Friday, June 29, 2012

Not Supposed To Happen

It's been a tough week. I know everyone goes through tough weeks too, and I'm certainly not special. In fact, I think I'm quite ordinary. But this week was very different in my routine, ordinary world.

One week ago today a sixteen year old boy died in a tragic car accident. But his death hit far closer to home than the ones we see on the evening news and so quickly dismiss. I knew this boy...and his parents...and his sisters...and his Aunt and Uncle and cousins. I knew his teammates and friends because he was a hockey player with my son. The hockey family is a very close, very tight, very loyal community.

This week was not ordinary or routine at all.

I went to the candlelight vigil the night after he passed away with so many others. I went to the calling hours with so many others as well. And I went to his funeral filled with hockey jerseys, hockey families, friends and relatives...and I watched my son give an amazing speech and then sit at the piano and play Hallelujah for his friend and teammate.

However difficult this has been for me, it pales in comparison to what his incredible family is going through. They are good people, who didn't deserve this terrible turn of events in their lives. There are no words to explain why...but rather there is only the opportunity for us to support one another and hold our faith close.

It's been a tough week. Take care Matt...keep skating hard buddy.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

1984, Instant Replay and HR

In his classic book 1984 George Orwell imagined a world that monitored every facet of society. Nothing went unnoticed...and everything was fixed appropriately. I loved the book, but shudder at the thought of a real Big Brother staring down at my every move. Who would ever advocate for someone reviewing every one of my mistakes and making corrections? That doesn't seem natural.

In modern sports we have something called instant replay that helps ensure we notice every mistake and fix it appropriately. I'm a huge fan of instant replay because I want the officials to make sure the right decisions are made. Who would ever advocate for someone not to review mistakes and make corrections? That doesn't seem natural.

Documentation for HR
As an HR practitioner I have long valued good documentation. When bizarre behavior pops up in the workplace, it is the documentation that helps clarify the details of what actually happened versus the emotional responses and hidden agendas that can get in the way of the truth. It really would be much easier if we simply recorded everything that happened each day, so that when an issue popped up we could simply check the video.

Wait a minute...what did I just say?

How About You
What do you think? Instant replay in the workplace? Perhaps someone will develop a mobile app for that so I won't even need to come into the office anymore. But I'll still "be there."

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit photo credit

Monday, June 25, 2012

#SHRM12 Bloggers!

The big week is finally please check out all of the great bloggers who are in Atlanta covering this year's SHRM Conference.

Good luck and have a great week!

Friday, June 22, 2012

What If I Say I'm Not Like The Others

Ahhh...behold the excitement around the arrival of a new leader. The department has been struggling, and now that Knight in Shining Bureaucratic Armor is on the horizon. Woo hoo! Everything will certainly be "fixed" once the new champion of all that is right about management walks through the front door. Seriously!

Is That You?
Have you ever taken a job where you knew there were some "issues" that needed to be addressed? What were the expectations, both the ones you put on yourself, and the ones the organization placed on you? Did you even realize the depth of the situation?

Maybe you told everyone that you were different because you picked up enough clues during the interview process that something wasn't quite right. I bet you had them eating out of the palm of your hand.

Well start.

Time To Deliver
Once you started your new journey as Savior of the Corporation however, things began to change, didn't they? Suddenly the norms, unwritten rules, and impossible to decipher politics of your new corporate life got in the way of your promises of being "different" and "new" and "high energy."

That is the exact time you're supposed to start leading. 

How About You
When you step into a new role do you tell your team that you're not like the others and hope they believe you? Or, do you begin the lonely (read here => required!) journey and start making decisions that prove you're not afraid to take risks, or to change old and ineffective processes so your team and organization can thrive?

They're all watching and waiting for you...

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit photo credit

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sometimes We Just Don't Realize

I get fired up about Human Resources work. Not because I'm supposed to...and not because it's my job...but because it matters. Doing HR well can actually make a difference. We all see the obvious examples: great changes to a benefits program, maintaining merit increases when competitors have stopped giving raises, and creating more and more opportunities for employees to participate in decision-making across the organization. These are some of my favorites, and yes, they are fairly easy to see.

But sometimes we don't notice our impact until someone brings it to our attention.

Completely Unexpected
A number of years ago I was working late and was the last member of the team hanging around. The environmental services employee who cleaned our offices was passing by and stopped to say something. He was an older gentleman who had emigrated to the United States and we had rarely interacted, other than me greeting him each time we saw each other.

What happened next really surprised me. As we chatted he said something that really struck a chord in me. He told me I "must be a man of God because of the way I treat people." 


His words threw me off. As an HR guy, I obviously don't run around discussing religion in the workplace, so initially I was surprised that he chose that way to describe me. My next reaction was a much more personal one. You see, my Father was a United Methodist Minister and for this man to even begin to suggest that I might share some of the rarefied air that I placed my Father in was almost too much to fathom.

Why Share This Story
This moment has stayed with me for years, not because I am a "man of God" (or even close.) It has stayed with me because I never realized the full impact I was having on those around me, and certainly not to such a profound degree, until I had this exchange. For me, it's been a difficult story to live up to as life has moved along. But I believe there is value in keeping it close so that when I get caught up in how important I am...I can remember the kind words of this man and get my ego back down to earth.

How About You
When have you been surprised by the impact you've had in someone's life? Did you expect to have such influence; or, was there a moment that helped bring you to a new level of understanding that leadership means more than a job title.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Do You Fear the Data?

The following post is another in the #NoFearHR series between Mike VanDervort and me discussing human resources, social media, and professional life.

Hey Mike,

I loved your last #NoFearHR post about the critical role data plays in any social media strategy (or any meaningful strategy for that matter.) I'm back from a fantastic week away and realized that one of my downfalls about the use of data played out every day last week...I never thought about it! I think many of our colleagues take this same approach when they consider using data in their professional lives, particularly when it comes to something so new, and constantly evolving as social media. Tracking turnover is one thing, but being able to discuss the impact of your facebook metrics is an entirely different conversation around the Board Room table.

What Are We Afraid Of?
Here's what I think is really going on here Mike...if we dig into the numbers and are afraid they will prove our efforts are not living up to expectations then we'll look like a failure. The reality of course is that the metrics are like a compass, they help us stay on course, they are not judge and executioner. But when HR falls into the age old trap of playing it safe versus taking risks that will result in real progress, we end up fearing the data.

Where Are You HR?
What do you think Mike? Is HR simply too afraid to really push the data; or, have we found comfort in the traditional reporting that somehow seems to give us plenty of excuses to avoid accountability?

photo credit

Monday, June 18, 2012

Social Gravity - Read and Learn!

I was fortunate to take last week off for a vacation. Finally some family time (almost) disconnected from email and twitter (at least from an obligation standpoint), and really unwound from the pace that consumes us all in everyday life.

One of the perks of having so much downtime is the chance to read a book that you want to read, not one that you have to read. Social Gravity, by the dynamic team of Jason Lauritsen and Joe Gerstandt is one of those books.

Endorsements Aren't My Thing
Those who know me well appreciate my disdain for most things vendor and/or endorsement related. I guess I always feel taken advantage of, or that I'm being used for someone else's advantage.

Reading Social Gravity however requires me to not only endorse this great little book, but to challenge my colleagues to step up and read it for the sole purpose of some serious introspection. Not only is the book filled with practical strategies that can be implemented immediately; but it also turns the whole concept of networking, connections, and personal relationships completely around.

How About You
Are you ready for that; or is it safer to stay glued to your old (read here => tired) and trusted (read here => risk-averse) and reliable (read here => the world has passed you by) approaches?

I'm doing a whole bunch of rethinking right now. Buy the book today and get started learning how the world really works.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of Talent Anarchy

Friday, June 8, 2012

Leaner, Faster, Better...HR 2050?

What are the core competencies for Human Resources? What are we expected to deliver to our organizations not only on a day-to-day basis, but strategically over time? Are we destined to be burdened with the transactional processing that is so inherent in onboarding and terminating staff? Do the benefits programs need to be administered as part of the HR department; or is an alternative vendor solution the most practical?

How about we need to invest in onsite software solutions, licenses, updates, and even more licenses as our organizations grow? What about recruiting...can that function be completely transitioned out of the organization despite the fact that an external vendor might not fully appreciate our corporate culture?

Hmm...heavy issues. Can you answer why these and other human resources services should stay inside the four walls of your company versus taking a different approach? Do you realistically need all of these services on your payroll?

Change Happens Faster Than I Can Blink
I've put my team through a tidal wave of change over the past ten months. We've added and subtracted from our group, radically changed processes, invested in new strategies, partnered with new vendors, and taken lots and lots of risks. I'm pushing them to do it all.

To do it it necessary to do it all considering how the world of HR is changing?

The Future is Bright...and Focused
I don't believe the HR function is going to look the same in the years to come as it does today. The need to focus human resources' skill set on employee communication, sourcing and recruiting talent, and being active in the operations of our organizations is going to dominate our future. Processing and administrative tasks may very well stay within our span of control, but I suspect it will be done through vendor relationships or support departments outside of HR. The skilled HR leaders will move their organizations to this model, and deliver results not seen in the past.

How About You
Are you ready to begin the transition to a new world of human resources that is deeply involved in your company's operations? Are you willing to take the risks necessary to let go of the safe and comfortable tasks that focus on processing but never impact the bottom line? Or, maybe it's just a safer play to develop a new form..yeah, that feels a lot better doesn't it?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit photo credit

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Failure Is Not An Option

I spend a lot of time discussing leadership behavior. For me, it far exceeds the other challenges organizations face each day. Now you may be saying "wait a minute, what about the economic turmoil, persistent unemployment, and industry-specific pressures that could create havoc?" You're not wrong. But if leadership fails, you have no chance.

"If leadership fails, your organization does not have a chance to survive...and by the way, you are part of that leadership team. I am too."

Making Time
I work in an industry that appears to value meetings in an almost cult-like manner. We proclaim our full day of meetings ahead with an odd sense of self-importance. Really? The more I think about it, the more it sounds like I am not in control of my work life. If I'm allowing my calendar to fill up whose fault is that? You may work in one of those industries too. When the endless stream of "emails-copied-to-everyone" are added to the long list of meetings each day, it's no wonder that time spent focusing on leadership behavior is pushed to the back burner.

I believe we need to change the order of these priorities if we are going to make work better. Isnt' that what leadership is really all about make work better?

How About You
When do you find time to focus on your leadership behaviors? Does this question even register with you; or have you finally achieved that long sought after title and have convinced yourself that since your calendar is so full you must be doing everything right? For me, I'm going to make time today to do some critical introspection.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Run of the Mill

What have,

you, you're old?

Did you fulfill,


Do as you were told?

Or are you still doing,

the same this year?

Should I give sorrow,

or turn 'round and sneer?

I know,

that the prospects

weren't all that good.

But they improved,

and I'd have thought that you could...

...have strived for that something we all have deep inside.

Not let it vanish, along with your pride.

How About You
Are you run of the mill...or are you going to commit to be something more?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit text credit

Monday, June 4, 2012

Resistance is Futile

I've been thinking a lot lately about the persistent challenges I face in my work life. Meeting after meeting with leaders and staff, pouring over data sliced and diced all different ways, brand new strategies that are not being used widely in my industry, and many more hours just wrestling with these challenges in my mind have me thinking about my corporate culture. But this time it feels more personal. I'm the type of leader who doesn't take too many things personally in my work life. But when I can't solve a problem in a reasonably short period of time it starts to get me more worked up.

Missing Pieces
So now I have a heightened sense of urgency, and despite the fact that I know the team is all pulling in the same direction, it doesn't make me feel any better that we're still struggling to resolve some things that aren't coming together just yet. Perhaps I'm not looking in the proper places? I'm wondering if I'm truly embracing the diversity  that could add so much value and talent to my organization? Every time I've worked with a more diverse group than a less diverse group, the outcomes have always been better.

Maybe I'm on to something here.

The Futility of Doing the Same Thing Over and Over
While I will admit we're pushing into some very new territory in the healthcare HR space, we are not reinventing the wheel. But perhaps for my organization, it's time to think about a better wheel...a very diverse wheel that intentionally includes all of the potential spokes out there.

How About You
When you're battling a persistent challenge in your work life do you simply work harder; or, do you open your eyes a bit wider (as I'm trying to do) and see the unlimited potential in the diversity around you?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit