Wednesday, December 20, 2017

HR is Messy

A few years ago a member of my team asked me a question. We were discussing a sensitive issue that required some finesse to work through. I was also working toward a specific outcome, and knew I needed to take several important steps in order to get there.

She asked..."do you always have an agenda for everything?"

I Love Plans
For most of us...well, at least for me...I like to be in control of my situation. I want to understand the issues, prepare to address the ever-present political landmines, and be organized so I can deliver the results everyone expects from me.

Good plans do that. Heck, even half-baked plans can often do most of the job. But something happens in spite of having a clear work plan...and it seems to happen consistently.

People get involved.

A Beautiful Mess
Here's the part where I do not vent about people being a source of frustration as I try to get my work done "according to plan."

It turns out I'm one of those people that gets involved...even in my own plans! Sometimes I change my mind, or learn new information, or discover a new challenge that needs to be managed thoughtfully.

HR work is messy....and I love it.

How About You
The next time someone "interrupts" your plans, consider this: the world does not revolve around your view exclusively. If you are always the smartest one in the room, you have a pretty weak room.

Focus on being savvy, understanding all of the dynamics involved, and focus on the end result versus winning every battle along the way.

Oh, and my answer to her question about having an agenda?

It was yes, of course.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Should Have Known Better

"That time I pushed for what I thought was best, without really listening to what my colleagues were telling me."

I should have known better.

"When I didn't take the time to fully understand all of the politics involved."

I should have known better.

"The new policy I thought would be so good for the bottom line, but didn't realize how ill-prepared I was with the communication plan."

I should have known better.

"I wish the others could have seen how important that was...what's wrong with them?"

I should have known better.

"I wasn't threatened by them...I just needed to have things go my way...and be really popular."

I should have known better.
How About You
Who on your team needs a healthy dose of "should have known better?" Go tell them. Be firm. Stop treating them like they will break in two, or that chaos will follow. They need your coaching wisdom, and bold leadership.

Tell them today.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Thursday, December 14, 2017

Carved In Stone

Regardless of the size of the organization.

Let's agree they are all complex.


Many Parts




My eyes only see a fraction of the whole.

What part am I not seeing?

Which employee am I missing?

What issue is just beyond my line of sight?

Who is struggling that I can help, but I just don't notice them?

How About You
Am I inflexible and carved so deeply in stone that I'm missing...well... everything around me? 

What, or more importantly, who, might you be missing in your world?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, December 11, 2017

If Not Us, Then Who

"That's not my job."
"Those issues are outside my scope."
"I don't have authority to address that."
"I'm in HR, that's an Operations issue."

It's About Action
What in the world is happening?

Have we lost our way in HR? Is there something inherent in how we view our roles, that has inadvertently backed us into a position where we feel we are not leaders of the organization?

Check out this recent example of HR in action:

A hospital's laboratory department [not a client] was struggling with turnover, scheduling, and low morale. The HR leader proactively joined in the solutions process and pulled schedules, department financials, and reviewed employee concerns. 

The result? She built a new schedule that solved both the morale and staffing problems. The Lab Director was thrown off initially, but once the progress became apparent, was appreciative of the support.

Leadership (Not Just HR)
That my friends, is real HR leadership. 

Was that in the HR Director's job description? No.
Was that "old school" HR? No.
Was that taking a risk that the organization could not recover from? No.

Here's the part that so many of us miss, including me, multiple times.

We have the authority as leaders to do any damn thing we need to do. There is no one holding us back. There is no one telling us 'no.' If we are going to earn the respect that we must earn, it is entirely up to us to take action.

Action trumps excuses every time.

How About You
What's holding you back from being a leader, not just the "HR person?" HR means so much more than the HR department, right?

Am I wrong? Should we lead for real...or just keep processing all of that paperwork?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Get Off My Lawn

I have become an angry old man.

You see, getting (a bit) older is an interesting thing. While I try really hard to be a positive force in my little world, I can sometimes fall in the trap of...well...not being so positive.

Those Darn Leaders
The curse of high expectations can be costly. On one hand I work extremely hard to ensure phenomenal results are achieved; and, I can also be critical when junior-level leaders try hard but repeatedly fall short.

Get off my lawn you struggling leaders!

Those Darn Team Members
I'm blessed to help lead an organization that is absolutely loaded with bright young minds. Their energy is infectious, and pushes me to keep bringing my A-game each day. Except, I fall into my own expectations-trap.

I expect those fired up young minds to understand everything I already have been exposed to and learned over many years. Sigh. Another #JayFail.

Get off my lawn you young people!

Those Darn Executives
Ah, at least I can rely on all of the executives leading organizations around the globe! They are my "angry old man" salvation, for sure!

But wait...did I just hear one (er, all!) of them say they don't have time for social media, branding, have any time to spend with employees, or mentor a young motivated leader because they have more meetings?

What is happening?
Excuses? Meetings? Noise!

When did policies, process, busy calendars and egos take over our passion for leadership?

Get off my lawn you scared executives!

How About You
Have you become angry in your "old age?" Well, I for one am done with being the old angry guy in the corner of the conference room. Complaining doesn't support new leaders, educate motivated young employees, or call-out stressed executives.

Action + a positive attitude does all of these things and more!

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, December 4, 2017

Your Career Site Is A Retention Tool

A job list.

That is literally what your "career" site is. A simple, boring, ineffective list of current open positions.

Oh, wait. You might have a picture of a smiling beautiful person who doesn't work at your company on your "site" too. Nice touch. I'm sure that will bring in the qualified applicants!

Content (hint, your employees sharing their stories)
Their is a reason that you hear employer branding and content so frequently relative to recruitment. It's how you represent yourself in 2017 to prospective employees. What is often not said however, is that employer branding can move the needle on retention as well.

Think about it. A robust employer brand / recruitment marketing strategy uses current employees constantly to spread the good news about the employer. Highlighting your own employees (instead of those 'models') on your career site is a very public form of recognition.

Sure, the certificates you hand out thanking people for being awesome are a sure-fire strategy; but maybe interviewing them for a blog post or video that could reach the entire universe is a bit more impactful? 

Are you with me?

Retain First, Recruit Second
Have any of you ever said this phrase..."our employees are our most important asset." Of course you have... WE ALL HAVE!

Except, how many of us highlight our employees on our digital properties to make sure we keep the best ones, and attract the ones we need like they do and they do?


When you put your people on your careers page, loaded with stories, engaging photographs and videos, you send a powerful message that your employees literally are your most important asset.

How About You
Are you ready to start retaining your people, and show potential applicants that you are the most progressive employer in your industry? What are you waiting for? I'm ready to help you!

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Scared to Death

"Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right things."
Peter Drucker

I feel like I've been a rule-breaker in human resources leadership for many years. Ours is a profession filled with policies, rules, SOPs, laws, regulations, and a hell of a lot of scared HR pros.

Scared to make decisions.
Scared to be bold.
Scared to 'get in trouble.'
Scared to take risks.
Scared to be different.
Scared to put it all on the line.
Scared to try new things.

Friends, it seems like HR is scared to death.

What Is Up With HR?
What is it that holds HR professionals back? What could possibly be so pervasive that nearly an entire profession is mired in writing policies, saying no, avoiding all risks and yet still consider themselves as contributing?

I don't get it.

I've met a growing number of HR pros who are all about making an enormous difference in their organizations. Why isn't everyone in our profession clambering to get to the front of the innovation line?

Enlighten me friends! Who is leading the way in HR?
- in the US

- in Europe
- in India
- in Australia
- in New Zealand
- in China
- in...well...everywhere else!

How About You
When did you make the transition from scared to fired up? What made the difference? Was it an inspirational colleague; a progressive CEO; or maybe a new corporate culture that made it "okay" for you to be what you always knew you could be?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, November 27, 2017

Market Garden Leadership

I hear a lot of big talk from leaders. Epic plans! Grandiose statements about "doing this" and "delivering on that!" 

Big talk is important. It can inspire others to follow you. It can motivate teams to take that extra risk to achieve breakthrough results. It can be...something special.

It can also be a colossal failure.

Plan the Big Talk
I've tried lots of bold strategies in my career. Some were wildly successful, and others....well...not so much. One phrase, however, proved to be true in each scenario whether it was a winning idea or a losing one: preparation and execution.

The common trap of over-preparation often leads to inaction, which I've railed against many times before on this blog. We can never be fully prepared; rather, we just have to be as prepared as possibly without delaying the second half of this phrase.


Execute (and monitor closely) the Big Talk
Simply putting together a good plan is not even remotely close to actually leading the effort. High success rates require leaders understand what is happening, recognize when the situation starts to drift from the original intent, and most importantly, not be afraid to jump in and literally lead the project across the finish line.

Too many leaders cower in fear when the anticipated outcome is "suddenly" at risk. They freeze up hoping to blame others instead of making real-time decisions to keep things moving forward.

Oh, how arrogance and fear get in the way of success!

How About You
When have you seen a leader struggle with the execution of a plan? Have they frozen in place when that plan seemed to be in jeopardy; or, did they have the resolve to pivot and personally ensure the correct decisions were made?

What did you do while they struggled? Did you jump in to help...or, stand idly by?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic wwii

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Crazy Thankful

Ah, yes. Thanksgiving. That special time of year when we get really thoughtful about those who mean the most to us. Those we love, those we miss, those who make a profound difference in our lives...

It's really powerful when you think about it. 

Then, of course, the next day we open up the shopping mosh pit and beat the crap out of each other at Target trying to save $100 on a TV we don't need.


Thankful for Work Stuff
After so many years driving to hospitals for work, I now travel extensively to...wait for it...hospitals!

I know...huge change, but I'm actually thankful for that. Although nothing says "I'm blessed" like switching your commute from a car to an airplane.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Jay, you have a cool gig with a cool company and you get to do all of that traveling!

Sure, I'm thankful...that hotel rooms have's the little things.

Thankful for Work People Stuff
The really important part of Thanksgiving however, is remembering the people in our lives.

- The hiring managers that never get back to us with their feedback.

- The leaders who are afraid of social media. They keep me employed. 

- The wanna be executives who are so full of themselves they miss the point of leading.

- The executives who still think the world knows how good their organizations are because...well..."they're special!" See "permanent employment for Jay" above.

How About You
So many things to be thankful for this year. But most of all...I'm thankful that you all have a sense of humor.

Keep pushing friends...we're going to change the world if it kills us!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Friday, November 17, 2017

I Can Handle It (All)

I've been told recently that when work issues get a little complicated, I switch into "I will handle everything mode" in order to resolve the crisis of the day.

Well...that kind of makes me sound like I believe I'm Superman...and for as much as I would LOVE to believe that is true...

...sadly, it's not.

Leading vs. Owning
My role quite honestly is not necessarily to resolve every single issue that pops up. Instead, my role is to ensure every single issue gets resolved. 

That doesn't mean that I am supposed to manage each step of the process; rather, just to provide the appropriate coaching, guidance, and occasional kick-in-the-pants to make sure the work gets done in a world class way.

Leading through issues is harder than owning them.

- Leading means I have to trust others.

- Leading means I have to open my mind to other ideas.

- Leading means I have to go with ideas that I many not necessarily agree with.

Owning can be awesome (and overwhelming.)

- Owning means I can control every single thing at every step.

- Owning means I don't have to listen to anyone's ideas or input.

- Owning means I get all the credit for fixing things.

...and owning is absolutely impossible to be done alone.

The flip-side of all this self-reflection and humility is this...

...what about results?

Sometimes a driving force is not only helpful, but required to achieve those results.
Sometimes a bold decision-maker is the only one that will push the team far enough.
Sometimes ensuring results are achieved is the only way to prove that risk = success.

Sometimes...we have to go far beyond what is safe and comfortable to get across the finish line.

How About You
Where is the balance point for you between trusting the team and driving the team forward? 

Is there something we're all missing; or, is there something that the best leaders do in the moment that allows them to dance on the line between foolish trust and bullying arrogance?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, November 13, 2017


I see the world in a certain way. I don't think that's a bad thing; in fact, I'm not sure how I could see it any other way. I'll always have those unconscious biases playing in the background and influencing how I think, speak and act.

The challenge, of course, is what to do about those biases as I become aware of them? 

My Lens
The lens I use to see the world is clouded with high expectations, little tolerance for excuses, and even less patience when it comes to repeated leadership failures. I'm not trying to be cute here...failings in these areas send me right over the edge. 

That clouded lens of mine has served me well, but it has also been a source of much frustration. So, where is the gap?

The value I place on being a savvy leader is not merely because it is important. Quite the opposite...everyone who is actually paying attention to the practice of effective leadership understands it's importance. 

The challenge lies in helping those leaders who don't understand what it means to be savvy. You know who they are in your organization. They use lots and lots of words, yet somehow for all of their "knowledge" they fail miserably when the moment comes and they have to be savvy.

In the moment.

Without thinking.

Without running to a supervisor for guidance.

Acting with the full knowledge of what is at stake, and the accompanying dynamics that will play out.

...and they have to do it instantly.

Is this difficult to do? Of course it is.

Are we supposed to wait and wait and wait and wait while our "leaders" take an inordinate amount of time to "get up to speed" and be savvy?

Absolutely not.

How About You
Achieving results for our organizations does not happen because we make excuses. We do not grow, open new jobs, pay our people, or create an employer brand that is second to none while simultaneously justifying why the same errors are repeated.

Be the savvy leader your organization needs. Push yourself to be what you've always wanted to be. If you're not ready...don't pretend. Everyone can see through your talk. Instead, be humble, listen, learn, ask questions, and give yourself a chance to take your career to the next level.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Sports, Business, and Missing the Big Picture

The link between business and sports is a powerful one. We often refer to our employees as members of the "team"...and we hope that unselfish "play" will result in a "big win" for the company. 

Some claim that sports references go over their heads...yet they drop the "team" label in their next breath.

So, what's happening? Here's where I'm at with sports and business.

I Love Teams
I am a big fan of creating an environment where our employees feel like they are a member of the organization in a meaningful way. The sense of community, the trust, the camaraderie all go a long way to creating a culture that most organizations only give lip-service to.

But...just like with any successful team, it is the leadership that must step up, be a role model, and not just talk about professionalism and culture, they have to live it. For those leaders that fail to do so, what happens?

Morale slumps.

Profit slumps.
Turnover suddenly becomes "a thing."

Leaders who talk too damn much are worthless.

Everyone Is Not A Starter
For those leaders that believe they are suddenly an all-star simply because they have a fancy title, I have some grim news. Teams are rarely made up of superstars. Several marquee players often elevate the play of the rest of the team. 

The same holds true in business. Leaders, just like talented young players, need to learn from the veterans. It is impossible to develop leadership savvy on your own. Paying attention to the details, and learning the nuances of effective leadership that separate the focus on personal convenience, to understanding the larger picture is critical.

The awareness of how important it is to maintain strong relationships in the workplace often separates the "hungry" new leaders who repeatedly fail, from those experienced leaders who could help them develop. The simple rules our parents taught us about crossing the street are helpful here...



How About You
What role do you play "in the room?" Are you the veteran who sees how all of the pieces of your organization and key relationships fit together? Or, are you so hungry to prove that you know what you're doing, that you constantly show you have no idea?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Thursday, November 2, 2017

It's A Secret

Sometimes strange things happen when people are promoted to leadership. They don't turn into creatures of the night or anything cool like that; but they do seem to suddenly feel empowered to hoard information.

Yes, this sounds absolutely ridiculous.
Yes, this builds zero trust.
Yes, this still happens all the time.

They Won't Understand
Early in my career I learned of an executive who "coached" his leaders to edit information that was shared in hospital-wide leadership team meetings. I wondered why anyone would withhold important information....the answer..."the employees won't fully understand..."

Eventually I inherited that same team...

...and shared every bit of information that was rolled out in those leadership meetings.

The Power and the Glory
Let's peel back the layers here. What exactly happens when leaders hoard information? Is it an ego thing? Perhaps a power play? 

How is it that on one hand we rely on our employees to literally handle our business...and in the same moment, not trust them enough to get an update on what is happening, might be happening, or isn't going to happen?

Are we so much smarter than the rest of the team simply because we have a fancy job title?

How About You
Who are the leaders in your organization that are so stuck on their own greatness that they have completely missed the point of being a leader?

Share everything you can as quickly as you can. 100% of the time. You'll be amazed at the trust, credibility and loyalty you create.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, October 30, 2017

Pick Up the Full Armor

Leadership in the digital age is a curious thing. On one hand we try to inspire, motivate, and encourage other leaders to be as impactful as possible. We share positive images from our lives, we call each other out, we push ourselves...all wrapped in an online presentation that seems...just right.

Sometimes Things Go Wrong
Despite all the effort we put into sharing our world online, sometimes that world turns upside down.

Who is to blame?
Why did it happen?
What will happen next?
What should happen next?

My world is no different than yours. Once in a while something happens that gets me all worked up. It's frustrating. It's usually unnecessary. It's always a pain in the neck to resolve.

But, it always gets resolved.

The Most Important Part
Getting things fixed is not always easy. But for most of us, we are not performing brain surgery. We are not responding to a domestic violence call that could turn deadly. We are not on the front-line of a war zone wondering if today will be our last.

We are blessed to have jobs that allow us to not not only be challenged with problems, but we can also resolve them for our organizations; and in so doing, make our organizations even better than they were previously.

It only happens if we are willing to put on the armor and go into our own "battles."

It can only be successful if we are willing to be fully engaged in understanding our role, and then making decisions to keep things moving forward.

It will only matter, if we elevate our leadership presence to one that is passionate and driven and unwavering on the quest to be world-class.

How About You
Do you need to pick up the full armor this week and make a difference? You are not alone. 

The need for bold leadership is everywhere, particularly when life isn't all unicorns and rainbows. Now, get after it!

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Be Relentless

"I don't care how good you think you are, or how great others think you are - you can improve, and you will. 

Being relentless means demanding more of yourself than anyone else could ever demand of you, knowing that every time you stop, you can still do more. 

You must do more. The minute your mind thinks, "Done," your instincts say "Next."
Tim Grover

How are you going to be relentless in your career? Is it playing it safe, avoiding risk like so many of your colleagues around the conference room table? Or, is there another door waiting for you to kick open?

Safe = Death

With so many changes, pressures, and expectations on leaders in today's world of work, taking the same old tired path of safety and excuses is unacceptable. 

There is only one what are you waiting for?

Finding the proper balance between our professional and personal lives is a never ending challenge. The solution is not as complicated as you might think.

Commit to connecting with those you love on a very regular basis (daily, weekly.) Call, visit, text, facetime, tweet, or spend time with doesn't matter how you do it...just make sure they hear from you no matter what. 

Fitness and Nutrition
This might be the most difficult because society has basically allowed us to default to an endless list of excuses so we can avoid being healthy, and eat piles of garbage on our couches night after night.

Stop it. Download MyFitnessPal, start tracking what you put in your body, and for God's sake get up and move each day.

When was the last time you took the stairs and didn't feel like dying after one flight? 

How About You
Life is an amazing adventure...and we can achieve so much more than we ever thought possible. However, corporate cultures, society, and the obsession with "busyness" has created the myth that a relentless attitude is somehow odd.

I'm calling BS on that. Being relentless is the only way to live.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Judgment Day

"If we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that sometimes our assumptions and preconceived notions are wrong, and therefore, our interpretation of events is incorrect. This causes us to overreact, to take tings personally, or to judge people unfairly." 
Elizabeth Thornton

Persistent "Problems"
I work with people approximately...100% of the time. Whether it's in meetings, on site with clients, at my company's home office, interacting on the phone , or using any of the many digital or social media tools I use to stay connected. I am constantly working with people.

And, well...sometimes that makes things complicated.

One of those complicated issues appears in the form of "ongoing problems:"
- the difficult leader
- the hiring manager who is never satisfied
- the blame game that seems to take on a life of its own
- and the endless litany of excuses that are nothing more than an attempt to deflect the "leader's" inability to address complex issues

Unfortunately those excuses often become the corporate world's alternate facts, and in turn drive a wedge between business partners that should otherwise simply sit down and talk through the various problems that need to be resolved.

Do It Yourself
Our assumptions, and faux reality of the dynamics are often complicated further as we try to be so sensitive to every one's feelings that we don't step in and take charge.

I'm not talking about bullying...I'm talking about understanding that the team around you has tried their best, but they simply are not far enough along in their development to actually understand what to do next.

That is when savvy HR leaders step up.
That is when savvy HR leaders take control.
That is when savvy HR leaders do not allow the noise to interfere with achieving results.

How About You
Do you have issues in your organization that don't seem to be going away? Have you heard the same tired excuses as to why "this person" or "that department" are so difficult? If you're worried that others "won't like you anymore" if you jump in, you have missed the point.

It's time to tell your team to step aside. 


You are the leader...remember?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, October 9, 2017

You Didn't See Them Coming

I've been away from the blog for a couple of weeks. It's been a wild ride of speaking at conferences, connecting with progressive human resources executives, and candidly, getting really fired up about the future of HR.

But not the HR group we normally think about. There is a gathering storm of HR executives in North America who are throwing away their excuses and are literally calling their CEOs and telling them it's time for a dramatic change.

I know this is true...because I've had the privilege of spending hours and hours with them.

Unstoppable Force
Who are these leaders you ask? Well, they come from an industry that not only gets little "air time" in the social media space; but they also are so committed to the missions of their organizations that the last thing on their mind is personal glory or "internet fame."

They are the HR Executives who lead the senior care communities across North America, and they are not going to be silent any longer.

They are driven.
They care deeply for the residents and families who trust them with their loved ones.
They are as fired up as I am about taking HR to a whole new level. 

Is this great news or what?!

One of the barriers these leaders have had to face is the perception that... 

...senior living = nursing home. 

Not true.

While nursing homes play a vital role in our society, and are certainly a part of their corporate structure, that term is by no means representative of the incredible breadth of services offered.

The commitment not only to their organizations, and to their industry is one I've rarely seen in the HR space. 

They not only want to build their employer brands in the most contemporary ways possible; but they want to elevate the perception of their entire industry to help it grow.

Are you kidding me? 

When was the last time your direct competitor wanted to strategize with you about making your industry better? 

(Please don't say you both contributed money to the local Nursing school...good Lord that's been done for 50 years and hasn't made a dent in the lack of qualified faculty.)

How About You
If you would like to connect with this new wave of fired up leaders make sure you follow the Senior Care Summits conference announcement for next Fall. You will be inspired by the passion these leaders demonstrate at every turn, and you just might realize that there is a new group of HR Execs that are soon to take the lead in showing us all how contemporary HR is done.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.