Take It In !!

This past week I celebrated another trip around the sun and became another year older. I find that I now look at each new year as a time to reflect. This is something newer for me and something I wish I would do more. For instance, I have now been alive 30 years longer than my biological father was. That is staggering to me !! I’m fortunate that I am still walking this planet, but sometimes wonder what life would have looked like had he lived as well. I’m sure it would have been completely different and I wouldn’t be writing a weekly blog, just as one example.

My kids and wife are an amazing and significant component in my life. Now that I’m older, I tend not to get any “things” as birthday gifts. I’m grateful that I get time with them far more than any material object. Debbie, my incredible wife, did get me something that will have incredible value – a set of experiences. She got me some tickets to Xavier University basketball games – my fave college basketball team – and some tickets to see part of the “Whose Line is is Anyway?” cast perform an improv comedy show. I can’t wait to go to these events. She made the gift even more meaningful by saying that I can take others with me to some of the games because she knows I’m a massive extrovert.

The reflection that has hit hard this year is this – You need to enjoy the experiences in your life !! Every. Day.

You need to be honest about this. You rarely take in what’s going on around you. We’ve been programmed to stay focused on whatever task is laid out in front of us. This isn’t only related to work. It is how we approach every aspect of our lives. We miss the majority of any event or encounter, and that’s a shame.

Don’t believe me? Tomorrow when you go to work watch how others interact with each other. Greetings are cursory and polite as everyone rushes to what they want to get to. No one seems to notice or care. Conversations are curt, concise and matter of fact. You will hear most people share some personal stories, but to say that both parties are “present” during the interaction would be startling. We feel the invisible push to move on. The vast majority of our daily experiences are more like a series of pass-by movements. There are short pauses in the rush of pass-bys, but they are limited on purpose.

I consider myself someone who consciously makes time to focus on others, and I have to constantly remind myself to be present in conversations. I have to fight the urge to follow distractions which are always tugging at me. I feel this is true with most people. I don’t think that this has to be the case. I know that we have time to be present when we interact with others throughout each experience we have.

Now that Debbie and I are empty nesters, we are doing more activities as a couple. We’re relearning what it’s like to spend time together just as a pair. We aren’t committed to running to this event or another for either of our kids who are now grown. So, we go out to dinner or make dinner together after a full day of work. We’ll go to the gym and also go to a movie in a theater (we’re old school like that.) Whatever we’re doing, I’ve decided that I am going to be present and take in every second we’re together. I don’t want to miss something because I’m yearning to get to the “next thing.”

I want to be like the two young kids I saw at the grocery store this weekend. They had pulled two of the bags you use to put produce in and were throwing them into the air. The bags would puff out and float slowly back and forth toward the floor. The kids would squeal, catch their bag and throw it back into the air. They were exuberant and present in the moment while their mother was trying to get her shopping done. Instead of chiding the kids, she laughed along with them and commented how beautiful the new “toy” they had created was.

The new year is still young. You can change your approach to how you embrace every day, and in turn, every person you meet. Slow down and take it in. Everything. Every. Single. Thing. You’ll be astonished how much more you’ll enjoy life !!

By Name

I’m a child of the late 60’s and early 70’s. During my early childhood, I was raised by my grandparents because my mom was working after the untimely, early death of my father. Growing up on a farm in Luckey, Ohio was wonderful !! My brother and I had countless adventures that were mostly outdoors. You used your imagination to make your surroundings come to life. We watched very little television because our grandmother wanted us out from under her feet. When we did watch on their tiny black and white set, we watched PBS. Yes, PBS. Grandma made sure we watched the Public Broadcasting System because it was filled with educational programming. One of our favorite shows was Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

We loved visiting his neighborhood with the various characters in the Land of Make Believe. You learned something every time you watched. We never thought the show was simple, easy-going or even “cheesy.” The messages he gave rang true, and he always seemed so interested in you as a person.

Fast forward to 2019. My wife and I just went to see the new Tom Hanks movie where he plays Mr. Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. It is magnificent !! Granted, I already had fond memories of Mr. Rogers, but this movie made some facets of his life more visible and poignant. I highly recommend you go see the movie to get the entire feel and impact of the message so I don’t want to reveal too many components.

The one characteristic that resonated deeply with me was that Mr. Rogers made sure to know everyone he met by name. He didn’t overlook anyone he encountered either on the set of his television program, or if he met you in person. People mattered to him. One scene, shown in the preview, shows the main character’s wife, Andrea, squeal when Hanks calls their home and introduces himself to her. She is trying to pass the phone to her husband, but Mr. Rogers stops her to take time to intentionally talk to her. She says, “Mr. Rogers knows my name !!” It obviously moved her.

They note that Rogers, a man who had a strong personal faith, prayed for the people in his life by name. Every. Day. This wasn’t some parlor trick that showed he had a great memory. He valued being connected to people and wanted to know them personally.

I am a person who shares the same conviction of Mr. Rogers. I think it’s critical to meet, know and interact with people by name. Whenever you meet someone for the first time, you have to make the time to get to know (and remember) their name. Our names are the most significant identifying trait of who we are as humans. When you share your name with someone and they share theirs with you, you are connected immediately.

We were given names on purpose when we were born. Even though people may share the same first name, it doesn’t diminish the reality that they are unique. No one “Steve” is the same as another. The reason it’s important to know someone’s name is that when you interact, it’s more intimate and meaningful. You will remove the distractions of the day which constantly vie for our attention because you have called someone out by name. You’re locked together and those conversations will be more rich and meaningful than just trying to catch someone on the fly.

As HR professionals, this should be a skill that matters to you. I know that it can be difficult to remember names, but that’s an excuse. We all need to take the time to learn and recall the names of the people who are in our daily lives. If you need to make lists, then do it. If you need to make associations that spark your memory to remember a person’s name, then keep track of those attributes. Be intentional about this. We can’t fool ourselves to think that our companies are people-centric if everyone remains nameless.

Once you know someone by name, you can get to know them as a person. Having knowledge of who they are is far more important and lasting than anything they do. I mean it. They, in turn, can get to know you more as a person as well. I see it every day. People want to connect and be known for who they are.

This week start interacting with people by name on purpose. It will make a huge difference for you personally and professionally. Be like Mr. Rogers and make it matter. It will make our various neighborhoods the great environments they were meant to be !!

Read the Signs !!

Recently my wife and I went to the fabulous Cincinnati Art Museum to see the traveling Burning Man exhibit. It was incredible !! The different art pieces and memorabilia brought out my inner bohemian. The whole event is not for those who want to just observe if you attend the actual event in the desert. This isn’t for spectators, it’s for participants. The pictures of those attending are very comfortable with who they are, how they look and how they see creativity all around them.

When special exhibits are brought in to most museums, they’re able to confine them into a relatively gallery size location. They do this so they’re more concentrated and it’s also a way for museums to generate much needed additional revenue. They can charge an extra fee to see something special. I’m absolutely cool with this. This exhibition couldn’t be contained into such a size which is indicative of the Burning Man event as well. The pieces ranged in size to such an extent that they were placed throughout the entire museum. This allowed everyone to see the entire museum as well as release their inner bohemian.

One of the favorite pieces I saw caught my eye instantly and also made me pause. Once you look at it, you can see a much different message versus what you expected this iconic symbol to convey.

What do you think? Do you see it? If you came into an expansive gallery room, turned the corner and saw this hanging on the wall, would you have the same reaction I did? Be honest. When you see this familiar red octagon, you’ve been conditioned to expect the letters spelling out “STOP”. You see many of these on a daily basis on your commute to and from work. When you see the sign you’re expecting, you halt, look around and then move in some direction.

Seeing this piece of art made me think of how HR is what you expect when you see this symbol. We are known for telling people to “stop” when it comes to behavior and the majority of systems that we design and monitor. At times this may be necessary. Unfortunately, it seems to have become the majority of how we spend our days both in reality and perception.

This doesn’t have to be the case !!

What if you took this piece of art for what it is? What if you slowed down to see the signs of those who work with you. Are you already acting as if they’re easy to define, assess and move past? Do you think that you don’t have time to notice everyone? I mean honestly, you have work to do that is far more important than connecting with your employees. Don’t you?

I wish there was a professional development class that taught people to observe nuances at work. There are countless subtle signs that happen all around us in the workplace !! How people interact with each other. How departments act when working inter-departmentally. And, how people interact when their roles are at different levels within the organization.

You can see signs in every interaction you personally have as well as all of the interactions you observe. However, if you’re too concerned with “real work” you’ll miss most of them.

Remember this – EVERYONE watches the interactions they have with you and how you have interactions with others. All. The. Time.

So, if others are taking in the signs around them, shouldn’t you as an HR practitioner?

This week follow the example of this Burning Man art piece. Slow down and then START watching and reacting to the signs happening with your people. They deserve someone who’s willing to be different and do the unexpected. Release your inner HR bohemian and see the new results which will occur !!

No Words

Sunday night is when I sit down to pen my weekly blog. Usually, the words flow easily and I can put something together relatively quickly.

If you don’t know, I am an extremely positive person 90% of the time. It’s natural and genuine. Honestly, it feels a bit odd to type it out because I don’t mean this in either an arrogant or naive way. I believe in the good in life and in people.

Then, the mass shootings of El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio happened this Saturday. Dayton is a mere 25 miles north of my home. These tragedies are always horrible and senseless. So, I am floored by this weekend and the mass loss of life. We often get moved by the horror until something else grabs our attention.

I know that there are millions of people who are continuing to move on and live life well. They may see the news online or through social media, and feel remorse or disbelief. And yet, life continues.

This week, instead of writing about the good in people (which I still firmly believe in), I’m taking a break to reach out to those close to me. I’m being intentional to tell them how much they mean to me, and the impact they make in my life and the lives of others. I can’t take the chance that I’d miss the opportunity to do this. I don’t want to take any day for granted.

For those of you kind enough to read my blog, please know that you matter. Every. Day.

Sandwiched !!

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to drive two hours north of my house with my wife to visit my parents – Connie and Don Fleming. Of course, this also meant that I was able to return to Ada, Ohio (center of the universe.) I spent the day cleaning the gutters, removing dead rose bushes and tightening all of the shutters on the windows. My mom stayed with me to give me “direction” and my dad stayed inside to chat with my wife.

The cool thing about seeing my parents now is that our lives have once again transitioned. You see, my mom is 80 years old and my dad is 76. If we hadn’t taken the time to visit, my mom was planning on getting on a ladder to do the gutter cleaning !! Add to this the fact that the past few months have been rougher than most because my dad has been in the hospital and a rehab facility more than he’s been home. It’s been challenging for him and my mom. She’s his sole caregiver at this point in time. We’ll need to keep watching this for both of them.

Even though my parents are relatively close for me to get to within a relatively short period of time, my brother is almost eight hours away. Even with that time separation driving is quicker than flying because Ada isn’t near an airport. We all keep in contact, and I wish that the majority of our conversations weren’t about our parent’s health status or the news of another elderly relative or friend of the family passing away. But that’s where we are . . . sort of . . .

You see, my brother and I also have great kids who are now technically “adults” according to their ID’s. They’re all embarking on the next phase of their lives by landing jobs, adding friends and meeting significant others. It’s exciting to see them maneuver and struggle as they find their way. We give them guidance and assistance, if they ask for it, and we see what decisions they make.

In the midst of all of this great “life” stuff going on, we all have our careers and jobs ourselves. We’re sandwiched !! We’re in the middle of caring for our aging parents and also taking care of our kids. This isn’t unique by any stretch of the imagination. This is the norm for the majority of people now. This wasn’t always the case for families, but with people being able to have a great life for many years, it’s our reality.

Now, I’m fortunate in that I have a great relationship with my parents. I know that isn’t the case for everyone and don’t take it for granted. Regardless of the relationship status, we all have parents. This “sandwich generation” is now a huge work challenge, but it doesn’t have to be !!

When I hear about most workplaces, time off is cordoned off into days and hours. We “allow” people to have time off if they’ve earned it, it’s been appropriately accrued, and if they fill out the proper 7-page over detailed form for HR which must be approved by anywhere from one to three people. It’s ridiculous and archaic. Our HR systems continue to be based on “showing up” and being visible versus performing.

What if you knew your people so well that you could give them the grace to take time when needed to help a parent or a child? What if you did this and didn’t have unlimited PTO? Would doing this lead to complete and utter anarchy in an organization ???

Here’s a different perspective . . .

Understand your people enough to learn about their circumstances and situations. Allow them to have a work schedule that meets their needs as well as allows them to perform in their role. Give them time to both address “life” things and do their work. Allow your systems to ebb and flow instead of being locked in concrete.

My experience has been if your workplace can accommodate people individually, they will, in turn, be more engaged, loyal and grateful for you as a company. If someone takes advantage of this in a detrimental way, address it – just like you can with ANY person’s behavior. You will have far more success if you aim for consistency versus compliance because someday YOU will need some latitude in your life as well.

I know that this approach takes more work, effort and attention. However, aren’t your employees worth it? This week take a look to see if you have folks who are sandwiched. Get to learn their story and see how you can be a partner in helping them through life AND work !!

It’s All About . . .

. . . the people !!

I, along with about 20,000 others, just finished attending SHRM19. It was a full, adventurous and exhausting conference. This isn’t new. Any HR conference of this scale is hard to wrap your hands around because there are so many options available for you to choose.

The common denominator in this sea of movement though is people. Whether it’s the thousands of folks passing by each other throughout the conference venue, or the people sitting next to you listening to a Smart Stage talk or full presentation. People are near you every minute of the day. In the midst of this swell of people, you think there would be a ton of interaction going on. Not really. Don’t get me wrong, there is some, but most people are going through the event seemingly alone. That is a broad generalization and I don’t want you to think that people are just automatons wandering aimlessly from session to session.

In an industry that is meant to be focused on humans, we tend to still focus on tasks, circumstances and situations. We have potential connections and resources passing us by literally at our sides, but the energy and effort it takes to greet each other intentionally is often crippling. I don’t think this is a matter of introversion or extroversion although that definitely plays a part.

I honestly think that we have been conditioned over our lives to set our face towards a destination so much that we don’t notice others. We may “notice” them if there’s some line we’re waiting in to buy coffee or an item from the ever popular SHRM store. However, others are seen as a nuisance or hindrance that is imposing on my time. If you don’t think that’s true, watch the people standing in line or riding the myriad of hotel shuttles and see how many of them are not connecting and talking to each other. The overwhelming majority of people keep to themselves and face forward.

Ironically, there is something that gives me hope in all of this. Pictures.

When you look at the thousands and thousands of tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram photos and Snapchats, there is one common theme . . . people. What is shared the most are pictures of the faces of attendees. It may be anything from a great speaker they enjoyed to a meal shared or a night out on the town. We share pictures of faces !! All of those wonderful experiences which show mainly smiling, laughing humans make up the mosaic of who we truly are as a society.

The pictures show you that people ARE connecting because they want to. It’s how we’re all wired. People want to belong and be acknowledged by others. It doesn’t matter if you’re someone who enjoys being connected to hundreds of people, or just a few. We weren’t meant to experience life or work alone.

The reason I love SHRM Annual Conferences, and honestly any HR gathering, is seeing people !! I saw so many old friends and made tons of new ones. We shared hugs, laughs and stories about our families, our jobs and our common bond of being in human resources. Each one of those encounters will have far more of a lasting effect than any session I attended. The rush of energy that happens when someone asks you to jump into a picture is wonderful. This is true because that image will capture the memory of the time together and will be a lasting reminder that the people you hung out with defined your time at the event.

I hope that this week you remember that you are not alone. You have peers all over the world who share the same field you do even though they’re in different places geographically and their role and company may not exactly reflect yours. Regardless, you have a connection that is always a click away.

Life, in all it’s facets, is about people !!

Phone A Friend !!

Do you remember the television game show hosted by Regis Philbin Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? When it first aired my wife and I had two very young kids and we were glued to the set for every episode !! I have always been a trivia buff so this fed into me trying to guess the answers of the questions without any clues. Inevitably during the questions, contestants would get stumped either because they didn’t know the answer, or the stress of being taped while millions of people watched may them stumble.

The show had some “outs” for the contestants where they could either “ask the audience” or “phone a friend.” Those two options didn’t always help, but they were great to get an outsider’s perspective and insight as well as reassure your hunch.

I love phones. Always have. You see I’m old enough that I predate the computers we all carry in our pockets. In fact, I go back to a time where you only had to dial a “4” and the last four numbers of a phone number in my home town – on a rotary phone !! The call went through every time. I also fondly recall that you could talk to a friend (or significant other) on a phone FOR HOURS and it never got old.

Today though, even though we communicate and check in constantly through endless social media platforms, emails, blogs, pictures and texts, we can still be isolated. Don’t get me wrong, I think you can effectively communicate through all variations and forums. I’m actively involved in many myself on a daily basis. In the end though, nothing ever beats a phone call. Nothing.

What we’ve forgotten is that people long for direct, human contact and interaction. We want to hear people’s voices and see their faces. If this is electronic, so be it. The technology today is so incredible that you can sit in front of a screen and see a friend anywhere on the planet !! In person communication tops even phone calls because you can sense the emotion and context of another person face to face.

I’m a caller. A phone caller. I try to call people every day.

I have a long commute where I’m on the road driving at least 45 minutes each way. My job also takes me into the field to visit the great people in our company who work in our various locations. This means more screen (windshield) time. I love filling that time calling friends, peers and compatriots from all over regardless of time zone or time of day. I get geeked to hear their voice and all that is happening in their lives.

A dear friend of mine framed this approach very aptly this week, and I wanted to share it with you. You see . . .

“In your life, you are either spending time or investing time.”

I take time to talk to others because it has immeasurable value to me. I choose to invest my time in others. I truly feel nudges to give people calls because they’re on my heart or mind. If I don’t get them, I leave an encouraging message so they know that they matter and that someone is thinking about them. It doesn’t bother me if you think this is pie eyed optimism because it is !!

Just today as I was returning from a workout at the gym, I felt a nudge to call one of my best friends. When he answered, he started laughing before I even said, “Hello.” I asked him what was so funny and he said, “Of course you’d call right now. I have been so mad about things going on in and around my life and your goofy, smiling face pops up.” Then we chatted for 30 minutes. We didn’t solve one thing. But each moment was worth it.

I didn’t mention the two chats I had with folks thinking about going into HR, the person who wanted to chat about a potential job change and asked me to help her network, or the endless conversations I had at work. Every one of them was marvelous even though many were full of challenges.

This week, carve out some time to phone a friend. Just check in. Let them know that they’re not alone. It’s worth your time !!

Be the Bridge !!

When Winter rears it’s ugly head, it often forces you inside. That can either be insufferable, or a chance to get indoor projects done that you haven’t been able to get to. We’re on the projects end of the spectrum. This weekend’s project was to paint our master bedroom. I looked forward to it because I love to paint !! I mean it. I love painting indoors because it turns out to be me and my iPod.

Yes, I said iPod. You see I have an iPod Classic with 12,400+ songs loaded onto it. When I turn it on and hit shuffle, I escape into every song, and it makes any task I take on seem easy. What could easily become mundane because of its difficulty, now becomes lively and time flies. As I dipped the roller into the tray, I heard the beautiful voice of Art Garfunkel of the immortal duo Simon & Garfunkel. His beautiful lilting voice started singing the beautiful ballad “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

Every time I hear this song played, I get misty. I really do. It’s a gorgeous melody with haunting lyrics that hit you right from the start. Here’s a snippet . . .

“When you’re weary, feeling small; When tears are in your eyes, I’ll dry them all”

The song talks about someone willing to be present for someone who’s going through something difficult. The imagery is that they are willing to be the bridge for their friend in order for them to reach the other side of whatever they’re facing.

The reason this song resonates so much for me is that this how I view HR. I truly feel that we need to be the bridge for others who need it. I know that this runs contrary to the current trend to keep a clear distance from people. Please note that I agree with, and understand, that there are boundaries that should always be respected. However, people are coming to work every day aching. I feel they don’t share what’s going on either because they don’t feel they’ll genuinely be heard, or they feel that they’ll be blown off because their personal situation isn’t “work.”

How long can we continue this disinterested stance and feel that we’re being effective? I can hear the resistance that is rising even as I type this. If we don’t watch it, HR is going to make itself so disconnected that there won’t be a reason for us to exist. We have to step in, reach out and be the bridge for others. You have to trust me, from personal experience, that whenever I’ve been a bridge builder great results have occurred. It hasn’t always meant that the person’s situation was completely addressed or that they even stayed with the company. However, the personal touch that they yearned for occurred and started something positive in the midst of the “troubled waters” they were facing.

I also think HR people stop being a bridge themselves because they’ve had a bad experience and have been burnt. This never good and is a definite risk. I do think it’s a risk worth taking though because this is more of an exception than the rule. Another factor that makes HR pros hesitate in being bridge builders is that we don’t have someone who will be our bridge when we face difficulties ourselves.

I know that I seem to be shouting a similar message over and over, but HR people need to understand that our peers can be a bridge. I have many very close friends that I can reach out to who also reach out to me. It’s not some hokey, professional camaraderie. They are genuine relationships that have developed over social media and also in person.

If you don’t have HR peers who are bridge builders, you need to find ones. I will also put this out there . . . I’m willing to be the first person to reach out. You don’t have to face what you’re doing alone. I mean it. You reach out and I’ll be there.

It’s time for us to realize that we have an incredible opportunity in front of us. Please join me in reaching out. Be the bridge !!

Image from Successories

Weathering the Storm !!

This past weekend we were caught off guard. Our winter in West Chester (just north of Cincinnati) has been unseasonably mild. There have been a few cold days sprinkled in through December and January with far more rain than frost or snow. People were getting comfortable with the higher temperatures, and it lulled us to sleep.

We received a notice of a winter storm warning, but we were skeptical. Many, many times our meteorologists make predictions of doom and destruction while a dusting of snow barely covers the tips of the grass. We had 3 to 4 inches fall between Friday and Saturday which is a nuisance, but it didn’t shut things down (as the local news outlets had hoped). Overnight we were supposed to get 1 to 2 more inches. Not really something to fret over.

View of our backyard !!

Waking up this morning, we were truly surprised. We didn’t get 1 to 2 inches we got 8 inches !! THAT shut things down to start the day. I was planning to head to church and my son was planning on leaving to return for his final semester of college. I did get out on the road, but it was very tentative. I grew up in a part of Ohio that was used to many inches of snow. So, I’m pretty comfortable driving in snowy and icy conditions. Many, however, aren’t. Whenever snow hits here, you’ll see several cars spin out, swerve off the road or get crinkled by running into something or someone.

The experience I had this weekend is typical of most situations we face personally and in our organizations. We hear warnings and we may, or may not, heed what’s predicted. The signs of a challenge are all around us, but we don’t think things will be “that” bad. We take the chance that we can get through whatever comes, and many times we can.

However, there are storms that do hit very hard. These usually are unpredictable and the circumstances and situations can seem insurmountable. Whenever storms do hit, you have some choices you can make.

Stay Inside

It’s an option most choose. There is safety in making this choice because you’re in the surroundings where you’re most comfortable. You also probably stocked up and have all of the supplies you need. There’s nothing wrong with staying warm and cozy.

Get Overwhelmed

I hate to be negative, but storms can bury you. That’s a reality. If a storm presents itself to be so large as to overwhelm you, make sure you have a lifeline to get help. Trying to tackle life on your own is reckless. There’s no value in being a martyr who has every burden stack on them time after time. I realize that people are more isolated than ever these days. Change that and reach out to connect with folks who will be there when the storms hit.

Venture Out

You can grab a shovel and take on the conditions that attempt to keep you stymied. It’s not easy to dig out, and it will wear you out. It’s hard to face challenging conditions. At times though, we need to go through the storm in order to get to the other side which will be even brighter than anything the storms throws at us.

Storms happen. We don’t look forward to them, but that doesn’t stop them from coming. As an HR professional, remember this because you are surrounded by people that are either in the midst of storms, or one is on the horizon. You have the chance to help them with their choice when it hits. You can help them hunker down and stay safe. You can offer empathy and support to help them not to get overwhelmed. You can also encourage them and stand with them as they venture out to face the storm swirling around them.

I don’t think there’s an option to avoid and let people just slog through storms. We need to respect how much a person is willing to let us assist them, but just leaving them alone isn’t acceptable in my opinion. You may be the ONE person who makes a difference because you chose to care.

I think HR folks should venture out !! This week take a look at those you work with and assess the weather. You need to be ready because a storm is sure to be on its way . . .

Guard !! Turn !! Parry !!

When I was young, I loved getting up early on Saturday mornings to watch cartoons !! They were fantastic. I would get a bowl of cereal and sit in front of the glowing screen for hours. I especially enjoyed Looney Toons with the hilarious characters of ranging from Bugs Bunny to Daffy Duck. They were five to seven minutes of incredible action, story line and humor. Most of the humor, to be honest, was above my head. That didn’t matter though because they were so different than the other shows that were on.

One of my favorite cartoons was Robin Hood Daffy which featured Daffy Duck as Robin Hood and Porky Pig as Friar Tuck. Daffy is exasperated to prove to Porky that he is, in fact, Robin Hood. Porky is suspicious and thinks that Daffy is a bumbling buffoon who is far from the hero who robs from the rich and gives to the poor. Most of the cartoon proves that Porky is right.

In one scene Daffy is crossing a log over a stream with a long stick which he uses for several moves, but ends up hitting himself in the face and bending his bill back towards his face. He tries the moves over and over with the same result. He even talks his way through it with confidence exclaiming, “Ho! Ha ha! Guard! Turn! Parry! Dodge! Spin! Ha! Thrust!,” and then “Sproing!” his bill snaps back. During this endless, futile exercise, Porky steps up with a small stick and thwarts Daffy by inserting it into his moves during his spin. It’s hilarious !!

The reason I bring this up is that I find that most HR people spend so much time going through much of the same futile regimen that Daffy Duck does with the same result. Instead of being intentional and direct with people we dodge, spin, guard, parry and thrust. The only thing missing is screaming the “Ho Ha !!” distraction. Doesn’t that just tire you out? The constant maneuvering to skirt along the edges of employee interactions just in case you’re called into action. Inevitably, an employee comes up with their small stick and throws you into the stream.

HR should never be the buffoon that has to try to prove who they are either. It’s another giant waste of energy and time. We are looking for constant affirmation and acknowledgement by those that may, or may not, matter within the organization. This too is tiring and is discouraging for those who practice Human Resources.

Look, it’s a New Year. Let’s not be the Looney Toon character anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I think there’s immeasurable room for humor, color and animation !! Those things bring life to ourselves, others and organizations as a whole. I would just encourage you to no longer go through wasted motions that seem like thrashing around just to be seen as busy. Be intentional. Be among your employees. Be spectacular and give them the HR professional they deserve !! When you do that, you’ll be working alongside the great people you have and quit having to pull yourself out of the stream.