Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Resolutions Are For Suckers

I have long been a member of the New Year's Resolutions Club. I think long and hard about how I'm going to change my life and become something that I'm not...er...I mean something better. I've written personal lists, professional lists, exercise lists, organizational lists, and other lists I'm sure...I just can't seem to remember what they were.

Good Intentions
It's not that setting goals for yourself is a bad idea. In fact, committing to making improvements in one's life is a great idea...as long as the changes are realistic. That's where I've struggled over the years.

So this year I'm going to try something new...no resolutions, or goals, or delusions of becoming some sort of Hollywood fantasy version of myself. I'm simply going to try and do my best. No, that's not very flashy or exciting or inspiring. But if I can do my best each day, I might just make real progress instead of finding myself at the beginning of February lamenting that I'd fallen short once again.

How About You
How many of you have goals for the coming year? Are you dreaming of a better you at home, work, the gym, or with the family? Good luck with that. Maybe this is the year to avoid the disappointment of attempts at change that fall short; and to simply focus on bringing an honest effort each day. Happy New Year.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pics courtesy of leehippie and discotreats

Friday, December 23, 2011

Out of My Element

Earlier this year I had an opportunity to participate on a team that consulted for a large hospital overseas. It was the first time I worked on a project like that, and to say it was an eye-opening experience is the understatement of the year. Much has been written about moving out of one's comfort zone, but this assignment was something far beyond taking a baby step and trying something new.

Frame of Reference...Where?
Although I traveled to a country that required its citizens to be fluent in their native tongue as well as English, the entire healthcare system was organized in a dramatically different way compared to what I'm accustomed to. The norms, procedures, customs, politics and expectations were all new. I quickly found myself trying to force-fit my world-view onto their situation so I could "fix" the many challenges facing this organization.

Uh-oh. Since when was forcing my view on someone else a good idea?

Listen, Learn, Listen Some More
I very quickly realized I needed to slow down and stop being so...well...me. I was the visitor, I was the outsider, I was also being viewed as an expert to bring a fresh perspective. I needed to understand what these talented people were going through before I jumped to any conclusions or solutions. (That is hard for me to do.)

Learning is Good
Once I slowed down and took the time to soak up all of the information that was so generously being shared with me and the other members of our HR Team, I could begin to not only appreciate the challenges but also identify options to make changes within their system. The project wasn't about me, or the American healthcare system, or what was wrong with their system. It was about working together to bring ideas to the table to make progress. Last time I checked, making progress is a good thing.

How About You
Are you the "expert?" If so, how do you let others know? Is it through a series of regular proclamations that are shared with those around you; or, do you listen, learn, and lead those around you to make progress?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of lisafrancesjudd

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Are You Missing Out?

I recently conducted a search for a Professional Recruiter that needed to be experienced using social media. I wrote about my good fortune here with the person who has joined our team, but thought it might be interesting to offer some examples of applications I received and what that showed me about the state of social media adoption with experienced HR pros.

I Said Social Media, Right?
Call me crazy, but since I basically used social media exclusively to advertise the position, and mentioned it in the blog post, I thought it would be safe to assume that those interested in joining my team would have some level of comfort with social media tools. (Or at least would have read the requirements.) Right?


Good Try, Better Luck Next Time
As might be expected during a difficult economy, we had a number of people apply who didn't meet our requirements. What was surprising to me though were the responses from many experienced recruiters when reacting to my "social media experience" expectation. A few examples follow:

“No, not really – we had a dept that posted job ads on various sites – have never done it myself."

"I have a LinkedIn account, but it’s 'personal' – I believe social media should be 'from the company' because the information is 'out there forever'.”

"No – but it sounds awesome!"

"Not yet, but it seems okay."

"I have a Twitter handle but don’t use it much – my company’s 'not there yet'.”

"My company is 100% against the use of social media in recruiting, so I’ve done some 'on the side' myself."

"Twitter?  I’ve never had a need to use it, but it’s fine – I’m all about it!"

...and here is my favorite...

"I have become a subject matter expert on sourcing talent via social media, including LinkedIn, Taleo and Twitter, but have no personal twitter handle (I had a bad experience with inappropriate comments and getting a computer virus from tweets)."

How About You
Are you one of the HR pros that are still anxious about social media? If so, you're missing out. Social media is a tool for business. Every business. Now is the time to get started. The HR social community is incredibly supportive, so do not be afraid. We all had to take that first step...I did.

I'd love to hear from you .

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of bizznesscard

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Can't Wait to Fail...Again

No, I'm not crazy. At least I don't think I am. But I do know this...when I fail I do a hell of a lot of learning. It's not that I look forward to things going poorly or letting down my various customer groups. But the reality is sometimes I fail. Sometimes we all fail. So I've decided that I need to stop worrying about it, and start embracing the learning that follows. Here's the catch, the only way you can take something positive from failure is if you admit that you've failed. If you're one of those leaders who is constantly making excuses for why things didn't work out I need to tell you something...

You're the problem, not the people, or systems, or circumstances. It's you.

Get In The Game
Let's be honest. Failure is no fun. It can be embarrassing, raise concerns about competence, and in extreme cases put one's job at risk. But the truth is we fail all the time. Think about how many ideas you've had over the last year. Did every strategy work out perfectly? Did you achieve every earnings goal, turnover rate, hiring target, expense reduction plans, or sales quota? Of course not.

Here's how I look at failure. I tried something. I took action. I moved out of my comfort zone and went for it. Standing still out of fear means the rest of the world just roared by and you missed countless opportunities to contribute. Don't be that person. Be the one that steps into the fast lane and holds on for dear life. It's what leaders do.

How About You 
Don't settle, don't get comfortable, and for crying out loud don't let 2011 end without you having failed at something. No one is that good.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of yourfreegraphics

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I Have a Great View from My High Horse

Dealing with difficult issues in the workplace can take its toll. Not in the way you might think though. Sometimes juggling sensitive issue after sensitive issue can give the HR pro (read here => me) a bit too much self-confidence. That's not a bad thing, but here's where the "takes its toll' part comes in to play. If we get so immersed in issues where we, by the mere fact that its our job are making extremely important decisions, its critical that we take a step back and do a reality check.

Reach out to those that absolutely can be trusted and review what you're dealing with and the options you're considering to move forward. Make sure you're on track, and haven't inadvertently overlooked an important topic, person, or political issue. Most of the time you'll be handling the situation just fine. For me, its an opportunity to make sure I'm not blindly moving ahead and risking making a mistake.

How About You
Have you ever said this before: "Nothing surprises me anymore." There's danger in that statement. You might just be getting too complacent with your reactions. Take a minute, and hop off that horse. It has saved me time and time again.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of hifiwigwam

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Heavy Burden

Having lots of responsibility is a wonderful part of leadership, at least it is for me. The auhority to make my own decisions, execute my vision, and the power to make 'plans to change' into a reality get me fired up.

But sometimes, "being in the know" isn't much fun at all.

When we're made aware of a problem there can be an uncomfortable period of time while we're processing what we've just heard. During this time we usually have many thoughts running through our head as we try to sort out the mess we've just learned about. We're paid to be problem-solvers, and when we receive information that feels more like a burden than just another routine issue, it can be a real challenge to solve that problem quickly. Add to it if the stakes are high (for the person involved, or HR) and it makes the burden so much heavier.

Knowledge is a heavy burden. Developing the skills and having the courage to take action appropriately is not for the faint of heart.  How many times have you heard someone say "I would never want your job in HR?" And how many times have those same people been critical when it comes to other aspects of HR and are quick to add their "advice?" Our jobs are different than most others in our organizations. When we receive information that is troubling for us, it is a unique challenge that most others do not have to deal with. It's our job to figure out the next step. That is our struggle.

How About You
How do you process that initial set of issues that are handed off to HR? Are you paralyzed with insecurity? Anxious about making a bad move politically? Or, do you take some time to understand the circumstances, and then proceed...even if proceeding means heading into a storm?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of texasenterprise

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Great Leadership in Just 5 Minutes a Day!

We've seen the infomercials, the commercials, and all the other advertisements out there trying to convince us that hard work is no longer necessary. Simply invest a few minutes a day in your health, weight management, body, positive-thinking, leadership, fill-in-the-blank...and you will transform your life. Really? Six pack abs in 5 minutes?

They're lying.

Work Hard, Get Results
There are no easy paths to getting the results you want. I've tried shortcuts, doing what I thought was just enough, and believing my own self-talk press releases. Let me tell you those strategies don't work.  There simply are no shortcuts at any stage of the journey, whether it's in our personal life or professional life. The only times I've truly been successful are when I commit myself to achieving something. Yes, I spend time talking about it, and planning for it. But then I DO something. Hey, there's a novel concept!

Hacking Up HR
Recently my team and I realized we had some fairly inefficient and cumbersome processes that were slowing down our recruitment efforts. We mapped out our problems, identifed solutions, and now we're implementing them. It's the "doing" that separates leaders from talkers. Yes, I'm a big talker, but if I don't involve my team in addressing problems and then execute on those plans I shouldn't be in a leadership role.

How About You
Very few things in life bring great results with little or no effort. Decide on the most important things in your life and get started. Whether its finally trying P90X (which I can personally confirm DOES work), or venturing out of your safety zone at work to make sure real progress is made, get fired up about the hard work ahead. Besides, how great does it feel when you've accomplished something really difficult? Wouldn't you like to experience that feeling again?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of iteachthings

Monday, December 5, 2011

Your Own Significance

There can be a fine line between believing in yourself and believing only in yourself. I am clearly in the camp of those that feel self-confidence is an essential leadership trait. I struggle to follow those that are meek and soft-spoken, even if they are in significant positions of power.  Yes, I respect their role, but how does one inspire passion, innovation, risk-taking, and action when they appear to be scared of even the slightest confrontation or difficult decision? Not fair? Maybe, but I'm hard-pressed to identify a long list of effective leaders who are quiet.

Confidence is Good
So where is that proverbial fine line between confidence and arrogance? I'm constantly searching for it, and often only recognize it after I've crossed it. I hate when I do that, but I continue to do it anyway. Working with leaders who exude confidence in a down to earth way (rarefied air for sure!) is a pleasure.  In those few instances in my career when this has happened its had a profound impact on how I went about my work. Somehow that leader's style inspired me to work harder, try new things, and strive to replicate their behavior. I wonder if my behavior impacts how my team members go about their work?

Arrogance is Bad
Sadly, I've also learned several valuable lessons from less than effective leaders I've encountered over the years. None of them were bad people, they just struggled in a role that required leadership as a central responsibility of their job. This is where "leadership" gets tricky. 

All leaders must understand the business they are in (this is particularly important for HR if they are planning on contributing in any way); but if leadership is essential to the success of the company how can someone who is committed to them self before all others effectively lead?  I submit they can not. I bet if I asked you to name three ineffective leaders in your organization right now you could do it.  Why...

"Because we're all good at making excuses for why we won't take action instead of earning our pay as leaders and freeing our dedicated employees from weak members of the leadership team."

How About You
Self-confidence is a wonderful trait, and for those leaders who use it to make themselves, their teams and organizations stronger they can be truly inspirational. For those that are so convinced that they are essential to the very success of the organization above all others please take heed. You are setting the behavior example...do you really want everyone to act the way you do?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of activerain

Thursday, December 1, 2011

All We Ask Is That You Join Our...Cult!

Finding the perfect job.  The "dream job."  Ahhh, so enticing.  The grass looks so green over there...but how do I get from here to there?  I believe everything they're telling me about this opportunity, and it sounds perfect.  I believe.....I'm expecting this to be just what I've been searching for...

Really?  Wake up.

Nothing is Perfect
One of the issues that has challenged me in my professional life is the notion of expectations. At work we often have such lofty expectations for employees that we forget they are people, not machines. They will have moments of brilliance, and moments when they struggle ( I am really good at the struggling part.) Accepting that variability in performance is key to creating a welcoming culture. 

Beware the Corporate Cult
Sometimes however, a different agenda comes into play. An agenda based on a command and control leadership style. Even though this approach has proven to be incredibly inefficient in the modern workplace there continues to be companies that actually believe this is a good idea. In fact it can be woven into the very fabric of these organizations. Although they may claim to be "progressive" or "current" or even "cutting-edge" their behavior displays a very different reality.  A reality they will want you to buy-in to.  Immediately.

But I Didn't Know
Ask these simple questions to gain a better understanding of your "dream company:"
- Do they believe they do "it" better than everyone else in the industry?
- Do they support any semblence of work/life balance?
- Do they automatically assume their processes are "best practices" and should be adopted universally?
- Do they expect you to devote inordinate amounts of your personal time to the company?
- Do they expect employees to speak, behave, and perform in a very specific and uniform way regardless of background or skill set or ethnicity? (formerly known as "scripting")

This my friends is a classic example of the Corporate Cult.  It's not that their intentions are bad, or that bad people are leading that organization.  My problem is that with such a closed-minded view of how things should be, huge opportunities are lost.  Opportunities to learn, challenge, debate, learn some more, and hear different perspectives on issues that could move the company forward are completely missed. 

"Rejecting diversity in the name of institutional arrogance is the epitome of the Corporate Cult."

How About You
Are you contemplating making a move to a new position?  Check it out first. Ask questions. Are your new team members transparent (hello social media) so you have a good feel for what they're like IRL?  Or maybe you've been seduced by the Cult...er...company you're working for today. Maybe it's time to take a closer look at yourself?  I know I'm going to. 

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pics courtesy of allthoughtout and buildings