Monday, December 31, 2012

Cliffs, Difference, and Power

Today is New Year's Eve, and in the United States we're making plans for the big event. People are reaching out to one another, there's lots of conversation, and we're generally waiting with anticipation to see what 2013 will bring.

Sadly, the buzz has nothing to do with celebrating a new year, but instead has us caught up in the never ending melodrama that comes from Washington, D.C., this time focusing on the proverbial fiscal cliff.

The Real Story
It shouldn't come as a surprise to any of us in leadership (or any other part of life) that elected officials struggle mightily to get along. For years we are programmed to believe in ourselves, have confidence, stand up for what we believe in...etc...and then we become professionals and are expected to compromise, see the big picture, and do what's best for everyone.

That seems to me like a fairly sudden change of course.

So if we're raised to have a certain set of beliefs, yet the reality is that we can not get our own way all of the time, and must learn to compromise in order to be successful, why is it that we still struggle as leaders?

Accepting Difference
I believe that this private struggle that has a very public impact is all about difference. Overcoming the natural tendency to want our ideas to win out; or to push an idea forward simply because we don't want to be perceived as looking bad are not realistic strategies, nor quite honestly have they ever been. The workplace needs to embrace the different perspectives, ideas, experiences, and cultures that make our organizations unique.

Yes, some ideas are worth pursuing and others are not going to work. But until we stop talking and start listening to each other, it is unlikely that anything productive will get accomplished. You have the power to change the way differences are handled in your organization. You also have the power to reinforce the status quo through your inaction.

How About You
When was the last time you had to force yourself to stop and hear what a colleague was saying? What if their idea was something you were strongly opposed to...were you able to hear what they were saying instead of preparing your response while they were still talking? The power of difference...give it a try.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit

Friday, December 28, 2012

Be More...I'm Talking to Myself

I've come to realize two important things over the last year. The first is that I enjoy blogging much more than I ever thought I would. The ability to engage with people from around the world, to challenge conventional thought, and to hold myself, and you, accountable on the most public of platforms can be very powerful.

The second is that I feel a need to have NoExcusesHR be more. As many of you know, I am a long time healthcare human resources professional. When I survey the healthcare HR landscape I simply do not see enough (or any) voices pushing the issues from an industry that dominates state and federal budgets, creates political grid-lock in Washington, and took over the Supreme Court for an unprecedented three days of debate.

It's time for NoExcusesHR, and me, to be more.

What Does That Mean
2013 is going to look and feel a bit different. Yes, leadership is a passion of mine, and will continue to be a regular topic here. My #HealthcareHR series will continue as well in an attempt to fill a gaping HR leadership hole in my industry. Overall my posts may be less frequent as I try to elevate my game, but the same level of energy and accountability will remain.

I'm also looking forward to speaking more as the appropriate opportunities arise. I almost feel an obligation to discuss HR's role both as leaders inside our organizations, as well as what HR is doing (or should be doing) to stay current in the healthcare industry. That is going to be fun...and loud!

It Might Get Ugly
I can't guarantee that my writing will be any better. Nor can I promise that my presentations will be inspiring every time. But what I can speak confidently about is that as I juggle new projects at work, dive into this blog as well as the PerformanceICreate project, and stand up in front of an unsuspecting audience somewhere, I will bring the energy, and yes passion, for what I'm doing each and every time.

How About You
Beyond the corny resolutions and personal goals list for the coming year, what is it that you are seriously building into your life for 2013. Are you as fired up as I am? If not, throw out your list and start over. This stuff is simply too important to take lightly.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Pic from the Keynote at the 2012 Healthcare Internet Conference

Thursday, December 20, 2012

You v. Excuses

Now is not the time for reflection...or quiet...or slowing things down only to fall behind even more. Now is the time to do something.

What are you going to do?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Employee Communication - #HealthcareHR

"I just wish we had better communication around here."

"They never tell us what is really going on."

"My Manager didn't even tell us about that change. Can you believe it?"

"The night shift is always the last group to know anything."

Communication:   Conveying information through the exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, visuals, signals, writing or behavior.

What? Signals and thoughts? Now we're supposed to be mind-readers too?

Perhaps the most over-used term in the healthcare workplace* (source* = Me) is communication. Maybe it's because we have so many options for communicating these days? Maybe the challenges of running a 24/7 operation like a hospital or nursing home are simply too difficult to create a decent system to communicate with employees? Maybe life just moves too fast?

Or maybe those of us in healthcare love excuses and suck at communicating and don't have the guts to admit it.

Get over it, and get to work fixing it.

Step one - take some time and fully document the channels you are actively using today. What appears to be working, and what is a bust? Invest the time to understand exactly what channels are being used.  It's only through this first level of understanding that you can plan your course of action to maximize your communication opportunities.

Ever Ask Anyone?
Step two - now that you know what is currently in place, it's time to ask the employees which communication outlets they prefer. Since they are your target audience, it makes sense to ask them what they want, right? Do a quick survey of your team members and be open-minded to the results. Just because you believe your communication plan is best, it may not be anything close to what your employees want to see.

Get over it, and get to work giving them what they want.

How About You
Do you rely on outdated thinking  and a "memo to all staff" to connect with your employees? What about social platforms, what about e-bulletin boards, what about good old fashioned letters home, what about rounding during the night shift...which ones are best for your hospital? Healthcare organizations are complicated, and so too are the ways we need to communicate with our employees.

Which one is best? It's up to you to find out.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit  photo credit

Monday, December 17, 2012

Social Media and the HR Executive

A good corporate image is now more than ever absolutely essential. In the post-Enron era it seems the spin doctors are busier than ever managing just about every customer facing contact point imaginable. Quite honestly I think that is the right thing to do…from an official corporate perspective. But what about those leaders inside the company that might help balance the corporate spin with a voice that is a bit edgy or confrontational? Specifically, what should the Human Resources executive do in this situation?

Playing It Safe is Lame
The safe play is obviously to hide behind the press releases and stumble out of the office every night dizzy from so much “spin.” But somehow that doesn’t seem right to me. The Human Resources leader is supposed to balance the needs of the organization and the employees. Right? Those employees are bright, committed, and paying attention to everything that happens in the workplace. They don’t speak in press release language, or God forbid, ever use the word synergy on purpose. So who is going to keep the conversation “real” if the HR executive doesn’t?

No one, that’s who.

Social Risk or Social Reward
Enter social media into this mix. Five years ago I worried about the perception of company wide emails I had to release. Now I send several dozen messages per day to the universe via twitter, facebook, foursquare and Linkedin. That’s a huge change in a short period of time. While all of those messages are not specifically directed to employees, they all can certainly track them. Does that pose a risk for me? For my company? For Human Resources?

Yes, yes and yes.

But there is an upside that simply can not be ignored. It is so incredibly obvious, and I believe essential for the modern Human Resources executive that it must be incorporated into everyday life. Embracing social media specifically as a Human Resources leader does more than open up your own world (which it does to a degree that is impossible to accurately describe.)

It allows for one of the primary links between the employees and the company to be accessible, real…to be human. Does that create a huge opportunity for me? For my company? For Human Resources?

Yes, yes and yes.

How About You
Are you the Senior Human Resources leaders in your organization? Have you built social media into your work and personal life? I bet it was a bit intimidating at first. Everything new is intimidating. Get over it. Be the bridge that effective HR is supposed to be.

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit  photo credit

Friday, December 14, 2012

Pick 'Em Up, Put 'Em Down

I seem to be moving faster than ever lately. I love to be challenged in my work, and it has not disappointed me. In periods like this I wonder what I'm missing...who am I missing...what projects are falling behind? So many questions, pressures, and sometimes...mistakes.

I hate that. I just get so busy picking my feet up and putting them down faster and faster that my productivity can actually decrease.
Remember to Breathe
Although it is incredibly difficult for me to justify in my mind, I need to force myself to slow down during my most hectic times. Clearing my desk, maxing out my task list, and then taking each project one at a time with a clear mind is, for me, the quickest path to success.
Once I get my piles of work organized, I can often burn through the emails, tasks, and at least make a decent dent in my projects. Maybe this all sounds too simple, but I regularly see desks piled so high with paper, binders, and printouts of email that I wonder how some people get anything accomplished. I secretly smile to myself knowing that at least I don't have it as bad as they do.

How About You
Have you considered how your team members perceive you when they see the chaos spread far and wide across your workspace? Does it matter? Maybe you're one of those rare souls who claim they "know where everything is" amongst the old email and Leadership Magazines from May 2010. I'm just not that guy.  How do you manage the tidal wave of work roaring through your life?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit

Monday, December 10, 2012

First Time Guests

One of my favorite responsibilities is to address new staff members each month when they attend new employee orientation. I kick things off for the first hour and try to make it anything but normal. I yell, strut around the large conference room making jokes, using videos, a slide deck, and banter back and forth with one of our HR employees who goes along with my shenanigans as if we were a stand up comedy team.

I love it. I'm trying to impress all of those new people as a representative of my company. I feel pressure to send a positive message, because I know first impressions mean a lot. I want the employees to know that our senior leaders are not dull or boring or stodgy.

I want them to get fired up because new employees are just like first time guests.

Details Don't Matter...Yet
The advantage of early messaging to new employees is clear: no work routines yet, no daily grind mentality yet, no familiarity with the organization yet. Now is the time to connect in a meaningful way.

Attention HR leaders! Are you delegating this moment to someone else? Really? Let me guess, you're too busy with a turnover report? You might not have to complete that report if you engage with those anxious, excited, nervous, terrific new hires you just invested so much time and energy into bringing on board. Remember the fabled war for talent? Guess what? You won! You have talent in that room, now go get them pumped up about their decision to join your company!

How About You
How do welcome your first time guests? Do you take advantage of the opportunity and get them engaged right away? Do you help them believe in your organziation using emotion, stories, and for the love of God some energy! I hope so...because if they think they've made a mistake by joining your team, you'll be busier than ever working on that turnover report.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit
photo credit

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Center of the Universe

“Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must - at that moment - become the center of the universe.”
Take a moment and think about the issues that you've known about for some time but just haven't taken action on yet.
Whether those issues are blatant, subtle, intentional or not; would you perhaps identify some part, or someone, in your organization that should become the center of your workplace universe?
What are you going to do now?
I'd love to hear from you.
No Excuses.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Employee Ombudsman - #HealthcareHR

This is another post in the occasional series on healthcare and human resources (#HealthcareHR.) Today's post focuses on taking a bold step in order to create a pro-employee culture.

I find it interesting that in one of the most stressful industries, if not the most stressful, the role of employee ombudsman is not widely used in healthcare settings. In my organization we've been effectively using this role for more than three years with tremendous results.

What the Heck is An Employee Ombudsman
We define the role this way:

"Employee Ombudsman:  a non-management representative of the organization that is available to employees to talk through and process options about employee concerns." 

To say the implementation of this strategy has been anything short of a huge success would be an understatement. In an industry riddled with legal, regulatory, staffing, and third party pressure it is a no-brainer to hard wire support for your employees. One of the most effective ways to do that is to invest in the role of employee ombudsman.

But What Do They Do
The power of this role can not be underestimated. Making work hours flexible to meet the needs of all employees (healthcare is a 24/7 business); reinforcing that a requirement to follow the chain of command to report issues is an archaic strategy (what if the problem is with the chain of command!); and most importantly taking action when the data indicates action is required.

Key responsibilities of the role include:
- meeting with employees in a private, discreet setting
- tracking all issues
- serving as a resource to employees to assist with the resolution of work related issues whenever possible
- supporting employees through the formal grievance process
- conducting all exit interviews
- coordinating employee surveys and events

Results Tell The Story
Our employee ombudsman has helped drive the following actions: disciplinary actions being rescinded, annual evaluations being changed, merit increases being modified, and in some cases ineffective leaders being transitioned out of the organization. Plus we've also held people accountable when they thought they could deflect responsibility away from themselves.

I would say that's a pretty successful strategy, wouldn't you?

How About You
What are you doing in your organization to back up your messaging to employees that you support and care for them? Have you taken the steps necessary to prove it to them, such as using an employee ombudsman? If not, you're missing an opportunity to provide real leadership to a dedicated group of employees who deal with life and death issues everyday.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit

Monday, December 3, 2012

Please Stop, I'm Going to Hurl

"You have to manage your personal brand."

"How do you measure your influence?"

"You need to make an impact!"

"What is your career plan?"

"Which goals are you setting up for 2013?"

"Which new social networks are you active on?"

"Should I start a blog? On what? When should I post?"

"Who should I follow, friend, connect with, or add?"

Someone please make it stop...I think I'm going to be sick. Somehow the world of work seems to have morphed into a rat race against ourselves. No longer am I worried about setting myself apart from others, it now appears I'm supposed to set myself apart from...well..myself.  

So Many Messages
In the digital age we now have a non-stop stream of advice, expert opinion, and misguided messaging that has left many of us confused. There was a time when I could come to the office and focus on my work exclusively. At first glance that doesn't sound too bad, until one realizes that the entire world does not work where I do. Nor are the best and most creative ideas necessarily coming out of my organization. There is a richness that must be tapped into in order to help move my organization forward.

And there's the rub...which messages should I listen to, and which ones are just noise?

So Little Time
Not everyone is as comfortable jumping into multiple social channels, writing, taking risks at work, and generally feeding off the noise. (I admit I get a bit of a rush feeding off the noise.) For many others however I think the biggest barrier to manage the 24/7 onslaught of messages about the "right way" to go about one's work comes down to two simple points:

1 - Manage your business at the pace you are most comfortable long as you are moving forward.
2- There is no right or wrong way to answer the litany of questions at the opening of this post.

How About You
Have you been been feeling a bit overwhelmed with the constant barrage of experts telling you what to do? I have too. It's important to start adapting to the changing world of work, but make sure you listen to yourself first. After all, that's the only noise that matters.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit #1 photo credit #2

Thursday, November 29, 2012

When Glory Beckons

“I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.”
- Booker T. Washington

It's an interesting mental exercise one faces when they've achieved a certain level of success. How each of us defines success is different, but once we start believing we are successful, something happens to our outlook. We feel different. Hopefully that feeling doesn't translate into behavior that is considered arrogant or self-righteous. The trap of suddenly feeling entitled to one's success is a dangerous one indeed.

If we struggle to believe that birthright makes for a good leader in royal circles, how in the world can we believe that something as simple as a new job title brings with it some sort of instant all-knowing power? I don't buy it.

But I used to.

I used to be very good at convincing myself that I worked hard...I took risks...I was the one that made things happen. Not true. Sure, leadership requires someone to have a vision, and move towards achieving that vision. But the last time I checked, there has never been a successful leader who accomplished great things without a team of people.

Over the years the "success" I've been able to pull together has been largely due to the effort of the people around me.

Whether they were colleagues or those that reported to me, it truly is about the group of people I've worked with that removed the obstacles in my path. My pride however, often told me differently.

I now work hard to check my pride at the door.

How About You
When the glory of success beckons do you stand up triumphantly and soak in the praise? Or, is that a moment to look around you at the team that is holding you up with so much strength?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Complacent or Competitive

My HR practice has changed dramatically over the last few years. In 2008 I thought I was hitting my stride. In a great job, felt like I knew my stuff, and was introducing strategies that were changing the culture of my organization. I was in the zone.

For a very short period of time.

Complacency Kills
For some reason I've been blessed, at least I would consider it a blessing, to be ultra-competitive. This tendency spills over to my work constantly. As the pressure began to mount on finding talent, very specific talent, I realized I was no longer competing at the level necessary to be successful.

Something had to change...and that something was me.

I was no longer pushing myself to learn new tools, or to try innovative recruitment strategies, or to embrace the "one brand" philosophy for the entire organization including recruitment advertising. (Sorry HR, you're not the advertising pros you think you are.)

New Territory
Not long after this somewhat humbling realization is when I began my social media journey. The signs were all around me that if I was going to be an effective human resources leader I needed to not only understand the tools, but I needed to use them. Are you with me? I had to use the tools myself.

Today my world is very different. My team now pushes me to deploy new tools as much as I push them. Our HR strategies are completely aligned with our Web and Marketing departments. But I'm still competitive as ever and am pushing myself to learn more.

How About You
What part of your career have you neglected? Have you convinced yourself that you're just too busy right now to try anything new? It's time to drop that excuse. There's so much happening and you're going to miss it if you keep chasing the same old routine.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Social Cliff - #HealthcareHR

With so much chatter about the fiscal cliff dominating the conversation lately it started me thinking about healthcare leaders and the social cliff. Quite frankly, why have so few healthcare leaders, particularly those in human resources leadership roles, failed to add their voice to the social conversation? Here's the reality folks, there is no such thing as a social cliff, even if your gut instinct tells you so.

New Series
Today marks the first of an occasional series of posts on #HealthcareHR. I feel compelled to write on this subject for several reasons. First, I've been a healthcare leader in human resources for many years. Second, our industry is changing at such an unbelievable rate that we need to share our experiences, challenges, and successes. Third, as I mentioned in the opening, I can not find many HR executive voices in the healthcare industry that have taken the proverbial leap and are actively engaged in social media. This needs to change.

Our World is Different
Unless you've been living under a rock, the world of healthcare, and along with it effective human resources management, has changed dramatically in the last few years. The combination of healthcare reform and social media have revolutionized how human resources leaders must do their work. No longer can we rely on past practices or our dreaded comfort zones to get through the work day. So much change has created tremendous opportunities, yet for some reason HR has again stayed quiet. Why?

Inherent in the Role
I'm beginning to believe that the very nature of human resources work (maintain relationships, address compliance, promulgate policies, etc...) does not naturally lend itself to being a leader. That may sound harsh, but how many times does HR whine about not being respected? Too many.

In an era where 77,000,000 people are going to retire and need healthcare services, the industry as a whole is positioned extremely well. Imagine a built in customer base of that many people, and yet HR remains silent.

How About You
There isn't any magic to going social. The tools are simple, the risks are extremely low, and the network of people on the interwebs who are willing to help is endless. By the way, the end result can look something like this or this or this. Maybe it's time you finally got started.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit

Monday, November 26, 2012

Regrets, Not Doubts

I learned a lot of important rules about family, faith, and my country growing up. All three categories seemed to blend together into a core set of beliefs that made perfect sense back then, and still do today:

- be thankful for your freedom
- no one is better than anyone else
- work hard at school and later in your job
- help others in need when you can
- violence is never a first option
- treat everyone with respect
- learn from history

I don't think most people would disagree with these rules. However, I do not believe that the items on this list are embraced in the way they should be in a modern, educated world, let alone in the workplace.

Regret can be a powerful emotion. Usually it refers to the feeling that we should have acted in a certain way, but we chose not to do so. It doesn't mean we accidentally didn't act, it means we chose not to act and we feel badly about it later.

Let's refer to the list again and ask ourselves a few questions:

- Are we thankful for the many freedoms we enjoy, including the freedom to write about our differences without fear of reprisal or censorship?

- Have we judged ourselves to be better than someone else? Perhaps they are not the same color, or have a different sexual orientation, or practice a different religion? Do they still receive the same respect our white christian friends receive?

Regret is a powerful tool to help us improve as people. It also allows for a bright light to shine on the bigots and make their true feelings known as we examine our own choices, and the choices of those around us. You see, the narrow-minded and judgemental folks who claim to know "what's right" are usually the ones fanning the flames of exclusion, and inadvertently, hate.

That is wrong.

Doubt refers to a sense of uncertainty, and is associated with a delay in taking action due to concerns about whether or not something is the right thing to do at a particular moment in time. While regret teaches us about making the appropriate choices in life, doubt can be an enemy that blocks our courage to follow the rules from the list above.

While we all have regrets about not speaking up at various times in our lives to support the rights and freedoms of all people; there should never be any doubt about what must be done. It is incumbent on us as leaders both inside and outside our organizations to stand up for the freedoms of all people.

How About You
Do the people in your life know what you stand for? Do the employees in your organization know that you respect everyone in society? Simply put, it is impossible to be a bigot in your personal life and then talk about how every employee should be treated fairly at work. You're lying to your team, and to your self...and that is wrong.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanks...For Nothing

I'm writing over at Performance I Create today. Check out my post on being thankful...or maybe not so today's workplace.

Let me know what you think about shared responsibility, entitlement, and being miserable on the job.

I'd love to hear form you.

No Excuses.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Leadership Failures...Not Me, Right?


That's how many results Google provided when I searched for the phrase "leadership failures." Wow, we must suck.

I'm Not Buying It
With all due respect, I have not given up on the notion of good leadership. Yes, we struggle. I'm at the head of that line. But I for one believe it's worth it to keep trying, not because I have to, but because I actually believe leadership is a noble role.

Now before your eyes roll into the back of your head, consider this: How many times have you complained about a decision a leader made in your company, or social club, or sports team? How many times have you felt that you could do a better job than someone else in a leadership role? Have you seen leaders lose their way because the pressure of the job was too much for them?

Leadership isn't easy. There is often so much criticism directed at these people that we miss what the impact is on them as human beings.

Leadership ages people. Don't believe me? Take a look at the before and after pictures of American Presidents. Sure, that's an extreme example, but the reality is leadership can wear people out.

Nowhere To Go But Up
If then, the pit is so deep, it seems to me we only have one option: start climbing. With all of the chatter about failing and whether or not it is in vogue to openly discuss it, I say who cares. People are going to fail, and that includes leaders. That includes me.

But the true champions will keep pushing forward and try to improve. Even if it means they have to check their ego at the door. I hate it when I have to do that...but I've gotten pretty good at it.

How About You
So why in the world do we stay in these positions? What could possibly be the draw that brings us back over and over again? Easy, we have the privilege to help others do incredible things in their work every day. Now that is something to be thankful for.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit #1  photo credit #2 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Head On Collision HR

Much is written about "good" leaders and "bad" leaders with myriad examples of both behaviors. I believe there continues to be a need for this discussion because there is far too little of the former, and sadly an excess of the latter.

I'm No Expert
One of the unique perspectives that human resources professionals have in their organizations is that we see 100% of the problems. (Or at least the ones that become big enough to have to deal with.) That doesn't mean we are experts in leadership; it does however give us an insider's view of woefully ineffective leadership styles. Over time we learn what works with employees and what doesn't.

"The challenge for HR leaders is how to coach and support other leaders in the organization when those leaders are convinced their approach is on target, when in fact they are failing in the eyes of their employees and they don't even know it."

But HR Knows A Lot
In the end I'm convinced any HR leader worth a damn is going to step up and have the hard conversations with other leaders in their organization. Not only is it the right thing to do, it's absolutely essential particularly when you have a strong connection with the other person. Work, and leadership, is driven by relationships not tasks. Tasks change all the time, but the strength of a good working relationship can power through any bumps along the road of work.

How About You
What action do you take when you see a leader struggling? Do you take a deep breath and dive in with both feet? Or, do you run scared and hope that a policy needs to be updated just at that very moment?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit

Monday, November 19, 2012

All Is Lost

"All is lost."


Could there be a more depressing phrase in all the world? I think not. It epitomizes the ultimate in defeatism. It's literally the realization that you no longer have choices and somehow are required to give up.

Well I think that' s a bunch of crap.

We've all had our fair share of challenging moments in life. Whether we were under tremendous pressure at work and made an untimely mistake. Or tried to balance too much at home and it all got to be too much to handle at that time. We've all at one time or another had the urge to use the phrase "all is lost."

But it wasn't, was it? Once you collected your thoughts, took a breath, and realized you had to keep marching, you identified your options and took one.

That's not crap, that's showing a level of maturity when under extreme pressure.

Better Than You Think
It's amazing to me that once I make a choice and start moving forward again I actually feel a surge of self-confidence. Suddenly I'm back in control, even if my task list at work seems to have gotten longer; and my Inbox seems to be growing by the minute. Somehow, and I'm not sure why, but I feel different.

How About You
Are you feeling a bit down lately? Does the world seem to be closing in? Hold fast! Don't fall victim to the "all is lost" message. Not only is it's a lie.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit

Friday, November 16, 2012

Get Up and Look

“People are always blaming circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get ahead in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.”
~George Bernard Shaw~

Make it happen in your world today. It's worth the effort.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Losing Sucks

I'm a pretty competitive person. Check that, I'm an ultra-competitive person who loves to win. Second place is fine, for someone else. I want to be on the cutting edge...or at least try as hard as I can to get there. I compete in everything from sports, to ping pong, to battles with myself from workout to workout. I even love to compete in my work.

Wait a minute. At work?

I thought work was supposed to be about everyone being treated equally and feeling engaged, and basically having a giant love-fest with a group hug paycheck at the end of every two weeks. Right?

Wired to Win
From the time I was a small boy I was in an environment filled with sports, training, games, and lots of fun competition. I loved it, and it has clearly been passed down to my children. All of them play competitive sports, some at an extremely high level. We all work out, eat reasonably well, and love to compete. We're wired to win.

But does all of that brainwashing, er....mentoring, prepare us for the reality that in all aspects of life, work and sports included, we more often lose than win?

Corporate Culture and Engagement
It seems a bit odd to me that we try to focus on fairness and equality when the reality is that not all employees, or leaders for that matter, are even remotely their ability to perform. We can all quickly identify our top performers; those team members who can handle major projects, perform under pressure, and make good decisions. You didn't think of everyone in your organization when I mentioned top performers for a very simple reason. There's only a few of them. They are the ones who are winning at work

All employees and leaders are not top performers.

Train to Win
I, like many others, have struggled to get better at various aspects of my job. There are some parts I simply am not as strong at compared to others. The solution => work harder, just like working out at home to get stronger, so you can perform. It is the only way to move from the losing side to the winning side. Whining, complaining, and making excuses blows away your credibility. Train hard...and win.

How About You
Have you recognized that in order to lead effectively you'll need to do some serious introspection and identify your weak spots? Have you started training to make the improvements necessary so you can win; or, are you comfortable jumping into your comfort zone and smiling as you accept your third place trophy?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit #1  photo credit #2

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Furniture Obsession!

I spend a lot of time discussing human resources leadership, strategy, risks, social media, and accountability. This week, I have the distinct pleasure to participate in a large conference of marketing and web professionals from the healthcare industry.

It turns out we have a couple of things in common. Most of these similarities are very positive...things like the awareness that we need to leverage brand, integrate social media into every aspect of our work, and continue to push ourselves to connect with our customers in a meaningful way.

Unfortunately, we also have something else in common: the dreaded furniture obsession.

"Could we please, for once, stop talking about a seat at the table, and simply start leading as if we're already there?"

Get Over It
I've thought for a long time that HR was the only group that complained about this IKEA induced syndrome. Apparently our brothers and sisters in the web/marketing world are also consumed with furniture. Stop it. Everyone, just stop it. No Executive, and I mean not one, is interested in hearing that anyone deserves a seat at the fictitious table.

Instead, they want you to act like you belong there from day one. They don't have time to wait for you...we need to make it happen. Now.

How About You
What are you doing to ensure you don't sound like a worn out coffee table salesperson? The furniture argument doesn't play anymore. What works, are bold leaders who stay on the cutting edge of their profession and prove their value to the Executive teams in their organizations. I bet you won't find that on clearance this weekend.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit

Friday, November 9, 2012

Conflict and the Prediction Horizon

Conflict: "A state of disharmony between incompatible or antithetical persons, ideas, or interests; a clash"

Sound familiar? It does to me. In fact, any HR pro worth their salt has in some part built their career on this most powerful yet often misused human trait. Typically the term conflict gets a bad rap, as our definition above would suggest. There is another perspective on conflict however, and that speaks to how powerful conflict can be to affect change. Meaningful change, not the kind that finally has Lois in Accounting blowing her stack at Bill in I.T. and Lois ends up losing her job.

I'm talking about the power of conflict that results in something good. Many variables come into play when attempting to harness this of those is the concept of the prediction horizon.

Crystal Balls Are Real

Prediction Horizon:  "The time interval in which conflicts will be detected"

One of the challenges for those of us in leadership is that conflicts seem to come out of nowhere and suddenly we have a mess on our hands. In retrospect, there are often behavioral clues that, if considered more closely, might help us predict that a conflict is looming. No one can truly anticipate exactly when an issue is going to occur, but if we invest a small amount of time ensuring we understand the various dynamics around us, we'll more than likely be able to identify the negative conflicts before they explode.

Making Conflict Productive
The real power of conflict is that we can move to a state of change. I'm a huge fan of change, because if it's managed well you can move your team, your organization, and yourself forward. That's a pretty good combination!

So how does one avoid the "bad" conflict and reap the benefits of "good" change? Well, there are no easy answers, but I do know the first step to getting there.

Try something new.

I guarantee that standing still will ensure you are in the exact same spot for the foreseeable future. Don't be that leader. Try something. Understand your team so you can predict when trouble is going to strike so you can make the changes you're seeking turn out well. 

How About You
Have you taken the time to understand the strengths, tendencies, hot buttons, and styles of your people? Do you know what sensitivities are just below the surface with your colleagues? Being armed with this knowledge gives you a chance to set your own prediction horizon for the conflict that is sure to come. Are you ready?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit #1 photo credit #2