Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I Knew I Could Do It...All

"Life is a long lesson in humility."

Sometimes I feel like these words were meant for me. How about you...what lessons have you learned in your leadership?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Fortress HR

Human Resources pros get their hands dirty. We're the first ones through the wall because no one else wants to go first. We confront issues head on and look people in the eye when everyone else would prefer to stare at their shoes or shuffle their feet. We get paid to handle difficult employee issues, and we better have the intestinal fortitude to get the job done or we need to get out of the way.

We're under a different type of pressure...and we have to be strong.

I Could Never Do Your Job
How many times have you heard this phrase? It's a compliment. It is perhaps the ultimate validation of the work we do. It means another leader in the organization has just gone through a complex situation with one of their staff members and you "somehow" helped them get through it all. That's when the light bulb comes on, and they realize just how valuable, and challenging, the work is that you do day after day.

Make The Tough Call
Often times leaders come to us and are unclear what to do next. They're frustrated, confused, and sometimes even angry. They aren't supposed to have all the answers, nor are they expected to be current on how the organization is handling issues similar to theirs...that's HR's job.

We are expected to guide them, support and coach them, and ultimately make the difficult decisions that have to be made. That means sometimes we need to take action against people we've worked with for a long time.

Sometimes that means confronting people we respect and trust, but who have lost their way. The work we do is so different from the other members of the leadership team.

We're under a different type of pressure...and we have to be strong.

How About You
Managing stress is something HR pros talk a lot about...but usually not about supporting HR. How do you cope with the unique pressure you face day after day? Not only is HR strong on the front line...we're strong supporters of one another when needed. Feel free to reach out anytime.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Monday, February 25, 2013

There's A Storm A Comin'

Change happens all the time. In fact, I'm pretty tired of using the term change because it is either perceived as a threat, or is completely missed by those who are simply unable to let go of their prehistoric, I mean traditional leadership styles.

But change is a comin' my friends.

Mind Over Matter
Instead of rambling on about change theory and the leadership development programming that supports it; I'd like to explore what we as leaders, particularly in HR think about during periods of change.

How do you prepare? Do you consult with anyone prior to things starting to churn? Are the political realities all accounted for in your mind as your organization barrels ahead? Do you even know the "real" dynamics involved?

These questions are important to consider, perhaps even make some notes privately to get things organized in your mind. Change is very often good...until those impacted feel threatened. Then change isn't so much fun for them...or those around them.

Pitfalls and Post Mortems
Answering the questions above help us (read here --> me) avoid the numerous pitfalls that will present themselves during any change process of a reasonable magnitude. Yet somehow despite my well-intended planning I repeatedly find myself doing the proverbial post-mortem on the unanticipated issues that blew up during the course of the change.

Why does that happen? Am I simply not good enough to map out every conceivable option that might come up? Do I have a blind spot that precludes me from managing every aspect of every change with every person involved? 

Oh, wait. There's people involved in every change process. Now I get it...turns out human behavior is nearly impossible to game plan.

How About You
I'm not willing to default the change challenge to human nature and be done with it. Somehow there has to be a way to think through and do a better job planning for, and reacting to the behavior of others during times of change. What do you do?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Determined to Fail...and Win

I've been trying a bunch of social media strategies. If you were to ask my team how things are going, they would more than likely respond by saying "...with which approach? feels like we have a new one every week!"

That's probably not the answer I was hoping for, but I'll have to admit it's an honest one.

Try, Learn, Toss
Despite my somewhat assertive style on going social, there is a saving grace in my approach. My team is expected to try new things, learn from that experience, and toss the strategies that don't work to the wayside.

For me, that is much easier said than done. I love trying new approaches and waiting to see if they get any traction. But I need to know when they're not working, and make sure my team doesn't waste any valuable time on something that is bound to fail.

Personal Productivity
I've been experimenting with my own work as well. Recently I've fallen in love with Evernote. I've fallen in and out of love with iMExchange2...and am beginning to fall for Wunderlist. As my work moves farther away from my personal computer and is based almost exclusively around my iPad, these apps are becoming much more than convenient...they are essential tools for business.

How About You
I'm not sure if this "try everything in site" philosophy is going to pay off or not. But I do know that I refuse to remain on the sidelines while the world is roaring by with great new approaches, apps, and systems all designed to help me and my team be more effective.

What are you doing on your quest to fail...and win?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Diversity Is More Than A Talking Point

HR spends a lot of time (or at least should spend a lot of time) discussing diversity. This happens in part because we're supposed to, in part because it makes good business sense...but mostly HR should be talking about diversity because it is the right thing to do.

But sometimes doing the right thing is difficult.

Losing Friends
Many years ago friends would come over for an evening to visit. Our time together was usually fun...except when the husband would make a subtle racist comment here or there.

Damn. Why did he have to do that? It was an awkward position to find myself in because his wife was a long time friend of my wife; and, one of my absolute hottest hot buttons is racism. (I give my parents full credit for raising me in a way that finds racism absolutely reprehensible, and I thank them for it.)
Put Up or Shut Up
What came next was impossible to avoid. He opened his mouth, the racist comments came out, and I called him on it. It was obvious this was the beginning of the end of that "friendship." That's okay, because to be quite candid, people who are racist, harbor racist feelings, or choose to believe people are better or worse based on the color of their skin are not friends of mine. Nor will they ever be.

HR Needs to Call People Out
One of the privileges and joys of my work is that I can effectively use my authority to get rid of the blatantly racist people who work where I do. Yes, we are entitled to our opinions in this country; but once that "opinion" infringes on the rights of another employee it is HR's responsibility to do the right thing.

How About You
What do you do when confronted with racism in the workplace? Do you speak up and hold the bigots accountable? Or, is it easier to fall back into that nervous laughter that is so often heard when the narrow-minded souls among us believe they are being funny.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Friday, February 15, 2013

I'm HR And I'm Too Busy for Social Media

Today’s title represents the lamest excuse of all time used by HR “pros”  near and far. I’ve actually listened to HR Execs claim they have too much work to do and couldn’t possibly learn about social recruiting. Are you kidding me? They might as well have submitted their resignation on the spot...

Read the rest of this post over at Performance I Create...

Thursday, February 14, 2013

With Extreme Prejudice

Strong words. Maybe even a little scary to hear.  Try saying them out loud. With extreme prejudice. It doesn't sound like you, does it? It certainly doesn't describe any behavior you would demonstrate in the workplace.

Or does it?

As human resources professionals we are often asked to handle the most complicated and legally sensitive employee issues. The reality of today's workplace is that regulatory agencies make it easy for incompetent and reckless employees to take action against their former employers. That places a burden on the human resources team to ensure appropriate procedures are followed leading up to a termination, and that the process is handled in a caring and thorough way.

Yes, I said caring. The days of HR being cold and distant in order to simply "do their job" is like telling your child that the Internet is a passing fad. It's stupid.

The often unrecognized power that you have as a human resources leader is needed to assist with making difficult employment decisions. But it is also a tool that can manage the process effectively. Why is this important? Simple - you are not "the HR person" in this scenario, you are the organization.

With power comes responsibility. When we're wrapped up in a difficult employee matter, we often don't realize what is going on around us. The other employees who are aware of the situation are watching.

They're paying attention to how we use our power and how we treat those involved in the various issues that have to be addressed. They focus on what we do and not necessarily on what we say.

That is a lot of pressure.

How About You
Try saying that phrase again...with extreme's part of our reality. If it's not something you can handle then you probably need to look for a position outside of human resources leadership. That's okay...our jobs are hard. For those that accept the burden and responsibility of leadership however, get used to this phrase. You'll need it once in a while.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Team Building Fail

One of the hidden failings of leaders comes disguised as a perfectly legitimate request of the human resources team:

"I'd like for HR to do some team building for my employees."

Now you may be wondering how this seemingly normal, and perhaps even complimentary request could be considered a failing on management's part. Well friends, more often than not this is an epic failure.

Dig Deeper
Before any team building session is conducted a series of questions need to be asked in order to ensure the needs of the group are identified, the challenges they're currently facing are clearly articulated and the desired outcome of the leader making the request is made clear.

What often comes to light during this process is that the behavior of one or two employees is the real problem. The group is not in need of team building at all, in fact a program that is promoted as a team building exercise may backfire on the leader because it won't be a secret to any of the employees as to what is really going on. 

Step Up
Credibility is the primary issue at play in this situation both for the struggling leader and now for Human Resources as well. Here's the problem...because the leader doesn't have the courage to do their job and hold the problem employees accountable for their behavior, the entire group has to  participate in a team building program they don't want or need.

"Everybody knows who the problem employees are, and everybody knows the leader looks weak as hell by not doing their job."

Maybe it is fear of confrontation, or maybe they just don't understand what is really going on, but in the end it is the leader whose credibility suffers; and, if HR agrees to provide the team building in that scenario their credibility will be compromised too.

Say no to team building, and provide real employee relations support to the leader because that is what they need from human resources.

How About You
Do you jump at the opportunity to provide team building thinking that the leaders in your organization believe you're the best? Before jumping on the 'HR-Ego-Express' you better ask some questions first. I'll bet you that the leader definitely needs your help, but not in the way they think they do.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

"Manti Armstrong, SPHR"

All in the name of performance.

The abuse of power, authority, influence, decision-making, manipulation and the law. Who goes to such extremes to chase an unattainable goal of being a top performer in their field? What kind of professional can end careers and tweak the interpretation of the law so things work out just the way they want them to? Who has this crazy ability in our organizations?

Oh...that's right...human resources does.

One of the realities of my role is that I've never quite come to grips with the authority I have as a human resources leader. Employees call me "sir" (which I usually respond with "please call me Jay.")

Others who I don't recognize thank me for changes to our benefit plans that have helped their families.

Sometimes people just turn and watch as I walk past as if I was the good behavior police wandering through their department.

Fortunately the negative examples are the exceptions not the rule. I've worked hard to be as personable and real as I can be so our team members will feel comfortable asking me questions, challenging me on issues, or sometimes just talking hockey.

I work hard, just like you do...ultimately we do it all in the name of performance.

Getting Caught Up In Yourself
Let's face it, human resources roles are relatively high profile in many organizations. Sometimes that is a good thing (hopefully!); but candidly sometimes we are stuck with the "hatchet" moniker that can be difficult to distance ourselves from.

We are forced to strike a balance between having a lot of authority and influence, while simultaneously ensuring we do not abuse that power.

Balance can be tough, particularly if we justify our behavior all in the name of performance.

How About You
Typically the HR leadership team doesn't head down the path of performance enhancing drugs, fake girlfriends, malicious lawsuits, chasing fame, notoriety, money and the Heisman Trophy all while hurting friends, colleagues, teammates and the public at large along the way.

But hey...if it's done all in the name of performance...

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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