Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Outmaneuver the Old Guard

A true story...

Many years ago a young man was being blocked from moving ahead within his professional discipline by a committee of his peers.  The reviewing body had the authority to block his transition to the highest level of his profession, in effect, ending his career.  You see, this young man had struggled a bit, and the old guard was not interested in wasting anymore time on him.

However, one member of the committee saw something in his colleague that he felt was worth a second chance.  The challenge however, was that it was time to vote to move him ahead or to block his movement to the final level.  The vote was taken, the young man was not successful, and in most circumstances that would not only be the end of the story, but the end of the young man's career.  (By the way, he had completed a Master's Degree and was already working in his field at the time of the vote.)

As the group began to depart, the member of the committee who saw potential in the young man asked that he be allowed to speak.  Believing he caught the man in an error the  Chairman said "you can not open any further dialogue in this matter. Only those that opposed his promotion may be allowed to speak, and you clearly are in support of him."

Enter procedural maneuvering...the lone voice that supported this man asked that the register of votes be reviewed. Knowing he would lose, he voted against the man in the first round of voting to ensure he could take the floor and speak on his behalf. Absolute genius.

Not only did the procedural move capture the group's attention, it forced them to reconsider their position entirely.  Following an eloquent presentation on the man's behalf, the group passed him through on the second vote.

How About You
Who do you see around you that could use a second chance? Just because someone isn't a good fit in one area, doesn't mean they won't add value somewhere else in your organization.  Take the time to understand all of the options, and then stand up for someone who deserves your support. That's what leaders do.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of deborahshanetoolbox

Monday, November 28, 2011

I Hired A Recruiter - Update!

I've been searching for a new recruiter to join my team.  I took an unorthodox approach (imagine that?), wrote about it here, and quite honestly didn't know what to expect.  I summarized my search this way:

"I have a vacancy and I want a kick ass Recruiter who embraces social media to be part of my team."
Jennifer Novak

Today I am fired up to tell you I achieved my goal...I hired a kick ass recruiter.  In fact, many of you know her, which makes this hire an absolute coup. 

Please welcome Jennifer Novak a.k.a. @NextJenHR to the Human Resources team at All Children's Hospital/Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Our terrific Recruitment Team is looking forward to Jennifer's energy, experience, and forward-thinking style as we continue to hack up HR here in the sunshine state.

Please welcome her as she transitions to our team!

As always, I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of @NextJenHR

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Flames of Ignorance

I am troubled.

I  am troubled about the negativity that continues to be directed at our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) friends. Yes, friends.  They live and work in our communities, organizations and neighborhoods. Add to it the bizarre decision by this organization and it seems we are openly attacking innocent people based simply on their sexual orientation. Since when is it okay in a civilized society to attack innocent people? I am aware that bigotry and ignorance exist, but it is disappointing to me that governments and organizations in the "modern" world would actually move ahead in such a mean-spirited way against other human beings. This my friends is totally unacceptable. 

One Nation Under God…Really?
To further complicate matters, some of these folks actually attempt to use religion, primarily Christianity, as the rationale for their position.  The reality is that the teachings of Christianity, other major faiths, and the tenets of human decency regardless of one’s faith perspective, are about as far away from these hate-inspired and homophobic attitudes as one could imagine. Families today are made up of many diverse situations, but that doesn't mean they aren't loving families. I wonder if Rick Santorum would refuse life-saving treatment from a gay physician who was married to another gay person?  I bet his perspective might shift just a bit in that moment, don't you?

Make A Choice
So with all this venom flying around us we are faced with quite a dilemma.  What does one do about all of this “unReligious” inspired hate?  Well, I for one am no longer comfortable sitting idly by and letting the racists and fear mongers control the message.  Leaders of people, ALL people, do not see color, or age, or orientation…they see people.  So the next time a person, or organization, or State allows a few voices to rally the masses to take shameful action in the name of “what’s right” remember these words from Martin Niemöller:

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

How About You
What are you going to do the next time you hear an innocent person being attacked simply because they are gay or lesbian?  Are you going to remain silent so as to avoid confrontation; or, will you step up and show everyone around you that you are a leader.  Do not allow yourself to become mesmerized by the flames of ignorance...while you’re watching someone else is feeling the burn.

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of politicalmonkey2010

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ask Not What You Can Do For Yourself

We're heading into the annual stretch of time here in the States known as "the Holidays."  We start thinking about our families, our time away from work, our lists, our parties, our, our, our...  Hmm...

Why do I know so much about this "our" syndrome? Basically because I spend a whole lot of time each Holiday season perfecting my skills at accomplishing the list above.  

One New Thing
It's not that I am completely self-absorbed during this time of year, far from it.  But as I begin to see the television commercials, lights, and hear Christmas music on the radio, I'm trying to get out of the rut of being so focused on "my stuff."  So here's what I'm thinking...

What if each of us picked one new "good" thing to do over the next 45 days for someone else? This should be in addition to what we normally do. As I've been thinking about what I do each year there seems to be a certain sameness to my efforts.  I think it's time to change things up!

How About You
Regardless of your faith perspective, this time of year brings a different feel to life. Are you up for doing something special; or is the Egg Nog malaise already setting in?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of 123rf 

Friday, November 18, 2011

We All Need to Change

The concept of "change" has become such a dominant part of the massive reorganization underway with my team, that we don't even consider it something new.  It's just a natural part of our work lives as we push the practice of HR to the limit.  It's rewarding, scary, exciting, and frustrating all at the same time. Many of you may be experiencing various stages of change in your personal or professional lives too. The most important component of all of this controlled chaos, for me, is to keep my sense of humor.

Here's to "change."  Enjoy your Friday.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Quick to Judge

I've done it. I bet you have too. I'm not proud of it, but I'm willing to admit I stumbled and fell into the trap of labeling myself as "The Honorable." That's right, suddenly I anointed myself Judge, and had no qualms about being judgmental.

That's not good HR. That's not good leadership. That's just not good.

Icebergs Tell A Story
We all know about icebergs. We only see a small part of what makes them complete.  The same holds true for those around us.  We only see a small part of what makes them a whole person. So if we know we're starting from a deficit point of view and only have limited information about people, why in the world are we (read here "I") so quick to judge?  Is it because we want to solve problems quickly?  Is it because their behavior is so obviously off base that "we know" what should be done without even thinking? Or, is it that we've grown a bit too comfortable in our roles? Hmm, that last one stings a bit, doesn't it?

How About You
Are you willing to take a close look at your own style and ease off on the judgement throttle?  It's hard to do.  Important work is always hard to do.  Although you may feel a bit uncomfortable with this change, just imagine how your employees feel when you judge after day after day...
I'd love to hear from you.
No Excuses.
pic courtesy of athropolis

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hunting Talent

Needed:  Experienced professionals interested in joining a world-class organization doing cutting-edge work.

Requirements:  Give up your  job, tenure, retirement accrual, vacation seniority, relationships with colleagues and overall standing in your current organization to start all over again.

Now that sounds like a great opportunity doesn’t it? But that's exactly what we're asking people to do in the reality of today’s world of hunting talent. Give up everything they’ve worked so hard to achieve in their organization and begin again with us.  That can be a tough sell.

Retaining Is Easier Than Hunting
One of the things I find interesting about Talent Acquisition is that so often leaders overestimate their own skill set and the environments they’ve created.  After all, the data  clearly indicates employees are much more inclined to leave ineffective leaders than they are to leave ineffective organizations. 

So if we’re facing a large number of vacancies shouldn’t we first take an objective view of our own leadership style (myself included) and its impact on our departments?  Let’s face it, if we can keep our employees, we don’t need to pay the overtime, push the remaining staff to cover open shifts, and wear ourselves out trying desperately to find high demand talent in a low supply world.

Hunt Your Team
Plenty has been written about paying attention to your employees whether it’s rounding, holding staff meetings or involving them in decision-making.  Lots and lots has been written.  Why do you think that is?  Because leaders still don’t do it.  That’s why. 

Plenty has also been written about evaluating your own performance as a leader so you can make a positive impact on the team.  Lots and lots has been written.  Why do you think that is?  Because leaders have so many blind spots to their own challenges that they use easy excuses to justify their poorly performing areas. 

Ever heard this one – “we’ve had a lot of turnover, but it’s been good turnover.”  When you have so much “good turnover” that you are now facing a major staffing crisis, it’s time to take a look in the mirror.

Hunt Yourself
Stepping up and taking responsibility for creating a difficult environment is not a weakness; in fact, it is one of the most courageous things a leader can do. If you’re worried that admitting you’re not perfect will hurt you consider this: you already have many eyes on you due to the situation you’re in.  Take action now to correct it versus leaning so hard on that “good turnover crutch.”  That tired approach just doesn’t work any more.

How About You
Have you fallen into the leadership excuse trap of blaming others for your current set of challenges?  Why?  No one is out to get you, actually there is a lot of support that can be rolled out….you just need to take that first step.

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pics courtesy of sureshkumar and findyourcalm

Friday, November 11, 2011

Retaliation Hurts

It’s become part of my standard message.  Since I’m fortunate enough to be a Human Resources professional (and I mean that very sincerely), I’ve had ample opportunities over the years to investigate allegations of leadership retaliation against their own employees.  I tell them that they “simply can not retaliate against their employees for raising concerns” no matter how disappointed they are that they are in this situation. 

Unfortunately I’ve seen the pain in the faces of their employees when they are back in my office, only this time it’s not about the original issue => it’s about how their leader retaliated against them for raising that original issue.

I see the disappointment, the frustration and the fear. 

Coming to You Made Things Worse
This is perhaps the worst thing we can hear in Human Resources.  The worst thing that is, unless we’re willing to do something about it.  Allowing leaders to “get away with” retaliation is a credibility-killer.  But how does the motivated HR pro go about re-addressing behavior with a leader that has already been spoken to, except now the issue of retaliation has to be added into the mix?  Any takers for this assignment?

Colleagues Do Not Equal Friends
I’ve been blessed throughout my career to develop very close relationships with those that I work with, whether they were members of my team or peers.  For some reason they tolerated me and for that I am grateful.  But one thing that became clear early on was that my colleagues are not, and I would submit can not truly be your “friends.” 

I don’t mean work-friends; I mean the kind of friend that you rely on when you are at your absolute worst.  The kind of friend who you treat poorly in a weak moment, and you wake up the next morning to find them calling to make sure you’re okay.  That type of friend isn’t typically the same person you’ll be developing a corrective action plan to share with the corporate office during the next monthly budget review.

Understanding Power
So when one of these “work-friends” stumbles and retaliates against their team it’s time for HR to step up.  In my world stepping up equates with confrontationNot everyone is comfortable with the notion of confrontation.  It’s easier to “let things settle down” or to “let the adults involved work this out.”  That’s bull.  If they could work it out they would, but it is absolutely impossible for one simple reason.  The leader holds the power, and the employee who feels they have been retaliated against does not.  They are going to tell the leader whatever they feel is necessary to make the bad behavior stop.  Period. 

"This is not rocket science, this is survival in the workplace."

I continue to be amazed that leaders fail to recognize this power differential.  Their desire to be “liked” by their employees produces a major blind spot that results in the response of “we’ve worked it all out, and everything is fine now.”  Really?  Says who?  For those leaders that justify their inappropriate behavior because they don’t want to hear that they aren’t perfect are heading down a slippery slope.  A slope they will eventually slide all the way down to the bottom and crash and burn.

How About You
What do you do when you’re made aware of  retaliation?  Is it time to grab the nearest broom and rug and start sweeping?  Or, is time for a gut-check and to remember exactly what you’re being paid to do?  Those employees are counting on you.

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pics courtesy of egmnblog and athnan


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

HR and Marketing Are Best Friends...Or Should Be

Did you ever wish you could get time back?  I do, particularly when I think about all of the meetings, strategy sessions, focus groups and vendor calls all intended to help me decide on the best creative campaign for my recruitment advertising needs.  Yes, a SEPARATE ad campaign from the rest of the organization’s advertising efforts.  Why?  Because every modern organization was built in “Silo-ville” that’s why.  God forbid we actually integrate our strategies, messaging, and creative ideas to maximize the brand!

The Good Ol’ Days Sucked
The examples listed above are all true experiences from my “formative years” in HR.  I actually worked in an organization that required Nursing leaders to approve the creative ads for various recruitment initiatives.  Since when are Nurses, or HR staff for that matter, the Marketing professionals?  Guess what, they’re not.  I submit that neither group should be making those decisions. 

Happy Days Are Here Again…for the 1st Time
Gone now are the days of competing ad campaigns with Marketing, interference from others, and a mixed message to our external customers about the organization. Now HR and Marketing are completely integrated relative to creative advertising, communication strategies including the extensive use of social media, our evolving exploration of a Talent Community as well as the general coordination of production. 

We meet weekly to ensure every detail is managed efficiently and professionally.  The results have been nothing short of fantastic.  Check out our facebook page to take a quick look at what teamwork can produce.

How About You
Are you still pretending to be a Marketing professional?  Do you have vendors pitch their programs to you with promises of great results for your recruitment blitz plan?  What about your company’s overall Marketing plan?  Do you meet regularly with the leadership in that area to ensure you maximize the message, the spend, and the brand?  On second thought, please don’t.  While you’re wasting all that time and money confusing your customers, I can make my move.

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pics courtesy of corporate-eye and my iPhone

Monday, November 7, 2011

Killswitch Engage...Your Job

“Things don’t feel quite right in this job.  It’s not that the people are bad, aren’t committed to doing good work, or are disengaged.  But there’s something missing…it’s hard to describe.  I get along with my colleagues, but somehow I don’t think I fit here anymore.”

Have you ever felt this way? It can be a lonely and scary place, particularly in an economy as tight as this one.  But what should you do? Maybe the time is right to begin looking for something new?  It’s almost an impossible topic considering the staggering unemployment rate right now though, isn't it?

“…somehow I don’t think I fit here anymore…”  That voice keeps pushing you.

Hopeless to Hopeful
Before you hit the kill switch on your current position, invest the time and develop a search strategy.  There are great resources available to help you make good decisions, not hurried or emotional ones. Simply because you happen to be in a difficult spot right now doesn’t mean you’ll be there forever.  In fact, it can be quite empowering to make the decision to leave a position that simply is not satisfying at all.  I know, because I’ve been there.

Burning Bridges Are Difficult to Cross
I recently interviewed someone who is frustrated in his current position.  He’s bright, motivated and eager to be in an environment that has hacked up traditional HR.  But he went out of his way to avoid criticizing his current employer.  Instead, he expressed his enthusiasm for the opportunity that exists in moving out of his current role versus tearing down his employer.  Big difference - and one that did not go unnoticed.

How About You
Are you feeling like you are the “bad fit” at work?  It’s okay.  Take control of your life, form a plan, and move ahead. Nothing lasts forever, including the nagging feeling you’re experiencing right now.  Let me know if I can help.

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of killswitch

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Professional Boundaries Get In The (My) Way

I learned a lot about boundaries in graduate school.  I studied social work which has turned out to be incredibly valuable training in a world based on effective relationships.  In school we talked about not getting too involved, keeping our distance, not telling others what to do, but rather helping people find their own way.

Well…ahem…that doesn’t necessarily translate to real life now does it?

But I Know What To Do
This is really the challenge when it comes to professional boundaries, isn’t it?  We want to jump in and help.  But it’s more than that…we want to solve the other person’s problem.  Now we’re getting somewhere!  Results we can see, feel and experience.  Aren’t we terrific?  Damn right we are.  Except we’re not living that person’s life.  They are.  And that makes the whole thing so much more complicated.

Where Is That Boundary Anyway?
Have you ever said something and immediately wished you could pull those words right back out of the air?  Me too.  Lots of times.  It seems to me that moment of panic comes as we realize we’ve just crossed the proverbial boundary line. 

If only there was some sort of flashing beacon that let me know: Danger, Stupid Moment About to Occur!  But alas, no such tool is available outside of ourselves.  We must rely on personal discipline to recognize when that boundary is approaching.

Think With Your Ears
The strategy that has proven most effective for me is to focus on what I'm hearing as the other person shares their story.  The danger is to jump ahead inside our head and begin preparing our solution for them.  It’s not that we won’t come up with a useful idea that they may in fact try out.  But if we begin formulating a plan before we’ve heard everything that is being shared with us, we risk at a minimum offering advice that is off-base; or worse yet, insulting the person because we don’t fully understand their situation.  Leverage the power of listening in your boundary awareness work.

How About You
Are you going to “help” someone today?  If so, do you plan on being a know-it-all?  Or, will you be the one that takes the time to listen, connect, and leverage the relationship building opportunity at hand and avoid crossing that ever-moving boundary line?

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pics courtesy of  watiyusuf and wl4j4life

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

HR Rap Session Today!

Many thanks to my friend Chris Fields for inviting me to pariticpate in the latest version of HR Rap Session.  I'm hanging out with @DwaneLay and @incblot so in spite of me, you know it has to be good!

Check it out!

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.