Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Building A #HealthcareHR Community

Sometimes I convince myself I'm on top of my game. It's not hard to do. I'm fortunate to have a good job at a great company, I have a supportive boss, and am surrounded by a team that makes me look much more effective than the truth would show.

That last part stings a bit, but it's true. 

Finding Communities

Being part of a profession filled with caring people who are willing to drop out of the limelight in order to help their organizations (and corresponding brands) get the credit is refreshing. In many ways the HR professional's calling is not to become the face of the franchise; but instead to help support a culture that allows "the face" to honestly connect with employees, customers, and the world.

Except it's not refreshing when there isn't a community that supports our colleagues to be as effective as possible on their own. 

Building Communities

So how does one who feels like such a natural fit in the HR space help others push beyond the traditional role of being a support-only-HR pro, and become a real leader both inside and outside the four walls of the company?

Are professional associations the answer? I'm not sure. Can an association be a community; or, is community something different, particularly for those that are looking for something that goes deeper than a one-size-fits-all membership?

The social space now offers various LinkedIn groups, community-like forums through chats, hangouts and roundtables. 

These are all valuable moments, but I'm not sure they hit the mark for the elusive community that I'm thinking about.

I feel like I'm on thin ice here. My intent is not to be critical of established organizations; rather I'm curious if there is something more that can be done to enhance what is already in place.

I also know that something seems to be missing for those of us in the #HealthcareHR world who do such great work everyday.

How About You

What do you think? Is there a need for a different type of human resources community that brings together HR professionals across the healthcare space in addition to the current structures? Or, am I simply out of touch with the established association culture and need to fall in line?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Believe In Me

"I'm a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn't have the heart to let him down."
- Abraham Lincoln

Who do you work with that needs to know you believe in them? What difference will that make in their career?

You may never know what your impact will be...

...but they sure will.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I Will Be Heard

"Jane was a ten year employee. Her new manager was motivated and came to the organization with a great reputation. But Jane's new manager was more focused on her own success, how she looked to upper management, and whether or not her next promotion was in her line of sight. As communication shut down, Jane felt more and more disconnected from the company. Her manager's tunnel vision alienated Jane to the point that she finally resigned."

"Sally was an average employee. She did enough to get the work done, and was reliable. As her organization went through a series of changes it seemed that Sally couldn't do anything right. It felt like the new rules of accountability switched overnight. Sally didn't think this was fair, and decided to look outside the organization for help with her new problem."

"Theresa used to fit in with her coworkers just fine. As time went by however, some new people joined the department and the culture changed. She was now an outsider who wouldn't go along with the new majority that weren't as dedicated or hard-working. She felt peer pressure to change her work ethic so as not to make the others look bad. She couldn't understand why the job she loved for so many years was now making her dread coming to work each day."

Exceptions or Common?

Have you ever heard stories like these before? I have too. There is something strange about how workplace cultures can evolve and change. At a high level many companies work incredibly hard to develop and sustain corporate cultures that reflect the goals and aspirations of what those leaders believe in. Mission, Vision, and Culture Statements are important tools that spread the message across the institution. 

The reality of culture however does not play out at the enterprise level. True culture manifests itself in departments, units, offices, break rooms, and in the endless number of interactions with internal and external customers on an individual level. That is where the culture lives, thrives, or slowly decays.

Leadership Makes or Breaks Culture

In order for the three scenarios above to have positive outcomes one thing must happen. The organization's leadership must commit to providing a resource for employees beyond their normal chain of command

Whether they are called employee advocates, employee ombudsman or simply that the message is clear that all team members have full access to human resources; the culture must fully support the notion that each employee's voice is important and will be heard.

Without a formal mechanism in place, the ability to build the sought after corporate culture will never fully be realized.

How About You

What are you doing to ensure your employee's voices will be heard? Are they trapped in the archaic follow-the-chain-of-command world; or, have you helped lead the way to a workplace that takes care of it's own people?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, October 21, 2013

I'm Engaged! (at least I think I am)

It used to be called satisfaction. But that didn't sound trendy enough. Now it's called engagement, and it's not only much trendier, it means a whole lot more (ahem...not really) than satisfaction. I know when I get home each night I like to sit back and discuss how engaged I felt all day long. I bet you do too! 

Labels Make Us Feel Better 
What is it about our work that requires we label everything? I appreciate the value in common language in the workplace. It allows for a shared vision to be communicated, acted upon, and ultimately achieved with fewer misunderstandings.

That makes sense.

Where we sometimes go too far is when we allow the labels to become the work. No longer are we focused on the actions that drive engagement. Instead we wrap ourselves around engagement surveys, reports, action planning and documentation of all that we're "doing" to achieve higher scores, better ratings, or some other stretch goal that has been identified.

Are missing something when we get so caught up in the business of engagement work vs actually leading our organizations? 

Doing Is Best 
One of my struggles is to avoid the busyness trap, get past the noise around me, and focus on the real work. Maybe it's inherent in human resources...maybe in all work...but the distractions we face can quickly eat up our entire day. 

That doesn't make sense.

There are many tools available to help us stay organized, make sure we follow through, and avoid the clutter that fills our calendar. The most important step, as I'm learning (still), is to develop a commitment to those tools. 

Having a plan to avoid distractions and be productive is very different from executing that plan. I'm pushing myself to be much more rigid in my focus to ensure I follow through relentlessly. 

How About You 
Do you allow the labels in your workplace to become the work? Or, have you mastered the art of blocking out the noise, and making follow through your number one priority?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

When You're Not A Good Fit Anymore

The word "fit" is used so frequently in my world that I almost feel that I need an organizational sizing chart for our selection process. I don't know when the word "fit" became such a requirement (or excuse) for making decisions about people's careers, but it is clearly one of the most en vogue terms in the world of work.

Good Fit
It seems to me there is no greater compliment that can be bestowed on a person than to say they are a "good fit." That might be the corporate world's version of granting tenure in academia. Surely lifelong employment without fear of reprisal is at hand! 

We've all experienced the warm and fuzzy "good fit" feeling either in the interview process with a candidate, or when we join a new organization and get to know our colleagues. There is a certain energy that kicks in...the feeling of potential...knowing that because personalities are going to connect well, great things are sure to follow.

Until the world changes. Which happens on a daily basis. Then the "good fit" criteria we used yesterday no longer applies to our new hire, or incumbent, or member of our leadership team. We get stuck using old mindsets in an ever changing world. That is an impossible model to follow if we are going to continue this good-fit-above-all-else way of thinking.

Bad Fit
Fit is in the present...but what happens when someone evolves but the organization is slow to respond? Still a good fit (read here --> the company wants the old fit, clinging to the good old days)? 

Are these folks no longer relevant? Have they crossed some invisible "fit" line that now has them on the bad fit list?

Perhaps we should only be focused on bringing people into our organizations who continually push the limits of what is normal, or accepted, or upholds the rich traditions of our various brands? 

How many breakthroughs in thinking, leading, product development, and process improvement might come from that corporate culture?

Sadly, most companies will never know.

How About You
Are you a good fit where you work? I hope I still am! I work very differently now than when I first joined my organization. I was hired as a "good fit" for the way I worked back then...and that doesn't come close to how my work gets done now.

For as much as I try to keep up with an ever changing world, I'm still falling short of what's happening in other industries. That's okay though, it's those other HR leaders that inspire me to keep pushing. Whether I'm a good fit or not.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Words have power.

They can inspire, encourage, lift up, and tear down. 

Words are weapons.

They can fend off evil things, protect us from harm, and help us see through the darkness.

Words create change.

They can move organizations in new directions, transform worn out departments, and give individuals a new perspective on their career.

Words are fuel.

They live forever, remind us to stay focused, and allow us to explore beyond our limited world view.

What words do you choose?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses. 


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Obsession That Is Killing HR

I have a big idea. If it gets a little traction it might change how human resources work is done in the future. It's not a new concept, but I believe the time is right for someone, particularly in Healthcare HR to speak to this opportunity.

Ideas are meant to solve problems, and my friends I see significant problems in the Healthcare HR space. I see it in my own career path, and I see an abundance of time and energy being wasted everyday on this problem.

There are two parts of my idea and each one must be executed well in order for it to work. Let's briefly walk through each component of my plan.

The Problem
One of the most significant problems I see in human resources today is our obsession with transactional work. While there is a non-stop stream of "we need to be strategic" talk in just about every HR meeting I attend, I rarely see this put into action. Why is that? Further, is Healthcare HR somehow behind the curve on the transition to actually being strategic?

Yes, there are progressive human resources teams in healthcare, yet the struggle for us all (inside and outside of healthcare) to break away from focusing on task after task continues. How do we move past this hurdle?

In my organization we've made huge progress separating out transactional work, and making it more streamlined and efficient than ever. What was the secret to our success? We had the front line HR team map out where we were failing, and what we should do to make improvements. 

Genius, right? Well, no. Fortunately our team is very engaged and did a terrific job of evolving not only our HR processes, but our culture too.

The second strategy is the most challenging of all for HR leaders to implement. This requires the discussion about transactional work and routine processes never to enter into conversations about strategic work. 

Time and time again the HR strategy meetings I've been involved with end up falling back on the routine topics of transactional work that "somehow" continues to get in the way. Why do we do that? Is it comfort in discussing old routine items? Maybe. We've been talking about them for decades, so it is probably easy to fall back into old (read here --> bad) habits.

Guess what...if you don't bring up transactional work, it doesn't get in the way. Stop talking about it and you'll find yourself with plenty of time to talk strategy.

How About You
Have you tried to push transactional work away from the strategic meeting agenda? Did it work? If so, please share your approach, as there are so many (including me) who could benefit from your success story. 

If not, take a hard look at the words you're saying in your meetings, and decide if you're adding value or simply adding noise.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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