, 2011

Social Media - A Double-Edged Sword?

It's funny how things evolve.  Until recently I often used google to search for information, now I simply reach out to my own network on twitter or linkedin. Professionally I have a growing, and very important group of people who I can rely on to get feedback, kick ideas around, and candidly tell me if I'm completely off-base.  It's an unexpected and wonderful change in my life.

I've also embraced facebook in my personal life.  I have reconnected with old friends from years ago as many others have done.  However, it's also become a great way for my family to connect and joke with each other.  Additionally, as a youth hockey coach, I am now connected with many great parents and players who have been involved with the teams I've coached for years.  

Now these two worlds are on a collision course.

Crossing the Line
I have been committed to keeping my "professional life" and "personal life" separate for a long time.  That was my way of maintaining some sense of control despite the fact that I've tried to be as transparent as possible in my evolving leadership style.  Keeping secrets and hoarding information just doesn't make sense.  But now the relationships I've built professionally have become more than just "a network."  Those distant avatars and blog addresses are becoming friends (cue the HRevolution theme music.)  That means my commitment to transparency and personal privacy is fading...fast.  

Not a Sword, But a Gift
Apparently I'm on a quest to constantly be reminded of how much I still need to learn.  Now that I've been wrestling with this issue for several months it has become clear to me that if I'm going to be a friend in return, I need to prove it.  Connecting with my network/friends beyond the safety of twitter and linkedin is a tangible way to push myself, again, out of my comfort zone.  Just for the record, I love my comfort zone.

How About You
How do you balance your social media worlds?  Are you still committed to living a double-life; or, is it time to take the next step and embrace new connections as friends?  How much more might you get out of your network if it was more than just a bunch of "professional contacts?"

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of Brian Solis

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Service Zombies Are Not World Class

Scripting, behavior standards, commitment statements, kick-off parties complete with balloons and confetti.  All of these help launch service excellence programs, but what sustains them?  How is it that well-intended organizations can spend so much time and money getting these initiatives off the ground and then lose momentum so quickly?

Trust Your People
One of the things I have discovered over the years is that organizations try to control just about everything. Key words at key times with key customers while always conforming to the company message.  That's all well and good except for one thing: employees are not zombies.  I spend a fair amount of time traveling with a youth hockey team, and it's fascinating to me how different corporate cultures can be when it comes to this issue.  Some organizations clearly do not allow their employees to say or do anything other than what "corporate" has decided is appropriate.  Others however, actually trust their employees to be creative, and engaging...and fun.  And it shows!!

It's the People That Matter
Do you believe that your well-crafted budget and slick marketing materials are what makes your organization world-class?  Really?  The reality is that your people make that happen.  That means we as leaders have one job -> create an environment where our teams know they are trusted to do the right thing.  Make sure they know we want them to use their creative approaches when working with our customers. At the end of the day it's the relationship, not the strategy, that truly sets us apart from the competition.

How About You
Do you thrive in a command and control culture?  Do you get a rush from making all of the decisions?  Do you think you make the difference in your organization?  Or, are there others on your team who actually make it happen on the front-line every day?  When was the last time you allowed them to be themselves?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of http://confettiyeti.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Losing Your Focus

"No problem, I can handle it."  "I'll volunteer."  "I'd be happy to help."  "Saying no just doesn't cut it around here."

Ever said these phrases?  If so, you know how quickly work can pile up, and how far behind you can get before you even know what happened.  I hate when that happens, but for some reason there is an unwritten code that leaders have to take on every assignment.  Why is that?  What is is about American culture (or perhaps corporate culture) that compels us to take on so much work that we risk failure?  Or at least we risk being slower than we would like to be in completing our work.

Big Risk Does Not Equal Big Reward
In her 2007 article When Hard Work Becomes Overwork, Phyllis Korkki describes the pitfalls of living a lifestyle exclusively focused on work. Often times our over commitment results in non-productive work, quite the opposite of what we originally intended!  Do you take pride in telling colleagues how late you stay at the office?  Or when you sent that last email of the night?  Does that make you feel important?  More productive? Indispensable?  Ouch, I bet that last one hit close to home.  It does for me too.

It's About Balance
Over the years I've tried to adopt a new approach that takes into account my responsibilities at work, and the rest of my life -> the two-hour rule.  The goal is to make sure I'm with those important to me outside of work for at least two hours a day (kids, volunteering, etc...).  Sometimes that means I leave things unfinished and catch up later once life settles down; sometimes that means I rush frantically during the day to attend something important in the evening; and sometimes I just can't meet my two-hour goal.  But it's always out there, helping me stay focused on balancing my life.

How About You
Do you lose your focus from time to time?  If so, what do you do about it?  Do you get yourself back on track; or, are you too excited to tell everyone that you stayed at the office until 9:00 last night because you're such a productive employee?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pics courtesy of GRGP and New Consultant HQ

Saturday, May 7, 2011

I'm Out of Control

So this weekend I'm going through a unique experience.  I'm not the one in control. I'm not the one making the decisions, or allocating resources, or directing the action.  And I don't like it.  I'm supposed to be the calm one who others look to during stormy times and keeps the team together.  I'm the one who takes the point and clears the way.

Who Has the Power
But not this weekend.  I have to simply take what is handed out.  And that's just what most of our employees have to do every day at work.  Think about that...every single day.  

Having to wait for bits of information...keeping a close eye on everything in the hopes of gaining a better understanding of the"rules," and simply wondering in general are all taking a toll.  And I'm only on Day 2 of this process.

I have been fortunate to serve others in a leadership role for many years now.  I've grown accustomed to having a certain level of authority.  But I'm just like everyone else here this weekend.  For the record, feeling helpless does not sit well with me.  I wonder how it feels to those who work for us?  I wonder if I provide enough timely information to my team?  Do I show my confidence in them so they can break away from a sense of helplessness and unleash their talents?  What culture have I created?

How About You
What are you doing to make sure your employees do not feel helpless?  Is hoarding information a strength for you?  Do you trust your team?  Do you have confidence in them?  I'm guessing that if you don't feel good about them, they probably don't feel good about you either.  Are you in "control?"

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of Life Skills Authorities

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Counting My Blessings

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind for me.  

Professionally I've met some of the most accomplished leaders in the Human Resources industry.  People I've admired from afar and traded quick messages with in cyberspace. People who make a difference.  I'm trying to make a difference too.  But the bar they have set is very difficult to reach.  So I'm thinking it's going to be a while before I start to see their tail lights ahead in the distance.

Personally I'm helping to launch a AAA Youth Hockey organization that is going to compete nationally next season against some of the best and most well-respected teams in the country.  It's new for me...and it's a huge undertaking.  I thought cut throat behaviors were in corporate America...try starting a high-level hockey club.

So today, as I think about all that is swirling around me...all that I've embraced...all of the chaos that I truly love...I'm taking a moment.

A moment to count my blessings.  Because when I add it all up, I'm the luckiest guy on the planet.  And I need to remember that every single day.

What are you thankful for?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of Fitness Guru Sam

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I Answered the Call - Will You?

Tuesday was, as Victorio Milian would say, a put up or shut up day for me.  In Monday's post I discussed how I had committed to not only being a participant at HRevolution, but actually stepping up and taking action once I returned home.  The day of reckoning happened for me on Tuesday.

Go For It
I am privileged to meet with a terrific group of leaders on a quarterly basis.  We started as colleagues, but our connections have grown deeper.  My call to action was to challenge this group to do more...be more...push themselves....to change how they practice HR.  Let me just say this group is not a bunch of light weights. They are at the top of their game...people I admire...and trust.  Completely.

But there is an opportunity for them, and me, to grow.  And when the moment presented itself I jumped in with both feet.

We're Supposed to Be the Leaders
Our discussion moved to a topic that brought an awkward moment to our meeting.  Social media  was the issue, and the heads all turned toward the one person that uses it in the room.  Me.  Then the obligatory poll of all eight of us was taken: "How many of you twitter?"  One hand went up.  That's when I jumped in...

My message was simple and direct:

"When our CEOs turn to us and ask us what's happening with social media, and need us to explain why we aren't keeping pace with those outside our organizations, what are we going to say?  If we don't understand how HR has changed, if we don't understand the external threats, and if we have to admit that we have no idea how any of this works, how will that make HR look?  We don't have a choice...we must understand how the world of HR has changed...and we have to do something about it."


And then a plan developed to have me do a formal presentation on the strengths and risks of social media and HR.  Awesome.

How About You
What is your call to action?  It doesn't matter if you attended HRevolution or not, you know what you have to do.  So fire up your smart phone, and put this on the top of your task list.

Do it today.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of Property Report

Monday, May 2, 2011

Call to Action or Just Lip-Service

A call to action.  That's what I committed to at HRevolution.  I stood up and declared that I would step up in my real life back in Florida and deliver on my commitment.  Jason Lauritsen and Steve Browne challenged us to not just strategize about what we would/could/should do in our HR practice, but to actually do it. Sounded so cool at the nation's most cutting-edge HR event....feels a bit different back in [insert the name of your town here] and in my real life too.

Lip Service is for Conferences (Not unConferences)
As it turns out, my call to action commitment is going to happen on Tuesday.  This Tuesday.  My hot-shot-stepping-up-moment-in-front-of-everyone turned into a hello-reality-moment right away.  And that's how it should be.  So tomorrow I'll be challenging a group of HR colleagues to leave their comfort zones, old constructs, and excuses about not changing; and instead, bringing a little piece of HRevolution back to my world.

How About You   
When is your next hello-reality moment?  Now sounds like a pretty good time to me. What do you think?  Don't make me have Jason and Steve come looking for you.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of Lip Service Addicts