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

I Need a Bucket !!

Before you think this is a post about Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, it really takes a different twist (even though I’m a devout Python fan !!)

There has been a recent trend in blog posts that came to life at work for me this week.  I first came across Susan David‘s fabulous post on Harvard Business Review on engagement and meeting employee’s needs. Secondly, I read one of my faves Paul Hebert on Symbolist and his take on finding out what employees want.  If you take nothing else from this post, make sure you connect with these great folks and resources !!

This all came to life for me through one of my favorite Team Members.  Greg has been with us for over 30 years and he started when he was 16.  Greg is fantastic because he has always done the work that most people look down upon or consider below them.  Greg started with us as a dishwasher taking care of all of the various dishes from our guests as well as the kitchen equipment.  It really is one of the key positions in our pizzerias !!  A little over a year ago we asked Greg to try something new and clean the parking lot for our anchor store as well as the parking lot for the Corporate Office.

Greg has always taken great pride in his work, and he welcomed the new opportunity.  A few weeks ago he asked me for a new bucket.  I didn’t think much of it because he had a bucket, but something seemed wrong.  He seemed out of sorts which doesn’t happen that often.  When Greg saw me, he’d check in and see if I had found a bucket yet.  I asked Greg what kind of bucket he wanted and he said, “Something big and colorful.”

Lowe's BucketI took Greg’s request to heart and found a beautiful, blue bucket at Lowe’s.  I walked it over to the pizzeria and asked the GM to get Greg and have him meet me at the restaurant.  He thought something was wrong, but his eyes lit up when he saw me with the new bucket !!

He explained to me that someone had ruined his last bucket and it was great to have something new !!

You need to know something fantastic about Greg !! He is a Special Needs Team Member who is flat awesome.  In fact, when we had a group of sixth graders visiting us, Greg asked if he could speak to the class.  He was absolutely captivating because he spoke from his heart about how much he loved working for us, and he encouraged all of the kids to make sure to apply to work for us when they turned 16 just like he did !!

A bucket.  Something that seems to be insignificant and simple to most, changed Greg’s day.  I can see him now across the street as his blue bucket bops up and down as he walks joyfully through the lots.

What’s something that’s staring you in the face which may mean little to you, but would change an employee’s life ??  We make HR so layered and difficult, and miss people’s needs that are right in front of us.

This week, strip off the layers and look for those “bottom shelf” needs that you have been missing.  Recognize that it’s important to someone else and then fill their bucket !!

Walk a Dog !!

After returning from SHRM14, I was faced with the reality of a very full plate at work and at home.  I’m sure this is no different than all of the attendees as they made their way back to their non-conference lives.  It’s very easy to jump back into the incredibly fast pace of life and have things seem overwhelming. Nothing ever seems to fall into place even for those who are phenomenal planners.  The reality of things moving in and out of each day means that you have to react and respond because people expect to be heard.

LabradoodleSo, like most of us, instead of just going back to what I already had in front of me, I volunteered to watch our neighbor’s dog while they went on vacation.  Normally, my great son watches the dog, but he was going to be in Atlanta, Georgia for a mission trip with his youth group.  Now, you have to understand that Piper is an extended part of our family.  We are very close to our neighbors and have known Piper since he was a puppy.  Did I mention that Piper is gigantic ??  I’m a big fan of large dogs, and he definitely fits the bill.  Piper is a Labradoodle, and he can easily put his head on the kitchen table just to check out what happens to be “available.”

I used this opportunity to start my wellness program by walking Piper early each morning.  We went for it by walking 1 1/2 to 2 miles each day.  It has been magnificent !!

What in the world does this have to do with HR ??  Everything.

You see, I’m a person who is constantly on the go.  I am a person who says “Yes” all the time because I feel I have the capacity to take things on and I enjoy being full all the time.  In doing this, I rarely take time to reflect and clear my mind.  This isn’t a good approach, but it is what I think everyone practices.  People are always bemoaning how busy they are, but we don’t take steps to do anything about it.  We may go on vacation to break away, but even those trips are filled to the max to “enjoy” our time off.

Taking a walk allowed me to start the day unencumbered because Piper was the focus.  He knows how to start the day !!  First of all, he can’t wait to see you.  As soon as you hit the door, he’s excited that you showed up.  Secondly, he can’t wait to start the day and be with you as you share a walk together.  Every day the same path is new to him.  He doesn’t complain about ritual or pattern because it’s never the same.  When he sees fellow dogs, he greets them and can’t wait to talk to them regardless of who they are, where they live, how they look or how they act.

How would your HR role look if that’s how you approached each day?  What if everything was new and exciting instead of mundane and repetitive?  What if EVERY single person mattered for who they are, what they do and what they bring to work each day?  What if you were so excited to see everyone each time to encountered them?

Clearing my head on these walks actually improved my perspective on people.  I’m going to keep walking every morning, even without Piper.  Having some time just to break the pace is healthy for all of us.  I hope that each of you find your own way to break out of the pace. Trust me it’s worth the walk !!

Lava Lamps in India !! #SHRM14

I am slowly, and I mean slowly, coming down from my high state of euphoria I experienced at #SHRM14 !!  I really don’t want it to end, but it will have to suffice as my HR peer fix until the next great event.

The entire event was a whirlwind of interactions at a level I hoped would occur.  To get jumped in the hallway outside the Exhibition Hall by Simone Carroll saying “Hello Steve !!” in a beautiful Australian accent followed by a hug to exchanging music, ideas and insights with the SHRM HRblog Squad, my time at the Conference was never dull.

I enjoyed the Keynotes for various reasons.  I don’t expect them to “hit” or change HR because they are brought to the Conference to give it some “star” power. My fave was David Novak, CEO of Yum! Brands because he was Geeked about people in his business and I truly connected with his approach to HR – especially in the restaurant business.

I loved the concurrent sessions I saw with Jennifer McClure, Jason Lauritsen and Clint Swindall. Each of them had takeaways on how to do things like build the business case for HR and leadership (Jennifer), Become a Social Architect in HR (Jason) and how to become a Weekday Warrior (Clint).  Yes, I went to sessions to try to improve humans around me.  I just can’t get enough of it to be honest !!

The Exhibit Hall rocked !! I loved the SHRM Store and the Volunteer Leaders lounge was a great place to rest and catch a snack with friends who give their time and efforts to SHRM at the Chapter and State Council level.

The event that sent me truly over the top was the opportunity to speak myself.  It was a rush to be opening the activities on Monday at 7:00am to a full room.  I am thankful that friends came to show support because I love seeing them all the time.  I was even more excited to see a room of unfamiliar faces (at least when we started).  I met HR peers from Uganda, Saudi Arabia, Denmark, Nigeria, Turkey, the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Canada and India all in my session.  Having a chance to share HR from a different perspective and also reach folks from across the globe . . . . amazing !!

I think the attendees at my session weren’t quite ready to be jacked up that early in the morning.  To be able to show HR people that you can have fun, mess with your employees and truly impact the business you work for seemed new to most there.  I thought everyone was a bit tentative to start, but by the end of the session people were laughing, smiling and learned what it’s like to be Geeked about HR !!

I challenged the attendees to do something completely radical and say, “Hi !!” to all of the attendees at SHRM14 who weren’t in my session for the rest of the week.  I told them I would check on them throughout the week to see how it was going.  Amazingly, they told me that others were wondering why they were greeting them.  I asked if that discouraged them, and they began to glow with excitement !!  They eagerly told me, “No, I keep saying ‘Hi !!’ to more folks now.  This is awesome !!”

You see, I think a lot of HR needs to be simplified.  People want to engage and be connected – but the difference is that WE have to be the ones to do it instead of expecting folks to just “get it.”  One thing to start this is making your office fun.  At my session, I closed everything out by telling folks I was adding them to the HR Net (a free resource open to all HR folks) to keep them connected, and I gave away a lava lamp.

Jaya at SHRM14When I pulled the name, I stumbled.  It was a longer name and I didn’t want to mispronounce it.  I got the name out and a wonderful, young lady quietly stood and said, “Yes, that is me. I won.”  Meet Jaya from India !!

How cool is it that the 1st time I get to speak at SHRM National, I can plant a cool, hippie HR vibe in another country ??

You see HR – It’s time for us to shine our light within our organizations, our profession and with each other.  Well, I’m geeked again just by writing this !!  I hope the Conference was fab for everyone who went – and I hope to see YOU at another great HR event sooner than later !!

 

Being Heard !!

I just returned from #SHRM14 in Orlando.  This was the best experience I’ve personally had at a SHRM Annual Conference.  I got in a bit earlier than the masses because I was there as part of the Membership Advisory Council (MAC) of SHRM.  One of the facets of this role is that we meet with the SHRM Board of Directors as well as the board of the SHRM Foundation.

Our job is to share the feedback, concerns, ideas and pulse of the SHRM Members.  It’s really an extremely cool volunteer position to hold because it’s like practicing HR for your Association.  We listen to our members and then share with Senior Leaders directly.

I knew that we’d have this opportunity and the other four great ladies I serve with had met with the Boards last year.  There was some anxiety because I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I’m a huge believer in experiential learning and this was going to be a great experience.

What I found was not only reassuring, but gave me confidence in an organization that I sincerely believe in because we were heard !!  When we met with both bodies they listened to what the SHRM members had shared with us, especially about the new SHRM Certification.  The feedback we shared was candid, emotional and forthright.  It was even described as “unvarnished.”

HR Business Case StepsThere was a key distinction about how we approached this opportunity.  You see, we made the business case for the feedback and broke it into the areas that fit all of the comments we received.  I happened to go to a session led by Jennifer McClure later during the actual conference where she shared the steps to consider when making an HR business case to Senior Management.  It looks like we followed the steps well because we gave recommendations for the Board to consider around the next steps of the SHRM Certification evolution.

I want to clear something up that I heard at the Conference as well.  I understand that people may not feel the SHRM Board hears people, but I know that not to be true.  This is, and will continue to be, a highly emotional issue.  The Board Members heard that directly and when we discussed the issue, it was on both a tangible and strategic level.

In the end, we took the first step.

I truly think that is how this work should continue.  People are demanding absolutes which is too narrow of an approach.  Details need to come – and they will.  Communication needs to be better and consistent – and it will be.  People need to stay engaged in the process as it rolls out – and they will.

You have to know that I am not someone who is trying to only tout SHRM.  This situation allowed the MAC to practice HR.  We listened to our constituents and then brought that data to our leaders wrapped in potential solutions and recommendations.  We acted as a bridge to not only bring things together, but to move them forward.

For those that know me, I am one of the most fiercely passionate HR pros you’ll encounter.  The great folks I serve with are also fiercely passionate business people.  We always yearn to be heard and taken seriously as HR professionals.  I can tell you that it happens because we experienced it firsthand.

I’m geeked about the level of involvement I experienced and also in working with the leadership of SHRM while being connected to its volunteers.  We have hit some bumps and shed some tears.  We have raised our voices . . . and we are being heard !!