Get rid of the “n’ts” !!

This may seem like an odd title, but I was slapped back into reality at our OHSHRM Leadership Day for Chapter Presidents.  We had a great, upbeat day which featured a Leadership Bootcamp lead by Tom Terez to open and then Bruce Boguski to close with a great motivational piece about how we approach each day as people in HR and our lives in general.

One item Bruce hit on is the words we use.  Seems simple, but it’s amazing how many negative words just fill each and every moment of our days.  We use these words when we talk about others and even ourselves.  It was especially telling when he asked us to reflect on these words in our work as HR professionals and leaders.

What are the words ??  You know them all too well.  Most of them end in “n’t”. Words like “Don’t”, “Can’t”, “Shouldn’t”, “Couldn’t”, “Won’t” . . .

Does this sound familiar?  You wake up to head to work and you tell youself you don’t want to deal with so-and-so today . . . You can’t handle how another department is handling a certain situation . . . etc.

When you sit back and think of how many “n’t” words fill every sentence that we use, you’ll be shocked.  (I had to really had to be intentional in writing this post to see if I could even do it without n’t words other than for examples !!)

Now, think about our HR practices and policies.  The vast majority of the ones I see are written with more don’ts vs. do’s.  If we continue to approach our employees with what they can’t, or shouldn’t, do – how can we expect them to look at what they do from a positive perspective ??

It’s time for us to change this !! We can, and should, be genuinely positive !! Who says that we have to continue to go with the flow of darkness that seems to take up most aspects of media, entertainment and culture?

We’ve come to a point where positive people bother us.  Well, I plan to bother people.  A LOT of people !!

It’s a real challenge, and I’m only one day into it, but I’m going to do my best to reduce and get rid of the “n’ts” – I hope you join me !!  Think how much better our workplaces would be if HR took this approach !!

Spanning Boundaries !!

This past week I went to the SHRM Leadership Conference . . . on purpose !!  I have the honor of becoming the next State HR Council Director for Ohio SHRM in January 2012.  This is the same Council that this year won a Pinnacle Award from SHRM and also donated $40,000 to the SHRM Foundation for training resources regarding bringing vets back to work. Humbled !!!

I went to the Conference to meet other volunteer leaders from around the country as well as hear about the direction and vision of SHRM.  (Let me slip my obligatory HR disclaimer here – I dig that I’m involved with SHRM !!  It rocks to be a leader in this group and I’ll explain more in a bit.)

I went early to be involved with Capitol Hill Day and to be an advocate for HR.  It was so extremely cool to have the ability to talk to Congress staff about issues that are affecting employers across the country.  There were 400+ HR folks who participated and I can’t wait to “storm” the Hill again next year.

The State Council breakout session was phenomenal as well.  To hear the great things that other states are doing in HR was encouraging to say the least.  Also, there were several social media HR friends in the same forum.  We were able to be vocal in supporting social media, share success stories about State Conferences and also learn from others.

The highlight of the Conference for me though was meeting HR pros from other states.  It was so cool to break down the boundaries that so many put up in meeting one another.  I met several social media friends in person for the first time, and it’s always cool to put avatars and faces together !!  Each one of them were such great humans and I knew they would be.

Also, hanging out with folks from Illinois, Oklahoma, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Alaska, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Florida, Michigan, Washington, Virginia, Tennessee, Indiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kansas, California, New Jersey and Wisconsin on purpose just plain ROCKED !! (I tried to meet as many people as I could to really connect with them !!)

Back to my disclaimer . . .

I am geeked about where SHRM is going because of the intentional people who crossed those imaginary state boundaries to truly connect.  There are amazing HR people who really are moving the profession forward including people working within SHRM.

So, as I get to dive into this new leadership role please know this – the boundaries are down.  We’re now going to keep working to bring our profession together and move it forward intentionally.  It’s going to be something that hasn’t been seen . . . yet !!

Make sure you’re connected as well !!

Image “Human Bridge” Courtesy of Iurikothe

Forever in Blue Jeans !!

When Neil Diamond sang the iconic song Forever in Blue Jeans, I don’t think he knew he was dealing with such a taboo subject for the workplace !!  Seriously, you do know that denim is evil, don’t you ??

This coming week I’m traveling to Washington, D.C. for the annual SHRM Leadership Conference (#SHRMLead).  I’m very excited to go because I have the honor of being the next SHRM State Council Director for Ohio in 2012 !!  I can’t wait to work with the 26 SHRM chapters in the State as well as with other leaders throughout the country.  I think it will be a great way to continue to keep the profession relevant in general as well as another way to keep trying to bring our whole profession together and connect them !!

A true highlight for me will be on Thursday when I get to join other HR professionals on Capitol Hill to visit lawmakers and lobby on behalf of HR.  I really am geeked !!  To get ready, those attending listened to a webinar put on by SHRM to get an overview of what the visit would entail and the issues we were going to focus on.

It was very well done and was just a glimpse of what we needed to learn in order to have a successful visit and leverage the time we had with our representatives and their staff.  During the webinar people could post questions, which I thought was cool.  I think it’s amazing that I live in a country where I can go to have an audience with the national leaders of the government and express my opinion to them.  It truly is astonishing !!  I submitted a question asking who the two people were in Congress who had an HR background because it was noted in the webinar.

So, when the moderator started to relay the questions to the leaders of the forum, my jaw hit the floor !!  We spent the first 15 minutes of the 20 minutes we had left for questions talking about clothing.  “What should we wear?”  “Can I wear blue jeans with a suit coat?” – and then the firestorm happened.  People sent in myriads of comments (not questions) about the evil of jeans.

When I hear my peers question why companies don’t take HR seriously – here’s your answer . . . We continue to focus on the splinter issues when we miss the lumber all around us !!  When we could have been focusing on the issues for this lobbying opportunity, people chose instead to focus on proper attire !!  I’m not sure what I’ll wear to visit Capitol Hill.

On Friday, night our State Council, Ohio SHRM, is up for a Pinnacle Award which is the highest award for volunteers from SHRM, and we have a tradition of wearing logo’d clothing to these things.  At the banquet we’re wearing these great gray fleece jackets . . . . and blue jeans !!  I wonder where the focus will be ???

No accomplishment is too small !!

This past Friday night I had the incredible honor of being the commencement speaker for a college graduation.  I was humbled to even have been asked, but not nearly as much as I was after I attended this amazing event !!  This was the Fall graduation ceremony for Brown Mackie College.

I don’t know how much you know about Brown Mackie, but the majority of it’s programs are either Associates Degrees or Certificates.  Most of the students are “non-traditional” and they are phenomenal !!  While others may take education for granted, these folks are usually well past high school, are working while going to college and may be raising a family at the same time.

As I entered the Lakeside Christian Church where the ceremony was to be held, I saw every seat filled as family, friends, and children were buzzing about their family member becoming a college graduate.  It was noisy and people came from all walks of life and many of the graduates may have been the first of their family to reach this level of education.  To say this was an “accomplishment” would be an understatement.

Too often, we as HR professionals, look for the big splash – the MAJOR accomplishments that people are supposed to achieve.  We base entire systems on the vast, life-changing initiative (even though most are short-lived), and we reward people for them.  I’m reminded often by my colleague Paul Hebert and his good work on his blog, that we have much to learn when it comes to doing recognition and incentives well. Also, we belittle accomplishments like the one I witnessed at this commencement.  We say it’s “just” an Associates or a Certificate.  And, we completely miss it.   Completely !!

You weren’t there to see how MAJOR this really was to each and every graduate and family member.  These folks go to school 4 hours each night after a full day of work for 2 years to reach this milestone.  It was inspiring to say the least !!

Oh yeah, I gave my ten minutes and got people pumped up and motivated about their future, but I took a cue from what was going on around me first.  Before I gave one thought of my remarks, I asked the audience to rise to their feet and give the graduates the loudest standing ovation they’ve ever given.  The rafters shook !!

People have already probably have forgotten my words during my ten minutes.  But, they will cherish the accomplishment they reached for a lifetime.  I was blessed to be a part of it all.

So, this week, look around you.  Catch a glimpse at the myriad of small accomplishments that happen every day.  Celebrate them !!  Cherish them !! Then note how truly impactful each one of them is !!

 

You Just Should Know How To !!

You know you’ve said this.  You may have even said it today to start the work week !!  We wish others would just “get it” because we sure know that WE do !!  I’m serious.  We want others to just know what to do because we’ve covered it over and over and over (or so we tell ourselves.)

This approach isn’t just true at work.  We want others to know how to do things because we told them to do it at home, in our civic activities, at church, at school – almost any environment has the issue of “assumed culture.”  This is when the people who have been around for some time assume that others get what to do through some form of mystical symbiosis, and then we get upset when they don’t do things right.

People, more than ever, are frustrated in their jobs and with their companies.  As an HR person, I hear this frustration coming from the C-Suite down to the front line on a daily basis.  Almost every day I can place the shared frustrations to assumed culture.  You see, we strive to make people conform because we feel that if everyone is pretty much the same, then things will go more smoothly.

However, this just isn’t the case.  I don’t know if there are things such as HR “formulas”, but if their were, I would have one that goes like this:

 Assumed Culture = Conformity which lessens Diversity or AC = Cf < D

This weekend my Boy Scout Troop camped near Old Man’s Cave in Logan, Ohio in the Hocking Hills State Forest.  One of the natural formations is called the Devil’s Bathtub.

The waterflow of the river that goes through the park rushes rapidly toward this formation and the water’s force has cut it into the constantly swirling whirlpool until it forces the water out this small opening several feet under the opening.  This is very reminiscent of how your employees feel when they are told they should “just know how to” do things.

This week take a new approach.  TEACH don’t TELL.  It may be frustrating to cover the same things more than once, but teaching people what to do and how the assumed culture works at your organization will make them better performing team members.  The time it takes is far more rewarding than building the frustration that eats at you !!  Try it out and let me know what happens . . .

The Inner Sanctum !!

One observation I’ve had about HR professionals is that they have historically been very isolated both professionally and personally.  This has to be either by choice or by design within organizations.  This observation continues to be affirmed when I attend conferences of any size.  HR people seem astonished that others would intentionally like to be connected to them.

Something I’ve been trying at my work, and toying with in general is this philosophy – Model the behavior you expect in others.

To that end, I’d like to talk to you about the Inner Sanctum !! (cue scary theme music)  What I mean by this is that I have a tight knit group of HR professionals who make up my personal inner sanctum.   This isn’t a “Personal Board of Directors” as you may have seen in other blogs.  There is something more substantial to this group.   They have some incredible shared characteristics that I think are essential for this to work.  They are:

  • They all challenge me in some way !! – These are boundary stretching folks and I need that in order to not remain stagnate myself.
  • They are willing to be candid !! – They speak their minds openly both positively or critically. They aren’t afraid to address my blind spots.
  • They are consistent !! – Each of them is incredibly consistent while remaining creative and unpredictable. They each have strengths that I learn from.
  • They are all genuine !! – Something I cherish in others is to be “who you are.” These folks don’t have pretense and don’t support it in others.
  • They are all my friends !! – I mean that. We talk about all things in our lives. Families, work, faith, ups, downs, etc. All subjects are regularly discussed.

Without this group of people to gird me in what I do in HR and business, I would be less effective. It’s just a fact.  I think that having folks you can count on is a professional differentiator.  This isn’t networking or being in a clique.  It’s intentional, fascinating and exhilarating !!

This week step out.  Start looking at who would make up your Inner Sanctum and then pursue it.  If you choose to do this, you’ll see a marked difference in how HR looks, feels and acts !!  I hope you do it and let me know if you do !!

 

Will it Make a Difference ??

As I’m typing this post, many of my peers and friends are enjoying the SHRM11 Annual Conference.  Yes, I am jealous because I always enjoy being with others who share my passion of HR !!  The tweets that are flying under the #SHRM11 hashtag are great to read, but they lack in that personal experience.  Ah, well, maybe next year . . .

The question I want to pose to the 14,000+ HR pros who have gathered at SHRM11 is  . . . Will it Make a Difference?

Will attending the largest gathering of those in your profession change how you approach HR when you return to your various workplaces?  When the lights and sites of Las Vegas dissapate, will you be making more of an impact in HR, or will you go back to the norms and ways you are following today?

I hope it transforms you !!  You can’t miss the chance to attend events like this and not come away with great things like new contacts, a broader vision of what HR offers, a new way to tilt the windmills that face you on a daily basis !!  Don’t just get enamored by the great keynotes, the great vendor events and the endless piles of swag you’ll take home from the Exhibit Hall.

Use this time away from the office this week to come back energized, enthusiastic and willing to move your company forward !!

If people don’t do this, we will continue to fight a stereotype that I personally heard this week from a question I posted on Focus.com regarding development vs. training.  A person responded that HR has to first “get it’s act together” before focusing on either topic.  I responded to this person and was pretty pointed that I didn’t appreciate his stance on our field.  He’s entitled to say what he’d like, but it eats at me that anyone continues to think that HR doesn’t “get it.”

So, don’t disappoint me you 14,000+ HR folks attending SHRM11 !!  I know you’ll have a wonderful time, meet and catch up with wonderful peers . . . just remember to come back and make a difference personally, professionally and for HR as a whole !! I can’t wait to see what you’ll do !!