Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I Am Eternal...I Am Supreme

I love observing human behavior. In particular, I love observing human leadership behavior. There are so many different approaches used to get the job done. Some are focused on the work exclusively, some are oriented toward relationships, and others are focused on their own power. When organizational changes are added to the mix, a power struggle of sorts often follows. In those instances you should be ready for collateral corporate damage.

Serve Them All
One of the challenges I face in my HR practice is, whether or not I agree with the approaches of the various leaders I've worked with over the years, they all deserve my support.

That doesn't mean I don't spend countless hours coaching, guiding, and in some cases being very frank about what exactly needs to be said and done in certain situations. But they are my customers, and I'm here to help get to the best possible outcome in every employee situation.

The stakes get higher when those leadership behaviors that I can influence and guide to a more effective outcome are so blinded by a lust for power that it doesn't matter what anyone says or does. The focus on consolidating power and control, particularly during a period of organizational change that is focused on including others can be quite damaging.  

"Nearly all people can stand adversity, but if you want to test a person's character, give them power."
- Abraham Lincoln 

How About You
How do you react when leaders who perceive their power is slipping away start lashing out, becoming more emotional, or focus too strongly on their own importance? Is there a safe way HR can help; or are these folks already past the point of no return?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Breaking HR News!

This just in!

"In a shocking turn of events the corporate world has just made the following announcement. I need to caution you...this news is so unexpected that all persons reading this news bulletin are advised to first sit down, and prepare for an incredible message.

Through a series of stunning changes, the Corporate World will now __________________________."

You fill in the blank. What would be stunning to you at work?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Saturday, July 28, 2012



Be special.

Be open to difference.

Be fair.

Be your best.

Be professional.

Be consistent.

Be different on pupose.

Be there when someone needs you.

Be amazing.


I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit

Friday, July 27, 2012

Human Nature, Revenge and HR

One of my standard, and quite lame, HR jokes is that if it wasn't for human nature I'd be out of a job. The point being that people behave in such peculiar ways that sooner or later the HR team is going to be called upon to resolve a problem.

But what happens when the human nature piece is alive and kicking in the HR team?

Humans First
The quality of my professional relationships, for me, represent the most important aspect of my work. Yes I have leadership responsibilities across the organization and within HR; but first and foremost I am a leader of the entire team that works for my company. Guess what? That whole group of people are human. If we lose sight of this most basic, yet often overlooked piece of the work puzzle, we're failing before we even get started. Awareness of even the most simple issues and common courtesies go a long way, particularly when you have several thousand people all working in the same building.

Revenge Is So Tempting
Part of our responsibility to our organizations as HR pros is to resolve some of the most difficult employee relations issues. When those issues take bizarre twists and turns (as has been known to happen on occasion!) it is often only HR that bears the brunt. Sometimes that gets very frustrating.

Let me say it again...bizarre and manipulative employee behavior can get very, very frustrating.

HR Accountability
Ultimately, despite being human ourselves, HR can not afford to be tempted by the power and influence delegated to us and misdirect it towards anyone. We simply can not. Thus, the challenge for us when feeling oh-so-human is to reach out to our colleagues who understand the unique pressures we face on behalf of our organizations. Leveraging social tools to connect is one way. Plus there's always that old-fashioned gadget called a telephone that also works pretty effectively.

How About You
How do you fit the human puzzle pieces together in your work? Do you take the time to ensure a nice clean fit; or, is it easier to not worry about the end result and simply cast away the "extra" pieces?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Little Is Dangerous

Three hundred years ago Alexander Pope penned this phrase: "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing." I wonder if he thought it might apply to leaders in the modern world? Maybe, maybe not.

Confidence v. Arrogance
One of the character traits that has long attracted me to other people is confidence. Leaders who are willing to actually make decisions, take action, and not get bogged down in the endless self-talk of paranoia and fear of blame so as to be guaranteed not to fail, are the ones that I want to follow.

Remember, every leader is also led by another.

The flip side of this of course is arrogance. I've also worked for arrogant leaders. Put simply, its no fun, they get no respect, and quite often are off-base in their decisions. I rue the day someone tells me I've fallen into this category.

Danger, Danger
When you're dealing with a leader who has convinced him or herself that the little bit of knowledge they have on a topic is enough to justify a major decision what do you do? Your radar may be going crazy, but if you remain quiet and allow the action to move forward without additional discussion what does that say about you?

Are you part of the danger too?

How About You
Knowing "just enough" to be be dangerous is a fun joke in the workplace...until someone acts on it. Maybe its time that we critically evaluate those that have a little bit of knowledge and make sure we help them fully understand the big picture before allowing damaging decisions to be made. Are you up for that HR?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Starting Over

For as long as I can remember I've been focused on advancing my career...and I can remember a long, way back. Trying hard to think through the right moves, focusing on certain experiences, and taking risks in new roles were part of my career path. Sometimes those opportunities presented themselves in a company I was working for at the time; but usually, any meaningful move forward meant leaving my organization and beginning again.

It's Not A Do-Over
I've come to learn over the years that the process of starting a new job, meeting new colleagues, and diving into new challenges is incredibly rewarding. The issue isn't about "fixing things" that aren't working; but rather, to help create an environment where people can look at problems in a new way, and feel supported as they solve those problems.

A change for me however has come as an extension of this mindset. The deeper I go into working with my team to address issues can result in even more opportunities popping up. This is not a blaming exercise by any means, in fact it's more like a professional challenge to see how many systems we can improve together.

It's All In The Delivery
The challenge for today's HR leader, or any leader for that matter, is how they handle those new problems that come up when we least expect them. Being frustrated is fine. Actually, if you didn't show that you felt some level of frustration your team might not appreciate the importance of the new issue.

However, once we've done a little internal processing, we need to ensure that how we present the challenge is not done in a way that inadvertently blames the staff for not fixing the problem previously. A delicate message for sure, but one that if handled well, keeps everyone engaged and not feeling like a group of scapegoats.

How About You
In your quest to climb the ladder, do you take time to engage your team to make work better? Or, is that brass ring off in the distance so darn shiny that you miss everything else along the way?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

50 Shades of Jay

Leadership comes with a tremendous amount of responsibility. Unfortunately sometimes the authority, power and influence companies bestow on their management team become a source of manipulation and abuse. In Human Resources we see the impact of that behavior too often: stressed employees, nervous about job security, and fearful to speak up for fear of retaliation. Taking steps to drive accountability into our organizations in order to bend the curve of these issues is, I believe, a central role of the Human Resources function.

What About Me
Reading, writing, discussing, speaking about, and taking action to drive leadership accountability into organizations is common blog and pundent fodder. But when do we step back and take a look at ourselves, just to make sure we're actually doing enough to make sure these problems are reacted to in a meaningful way?

Specifically, when do I make sure I've done enough?

Could I have fallen into the trap of getting caught up in my own power and authority that I no longer see the impact I'm having on others? Is that another shade of me that I've somehow missed?

Gut-Check Time
Today I'm doing a private little self-analysis...running through an inventory if you will of the various approaches that have been implemented not only in my current company; but also evaluating the decisions (good and bad) that I've made over the last few years. If my gut tells me that I've stumbled, then I need to man-up, admit my failings, and do something about them.

How About You
Have you found yourself caught up in the temptations of power and influence that can so easily cloud your leadership judgement? Maybe it's time for us to reach out to a close colleague and share the results of our self-analysis? I'm guessing our employees, and organizations, will benefit from the exercise. What do you think?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit

Monday, July 23, 2012

Leadership Debt

I expect an awful lot from my team. They need to perform at a high level each day, limit mistakes as much as possible, and handle the unexpected and annoying twists and turns (usually from me) that come up on a regular basis.

And they do it all extremely well.

Not Enough Deposits?
One of the things that weighs on my mind is whether or not I'm making enough deposits back into the workplace. What is my ultimate responsibility anyway? Is it high-fives, slaps on the back and grand proclamations? Or maybe, its to create an environment where my team can push themselves, take risks, and fail without fear of negative consequences.

I worry that I'm withdrawing so much energy and effort from them that they don't get a chance to come up for air. Or maybe I'm just over thinking the whole thing.

But I don't think so.

Managing Debt
In my personal life I work hard to keep my income and expenses balanced as much as possible (sure I do). The ritual of bills, paychecks, and smart decisions is a regular part of life. But what about the workplace?

Does that ritual at home carry over to my work; or, have I pushed so hard that I've forgotten how important balance is regardless of whether or not a positive environment is in place?

How About You
What does your leadership debt look like? More importantly, what would your team say about it? Maybe its time to consider how hard we push our teams...before we push a bit too much.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit

Friday, July 20, 2012

Wanna Bet HR?

I bet you don't have the guts to commit to this philosophy HR:

"I am a leader who is responsible for everything that happens in my organization first; and I am responsible for what happens in HR second."

I bet you don't know enough about how your company actually generates revenuemanages expensescontracts with vendorstakes care of its customers, or grows market share.

I bet you're not willing to be held accountable for a weak quarterly earnings report, or problem in the supply chain.

I bet you'd rather lament the fact that HR isn't recognized for being "special" just because you're HR.

In fact, I bet its easier to sit in your chair and complain that you don't have your rightful place in the corporate hierarchy.

Guess what, if you aren't willing to take any of my bets, you don't deserve a place in the corporate hierarchy.

How About You
How are you feeling right now; angry, embarrassed, indifferent? Step up and make something happen HR. You can do it...all you have to do is start trying.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Get To The Choppa!

You've seen them in your personal life. Whether it's a sporting event, concert, or some other public gathering they're never too far away. Ever. Always hovering, monitoring, constantly giving feedback and guidance...to their children. This group of well-intended but sadly off-base people are commonly referred to as helicopter parents.

I understand...sort of...the need to be there for your kids in this way. However, as parents one of our primary responsibilities is to prepare our children for life after they live with us. Letting go, a little bit, while they're still growing and learning is part of the process.  Or at least its supposed to be.

Don't Be That Parent...At Work
While it may be understandable that some parents are control-freaks, it is never okay to be a control-freak leader. Let me say that again...

"It is never okay to be a control-freak leader. Ever."

Here's a painful lesson I've learned in my career that is worth sharing. Its not about you or me. The work gets done because we've worked with good people on our teams who are dedicated to their professions, organizations, and sometimes us as leaders.

Sure, we need to create an environment where our employees can maximize their impact, or find new employees that can. But at the end of the day work is a team sport, not a solo performance.

How About You
Do you still believe that if you didn't check, double-check and then check everything once more the work would never get done the right way? Really? On second thought please keep it up...I'd love to recruit your talent over to my team...apparently they have no reason to stay where they are.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Monday, July 16, 2012

Zero Signature

I've seen them in every organization I've worked. You have too. Leaders who have been around a long time, or not so long, but appear to accomplish next to nothing. Sure, they come in each day, and plod to and from the standing meetings with their standing agendas that pass as regularly as the seasons.

What do these people stand for? Anything? Beyond the standard corporate line of "being committed" and "willing to do whatever is necessary" I'm not seeing any tangible end result. Are you?

These people have a zero signature.

The Other Zero
I've seen them in every organization I've worked. You have too. Leaders who have been around a long time, or not so long, but appear to accomplish so much without leaving a trail of destruction in their path.

They hit all of the meetings just like I do, but they end up being so productive that you can't tell the systems and processes have been touched, but suddenly they're working so much better.

They just work so well. How do they do it?

These people have a zero signature too.

How About You
Think about your own leadership practice. What is the quality of the work you produce? Can anybody tell? Which zero signature do you leave?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Jam Session...HR Style

When I was younger…much younger…I played in several rock bands. We were okay (that's a bit of a stretch), but it was certainly fun. Singing and playing for several dozen to several hundred people was a thrill. As I reflect back now I can see that even if the quality of our music was not going to land us a record deal, we created a tremendous amount of energy simply by being focused on the same goal. Through hours of rehearsals and live performances we were able to get people, and ourselves, fired up.

Why can’t that same jam session feel carry over into the workplace? Specifically, why can’t HR have its own jam session of sorts to create some energy around the employment experience?

Well my friends, I'm here to tell you it can.

That's Too Touchy-Feely
It seems to me that when old school leaders are faced with the reality that they must connect with their teams in a meaningful way (read here => they have no idea how to do it) they default to criticizing those skills as being soft and mushy. In reality the only thing soft and mushy is...well...them.

Getting out and connecting with people, greeting them with a smile and a loud hello, remembering their names, and stopping to chat if the moment is right are all hallmarks of a confident leader that can be trusted. The leader who is simply too busy to make eye contact and come out of their office to show their human side becomes a mystery to the employees. Hence the term "empty suit."

"How in the world are employees expected to trust, follow, and help to implement changes if they've never met or even seen the leaders who are driving the change agenda?"

How About You
As an HR leader do you show your enthusiasm for your work? Can your staff tell? How about the employees that don't report to you, but are part of the larger organization? You don't have to be perfect, you just have to be real.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Work, I'm Gonna Leave You

How do you feel about your job? Does it make you want to get up in the morning and make an impact; or, does it make you want to hit that snooze button so hard it breaks off your alarm? What concerns me the most about these two ends of the spectrum are those employees, particularly in leadership, who are caught in between.

They're working...but they've checked out.

Expectations Matter
One of the lessons I've learned as I get, ahem, more mature in my years on the job, is that I'm not going to have fun doing everything at work. There are parts of my job that I really dislike. There are other parts that get me absolutely fired up. What has helped me get through the challenging parts is the way I set my own expectations about work.

If I expect every day to be filled with energy, creative new strategies and great results then I'm going to be bitterly disappointed. However, when I build into my expectations that I will have to power through some boring, mundane, and sometimes difficult work but I know it won't last forever, I'm much more satisfied.

Don't Leave
When expectations and the reality of our jobs are not aligned, nothing good happens. We become less interested and committed. Typically work product suffers and relationships that might have been strong at one point now become fodder for office gossip. Worst of all, the impact on our teams is obvious and immediate.

"When we lose the confidence of our team, we have nothing as leaders."

How About You
Have you already checked out? Have you noticed a colleague that has become disengaged or seems to be somewhat distant? It's time to step in and be a resource. Being a resource is still part of Human Resources, right?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Do Nothing

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing."

- Edmund Burke

Have you seen anything that troubles you lately? An employee being treated unfairly by a powerful leader? Maybe you overheard an innuendo that you know makes an employee uncomfortable? What about a colleague being overwhelmed with their workload and you realize you can step in and help with your team?

Did you do anything about it; or, was it easier to just keep your head down and stay quiet?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Speed Demon

I hate waiting. I hate slow decision-makers. And I loathe analysis-paralysis. My work life is moving so fast (just like yours is) and I don't want to waste time waiting for decisions to be made so I can get the results I want so badly.

I want it all. I want it all now.

And I absolutely can not stand it when I'm the reason decisions aren't being made.

Speed Kills
In sport speed is the ultimate conqueror. Whether you're the fastest skater on a hockey club, fastest base runner in baseball, or fastest car in qualifying; if no one can catch you, then you're simply unstoppable.

At work, if you're able to be the most productive, and most thorough, and most efficient and also be willing to take calculated risks then you're probably unstoppable too. Unless you go too fast.

There is another meaning to the term speed kills. It has to do with going so fast that even though you've convinced yourself that you're doing the right thing, you've actually overestimated your own skill set and are now heading for disaster. That could be in a car, or during a game, or at work.

How About You
How do you balance the need for timely decision-making and avoiding unnecessary risks? Have you embraced such a risk-averse approach that no one looks to you for leadership; or, are you seen as someone who can understand the dynamics of a situation quickly and actually decide to move through it?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

It's Not Enough

It's not enough...

  • to whine
  • to complain
  • to deflect ownership
  • to point fingers
  • to "take under review"
  • to avoid risk
  • to watch others
  • to do nothing
  • to expect someone else to step up
  • to be ordinary
  • to simply hope
  • to ignore difference
  • to make excuses
  • to keep doing what I've been doing

You and I were meant to do more. Start today.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Monday, July 2, 2012

Pinterest: The New Diversity Battleground?

I've only recently started using Pinterest. There was so much buzz about it, and since I try to stay reasonably current I did what any smart person would do...I called Craig Fisher to learn the real story. He was gracious with his time and shared some insights that I'll be putting into practice shortly from a recruitment perspective.

So off I went to learn, experiment, and play with this new fangled tool...and a discussion of sorts started playing out on one of my Pinterest boards. Apparently the threat of treating all people with respect has spilled over onto this new social site.

People Are People, Right?
Maybe it's just me, but if the people who are so threatened by our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender friends, coworkers and neighbors would just put that same energy into helping people verus attacking people, imagine what our world would look like?

How About You
Are you as surprised as I am that the threat of treating all people equally has now spilled over onto Pinterest? What do you do when confronted with this type of narrow-minded bigotry?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

 photo credit