Do you care ??

I recently read a great post by my friend Jay Kuhns on his MUST read blog – No Excuses HR where he talked about unmet expectations.  I find his work to be so thought provoking and it made me wonder something . . .

Do we care about what matters to our employees?

I keep seeing posts on how to “fix” HR and yet few of them ever mention employees.  We use phrases like “talent” “human capital” “assets” and I could go on and on.  I followed much of #SHRM11 on-line and it was fascinating to see what was talked about !!  It looked like a great Conference and that is great to see.  But, again, I noticed that we talked about our profession, social media, legal updates and many of the same themes we see at all conferences.  What’s missing ??  . . . Employees.

We continue to spend so much time on systems, culture, transactional items and compliance which all affect people, but do you spend time wondering what matters to them?

Let me give you an example . . .

I’m sure everyone has a “bucket list” that they’d like to complete before they no longer have a chance to do that.  Next Tuesday, I get to check something off the list when I get to see U2 in concert in Chicago with three of my lifelong best friends.

I can’t wait !!  I’ve been a major U2 freak ever since they came out as a group in the mid-70’s.  I have all of their music (including bootlegs) and have read about them in books, blogs, articles, etc. Now, you may not be a U2 fan, and it may not matter to you.  I get that.  Not everyone should like the same things.

As HR professionals, though, do you find out what matters to your employees?  Or, does that take too much time?  I find myself more and more learning about the lives and bucket list items of those I work with because it has so much value.  It may not be my interest, or what I would choose to do, but it matters to them.

I think if HR people spent more time with their employees vs. worrying about their own identity within the organization – HR would blossom into what it is called – HUMAN Resources.

So, my challenge to all of us in this phenomenal profession is this – take the time to know those around you.  Don’t get mired in systems and other things that make you feel “busy” while ignoring the best thing around you – people.

Have a great holiday weekend !! I’m going to be with thousands of new people jammin’ with Bono and the boys !!! Peace to all.

What do you see ??

Lately, I’ve been coming across a syndrome that isn’t distinct to any company or civic organization, but it is prevalent in all of them.  What is this syndrome?  It’s the “forest through the trees” syndrome !!

So often we churn and churn over the smallest issue in order to make sure it’s either taken care of or “fixed,” while we miss the world going on around us.  I don’t think this is distinct to HR, but we really do well at it !!

I try to stay connected to a myriad of HR and business folks from all types of industries on a regular basis. It amazes me that when we get to talking about work, I NEVER hear about the amazing people that work for their company, only the problems.  You hear descriptors like “everyone” feels this way, or that an HR issue affects “everybody.”  However, when you dig into it some more, it is usually a few folks that take up the majority of our time. So, is the problem those few people?  Or, is it us?  Do we relish the chance to go after the problem instead of having to focus on the majority?

It seems that we like the comfort zone of going after the problems because I think we feel that it justifies our positions.  Let me ask you this though . . . How does it feel to always muck around in the dark underbelly of the Company?  Doesn’t it get old?

I think it does.  In fact, this past weekend I went camping again with my scouts from Troop 941.  We were outside the entire weekend for our “Sporting Outing” which was a great way for the adults and kids to play team games together ranging from soccer to Ultimate Frisbee to kickball (with the regulation red ball I may add !!)  I went with a group of the boys on an 18-hole disc golf course which took us six hours to complete !! Vicious and invigorating at the same time.

After the weekend, I’m sore, sun burned and I think I have poison ivy in at least five places on my legs.  Now, the “tree” way to look at this is to focus on my run down body. But the “forest” way I truly live is that I wouldn’t trade an ache or itch for the memories of laughter, competition and camaraderie.

So HR, which is it?  Are you a “tree” or a “forest” in your organization?  Step back, reflect and then . . . change (if you need to).

The forest rocks !!  I can’t wait to find you there !!

Pump it up !!

I don’t know if you celebrated it or not, but I declared yesterday “Favorite Human Day !!”  What is this day, you may ask?  It’s a day dedicated to telling your favorite humans how wonderful and amazing they are !!  That’s it.  Pretty simple.

Now, when some of you read this, you’ll think “Why would I tell someone that they’re amazing with no other reason and/or agenda?” Or something like, “Well, if I do that, won’t they expect something from me?”

You see I think there’s a serious thing missing not only in our lives at work, but in our lives in general.  And that is . . . encouragement !!

Really, it’s true.  Try this . . . when you get/receive feedback – is it negative or positive most of the time?  I’ll pause for the answer.  It’s negative isn’t it?  In fact, the majority of our systems in HR are built on negatives including our policies, performance reviews and general employee relations when we have to “deal” with people and their issues.  Ask yourself this – do you spend your time telling people what NOT to do, or what TO do?  I think I know the answer.

How do we expect our cultures to change when we don’t encourage one another?  Why do we think that if we’re positive with people that they’ll just eventually turn on us?

Not me.  I encourage others.  I do it all the time without being asked and expecting nothing in return.

I follow the prophetic words of one of my rock n’ roll icons – Elvis Costello in his classic tune “Pump it Up” from This Year’s Model:

“Pump it up when you don’t really need it.  Pump it up until you can feel it.”

You don’t need a reason to encourage people.  In fact, if you just do it randomly and genuinely, you’ll probably be met with cynicism because people just aren’t used to it.  Don’t be discouraged.  Keep doing it.

This week I spoke at a local one-day SHRM Conference and the attendees and I were laughing (in fact howling at times) and having a great time – at a conference !!!  It was such a great relief to see HR people having fun and enjoying themselves talking about what we do for a living !!

Oh, and just so you know, my first “faves” were my wife and two amazing kids.  Then I called a few other faves and just left a voice mail to encourage them and tell them that I think life is better because they’re around and a part of my life.  Got another person today and we laughed and laughed and he even said, “Man, I needed a call like this today.”

I’m not going to list who I called or name drop.  These people mean the world to me, so I tell them directly.  Remember that all of us are humans.  Humans need encouragement.

Got a fave ??  Take time this week and let them know.  They’ll love it !!

Let’s go camping !!

The forecast said – High temperature 37, low 21 with a 90% chance of precipitation . . . makes you want to camp, doesn’t it ??

Well, that’s exactly what I did this past weekend.  You see, I’m very fortunate to be the Scoutmaster for Troop 941 in West Chester, OH.  My son is in the Troop and we went on our first campout of the year to go horseback riding with 23 other boys and 6 adults.

It was amazing !!  I love going on these weekend jaunts with my son and with the other kids.  I learn so much with them.  We laugh, tell stories, play tons on Euchre, and most importantly, I get to see people grow into adults right before my eyes.

Today, there is so much that can be daunting, tragic and even horrifying.  We continue to fill our days with junk when the majority of our “news” isn’t news at all.  When the lead in story is about some celebrity train wreck vs. the real human condition that all of us face, I can see how we get cynical.

But I digress . . .

From Friday to Sunday I had no cell coverage, no Twitter, no Linked In, no e-mail.  However, I had EVERYTHING I needed and more.  To hear my son recount the exhilaration of his first ride on a horse, Zeus, was better than any distraction I fill my life with.  To sleep in the cold, to eat fresh meals cooked in a dutch oven from recipes my son found, to sing I’m a Little Teapot at a campfire to the tune of We Will Rock You by Queen, and to have kids pick you to imitate during Adult Impersonations – phenomenal.

In the midst of all that is going on around us, I have to ask . . . do you enjoy yourselves?  Are you taking time to take everything in?  Do you see the miracles that happen literally everyday with the people you work with?

Or, are you too busy rushing to check that next e-mail, make sure you get that next appointment entered into Outook, while ignoring the great people you work with so you make sure YOUR needs are being met?

When my son and I got home on Sunday, I collapsed from the full weekend.  My body isn’t as young as it used to be.  But, I collapsed full of joy and great experiences !!

Here’s my challenge to those of you kind enough to even read my blog – take time to enjoy what life brings you !!  Ask the person you work with what they did this weekend and  . . . stay there long enough to really take in what happened !!  Quit ignoring all that is good going on all around you.

Now, I have to get recharged.  We camp again in 2 weeks (and I can’t wait !!)

What Do You Expect ??

This post asks HR what their focus is when it comes to their employees. Do they dread seeing them, or do they think they’re amazing?

When you think of your employees, what comes to mind?

Do you have positive thoughts?  Are you fondly reminded of how amazing the folks are at your company ??

What do you expect?  Seriously.  Have you taken the time to reflect on how your focus is as an HR practitioner when you go into work each day?  Are you looking forward to working with the people around you, or do you dread it?

If I asked you this in person, I’m sure I’d hear a positive response because you’d feel a little awkward because we’re only supposed to talk about surface level things to keep things within a social norm.  It may be the way you truly feel, and I hope it is.

However, when I keep my ear to the ground and listen to other HR pros, I hear more negative things than positive things.  I hear people grousing about the difficult person who did this, or the person who takes ALL  of my time, etc.

Don’t you think your employees see that in you?  Don’t you think that they’ve come to expect HR to be the department who brings the bad news?  Not very encouraging is it?

I think that we’ve made the rock prophet Don Henley’s words come true from his vintage song “Dirty Laundry” on his debut album I Can’t Stand Still.

“Dirty little secrets
     Dirty little lies 
 We got our dirty little fingers in everybody’s pie 
     We love to cut you down to size
We love dirty laundry”

I know that sounds harsh, but when I listen to HR people they tend to talk about the 10% of people who cause them the most problems instead of focusing on the 90% of people who are GREAT !!

I love HR Horror Stories as much as the next person, and I could add my share of them – believe me.  However, it’s time to change the tide.

People will see HR as a positive force in organizations when, and only when, HR is positive itself !!

So, what do you expect ?? Let me know.

Image courtesy of Amazon.com

My Hometown . . .

This post challenges HR to get back to truly knowing the employees of the company and not continue to let employees just show up for work.

For those of you who know me – I’m a music freak !!

For those of you who don’t know me – I’m a music freak !! 

One of my favorite artists is Bruce Springsteen and his classic album “Born in the U.S.A.” came out when I was in college and about to leave my hometown.  The last track on side two of the album (yes, album) was “My Hometown” and it hit me hard because even though I was going to leave my hometown soon, it brought up so many great memories.

You see, I hail from the booming metropolis (Village actually) of Ada, Ohio.  Ada has a population of just over 5,000 people.  It is technically the “center of the universe” if you didn’t know that because you can go anywhere from Ada , and if you travel around the whole world, you have to go through Ada.

That may not be a scientific fact, but it seemed like the center of the universe to me.  You see, in Ada, you know EVERYONE and EVERYONE knows you.  My school was K-12 in one building and my graduating class was an amazing 73 people !!  I loved every moment of my time in Ada because I learned the value of truly knowing people.

In Ada, it mattered to know everyone’s name and something about them because you were bound to see them somewhere around town and it was much better to have a conversation than just say, “Hey !!” (our version of “Hi!”)

Lately, this has been playing on me because in today’s organizations, we are more concerned with getting stuff done whether the people who are doing those things matter or not.  HR is a major culprit in not addressing this fault in company cultures.  We should be the ONE area that won’t stand idly by to have yet another employee ignored.

We spend so much time making sure people just show up and that is more important than seeing who they are, what they’re like and what they truly want to offer the company.

No more.

It’s time to use a little of that hometown experience at my workplace and at workplaces around the country.  Get to know your people.  You’ll be astonished at how incredible they really are !!

What do you think?  Is this too Utopian ?? Or, is it just overdue and we’ve forgotten how important this is ??  Let me know your thoughts.