Monday, December 27, 2010

One Resolution - I'm Not A Control Freak!

As is the annual ritual, I've been considering a number of resolutions for the coming year.  I developed a "professional" list, and a "personal" list.  And then I threw them away.  Seriously.  They're gone.


Several years ago I was expanding the number of health clubs that offered discounts to our employees.  As I met with the owners of the various clubs a theme quickly emerged. 

Every club not only loved resolutions, they actually generated 40% of their annual revenue from the well-intended souls who join in January (and are never seen again after Valentine's Day.) Each owner smiled at this point in their story.  I need a resolution that will stick past February!

2011 is the year I will have only one resolution.  Yes I'll have goals to achieve professionally, and I'll have a few items that get more attention in my personal life as well.  But as far as resolutions go, only one is making the list.

Be more organized.

Sounds simple.  What you don't know is that I am pretty organized already.  I have a clean desk, am learning how to use e-tools whenever possible (trying to use my Droid for everything!) and constantly try to be more efficient.  But I want to be better.  I want to eliminate the paper (seriously) and be freakishly organized.  My competitive side is pushing me to try and control it all.  

Uh-oh.  Control.  That's really what I'm after.  I want to control everything. Alas, I may be chasing the unattainable.

What is your plan for next year?  Do you have a competitive side that says "I'm going to rule the world;" or, have you found that elusive balance between what you can control, and what you need to let go?  

As for me, I have to scan and shred some documents before I head to the gym...

I'd love to hear from you.

Happy New Year...No Excuses.

pic courtesy of

Thursday, December 23, 2010


I am fired up today!  The end of 2010 is upon me, holiday time off is looming, and I have a resolution for next year that I am sorting through in my head.  But I don't want to wait.  So, today I'm going for it.  Fast pace, pump out the work, and head into Christmas feeling like I'm on top of my game.  I don't want to make any of the tired excuses for not keeping up simply because "it's the holidays."  Time to Bring It!

How About You

Are you going to be unstoppable and finish the year strong?  Or, has the sugar crash already hit and you're hoping for a mid-morning nap?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Power Post - Are You Thankful...Ahead of Time

A good friend of mine once gave a presentation on being thankful.  As presenters go, he did an effective job of addressing the regular issues related to the topic:  remaining humble, maintaining a positive attitude, and keeping your chin up.  It was solid throughout, until he turned the whole message, and how I now view the world, upside down.

He told me I should be thankful ahead of time.  Yes, that's right.  Ahead of time.


Now I'm all for staying positive.  In fact I think it's absolutely essential.  However, being thankful after good things happen (read here -> reach my goals) suddenly seems a bit self-centered.  Isn't my success built on the accomplishments of the team I work with?  Isn't my job as a leader to create an environment that allows that team to flourish?  So, being thankful after the fact isn't really being thankful at all.  It's being relieved.  That's not thankful.


Do you realize you are surrounded by the talent, creativity, and diversity of background and thought in your organization to make you successful?  Are you thankful before the work gets done; or, do you fall into the trap of simply feeling relief?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Confrontation - No Hyperventilating Allowed

Allow me a moment of self-disclosure.  I love confrontation.  I don't just like it, or accept it, or work through it when I have to.  I love it.  I don't know if that is good or bad, but if I'm going to be honest with myself, I need to admit that I love it.  But isn't that something we all are supposed to love to some degree or another, particularly in HR leadership roles?  Who else is going to be strong and guide others through difficult times?


I am stunned at the sheer volume of advice, training courses, and expert pundents who try desperately to help us avoid confrontation and it's "ill effects."  Really?  Whatever happened to actually having your blood pressure go up a bit because you had to deal with something important?  Why is it wrong to feel nervous when you know you're going into a tense meeting?  We're supposed to get fired up!  Where is the passion for our work?  Have we become so fearful of failure that we are no longer willing to step up?  I pray that is not true.


I certainly appreciate the impact stress can have on us in the workplace, and discussed it here previously. However, I submit that the next step for leaders is not to program ourselves to avoid confrontation and the stress it may bring; but rather, to embrace it.  That's right.  Take advantage of the opportunity to grow in your leadership practice and stop avoiding those moments when you know confrontation is required.


Merriam-Webster offers a quick and unexpected operational definition of confrontation - a face-to-face meeting.  Wow.  That doesn't sound painful at all, does it?  The good news about confronting others is that you won't die, and neither will they.  So it's time for us to get on with it and lead.  

Remember, the other employees are watching very closely.  Are we able to handle the difficult moments as well as the smooth ones?  Or, are we flustered, breathing deeply into a paper bag, and hoping the issue will just "go away?"


Just because I love confrontation, doesn't mean it's easy.  In fact, it's one of the most challenging issues I deal with in my work.  But I have to do it, and I have to do it well.  How do you deal with confrontation?  Are you charging ahead, or do you reach for the stash of paper bags under your desk?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of

Friday, December 17, 2010

Unexpected Moments - Will You Be Ready?

We face them all the time.  Sometimes dramatic, sometimes not.  One thing we can guarantee though, is that unexpected moments are something we should "expect."  So how do we react to these moments?  Just as importantly, how do we prepare to react?


I never seem to get used to the idea that I am viewed differently by many employees.  Partly out of respect or partly out of fear - (good grief I hope not the latter!) - they see me differently.  Which means they are watching me (Me = Us).  They are watching how I react to the various issues I must address every day.

Am I consistent?  Am I fair?  Do they realize why the phrase burden of leadership is so incredibly accurate sometimes?  The answer to these questions is simple - it doesn't matter.  We are expected to handle ourselves well.  Period. 

Whether we like it or not, as Charles Wallace wrote recently, with the privilege of leadership comes responsibility.


The path to readiness for these unexpected moments is not a difficult one.  It actually comes down to a decision, a commitment, to do the right thing in the moment.  Handling situations well that we know are coming and that we've had time to prepare for, afford us the opportunity to smoothly roll out our plans.  That is not a true test of our leadership.  Yes, those situations are important, and need to be handled well.  However, the true test always comes in those unexpected moments that catch us off-guard.

That is when we can make a huge difference.  Right at that precise moment.


How do you react when your world turns upside down in an instant?  What do your employees see?  Are you calm, focused, and leading the way; or, in that split-second do you show the team that perhaps you don't deserve their respect just yet?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Guest Power Post from Jake Poore! - We MUST Take Action!

I am pleased to present Jake Poore, Founder and President of Integrated Loyalty Systems (ILS) as guest blogger.  In his nearly thirty years of work in customer service, Jake has consulted with more than 100 top companies and given hundreds of presentations on service excellence, leadership development and strategic planning. 

Prior to launching ILS, he spent 18 years with the Disney Company, ultimately serving as the driving force behind the development of the Disney Institute's consulting practice.  A nationally recognized and sought after speaker, Jake shares a brief insight on his advice for Human Resources leaders in today's business environment.

We MUST Take Action!

President Abraham Lincoln, an incredible communicator, was known during the Civil War to attend a church not far from the White House on Wednesday nights. The preacher, Dr. Gurley, allowed the President to sit in the pastor’s study with the door open to the chancel so he could listen to the sermon without having to interact with the crowd. 

One Wednesday evening as Lincoln and a companion walked back to the White House after the sermon, the President’s companion asked, “What did you think of tonight’s sermon?”

“Well,” Lincoln responded, “it was brilliantly conceived, biblical, relevant, and well presented.”

“So, it was a great sermon?”

“No,” Lincoln replied. “It failed. It failed because our leader did not ask us to do something great.”

Inspiring communicators always expect a lot from their listeners. CHALLENGE THEM TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENTLY or NEW!


Jake reminds us that it's not enough for us to "just" do a good job.  If we are going to be a driving force in our organizations, we must challenge others to do great things! When was the last time you challenged your colleagues to be world-class?  What happened next?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pics courtesy of and

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Can we discuss something privately?  I'd rather not have this get out, but I have an issue that keeps getting in my way.  You see, as a hands-on HR practitioner, I've had the opportunity to work with many types of people at all levels of the organizations I've served.  I can honestly say that I've enjoyed interacting with almost all of them.  Almost all.


I know the collective stereotype outside of Human Resources is that we are masters of the company picnic and group hugs, but are we really expected to be everyone's pal?  Aren't we the ones who deal with some of the most complicated and challenging issues in the workplace?  Don't we have to dive head first in to these problems when other leaders look like deer in the headlights - sexual harassment, racial discrimination, diversity and inclusion, and other performance failures?  

But what happens when we (read here -> me) don't like the ones we are supposed to serve? 


No.  We don't have to like every single person we ever work with.  However, we must absolutely serve every single one as if we did like them.  A brief example brought this point home to me years ago and helps me (try!) to stay grounded.

An employee had been utilizing the resources of my team to work through a challenge with her supervisor.  To complicate matters, her performance had deteriorated in the weeks leading up to her accessing HR.  The situation eventually required me to meet with the employee, then her manager, and then the employee...again.  Candidly, this case was starting to get annoying. 

As I prepared for the second round with the employee, I knew I would have to "be firm" and "hold her accountable" for her weak performance.  Then the meeting started, I followed my plan, and then something happened. 

After hearing her update and my responses, this stern and always composed woman unexpectedly showed a hint of emotion; and with tears in her eyes thanked me for helping her.  She said I had such a "compassionate way" in dealing with her.

Are tears anything new in HR?  No.  Am I any different than the thousands of other committed HR leaders?  No way.  In fact, I would submit I still have much to learn from their example.  However, the takeaway for me in this encounter was simple.  I must serve every single person as if I believed they had value, could contribute to my organization's success, and be a real difference-maker.  To do anything else would be a total failure.  My failure.


How do you deal with those individuals who are not on your "favorites" list?  Have you figured out how to create an environment that ensures everyone knows they can reach out to you?  It's hard for me to do, what about you?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of

Monday, December 13, 2010

If I Could Change One Thing About HR

Today I have the privilege to participate in the guest blogger series at XpertHR.  Many thanks to Michael Carty for the opportunity!  Please take a look.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Power Post - Mr. Fezziwig - A Modern Leader

One of my favorite holiday movies is Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.  This year I decided to read the original unabridged version (on the Kindle app for my Droid.)  As I was working my way through the language of 1843 England, I came upon the section that describes Ebenezer Scrooge's first boss, Mr. Fezziwig.  It struck me that Fezziwig is the epitome of what the modern leader should be.  Listen as Scrooge describes Fezziwigg to the Ghost of Christmas Past:

"He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil.  Say that his power lies in words and looks: in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count 'em up:  what then?  The happiness he gives, is quite as great as if it cost a fortune."

It seems to me not a whole lot has changed over the last 150 years.  Treat your people well.  Treat each other well.  It's just that simple.

What do you think?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of

Sunday, December 5, 2010


At one time or another I suspect we have all felt this way - stuck.  Our career seems to be on an extended "pause" and we can not figure out why.  Our efforts to change the culture within our teams have hit a permanent plateau.  Now we're starting that familiar self-doubt talk that creeps in when life isn't going according to plan.  Indecision rules the day.


Samuel Beckett's play Waiting for Godot still speaks to us many years after it was first introduced in Paris.  Estragon and Vladimir spent the entire play in front of a tree waiting for the mysterious Godot to arrive, and presumably, change their lives for them.  Neither one took any action, despite their desire for good things to happen.

Could it be that our inaction is an excuse?  Is it easier to simply "wait and see" if things turn around?  I submit that although it is a popular strategy, it is also a most ineffective one.


In order to move past the proverbial rut we find ourselves in from time-to-time it seems necessary that we take two important steps to move forward.

Step 1 - Believe you can move forward.  Believe you can move beyond the doldrums you find yourself in at the moment.  If you do not believe you can do it, I guarantee you won't.

Step 2 - Take action.  Do something.  Anything.  Even if you take one small step.  It's a start.  You do not have to solve your problems all at once, but you do need to start addressing them.

For the record, I have struggled with Steps 1 and 2 on a consistent basis since...well...since forever.


Do you recognize that being stuck is not a terminal condition?  Are you willing to believe in yourself, and take just one step forward to get back on track?  Or, are you the third member of the play sitting quietly with Estragon and Vladimir waiting for Godot?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

cartoon courtesy of

Thursday, December 2, 2010


How many times have you seen it - a test of wills between employees, managers, even executives?  Someone is going to "win" if it kills them.  God forbid we show any sign of weakness!  We will lose credibility...our people will not believe in us...we have to be right, don't we?  For competitive people like me, this is a challenge every day.

What if there was another option?  What if we could honestly take a more strategic view, and realize that if we Choose To Lose the small battles we may actually end up winning the war?  What if we moved outside our own egos (brutally difficult for me!); and took a moment to realize the other person could really use a "win" much more than we could?  In those heated moments, can we step up and show our leadership and concern for our peers, our employees, our families?  

Can we Choose To Lose?

It's so hard for me to do.  What about you?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of