#7Songs – Poems

I remember when my high school friend, Jamie Miller, drove up to the Mello Creme donut store where we used to hang out. As he rolled his window down music I had never heard emanated from his tape deck. He was geeked and said, “Steve, have you listened to The Wall yet?”

“What? What’s The Wall ??”

“It’s simply the BEST album I’ve ever heard !! It’s by Pink Floyd. Dude you have to get this. It’s freakin’ incredible.”

He then sped out and drove off. I was intrigued and I saved up my money because this was a double album. I didn’t want to get the cassette tape, I wanted the vinyl. After I bought the set, I consumed it. I listened to the entire thing over and over.

When the movie came out, I was one of the first to see it on the big screen and it blew my mind. I had never seen anything like it. During college I hosted an annual movie night where we’d play the best VHS tapes of the day with two exceptions. Every year we included Monty Python and the Holy Grail and The Wall. My friends and I could sing every single word of the movie and never miss. This brings me to song #4 . . .

#4 – Nobody Home by Pink Floyd

Nobody Home Pink FloydIf you haven’t listened to a Pink Floyd album, then you’re missing out on the layers upon layers of sound, movement and lyrics. You’ll hear little phrases dropped in odd places, and this song captures them all. It also caught my attention because of the opening line that is lightly screamed before the song truly begins.

“I’ve got a little black book with me poems in !!”

You see, I’ve been an aspiring writer for most of my life. I have poetry that I wrote through high school and college. They captured my deepest thoughts and feelings and were a way to get things out. I kept them to myself and filled a few journals with them. Writing has a powerful way of allowing you to stretch, communicate and create.

Pink Floyd did this with this song, and honestly with all of their music !! (in my opinion) The lyrics of Nobody Home are more free flowing with little rhyming. I love it because it tells a story with random thoughts that are running through the mind of the main character of the rock opera.

I have that happen often. Random thoughts are just trying to come together and be expressed. I’ve been writing poems each week for years now as part of my HR network, so I still have the opportunity to create. I think people would enjoy what they do in their lives more if they took the time to be creative. I hope to take this up a level and compose a book. We’ll have to see. I think when I take the time to put it together, this will be playing in the background !!

 

How’s Your Tank ??

As you read this, you are facing another workweek. What’s your attitude going in?  Is it positive, negative, anxious?  It’s interesting that we’re always concerned with how we face the workweek, but what about all of the other employees?  They also have the same opportunity to decide how their workweek starts.

We’ve become numb when it comes to the workplace.  We go through the same patterns and motions as we enter each day.  There is truly very little variety.  When there is any significant change, we are really thrown off.  We want stability and things to be predictable.

But, have you asked yourself if your predictable pattern is healthy or not?

Fish BowlsI’ll be honest, I take my amazing work environment for granted too often.  I was reminded of this when a dear friend of mine, Brian Griffin, and I crossed paths at a favorite coffee haunt one day before work.  As we headed to our cars, he said, “Have a great day !! Remember, you become like the tank in which you swim.”

I couldn’t get this thought out of my head. The workplace is the tank that we jump into everyday and the people we work with are swimming right along side us.  If I asked the others around me, what would they say about our “tank” ??

The work environment is a key indicator of your company’s culture.  We spend an incredible amount of time in our lives at work so it shouldn’t be something that is just taken for granted.  HR has the prime opportunity to work on the fish tank and make sure that it’s healthy, inviting and fun !!  Did you recognize that last word . . . “fun” ??  It’s something that can happen.

People want to enjoy their workplace. They may still come to work if they don’t, but that doesn’t excuse HR from trying to change that.  So, what things could you address that keep people from enjoying their work?  What are things that are within your reach that could be changed with a simple move?

The challenge in making this come to life is that everyone’s workplace is unique.  There is no one size fits all formula to make this work.  That allows you to be creative.  How exciting is that?

This week step back and take a look at your workplace.  Evaluate if it is a place where people enjoy themselves and look forward to coming in.  If it needs some cleaning, then do that as well.  HR should own this.

From now on, before you go into work, ask yourself – “How’s my tank ??”

V is for Victorio !! #TimSackettDay

As you scan the HR Universe, you hear a ton of skepticism, negativity and angst.  It can be draining and you sometimes wonder if there are HR practitioners who actually enjoy what they do !!

Victorio MilianToday, we recognize someone who is not only an example of Positive HR, but he also gives us a cool vibe, a social consciousness and a sweet mix of creative chaos !!  That person is my friend, Victorio Milian.

I met Victorio a few years ago at the HRevolution event in Atlanta.  He introduced himself in his soft tone and made me feel at ease because it was my first time to attend.  I was drawn to him because it was obvious that Victorio took the time to get to know you when he met you.  We jumped past the small talk of initial introductions and dove into deeper conversations.  As I watched him interact with others throughout the weekend, I noted that this is how he approached every interaction.

I dig my friend because he chooses to truly take in life, hold it for a bit, review it and then describe his experience in meaningful ways.  This could be when he describes his beautiful family or his deep love for his beloved New York City.

Victorio is an amazing HR practitioner who cut his teeth on doing HR in the retail world.  There are many HR pros who steer clear of the retail/hospitality world because of the inherent challenges that this industry offers.  Not Victorio.  He was in his element.  He takes risks and looks at traditional HR and recruiting methods with a different view.  The key thing in how Victorio practices HR is that he focuses on people first – every time.

He’s an incredible writer, thoughtful conference speaker and serious music freak.  He was key in encouraging me to start the #HRMusicShare hashtag and we share musical choices on a regular basis.

For those of you out there wondering why the HR Social Media community is recognizing one of our own today, that is what #TimSackett day is all about.  It’s always cool to shine some light on those that make people, and our field, better.  Victorio is definitely someone who does both of those things.

My friend and I still have in-depth conversations on a regular basis just as we did when we met years ago.  He is someone I treasure and someone you should definitely listen to and connect with !!  He’s one of my must reads on his Creative Chaos HR blog.  Check him out.

I would be remiss if there wasn’t some music involved to wrap this post for my friend.  I picked a tune that oozes with creativity, peace and cool.  Happy #TimSackettDay V  !!  Cue the turntable . . .

 

Sorry, We’re Closed !!

This weekend, my son took a giant step of leadership and initiative !!  He began work on his Eagle Scout project.  He started building a shed to replace a POD for the Animal Friends Humane Society who currently has to pay to have the POD for food storage for the animals.  The project is massive, but he is more than able to take it on.  Have to say the “proud father” tears often swell to the surface when I think about how amazing he is !!

One of the keys in doing a project like this is that you get first-hand experience on when things go well . . . and when they don’t.

Josh had ordered the shed from one of those big box hardware stores and everything was scheduled to be delivered on site (a mile from the store) the Friday before his first workday on Saturday.  We stopped by the store on Friday night just to make sure that everything was ready.  The shipping supervisor looked a bit confused and dumbfounded when Josh asked about the delivery.  It looked like it was “supposed” to have happened, but another employee hadn’t entered the firm delivery in the computer, so it didn’t exist.

Another key to an Eagle Scout project is to adapt.

Josh asked if we could compromise and get a rental truck and get some of the material to make the shed’s base and floor for the next day because people were scheduled to come and help.  The store agreed and waived the rental fee for the truck and apologized for the mistake and confirmed that they could deliver the remainder of the materials on Sunday.  Josh added an extra work day, but still moved forward.

On Saturday morning, we arrived to get the rental truck and pick up the material for the floor.  We were directed over to the lumber yard, and we were the first customers for the day.  A young man in a Security shirt came out of the guard shack and the following happened.

Guard:  May I help you?

Steve:  We were told to come back to the lumber yard to get material.

Guard:  Sorry, we’re closed.

Steve:  What ?! (confused and frustrated from the original delivery being mixed up)  They told us to come back here.

Guard:  Sorry, they must have told you the wrong information.  We’re closed.

Steve:  But we need to get the lumber.  You don’t understand, we have people . . .

Guard:  It’s okay.  I’m just messing with you.  We’re open.  Come on in.  Can I help you get to where you need to go?

We busted out laughing !!  The young man saw that we were in a hurry and had to “get things done.”  He noticed we were missing out on starting the day getting some material to do some project.  We weren’t there to enjoy the experience and he was supposed to just do his job.

The thing is – he was doing his job better than anyone could have imagined !!  He chose to take a rather mundane job (checking people in and out of a lumber yard ALL DAY) and make it enjoyable.  I loved his creativity and told him that I appreciated his approach.

Love Your WorkI’m sure if typical supervisors had seen this interaction, the guard would have been coached if not disciplined or terminated.  We want people to WORK and be productive.  We have spent years beating the passion out of people, and yet we expect them to bring the workplace to life through their jobs.

I had to come back later Saturday morning, because you always have at least 3 return trips to hardware stores during a project, and I saw the guard again.  I couldn’t resist, so I said, “I see you’re open now !!”  He didn’t miss a beat, “Yeah, you just caught us because we were closed ten minutes ago.”

HR needs to take note to give employees permission to love what they do and who they interact with.  Work would be a better place if we looked at how to make people smile in what we do regardless of our role.

That young man made our day !!  I’m sure glad he was “closed” !!

The Campaign for HR !!

We’re getting closer and closer to another election season.  Even though this is a “light” year for elections locally, that doesn’t stop the candidates who are running for office from filling the airwaves with commercials. And, true to form, there are few candidates who say what they’re going to do.  Instead, they spend millions of dollars to smear their opponent.  People must feel it works because it gets worse the closer you are to the actual election day.

To me it seems similar to what I see from other bloggers in the “space” when they write about Human Resources.  People feel that if they continue to tear down HR, it will somehow get better.  I don’t follow the numbers and metrics of posts, including my own, but negativity must sell.  When I see posts that focus on division and separatism I get concerned.  Why would people want to work in a field that only wallows in things that are wrong?

I had toyed with the idea of seeking political office in the past and I determined back then that if I would ever run, I would only be positive. I think people should make choices on what you can bring and not focus on one and another’s faults.  Therefore, I am launching a campaign in support of HR !!

think, do, be positiveWhen is comes to HR, I am literally ALL in !!  It’s been my career of choice and I try to be active and visible through volunteer work, social media and speaking at events.  I only see HR growing and becoming more and more relevant in my organization and in many organizations across the globe.  There are creative and innovative people who are changing their approaches and their cultures to have workplaces where people can perform their best and move their organizations forward.

Here are the planks of my platform to share to make this campaign come to life !!

Be Others Focused

We are in the one profession that is built with a focus on other people.  Think of what a great opportunity that is !!  Seriously, you have a chance to work with people on purpose.  It’s built into your job and it needs to be the base of your thinking and approach every day.

Be Certified 

I refuse to continue to argue on one certification versus another.  Certification should be our ticket to moving ourselves, and the field, ahead.  The key to being certified is more than passing a test.  Having a professional certification gives you credibility and gives you the base on which to be a continuous learner and seek professional development.  We need to know HR to practice HR.  Take the time to get your letters and then build on your education from there going forward.

Be Connected

HR on its own is career suicide.  You will struggle if you aren’t connected to great people, great resources and great events.  Every time I read something, I look to learn from the author and their perspective.  When I find resources that help me do HR better, I share them with others.  Most importantly, when I go to events, I make sure to meet others to build my network in order to connect others.  We’re only better when we’re together as a profession.

So, can I count on your support ??  Will you join me in moving HR forward in a positive way ??  I would love to have you join in and stem the tide of negativity.  I know we can do it and am geeked to see what happens !!

I’m Steve Browne, candidate for the Campaign for HR, and I support this message !!

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 !!

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 !!

 

Is It Inside You ??

I love to write.  It’s cool to have a blog to make this happen.  But what if there’s more? Are there ideas that have been percolating and they are just aching to get out?

Have you read other’s people’s work and thought “I could do that !!”  Well, what hold’s you back?  How do you go from a wish and make it come to life?  What if you wrote an entire book ??

I have a few HR friends who have done this and put out some amazing content !!  I would recommend you picking up Dwane Lay’s Lean HR, Jason Lauritsen and Joe Gerstandt’s Social Gravity and Dr.Daniel Crosby’s You’re Not That Great.  The took the jump of making that inner voice public. All of them are great resources !!

Another great resource is the new book by Cathy Fyock and Kevin Williamson entitled On Your Mark: From First Word to First Draft in Six Weeks.  They provide the perfect starter to get your words down on pages and into a book.  You see, they wrote a book on how to write a book.  Brilliant !!

Cathy is an accomplished author, with this being her fifth book, and a fabulous HR pro.  I’ve known Cathy from my work as a fellow SHRM volunteer at the State level.  Kevin is an editor with incredible experience.  (His Style section at the end of the book is worth the book alone !!)

On Your Mark BookI loved this book because it demystifies what most would think is a daunting task.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a huge amount of work which takes intentional effort and discipline.  However, Cathy and Kevin give tangible examples and break down the process into manageable pieces.  The exercises at the end of each chapter will help you build the discipline you’ll need to create your book.

I’ve been seeing a flurry of blogs later that are saying that HR seems to be stuck in an endless loop.  The thought is that people aren’t coming up with creative ideas, but I disagree.  There is still so much to learn, share and generate.

More and more people are joining the blogosphere from HR.  It’s great to see new voices and I still make sure to read the myriad of posts which come out each day.  I think it’s better to be positive about what’s being said.  You can always learn from what others have to offer.

Make sure to get Cathy and Kevin’s book. After reading it you’ll see if you want to take that next step.  They make writing a book seem not only attainable but also inviting.  I know it peaked my interest !!  Now to get that voice out to see what hits the page !!

 

All I Want Is You !!

Desire.

It’s an innate human element.  Every person has desires about something.  You can determine what those desires are typically by where a person spends their time and money.  People can say they desire a variety of things or be more focused.  Desires are unique.  Even if people are wildly passionate about the same types of things, it’s never really the same.

Desire.

It’s something we want employees to have every day when they come to work.  There are countless articles, blogs and efforts about employee engagement.  When I see these I think more and more of the effort is on getting “buy-in” as to what a Company offers instead of allowing people to bring their desires to the workplace.  We aren’t very comfortable with really allowing people to be who they are.

HR spends an incredible amount of its time and focus on limiting behavior and adding stipulations to systems to make sure people comply and fit in.  In fact, most managers talk with the majority of their employees only when needed.  That includes sitting down for performance reviews, weekly meetings, etc.  More and more of our structures force interactions, but they don’t develop communication or bring out the best in our people.

What if we changed ??  What if HR took the opportunity to be less restrictive and chose to work on ways to bring out the best in people?  It’s not the norm in our field by a long shot. It calls for more variety and people assume that more variety will bring instability and chaos.  I think that’s not true.  There is more variability, but that should allow for genuine diversity and not some trumped up program that makes us “feel better.”

DesireDesire.

Think about it.  A workplace that is filled with people who can discuss and share their lives.  I don’t think this should be a forced effort in the least.  However, HR struggles with this too.  I’m not sure why we all have relationships, friendships and interactions rather naturally as a social norm, but we don’t try to foster that in the workplace.  I think that if we took the time to not just “talk” with people, but just treat them like the desirous, passionate humans they are, we’d enjoy each other so much more !!

I want to encourage you to take a “U2” approach to this.  You have to know that I’m a fierce U2 fan and love all of their work.  You could say that following them is one of my desires. One of their fab songs is “All I Want is You.”  The song lists many things that someone wants, but the signer responds that all they want is that person.  It really is a consuming approach to have the feeling that someone wants you that completely.

I know this is a big step.  I also know that it works !!  I try to take more and more of my time with my co-workers and find out what drives them.  I may not share their same interests, but knowing what they are passionate about is fabulous.  It allows me to have more of a connection with them as well as something to check in on when we see each other.  It’s very enriching and it makes HR wonderful.

You see in the end – I hope our desire is people.

Giver or Taker ??

Have you ever been unemployed?  I have.  It’s happened a few times in my life.  I’m not talking about transitioning from one job to a new one.  I’m talking about not working in your profession.  It’s hard.

The reality of the financial implications hit first and you’re kind of taken over by fear.  You think that EVERYONE would want to hire you immediately, and that you’re sure to land your next job quickly.  That rarely happens. These items aren’t “new” and there are countless blogs and pieces of advice for jobseekers.

However, I think there’s a HUGE opportunity for HR to make a difference and turn the tide for people who are in transition.  Likewise, there’s a HUGE opportunity for jobseekers to take a different approach in their search as well.  It takes a different mindset for both sides of the unemployment quandary.

I grew up in Ada, Ohio (otherwise known as the center of the universe). It’s a rural village in Northwestern Ohio that can be compared to growing up in Mayberry from the Andy Griffith Show.  People are very down to earth and full of sage advice.  My Dad has lived in and around Ada his entire life.  He pulled me aside one day and said, “Steve, there are two types of people in this world – givers and takers.  You need to decide which one you’ll be.”

Givers and TakersI know my Dad didn’t come up with this saying. However, he and my Mom have been the model of givers in all areas of their lives.  I’ve tried to live this in my life as well.  It’s where HR needs to be too in my opinion.

I think HR folks should make themselves available for people in transition.  I have been working with people who are between jobs for years.  Here’s a big difference – I haven’t hired any of those people, and I haven’t charged them a dime for my time and efforts.  Sometimes, I meet for coffee, take a phone call, review a resume or make a call to someone as part of my network.  At the HR Roundtable I facilitate, people in transition are welcome to come, share their resume and network with HR pros to show others that they have always been talented pros themselves.  I truly get geeked when a person sends me an e-mail to tell me they’ve landed !!

You see, I believe great companies who hire great people will be companies that differentiate themselves from the pack.  Why wouldn’t I help other companies get better?  To me it’s the benchmark for great HR !!

Here’s what I’d like to challenge HR and jobseekers to do . . .

  • Intentionally network with each other even if the person in HR isn’t hiring.  HR folks know others in HR.  So, even if the company isn’t hiring, a person may open a door to someone who is !!
  • Don’t ignore the long-term unemployed HR.  Talented people are everywhere around us.  Look at people for what they bring to your company, not how long they’ve been between jobs.
  • Remember to help others first.  Too often jobseekers get their next job and forget the network who helped them land.  Don’t be a taker !!  Be forewarned on this.  Folks I know who have only used others to get a job are usually looking for another job in 18 months.  Avoid this behavior and keep networking.
  • HR folks – connect with other HR folks.  We still have miles to go before we truly become the “community” people write about.  Link In with each other.  Follow each other on Twitter.  Meet each other in person.  We can help others by being more connected ourselves.

Finally, understand that my Dad’s saying is true whether you read this and act or not.  So choose who you want to be.  I know this – by giving to others, my life is richer every day and I wish the same for you !!