An Oasis in the Desert !!

As I sit to type my weekly post, I am overlooking a beautiful mountain range that encircles the Las Vegas strip.  It’s my first time to visit Vegas, and I find it to be an incredibly intriguing human experiment !!  (That will be for a later post to be sure.)

One thing that strikes me though is that in the midst of a desert sits an endless series of skyscrapers, neon lights, constant movement and a throng of people taking in absolutely everything their senses can endure.  It’s like an oasis filled with people searching for something to refresh them.

After finishing the Ohio SHRM State Conference, I noted another oasis in the midst of a desert. During the hustle and bustle of the sessions, vendor hall, food, SHRM Store and entertainment, people are looking for something to refresh themselves professionally.  You see Social Media usage jump from literal non-existence to a robust life because people have to tell others what they’re experiencing.  It’s great to see people embrace social media, even if it’s for this short burst.  Ironically, there’s still a movement out there at conferences that wants to squish and limit social media.  In fact, one of my friends was attending another State Conference said that they had speakers (who weren’t on social media themselves) encouraging HR to not allow social media.  That narrow look at things kills me.

You see, I think social media is more than a platform for exposure.  Sure, that’s what many people use it for.  However, I think social media is the best method to connect, communicate and curate.  There is a hole in HR people.  They want to connect and become this amazing tribe, but they don’t know how.  It starts to bubble at HR events, but then it dissipates as soon as the event concludes and “real” work starts again.

OasisWe continue to compartmentalize social media as something that exists “out there” and is “for others.”  I’d like to see that change.  To me the first primary function of social media is to connect.  Before social media, our HR sphere was limited geographically both in how far we were willing to go and who we met at traditional gatherings.  Social media allows us to meet others who do what we do and face the same challenges and opportunities we do.  You aren’t alone !!  This is one facet of the oasis that is within your reach.

The next is communication.  Now we have the ability to reach out with the touch of an “enter” button to talk to anyone.  We have no reason to say that resources aren’t accessible.  People want to help each other, but YOU need to be the one who reaches out.  Sitting by your mobile device hoping someone will ask you for your keen and sage advice isn’t going to happen.  Reach out first.  It’s not as risky as you think.

The last piece is curation and it’s something that needs to start happening more.  This is more geared to my friends who are already well-versed and comfortable in the social media space.  People want to hear your voice and the voices of others.  I appreciate that people fill social media with content, but I see most people publish and not push.  By “push” I mean sharing the great content you see to others.  When we get caught up in analytics and how our numbers are running, I feel that we want see how our personal social media brand is doing more than making the profession stronger.

Be the oasis !!  Get information out to people and gather them together so that they are renewed and equipped to be able to do the good work of HR in their corner of the HR universe.  I want you to join me in making social media a platform that is more than just a series of announcements !!

People in HR are seeking the oasis.  Let’s start meeting there.  The desert isn’t really w where need to be.  HR practitioners want to gather and come together.  Join me in making this happen !!

What’s Your Sentence ??

As I write, I’m recovering from the Ohio SHRM State Conference. It was another incredible event full of learning, fun, laughter and engaged HR pros. Everyone there found something that they could use as a takeaway to improve their role back at the workplace.

Personally I was geeked to be able to give a presentation myself !! It is always a highlight for me when I get to speak to my peers. I also enjoyed participating in a Town Hall to update folks about the new SHRM Certification with Nancy Conway from SHRM.

I enjoy going to events like this because I seek out sessions that will stretch me and how I look at what I do. I want to hear new thoughts and approaches to see how I can approach HR in my organization in a fresh and relevant way. I was encouraged that the entire conference would have sessions like this when Bill Taylor opened as the conference’s first keynote. Taylor is the author of “Practically Radical” and I was intrigued as he shared real world stories from today’s companies that are differentiating themselves.

He also shared a story when John F. Kennedy was President and a noted female Republican member of Congress met with the young leader. She confronted the President and questioned his scattered approach to his job. She told him that he needed to be someone who would be remembered by what he did in one sentence.

Kennedy took that advice to heart and Taylor challenged the conference attendees to reflect on this advice as well. He asked what your sentence is for HR? What is the sentence for your company and what is your sentence for you?

I think it’s something that calls for you to set up your legacy, but I’d like to challenge you to make it your present approach to HR !! Think about it. You don’t have a legacy until after you’re finished. To get to that level of being positively remembered, your actions have to start now.

I think it starts by reflecting to see if how you’re practicing is genuine or manufactured. Are you putting on a facade which is fraught with stereotypes of HR and the myths of what others say about us? Are you putting on this shield over your clothes because you feel that’s how you are “supposed” to act?

Be Who You AreYou can’t expect others to be genuine if you aren’t willing to be genuine yourself. The fact is that if you’re genuine, you will be more attractive to the people around you. I’m not talking about your physical appearance. Genuine people are a draw and attract others. If you attract others, you can establish a relationship with them. If you have a relationship, you can talk about anything and influence the behavior and performance of others.

To get this going, I want to share with you my sentence. I hope that it comes true. I need to establish this in order to make it come to life. Here it is . . .

” I want to make a difference in people’s lives every single day.”

Not sure what that difference will be.  Not sure that I’ll even get to see it.  However, it’s what I can do that matters.  It can shape my attitude, my behavior and my approach.  It will keep me grounded and mindful that my actions affect others.

I’m glad I went to OHSHRM just for this.  Trust me, there was much more that I learned, but this will serve as a cornerstone for how I practice HR from now on.  I have my sentence.  Now you have to ask yourself – what’s yours ??

 

1st Time Handshake . . .

This past week I was fortunate to be the emcee for the second DisruptHR in Cincinnati !!  We had another great time and the presentations were unique, diverse and thought provoking.  The venue of Memorial Hall also added to the ambiance of the night.  The true highlight for me was seeing many familiar faces as well as a large number of new people.

It’s fascinating to me to see how people greet each other at HR events.  People look for people that they know first if they didn’t already come with someone they know.  If they don’t know people, they head to either a corner or the bar to get a view of the room and scope out how they’re going to maneuver around people before figuring a way to get to their seat with the fewest interactions possible.

If someone does introduce themselves they tend to keep a clear distance and reach for a business card as a force field to get the niceties out of the way.  There may be some small talk exchanged asking where someone works, why did they come to the event and what do they expect.  More often than not, the room is filled with more people you don’t know than it is people you do know.

I’m not trying to make fun, it’s just what I see.  I’m an extreme extrovert, and I know that isn’t common.  I thrive in a room full of people.  I can’t wait to meet as many people as I can.  I don’t want to just meet them, I want to get to know them.  In order to not have this be overwhelming, I’ve developed the following approach.

1st time handshake. 2nd time hug !!

Free HugsOkay, the hugging part may be overwhelming, but it’s necessary.  I mean it !!  People need to be hugged especially if they work in HR.  You’ve heard me say that working with people is challenging.  That is nothing new, but a genuine support system for HR is !!  HR people tend to want to move on their own and have bought into the myth that they shouldn’t be close to anyone.

Being isolated in our field is senseless and harmful.  It’s harmful because if you think you can foster engagement in employees, but you aren’t connected to other people on purpose youself, then you’re just trying to make something come to life you don’t believe in.  We need to care for each other and be up front about it.

I remember a few years ago, Joe Gerstandt came to speak at Ohio SHRM and I was the program chair.  We had never met in person at that time, only through social media.  When I saw him far across the room, I squealed and ran over to him and gave him a giant bear hug. (I skipped my 1st time rule.)  Joe pulled back a bit from me and said, “I guess brothers hug.”  Love that !!

Ironically, other HR people there chastized me for being loud and too excited.  You see, we want order and decorum in a world that is calling for empathy and compassion.  I choose hugs and will not shy away from it.  I’ve had too many people melt in an embrace because it hit them just at the right time.

This week, Ohio SHRM is happening once again and I will be giving out hugs as much as possible !!  To say I’m Geeked would be an understatement.  I will love seeing friends and meeting new ones.

If I see you there (or at other great HR and SHRM events), choose.  I’m good with a hug right off the bat.  You need to know someone cares about you and that you are in HR.  I’ll be looking for you !!

Repurposing HR !!

Recently, my family and I had a gigantic garage sale !!  Seriously, my entire garage, family room and front porch were filled.  We had all of the possessions of my mother-in-law who recently passed.  There were tons of memories as we sorted everything, and it took over a week just to sort all of the “treasures.”

We prepped, priced and positioned everything so it had the best chance to be sold.  Our goal was to sell it all with the proceeds going toward my son’s Eagle Scout project.  It always amazes me that when you have one of these sales your street is lined with people who just can’t wait to see what you’re offering.  We were scheduled to open at 9:00am and the first folks started showing up at 7:45am !!   No one was turned away and the sales started building.

People came looking for certain items and knew exactly what they wanted.  We were fascinated by people and their choices. We even came across some people who were “resellers.”  These folks were professionals.  They pulled item after item because they were going to take them and repurpose them into something “new.”  They were great negotiators and rarely wanted to pay full price.  I thought they were really fun and saw items that people may consider as junk as something that had potential.

There were a few items that we hoped wouldn’t sell because deep down we wanted to keep them.  We ended up with a set of antique 1/2 gallon milk bottles with a carrier that used to bring milk to people’s homes and a set of steel chairs from a patio set.  We took the chairs and went to work on them by scraping loose paint, washing them down and giving them a new color so that they each had a new look !!  We knew that these would be a unique addition to my daughter’s 1st college apartment.

Repurposed ChairsThey turned out great !!  It only took an hour and a few dollars to breathe life into something that had been buried in a garage gathering rust and dust.  It was also very fulfilling to know that this simple investment of time and work would help out someone else who could use them for years to come.

While I was giving the chairs a facelift, I thought of HR.  I know that may seem like a stretch, but hear me out.

How many things are there that we do that sit and gather dust after we create them?  We’re so excited when they were introduced, but we missed it when they were no longer relevant.  The difference is that if we had a sale of old HR stuff, people wouldn’t be lined up to check it out.

What do you have that needs to be cleaned and given a new coat of paint?  What do you have that needs to be put out for the sale just to flat get rid of it?

This week do some cleaning.  Don’t settle for how you’ve been doing HR.  Dig deep and take the items that need new life and give it them.  At the same time, take the systems, policies and procedures that have no purpose anymore and get rid of them.  Have the HR garage sale that you’ve needed to have !!  You’ll be glad you did !!

Calling All Disruptors !!

In December 2013,  a ripple in the HR continuum occurred when Disrupt HR was launched in Cincinnati, Ohio.  It was a phenomenal event where 12 speakers took the stage at the Rhinegeist Brewery for their fast paced 5 minute talks using 20 slides each !!  I’ve been fortunate to be involved with this movement since the beginning along with Jennifer McClure from Unbridled Talent and Chris Ostich from BlackbookHR.  Our first time around was a wild success and we’ve seen other great events pop up around the country in Denver (twice) and Cleveland !!

Disrupt HR Logo 2The talks are invigorating, unconventional, high energy and provocative.  To get a feel for what has happened so far, check these sample talks out !!

We’re about to launch our 2nd Disrupt HR in Cincinnati on Wednesday, September 10th – and this is where we need you !!

You can get involved in two ways.  The first is the easiest and something that I’d encourage ALL HR folks within the Greater Cincinnati/Dayton/Northern Kentucky area to consider and that is to attend the event.  We are going to have this episode of Disrupt HR at the incomparable Memorial Hall !!  The tickets are free and you can get yours here.  It’s a great way to network and be a part of the greater HR community.  I truly hope to see you there.

The second way to get involved is to be a Disruptor and give a presentation.  I know this may seem daunting to most people, but I also know that there are many HR folks who have great opinions and thoughts that others can learn from.

I loved presenting the first time and look forward to being involved again.  I’d love to see you step out and make your voice heard.  We need a few more people to speak at our event – so take the leap and sign up on our site for the Cincinnati event here. (Click on the button on the bottom right hand side of the page where it asks you to “Sign Up to Disrupt.”  You’ll be glad you took the stage !!

HR can’t change unless we step up and make our voices heard.  I know that you’d welcome the chance for HR to be better and now you have a forum to do that.  So, here’s my best Paul Revere call to arms.  The future is coming and you can be part of the movement that will shape it !!  Be a Disruptor !!

Culture of Awesome !!

There are countless numbers of blogs and articles regarding culture.  I’m absolutely in that mix because I feel that culture is the most critical factor of today’s workplace.  The challenge I see though is that people continue to offer models of what will absolutely work for you.  I think this is an incredible presumption !!  I can’t come close to understanding what your company culture is or isn’t.

There are a few assumptions I can make that will be accurate:

  1. Your company has people that work there.
  2. All the people you have are different and unique.
  3. No one agrees on having the same culture.

In our constant pursuit for the silver bullet for all things HR, we tend to get frustrated because we can’t make everything “the same.”  I’d like to suggest one component regarding company culture that you can control, but you overlook.  That cultural component is . . . YOU !!

In organizations, we talk about others and how THEY need to improve their behavior.  In fact, the majority of our time in Human Resources is dealing with the behaviors of other employees.  After a while we get desensitized to thinking about how we affect the behaviors of others because we are always trying to address and “fix” people.  That approach is exhausting isn’t it?

Be AwesomeA friend sent me this picture with the message, “I thought of you the moment I saw this.”  I am smiling even as I type this blog because I get Geeked everytime I see it !!  What makes it an amazing picture is that the advice is not to start with others, it’s for yourself first.  Behavior is most affected by what you model and not what you dictate.

If each and every day started this way for you, how would your day go?  Imagine that this framed your behavior as you pulled up to work, got out of your car, and as your hand hit the handle of the door to enter your building – it was on !!  I understand that this could be tough to pull off for some people even one day a week.  I just believe that HR has the ability to set the tone of the culture where they work.  If you came in to set up a Culture of Awesome – you would set the world on its ear.  People would look at you, and at HR, differently.  There may be some skeptics to start, but you’ll see that it will become a norm for the environment around you.

Tomorrow, or when you read this, start with Rule 1, move to Rule 2 and see how you start working better with everyone around you as you incorporate Rule 3 !!  I think you’ll agree that it’s AWESOME !!

It’s How You Look At It !!

This past week we lost a comic genius in Robin Williams.  It’s sad that he passed because he always seemed to bring joy through his work.  I’m one of those who “grew up” with Williams from his stand-up comedy, through Mork & Mindy and all of his movies.

I enjoyed his comedy because he looked at things from a slightly different perspective.  His views were frenetic and never predictable !!  I think that’s one reason that people loved watching him because you never knew what what coming.  I think most would agree that they loved watching Williams and his madness, but they would not be comfortable practicing it themselves.

Different viewHaving a different perspective on things is never popular.  The pressure to stay within the norms of interactions, conversations and actions is huge.  If you are an outlier, then people tend to look at you as a disruptive force instead of something inviting.

HR needs to learn from Robin Williams in a couple of ways.  The first is that we should be the group that brings the different perspective to situations.  We have the opportunity to represent both the employee and the leadership in organizations.  Too often we are seen as representing management only.  We need to be the voice of both sides and that takes some moxie to stand up and not be aligned to the Company only.

Secondly, we can breathe life into our role and our organizations like Williams did for us.  Today, people don’t enjoy coming to work.  It’s well documented and publicized to the point that you wonder if anyone enjoys work anymore.  We can be the overwhelmingly positive model through HR.  Each company has it’s struggles and obstacles, but it’s how you approach things.

One of my favorite Williams’ movies was Good Morning, Vietnam.  In it, his character takes the horror of the situation people were involved in and looks at it differently.  The humor he brought gave the troops a little light despite the situation they were in.  I know what we do on a daily basis doesn’t compare to that type of extreme environment, but bringing a positive viewpoint to what we do is sorely needed !!

This week take the step to start having a different perspective in what you do, how you do it and allow others to bring in different viewpoints as well.  Also, make sure you’re taking time to laugh and bring a positive perspective to HR and the employees you get to serve.

 

 

The Value of Context !!

I am a dad.  It has to be the greatest accomplishment I’ve ever had, or will ever have.  My kids are on the verge of being adults now so they are doing more and more on their own.  What I’m finding is how easy it is to take a small amount of information and blow it out of proportion if you are missing context.  I’m seeing this both from them spreading their wings and having to make bigger life decisions as well as my wife and I letting them fly more.  We don’t always have context around what their decisions are, and it’s hard not to want to step in and “fix” things.

Please note that my kids are flat amazing !!  My wife and I are fortunate because they’re both honor roll students (college and high school).  And, they’ve made great choices (so far) in their friends, activities and life.

ContextThis past week I had a chance to get some more context myself.  In addition to being a father, I’m a SHRMmie.  A SHRMmie is someone who is active with SHRM as a volunteer, chapter member, etc.  I see it as someone who has made a broader attempt at getting involved with SHRM as an organization.

I went to an event put on by my local chapter where Dr. Kari Strobel from SHRM Research presented on the SHRM Competency Model.  I’ve known about SHRM’s work in this area for the past few years and have heard about it as it was being developed.  Now that it’s completed, it was intriguing to see the depth of the model and how it can be used by HR practitioners.

I learned that they have taken the model and equated each of the competencies to levels of your career.  So, you can take the “Business Acumen” competency and see how to utilize it as an entry-level practitioner to a Sr. level practitioner.  I appreciated seeing that the model didn’t take a one size fits all approach.  I also like that the model is a mix of behavioral competencies as well as solid HR technical knowledge as a competency.

When the presentation finished, the attendees wanted to quantify the SHRM Competency Model to the new SHRM Certification and the impending exam that will launch in 2015.  Dr. Strobel handled the questions well and understood that people wanted to seek context around this change.  The questions and answers were very good and each one let people build on what was said before it.

It was obvious that the Certification issue is still very personal and emotional – and it should be.  You see, when people put their emotions into something, they care more about it and want it to be protected.  I appreciate that people care about their professional status and their certification.  As an SPHR myself, I agree that it matters.

What I’d ask everyone to do with this passion, is seek context.  Please note that I don’t want you to seek context to sway you one way or another.  I want people to take the time to seek context because then you can make educated decisions on what you plan to do.

So, as you continue to look at the different aspects of the SHRM Certification as it evolves, get more information.  Go to an event at your local SHRM chapter or State Conference.  Reach out to someone and talk to them.  Go to the site they’ve developed specifically for the SHRM Certification here. It helps to see more about what is happening.

I am excited to see things moving.  I’m working on trying to learn more and understand more and get as much context as I can.  I hope you’ll join me !!

Ride the Waves !!

This past week was truly wonderful !!  I was on a beach with my family enjoying vacation.  Overall, the week was fairly uneventful and relaxing.  We did the things we enjoy like playing Euchre, tackling an impossible 1,000 piece puzzle, rounds and rounds of miniature golf and time with our feet in the sand.

I don’t do well just sitting on the beach.  I need to move and be a part of the flow of the environment around me.  I love watching all of the different people walking by and sincerely wanting to talk to each of them (if it wouldn’t creep them out) and learn about who they are and what they do.  I don’t do that  . . . much, but the throngs of people fascinate me.  I tend to roam up and down the beach to search for shells, look for unique things and take in as much of the experience as I can.

This year we were actually in a condo on the beach.  And I mean ON the beach.  The endless pulse of the Atlantic Ocean was a constant melody if we were splashing around in the waves, or listening to them as we fell asleep at night.  It was a hypnotic symphony that I loved hearing and watching.

My kids and I love bouncing up and down in the waves for hours and hours.  We happened to be out in the surf in some rather active waves.  In fact, you had to really try to maintain your footing.  After fighting this force of nature, you were worn out.  We’d catch a breath, grab a drink of water and head right back out into waves.

WavesIt reminded me of HR, work and life.  It may seem like a stretch, but hear me out.  Life comes at all of us in waves.  And, like the ocean, the waves never stop.  I love it when we expect our employees not to “bring their life” issues to work because that is a flat joke.  You can’t wish that people would do this because it’s not possible.  Instead, I think we need to have a characteristic that should be in every HR role – resilience.  It’s something that we don’t teach, and it’s even hard to think about it.  This attribute is needed because waves of different sizes and intensity come at all of our employees every day. Instead of being pulled out by a rip tide, or having the waves of life bury us, we need to be there to pull people up and get them on their feet once again.

Too often we bemoan the circumstances of life that people share with us.  We want everything to be just perfect and smooth and get frustrated when it’s not.  Being resilient is what is needed instead.  If we are the people who can be the example to others, then they will understand they have support.  Support is something lacking in most workplaces for our employees.  If HR could step in consistently, then people would appreciate this and not be overwhelmed by what comes at them.

Tomorrow, I jump back into the surf, but this time it’s at the office.  I can’t wait to be in the waves with all of those around me !!

A Little Piece of My Heart !!

This week has been one of transition.  My mother-in-law passed away at the age of 77 after a battle with Parkinson’s disease and dementia.  Also, a dear friend of mine, who I sang alongside in our church choir, passed away gracefully at the age of 89.  I doubt that few who read this blog know these two great people who impacted my life in tangible, meaningful ways.  I am thankful that I can celebrate their lives and what they meant to me.

These two people also had an impact on my amazing wife, Debbie.  I don’t mention her much on social forums because she’d prefer to be in the background.  You see, she is a perfect reflection of the quote from Jerry Maguire – she completes me.  She and I are almost complete polar opposites and everything I do poorly, she does well.  I don’t know how my life would look without her.  I don’t think it would be nearly as positive and great as it is because she so gracefully and effortlessly fills the voids and blind spots I have.

The majority of the people who touch our lives are more like my wife, my mother-in law and my friend from church.  They are meaningful to us individually and the sphere of who they’re connected to varies greatly.  Even though I may be personally connected to them, I may not be connected to the other amazing people who they know and interact with.

I want to take the time this week to share something that you may not know.  Just like these three wonderful people – you have a piece of my heart !!

Too often, we downplay the impact EVERY single person in our lives has.  We keep thinking that people only make an impact if they have visibility, notoriety or celebrity.  Sadly, many people keep chasing those shallow attributes of our society thinking it will give more substance and meaning to their lives.

Piece of My HeartYou need to know that YOU matter – at least to me.  I don’t take any interaction I have with any person lightly.  It may be the one and only time we ever cross paths.  That matters.  I may not personally see how this affects either your life or mine.  But, I know that because you came across my path and in my life – you impacted me and made a difference.

I don’t view life in the manner that most people do.  To me, the “humans” are key because my life is not defined by my profession.  It’s just what I happen to do.

The losses I experienced this week reminded me that I don’t take enough time to let people who are in my life know how much I value them.  I guess I assume they know, but that is a missed opportunity.  This is something so critical to all of us as people to communicate how people touch our lives.

Make sure to notice everyone you come across this week !!  Don’t ignore, brush off or move past some ONE to some THING you think is more important.

I don’t take our connection lightly.  The fact that you would take the time to read this blog as well as connect in person and/or socially drives me and fuels my passion for people more than you know !!

I’m glad you are a piece of my heart !!  I know that I am better because of it !!

Image Courtesy of Deviantart.com