Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I Wish I'd Said That

I'm going to be away from the blog for a few days, so I'm following the lead of my friend Jason Lauritsen and am offering a few of my favorite quotes. How about we each find one that means something to us and then do something about it?

"Leadership is a combination of strategy and character. If you must be without one, be without strategy."
- Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf

"The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas."
- Linus Pauling

"One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency."
- Arnold Glasgow

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

"To change and to change for the better are two different things."
- German Proverb

"It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself."
- Eleanor Roosevelt

"It's always too early to quit."
- Norman Vincent Peale

"The time is always right to do what is right."
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Moment of Silence

There it was again. That nervous laughter when someone in a leadership role made an innuendo about race. The last time it was about being gay. What follows is always the awkward moment of silence, and then the nervous laughter of those sitting around the table feeling compelled to join in, but obviously hating the moment.

The 1970's Were Bad...Right?
Thankfully I was raised in a household that held diversity as a core value. In fact, my parents share a story about me as a young boy that illustrates the point. One winter I saw a black man and a white woman holding hands as they walked down the street, and I exclaimed "that's bad!" In a panic, my parents tried to stay calm and asked me why that was so bad. I answered, "because he's not wearing a coat, it's winter time!"

Thank God for my parents.

It's Better in 2012...Right?
Sadly, the examples I've been exposed to in my professional life are not from the era of  leisure suits and disco balls. They're part of my adult experience, and over the years I've struggled with how to handle the moment when bigotry has shown itself to me.

Probably the ultimate let down is when someone we admire shows their feelings and lets a comment slip out that speaks to their real values. When I experience those moments I put them on a little mental list...a list of those that no longer deserve my respect.

Time To Speak Up
Quite a few years ago I decided I couldn't handle the silence anymore. Since that time I've lost friends, and become much more vocal about rights for people in the workplace. All people. I'm proud that my employer recognizes these same values not only in words, but in who we care for, and how we treat our employees. You see, as an HR professional you truly can advocate for changes to be made in your company that send very powerful messages about equality, difference, and...people!

How About You
What do you do in your moment of silence? Do you take a stand and rise above the others and say what's on your mind? Or, do you let the silence wrap itself around you in a blanket of shame?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit

Monday, September 24, 2012

Brute Force Leadership

How do you feel about this statement?

"The only way I can ensure things get done the right way is if I attend the meeting."

Have you ever used this line? Have you already used this line today? There is much more going on when you say and do this than what you might think.

Superiority Complex
I (too often) get caught up in my own stuff. Whether it's an idea, strategy, meeting commitment or other area of the work I'm responsible for, I fall into the trap of convincing myself that I have to be involved in everything. With my presence and fingerprint on everything, I'm able to exert some good old fashioned brute force to get the job done just the way I see it. Usually we end up with a less than good outcome when that happens.

The better option (just about every time) is for me to get my team involved in whatever it is that is going on. I have a group of smart people that work here in HR...and you have smart people that work with you too. Letting them do their jobs without constant interruptions from us has a couple of huge benefits. One of the most obvious is that we don't have to do all of the work! Why? Because we're not supposed to.

No Trust, No Team
The more important issue here though is trust. Ask yourself what message you send when your team members are constantly being interrupted in their work? Do you honestly think they feel good about your ( and my) interference? I'm guessing they would prefer to give it their best shot (which usually IS the best course of action) and then touch base with us afterwards.

How About You
What message are you going to send this week? Is it going to be another day of you complaining that you're so busy, not because you're doing your own work, but because you're involved in everyone's work? How does any professional development or succession planning stand a chance?

Or, is this the week that your team has an opportunity to spread their wings and show what they can do? Who knows, you actually might find a little extra time in your own schedule.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit

Friday, September 21, 2012

Impossible To Fail

"To guarantee success, act as if it were impossible to fail."
  - Dorothea Brande

How might you lead differently today if you knew it was impossible for you to fail? Would you try that new strategy that's been kicking around in your head but you haven't had the courage to put into action? Would you confront someone who needs to be spoken to? Would you make a difference today?

Impossible to fail. I like that.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit

Thursday, September 20, 2012


I'm  a big fan of milestones. They don't really do anything, nor do they last for more than a brief moment in time. But milestones represent important things in life. Sometimes they are a major accomplishment such as years of service with the same employer. Other times they are reached when college degrees, professional certifications, or a promotion comes through.

And sometimes they sneak up on you.

300...and Counting
This post is number 300 for NoExcusesHR. You have all been incredibly generous with your time to take a glance at these posts, and pass them along. I am very humbled by those actions and want to say a heartfelt thank you.

How About You
Many of you who read these posts are bloggers too. Others of you may be thinking about it but haven't quite taken that first step. I say Go For It! Just think, before you know it you'll be writing number three-hundred too.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

HR Has Changed

The world of the human resources practitioner has changed quite a bit over the years. I used to use really fancy tools like fax machines, Lotus123, and WordPefect to help me. I carried a digital pager (oooohhhhh, fancy!), had a cell phone that came in a bag for my car, and thought a hard copy printout of my calendar on ringed paper for my daily organizer was sophisticated.

But That's All Changed Now
Now I can (almost) work exclusively from my iPhone. I don't carry pens or paper to meetings, nor do I keep handouts for very long (hello recycle bin!). The laws and regulations have changed a lot too...some of them are even helpful, but not all.

The pace of change seems to have accelerated over the last few years too: social media, web-based everything, mobile societies, and my never-ending attempt to balance work and home in a reasonable way (see iPhone comment.)

For Some It Can Be Too Much
As the tempo has picked up in my HR practice I've noticed that not all of my colleagues have fared well during this time of change.

Whether they use the excuse that they are close to retirement and don't need to learn new things; or they are afraid to appear obsolete; or they believe deep down that they are no longer relevant in the "new world" of HR, they continue to stand on the sidelines.

How About You
It's time for that to change. If you see a colleague who is struggling to stay current you should consider reaching out to them. If they are a true colleague they will appreciate your kindness and support to help them get in the game again. Sometimes a small gesture is all that is needed to make a big difference.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit #1 photo credit #2

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Never. Stop. Trying.

Are you going through a frustrating time in your life? Maybe it's one of those "peak" times at work when everything seems to be hitting all at once. Maybe it's the never ending struggle to juggle a somewhat reasonable life away from work and it just isn't fitting together the way you need it to. Maybe it just feels like a bit too much lately.

Do not use this word. The word never does not apply to life. It's too final. It doesn't give you a way out, and it certainly doesn't allow your team to see brighter days ahead if you're working through a challenging period of time. Never doesn't work. Ever.

Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Now. Yes, that is easier said than done, but the reality of the world is that only you can truly make a difference in your life, both personally and professionally. If you're waiting for someone else to do it you might as well start using the word in "it's never going to get better."

Are you with me so far?

Keep doing this. Start now. If you fail, try harder. Nothing beats trying harder than you think you can. Leaders try harder, even when they feel like quitting. There is nothing wrong with feeling deflated, defeated, or beaten. But you have to keep trying.

How About You
Three words...never...stop...trying. Make them work for you today.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit

Monday, September 17, 2012

Turns Out...It's Not About Me

I have the privilege of experiencing a bunch of cool things in my work. Sometimes they're frustrating, and sometimes they're wonderful success stories; but mostly I get to work with a great group of dedicated HR professionals who are pushing hard to make a difference each day. That's pretty awesome.

And sometimes I actually think all of this awesomeness is because of me. Pffft.

Get A Clue
There's nothing like a few minutes of reflection on how work really gets done to make the "Jay-Complex" quickly disappear. I too often find myself getting fired up about this new idea or that new approach and don't take the time to slow down and consider the impact of my actions on those around me. Sure, I come up with a reasonably decent idea every now and then, but...

But sometimes I actually think all of progress we've made is because of me. Pffft.

How About You
So it turns out I can fall into the trap of thinking my success is mostly about me. I am fortunate to have such a patient and understanding team that sees through my weakness, pleasantly smiles, and then waits for me to come back down to earth. Do you appreciate your team, or do you spend a lot of time - like I do - making that damned Pffft sound?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Who's On First?

Strategic ideas...reimbursement changes...regulatory breakthroughs...excitement and enthusiasm to keep moving forward. These issues impact us each day in our work lives. We get fired up, or we should, and charge off down the trail ready to change the world.

But sometimes as we're racing along with the wind in our hair, we look around and see that we're the only one who has gone along for the ride. Why does that happen? Don't the people around us realize what a great opportunity there is if they just follow our lead?

C'mon people!

Communication Is Not Overrated
Keeping our team members informed of our vision is important during normal times. When we move into a period of rapid change it is absolutely essential that we explain exactly where we're headed on an ongoing basis. Feeling left out at work can be annoying, but worse than that is feeling like you don't understand what is expected of you.

Most of our employees come to work each day trying to make a positive impact. Without the proper guidance and direction from leadership, it is impossible to achieve that daily goal.

How About You
Do you meet with your team members regularly and share your vision? Do you include them in decision-making whenever possible so you have the buy-in necessary to execute on your plans? Don't make your guidance so difficult to understand that your team is left frustrated and saying who, what, and I don't know!

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Abbott and Costello...gotta love it.

photo credit

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

It Doesn't Have To Be That Way

Low morale.. One of the most dreaded phrases in the world of work. This label is intended to soften the reality of a deteriorating workplace. Turnover is rising, staff are voluntarily heading out the door as fast as they can, and the ones that are left behind are not exactly who you hoped would be staying.

That's grim.

What To Do?
Um, really? How about a quick list:

1. Smile. Everyday. You may think this is lame, but you all know who the miserable leaders are in your organizations, and I'm betting they don't smile a whole lot. Don't be the miserable leader in your company.

2. Be positive. Yeah, I know the earnings report sucked, and you aren't sure if you'll be able to keep all of your employees. If you're not trying to stay positive you aren't going to inspire anyone, which means no creative ideas are being generated, which means you just became the self-fulfilling prophecy of a lame leader. Don't be the lame leader in your company.

3. Try new things. I say this a lot. Why? Because far too many HR pros hide behind compliance, conservative legal advice and old-school corporate culture and never actually push hard for changes. For God's sake go do something!

How About You
Are you proud that you can quote every line of every company policy, so you feel justified saying "no" and being stuck in the quagmire of your status quo HR career?

Or, are you sick and tired of living this way and are ready to break free? I say break free and call me! We can talk real strategy any time.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit

Monday, September 10, 2012

Rent or Own

One of the things I find most satisfying about work is that there are always opportunities. I mean issues. Okay, there are always problems. These problems aren't necessarily awful, but they do represent items that need to be addressed. I like that... a lot.

Rental Leadership 
For many years I found myself feeling relieved when the problems at work didn't specifically identify Human Resources as the source. Whew! Thanks goodness it's someone else's problem! Sure, I'm happy to help out, but at the end of the day I'll only be slightly involved.

Renting is cool. But not very satisfying.

Owner Leadership
More recently I've found myself taking a different view of problems. They're all mine. Not that I'm actually responsible for solving them all; but I should always try to be part of the solution. Plus, imagine how my colleagues might feel if I jump in and try to help them out even if I'm not expected too? Isn't that what leaders are supposed to do anyway?

Owning is cooler than renting.

How About You
What leadership style have you chosen? Are you a renter, because it's easier to distance yourself from ultimate responsibility? Or, do you take a more serious approach and own? It seems to me that most people are proud to be owners in life. I'm guessing that applies to HR leadership too.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Somebody Save Me

"Change is good!"

"The only constant around here is change!"

"Change brings innovation, breakthroughs, and progress!"

"If you can't change, it may be you that is the problem!"

I Get It
I have completely bought into the "change-is-good" mindset at work. I've pushed myself, and my team to try new things, explore social tools, collaborate with marketing and end up with something as cool as this. I can not thank the team enough for all of the work that went into this whole year of change.

I'm good with change at work. At home...well...

No Choice is the Best Choice
Sometimes when we're faced with a series of changes, expected or otherwise, we hold back or try to delay following through, even if we know we must move forward. Change is tough for me. It might be tough for you too.

One of the strategies that has helped me power through these anxious moments is accepting the fact that "it's going to happen." Funny how a simple little phrase has fired me up to try all sorts of new things, embrace new things, and accept new things.

"It's my attitude that has made the difference, not any edict, or regulation, or mandate. I'm the one that makes it happen in the end."

How About You
When the never ending series of changes bombards you each day, do you cry out for someone to save you? Or, do you take advantage of those moments so you can actually try new approaches that might feel a bit awkward at first, but release you to make a breakthrough in the end?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Attention HR: You Can Hire Using Social...I Did

Social recruiting works. Let me say it again recruiting works. Three weeks ago I wrote a blog post about my need to fill a recruiter vacancy. I went through my "new" normal routine of using twitter, facebook, our HR web site and Linkedin to spread the word.

Bang! The job was filled less than two weeks later.

No journals, no newspapers, no magazines, no old-school personnel strategies...just social.

Welcome Michelle!
Please welcome Michelle Nelson to All Children's Hospital/Johns Hopkins Medicine. Michelle comes to us with an incredible track record of success recruiting registered nurses and other healthcare professionals for many years in the Tampa Bay area. She is a Linkedin power user and is jumping into the twitterverse too.

We're so glad you're here Michelle!

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Graphic courtesy of my buddy @andyheadworth

Pic courtesy of All Children's Hospital

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Where Is The Accountability?

Sometimes I feel we've all gotten a bit soft in today's world. It's so easy to turn away, claim we need a bit more documentation, or to simply ignore the situation until it is so polluted that the decision you should have made months ago is now pathetically obvious (and nearly risk-free.)

But at what cost?

It's Okay To Get Involved
What happens in our organizations when we as HR leaders identify issues but do nothing about them? Here's a short list:
- Decreased productivity
- Poor quality work product or service
- A spot on the "Worst Places to Work" list

How About You
Where are you on this issue HR? Do feel more comfortable waiting for people to come to you with full documentation of every little issue that has ever occurred before you act?

Or, do you go get the information you need so you can actually contribute and support all of those great employees that are watching and waiting for someone to take action?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit