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 !!

You can count on me !!

You may, or may not know, that I am an incredible music freak !!  I can’t get enough of it and this Thanksgiving weekend a true classic popped into my head – Count on Me by Jefferson Starship.

When my extended family gathers for either Thanksgiving or Christmas, we call it BIG Thanksgiving or BIG Christmas because there are so many family members that attend.  Before we eat and open with a prayer, we count off – literally.  We have had a few family members pass away over the years, but we never stray from this tradition.

So, it begins 1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . 4 . . . etc. until we get around the oval. (It’s never a circle because there are too many folks.)  This year we had 35 and it’s been as high as 60.  Included are aunts, uncles, cousins, their kids, and starting this year the newest generation has it’s first engaged couple.

I know that you need to be careful about what you do/don’t share on-line, but I’m 47 years old and completely cool with that.  If you met me you’d say I’m at least 28, so age is not the focus here. My family has been getting together intentionally between 50 to 60 years because I have aunts, uncles and cousins older than I am.

Think about that.  Being together, intentionally, for 5 to 6 decades and NEVER missing a holiday.  We’re not unique in this and I’m sure there are families who have met for centuries, but the point of the gathering is this . . . we COUNT on each other to be there all the time.

It’s a great example for you personally as well as an HR professional.  You NEED to be counted on, and others NEED to count on you !!  Too many employees are out on their own within a company and they need someone they can rely on.  Remember, you aren’t their for Management, nor are you there for employees.  You’re there for EVERYONE !!

Is that how you approach HR?  Have you even stepped back to look lately?  Just think how HR would be viewed in organizations if people knew they could be counted on !!

This week, start something new and reach out to someone in our profession and get connected. Be someone that others can count on !!

Rehumanize Yourself !!

As my iPod continued on its endless shuffle at work, Rehumanize Yourself by The Police came on, and I found myself hitting repeat several times.  The song tells of people in “everyday” jobs who are reminded to humanize themselves because their work doesn’t really mean much.  Who knew that this song still has significance 30 years later?

I’m not writing about employees who seem to slog through the daily grind, I’m talking about HR practitioners !!

The job that HR does these days ranges from the ideal to the mundane.  It’s hard to find a sweet spot to truly excel in HR within organizations due to a myriad of reasons.  I’m not trying to define what may be ideal for some and mundane for others.  Where I’d like us to focus is this . . . humans are more important than systems !!

Systems are needed and provide great structure and definition.  Without them people make things up because they really want to do a good job. But without definition, they’ll make it up to fill time and make sure they are “busy.”  These folks are the sloggers.  They come in every day, knock out a job and then go back to what truly interests them.  Their jobs are a necessary evil to pay the bills.  Oh, yeah, I’m still talking about HR people.

No one said that HR had to be mundane !!  In fact, great HR is far from it.  However, it means getting outside the systems we create and enforce to the real heart of our businesses – the humans.

Where are you on the spectrum?  I get it that you can be creative in making new systems and that you can be broad in the “things” side of what HR has to offer.  But I’d challenge you in that those things impact people.

At the recent OHSHRM Conference, I challenged the attendees to be positive the whole time at the conference.  Sounds odd that you’d even have to say that doesn’t it?  But, I felt it was needed because I hear so many people stuck in what they’re NOT doing vs. what they do so well !!  I only heard positive things from people because they knew a different expectation was set for them.

In organizations, HR has to set that expectation themselves !!  So, this week be positive and encourage others to see what amazing things are truly happening all around you that you’ve been missing.  Make sure to  . . . rehumanize yourself !!

 Image courtesy of Dan White Jr.’s blog

 

You never know . . .

This past week I was in the woods at Summer Camp with my phenomenal son and 34 other scouts at Camp Frontier  in Pioneer, Ohio. Like most of the country it was as hot as the face of the sun, but my boys and adults were amazing !!  We got through the week with sore bodies and an immense amount of bug bites, but they were minimized by the lasting memories that we made together.

As Troop 941’s Scoutmaster, I have two expectations for Summer Camp: (1) FUN !!!!! and (2) Be engaged – both scouts and leaders.  This is never a problem for our Troop.  They jump into Summer Camp with anticipation and excitement.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a ton of work !!  My son took three Eagle Merit Badges along with Kayaking.  That’s brutal for a schedule, trust me !!

I always believe in modeling the behavior you expect from others. So, if the boys had a tough schedule, so would I.  I volunteered to be a Camp Commissioner which meant that I got to visit and inspect other scout sites for the Baden Powell Award.  This is the award given to Troops who meet an extensive list of achievements during the week.  Our Troop has earned the award the past three years and I’m very proud of them.

It’s also a great chance to network with other adults who care about Scouting and their boys succeeding.  I also volunteered our site to host all the leaders for a social.  During the social, I practiced voodoo HR on an unsuspecting crowd by asking them all to introduce themselves and share something exceptional about their Troop.  These socials normally last 20 to 30 minutes.  They left our site after two hours !!

I have two incredible stories to share with you about making an impact on others.  You never know if you’re truly making an impact on someone else.  You rarely get to see or hear results.  Check these two stories out . . .

As my Senior Patrol Leader, Zach, and I were walking back to our site, the Program Director stopped to chat and asked how the week was going for us.  Both Zach and I shared great tales of excitement and the positive aspects of the camp.  The Director said that was great because their staff looks through the weeks and notes that some Troops are “magical” and that included 941.  We were humbled.  In fact he said, “When 941 comes to camp we know we have to step it up even more !!” My young scout leader was stunned when he heard this and said, “Mr. Browne, I didn’t even think we were making an impact.”

The second story is extremely touching to me.  One day, two adult leaders from another Troop visited myself and one of my leaders.  They had a difficult situation at their site where some older scouts were bullying a 1st year scout.  We didn’t judge or want jump to the rescue.  We just gave advice which is what they asked for.  The leaders went back to their site, talked to their boys using our advice and the young man who was leading the bullying came to them, apologized and asked how he could make things right.  The young man who was bullied had left camp, but he returned and finished the week due to these leaders learning how to model behavior vs. going back and yelling at everyone.

I could write for days about camp.  It’s a great reminder to understand that everyone impacts everyone with every interaction. So, as you go to work this next week, think about who you’re impacting.  You never know . . .

WIFO – A New Approach

It’s time for HR to quit trying to focus on the “me” side of HR and look at focusing on others. This approach isn’t happening today and imagine if it did !!

Have you been to HR seminars where they emphasize the WIFM effect of employees?  You know, “what’s in it for me?” There are entire marketing efforts and focuses that try to figure this out from a consumer’s perspective.  I get it.  I’m attracted to things that meet my preferences and styles, but I’m sure they don’t fit anyone else’s choices.

We’re all unique as people.  HR struggles with this.  How can we provide the “what’s in it for me” factor if everyone is different?  It’s impossible !!! Or, is it ??

I think it’s time for HR to try the WIFO approach – What’s in it for others?  If we’d do this, we’d be more successful in the end in meeting the needs of most – not all.

Using the WIFO approach, you can really put people first.  HR needs to understand that without people, we’re nothing but a giant bureaucratic machine that people see in negative connotations.  We have to put others first – all the time !!  This may not seem fair, but it really works.

More often than not, HR departments approach the least common denominator when it comes to policies, programs and initiatives.  We have a small sample of employees who either make the most noise, or cause the most problems and Wah-lah !! – something new magically appears that we now impose on everyone.

You have to ask yourself, “When I go talk to employees, am I talking about a situation, or am I focusing on them as a person first?”  Is it more important to get resolution, or understand what’s happening to them as a person? Try it. Focus on your employees as people first.

I think we don’t think of others first because people rarely think about us as people.  Why don’t we change that? If you would take the time this week to e-mail, call or visit an HR peer and just ask them how they’re doing, how do you think the profession would change?  I think it’d be amazing !!  Intentionally reaching out to others to model what we could do for our organizations.

People are difficult, challenging, amazing, creative, unpredictable and that’s a great reason to be in HR !!  You and I need to remember . . . we’re people too.

If I were you, I’d be on the lookout for a call . . .