Thursday, March 29, 2012

No Gods, No Masters

Consider these scenarios:

  • An unpopular employee is in trouble => Do you follow your process; or, do you get more aggressive to try and justify firing them?

  • A complaint comes to you that hits a little too close to home => Do you accept it as something that needs to be addressed; or, do you bury it in the other 100+ emails you’re going to get today?

  • You’ve been asked to make an exception that no one will ever know about =>  Do you follow a consistent path; or, do you “take care of it"?

Chasing false gods of power and bowing to masters that compromise your values do nothing more than obliterate your credibility. Its easy to make exceptions, or pretend you didn’t realize what was going on, or quietly release someone from the organization. However it doesn’t mean there won’t be ramifications, sometimes with very costly results.

“The time is always right to do what is right.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

How About You
Are there “gods” and “masters” in your corporate life that are trying to cloud your judgment? We all have them. Take the time to see through these challenges and do the right thing.

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of the-cambridge-list

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lots of Fear in the HR C-Suite

Today marks the kick-off of a new project called #NoFearHR between my good friend Mike VanDervort and I as we begin a dialogue on the impact of social media and Human Resources. Be sure to check out his terrific blog for his reaction once he sees today's post.

Hey Mike,

Something has been bothering me for a while and I just can't hold back any longer. I've been looking around the social media landscape and I don't see very many Human Resources Executives participating. Sure, they're spending money on new ATS products, facebook ads (sometimes) and generally talking about how important a social media strategy is for their company. But candidly, I don't see many stepping up and walking the social media talk. And it's bothering me.

I understand that a good corporate image is absolutely essential. In the post-Enron era it seems the spin doctors are busier than ever managing 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 or real? 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 be focused on the success of the business and the employees. Right? 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 more than a 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.

What Do You Think
I'm not sure how you see it from your perspective Mike, but it seems to me HR leaders are missing a huge opportunity to jump into the modern world of social leadership. Sure there's a downside, but everything has a downside. I'd like to find some other HR leaders at the top of their organizations who are willing to actually step up and engage in the fast-paced, and permanent world of social media.



Monday, March 26, 2012

5 to 1

Last week a group of bloggers were recognized for their contributions to making a difference in the world of Human Resources. The team over at FistfulofTalent rolled out an announcement that included a countdown from 5 to 1. I was quite humbled to be a part of that large group. What struck me though, is that the countdown and the amazing writers who filled all of the spots (as well as those not included this time) are actually working to transform our profession.

That Takes Guts
It takes courage to put your thoughts out there for all to maybe criticize sometimes. That can be a scary place. It's also a place where change happens. Change doesn't come from the safety of being anonymous. If you can't put your name to it, then in my mind you don't have a right to criticize, particularly in leadership. Suck it up and sign your name.

A Call to Action
Over the course of time other leaders have taken risks, put themselves out there publicly to move things forward, and have made a difference. Whether they were artists, poets, musicians, politicians or business leaders, they stepped out of their comfort zones and forced the discussion.

They forced the discussion.

How About You
Are you ready to contribute to the dialogue? You've been thinking about it, and now it's time to take the next step. Join the other HR leaders who are taking the risks, pushing the agenda, and ultimately proclaiming that we're "gonna win, yeah we're takin' over." Are you ready to force the discussion?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of blogging4jobs

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Man In The Corner Shop

Do we ever notice the people around us as we walk by in our fast-walking-never-enough-hours-in-the-day corporate lives? Do we appreciate what others are struggling with; or, are we convinced that we are the center of the universe and therefore no one could possibly understand what we're going through?

Connection Moments
I'm a firm believer that simply saying “hello” can make a difference, if only for a moment. No, that's not a breakthrough piece of wisdom. But it is a way to completely level the playing field in every walk of life. No one has a fancy title or enormous power when two people make eye contact, smile and exchange a hello.

However, people (read here => your employees) remember kindness, particularly if it comes from an unexpected source (read here => you and I).

I get caught up in my own “stuff” all the time. You might as well. What impression are you making when you blow by that stranger on the street? What about that employee whose pay grade is different than yours? What if they’re the same person and you (or I) never realized? Our hectic calendars don't seem nearly as important now, do they?

An Unbelievable Opportunity
So many people are watching us each day. Many leaders convince themselves that this reality means they should hide in their office or only provide prepared remarks. Others of us recognize all of those watching eyes as the greatest opportunity in the world. Imagine, a captive audience everyday that you can role model the exact behaviors you want to see? It doesn’t get any better than that, but sadly too few leaders embrace these moments.

How About You
Are you hiding in your office again today? Or, have you decided that you are going to actually be a role model and say hello to the man in the corner shop as you pass by?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of threadspot

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Talent is Coming! The Talent is Coming!

I’ve been reading a lot about the pending exodus of talent from every organization on the planet. Apparently at some undetermined mystical hour when the global economy improves  just enough everyone is going to quit their jobs, or at least the majority will.

Hmmm. I wonder where they are all going to go? Perhaps the rumors about a parallel universe are true and that’s where everyone is headed? Or, there might just be a massive explosion of new companies and they’ll end up hiring every single person who is working today.

Wait a minute…I’ve got it! When every person quits their job…soon…I’ll recruit them to work for my organization. All of that talent has to land somewhere, right? Unless their current companies actually step up, and give their employees a voice now before it's too late.

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of ipswich

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sometimes They're Fantastic

I've worked with many leaders over the years. So have you. The ones I've come to know best are usually dealing with the most problems. They need help, they're frustrated with employee behavior, they need to address major recruitment concerns...whatever it is, they need direct support from me. After all, I'm an HR guy, and the ones who have things under control typically do not need to talk strategy with me. They've figured it out and are taking care of their operational responsibilities. They've already made work better for their employees.

They've already made work better.

How Do I Find the Good Ones?
One of the strongest department leaders is retiring from my organization this week. She has been a consistently high performer for decades. I rarely see her, at least in the context of a problem. In fact, I've had to go out of my way to connect with her because she simply has things under control.

I'm not talking command and control here, I mean she has her vacancies extremely low, her morale high, and the performance of her team is second to none. When I've been confronted with a particularly difficult issue, I've sought her sage advice. She doesn't need me nearly as much as I need her.

She's made work better.

How Can I Be A Good One?
One of the things I've embraced in my life, particularly as I've collected a few more birthdays is that lifelong learning is a good thing. I rue the day that I convince myself I've figured everything out. So I've tried to learn from her...she's one of the good ones.

Here's the inherent dilemma for those of us in HR: if we're constantly spending time assisting leaders that are struggling, when do we have the opportunity to learn from leaders that are so good we never interact with them?

How About You
Who are the fantastic leaders in your organization? Do you make time to connect and learn from them; or, is there a line outside your door waiting to talk about why the employees aren't behaving properly? How are you going to make work better?

I'd love to hear form you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of logosdatabase

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Far Beyond Driven

I've been reflecting on my style lately. Not my clothes, but rather how I approach my personal and professional lives. I've also been thinking a lot about balance. I used to call it work-life balance, but that doesn't really seem to apply anymore. Life balance is more appropriate for me. Work is demanding and requires a lot of time if its going to be done well. At least that's the way I see it.

Work Hard, Play Hard
When I run down the list of my responsibilities, projects, and deliverables at work I get fired up! Maybe I should behave more "professionally" but candidly if you're no longer feeling motivated at work it may be time for a change. I'm honestly in a situation where I have lots of irons-in-the-fire and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Personally I try to keep a stout pace as well. Between family commitments, blogging regularly, a passion for social media, a few speaking gigs and the never-ending battle to stay in shape, I fill my days fairly rapidly. Sometimes I wonder where the downtime is supposed to come from? Then I ask myself, is that what I really want? We all receive messages about slowing down and taking time to smell the proverbial flowers. Hey, I like flowers as much as the next guy, but quite honestly I don't want to slow down. Am I supposed to? Are you?

One Size Doesn't Fit All

I'm finally recognizing that I'm wired a certain way...and I'm not sure if its the right way or the wrong way...but it is who I am. This realization has helped me change my view of the employees in my organization. Should they all be the same? Should they all work and play the way I do? I hope not! I don't want a bunch of "Jays" running around here...I want the richness of difference to make my organization stronger. Plus I think I would go crazy if there were too many of "me" here.

How About You
Are you caught up in the societal messages of what you're supposed to be; or, have you decided to embrace who you are and abandon some false image that you should be striving toward? Its a difficult place to get least it was for me. But once we let go of the pressure on ourselves, we can really see the huge potential through difference that is all around us.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of work-hard-play-hard

Monday, March 12, 2012

It Is Finished

I've surrounded myself with overachievers. My colleagues around the senior management table, the members of my team, and the ever-growing network of people I'm connected with are get-it-done folks...and I love it. Being competitive is part of my DNA, and that mindset can be seen in my personal and professional life every day.

Too Much of a Good Thing
Sometimes that relentless quest to be number one, or the most recognized, or promoted the fastest, or profitable, or you fill in the blank comes with a price. When do we ever finish anything? In sports if "you can't finish" you aren't going to last very long. But what about in business?

The Wall Street Journal published a great piece on Creativity recently that described how some of the most impressive breakthroughs have come because the person behind the idea could not let it go, even when the project was supposed to be complete. Is that healthy? Is the message that we should all maintain an obsession on our various responsibilities even when we're supposed to have wrapped up one issue and moved on to another? I'm not sure.

Live Life as a Finisher
There is an important distinction that must be made on this issue. The focus is on "it" being finished, not saying "I" am finished. We're never finished...ever. But our work, projects, and new ideas can not go on forever.

If they do, then we are simply destined to spend our professional lives on the hamster wheel chasing an unattainable end point that doesn't exist. I don't want to live that way, and I'm guessing you don't either.

How About You
When do you allow yourself to find real satisfaction in your work? Think about the time, energy, resources, and risks you take to move your organization forward. Are they worth it; or, is there always just one more thing that has to be done before you can rest? It's time to say..."It is finished."

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of visualphotos

Friday, March 9, 2012

Bang Your Head

I need a quick show of many of you have ever been frustrated at work? Okay, everyone.  Good.

Another many of you have done something constructive about it? Not so many hands still raised this time? How come?

Blessing and a Curse
One of the blessings of working in a Human Resources leadership role, regardless of the level in your organization, is you never have two days in a row that are the same. The human drama (and melodrama) keep coming at us in many different forms...the challenges of keeping our businesses viable...and the never ending legal and regulatory landscape make for fascinating work.

One of the curses of working in a Human Resources leadership role, regardless of the level in your organization, is you never have two days in a row that are the same. That same list I just reviewed can also drive us all a bit crazy. 

You Hold the Key
So what does the dedicated, but tired and overworked human resources pro do when they are frustrated and ready to bang their head against the wall? First, don't hit the wall with your head. Second, just get started => do something. None of us can work through all of our difficulties at one time, but if we take a step forward to react to them, we will slowly begin to take more control. That sense of control (I don't mean control-freak here) is comforting because it means we are managing our work on our terms.

How About You
You also have a secret weapon in your battle with frustration...your network. Leverage your contacts and reach out. They are going through the same challenges you are; and once you connect with them you will both benefit from the discussion. I know it works...I've wanted to bang my head too.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of trinityumc

Monday, March 5, 2012

Victim of Changes (I'm Talking to You HR)

It’s funny how things change. If we haven’t seen someone in a long time we quickly notice if they look healthier or older when we run into them. At work we notice when laws change and we have to make adjustments in our professional practice to accommodate the new rules. What isn’t so obvious however is when the way we work changes. HR has done a massive amount of changing in that regard lately…were you paying attention?

Social HR = HR
Now that I recognize the power of integrating social media into my professional HR practice I candidly could not imagine living in the risk averse cocoon where I and so many of my colleagues used to find shelter. Have charismatic and bold leaders hidden behind what’s “safe” to create new ideas, technologies, leadership practices or business breakthroughs? No. But good ‘ol Human Resources far too often plods along citing this law or that policy and quietly explains that “we can’t do it that way.”

I simply grew tired of being “that guy” and decided to open my eyes and pay attention to what was happening around me. What I found was a world that was more connected than ever. A world that shared more cutting-edge business approaches than ever. A world that empowered me to push myself and my team into new areas that never would have been considered only a short time ago.

How About You
Laws keep changing. Regulations keep changing. We’re used to that…heck, those even changed back when we were called Personnel. Are you keeping up with all of these changes?  Don’t play the victim. Step up to where HR has gone and start contributing today.

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.