It Only Takes 3 Chords !!

I don’t know if many people were as excited as I was about some music news this week, but I was Geeked !! Rock giants, AC/DC, released their seventeenth album called Rock or Bust.  I’ve heard a few tracks and it sounds much like their whole catalog.

You may not be a fan of these Metal legends, but I found myself immersed in them because the Classic Rock station on Sirius XM was “taken over” as AC/DC radio.  Members of the band shared their past experiences and their excitement over their new work.

AC/DC is one of those bands who people have been critical about because they follow a simple three chord method to their songs.  It’s true that their songs don’t have a ton of musical variety, but they have released songs that will be played for generations to come.

So, what does this shout-out to one of my fave bands have to do with HR ??  Everything, but it takes you looking at something that is missing and how this can fix it !!

I continue to come across HR people who are in transition.  I am surprised that the first time I meet them is when they are looking for a job.  It is disappointing because I have this crazy goal that I want to be connected with as many HR people as I can.  I don’t want to see anyone who isn’t a part of a greater HR community.

I don’t understand it.  I don’t understand how you can be in HR and not be intentionally connected to others in our field.  These connections are so much more than a method to find another HR gig.  They result in strong, life-long relationships filled with resources and knowledge that you can’t get on your own.  It’s just not possible.

Three Chords ShirtI don’t feel that everyone should try to have as many contacts as someone else, but you should have three !!  You see, I believe in the power of mentoring.  I don’t follow the definition that you find in many HR circles stating that you set up a mentoring relationships for a set period of time and then it should fade away.  I think that this approach often turns out one sided and focuses on someone’s specific need instead of looking at the whole.

So, here’s the model I do follow !! You can’t have a mentor unless you mentor someone yourself.  The three “chord” model makes sure that you are giving as well as learning from someone else.

I also feel that you should seek out these triads intentionally.  I have a few mentors who I’ve been with for decades and I have a few mentees who have been with me for many years as well.  I also make sure that the relationships are as deep as needed.  The mentor/mentee relationships I have vary from somewhat more on the surface to others that know no end to their depth !!

In fact, I just reached out to a friend to ask if I could have him be a mentor and work with him in 2015.  His response was awesome – “color me intrigued and honored.”  I’m excited to see where it goes.

So, I ask you to join me and set up your trio of connections !!  Remember it only takes three chords to make a band !!  To get you started, I leave you with this . . . (you’re welcome.)

Image courtesy of Old Skool Hooligan Tees

Thankful.

This past week my family, along with many others, celebrated Thanksgiving.  I am still a traditionalist when it comes to the holidays and their order.  Gathering together over food is always a good thing, but what drives it home for me is that we normally do it around people. These people may include relatives, friends or even acquaintances.  More often than not we feel recharged and refreshed after spending time with each other.

Then, we return to work and that level of enjoyment and intimacy dissipates so fast that it can’t even be tracked.  We are surrounded with another group of people who drive home the mantra of “get things done.”  Don’t get me wrong, productivity is essential for the success of businesses and our own personal careers.  But getting things “done” almost completely eliminates the interaction of the people around us.  We skim across the surface of everyone picking the one or two items needed to move our work and projects forward because spending time with them personally would be viewed as inefficient.

Don’t believe me?  There are entire books and conferences dedicated to this.  People flock to these forums and love the “take aways” they get from power points, flash drives or tool kits.  However, the best resources they could have found were sitting next to them.  Those resources were ignored because they are people we don’t know, and we could be seen as too forward if we reached out to get to know them.

I happened to check an e-mail while I was off for the holiday from a friend and it crushed me.  She wrote me to tell me that she was thankful for me because I had made an introduction to her back in 2009 that literally saved her business as a sole proprietor.  I couldn’t believe it.  She went on to say that this connection has continued to lead to business opportunities to this day.  She didn’t want to miss the opportunity to say thanks.

It led to me to think this . . .  Who we affect is far more important than what we get done !!

In HR we have the chance, and the obligation, to positively affect all of the people around us and not just wait for the holidays to recharge ourselves around those we know better.  We can dive past the façade of surfaces and spend time to get to know the people who make work come to life and drive productivity.  It’s time for us to remember that work happens through people and not in spite of them.

ThankfulSo, I’d like to start something that I hope you take forward.

I’m thankful for YOU !!  I’m thankful that you’ve chosen to read this blog.  I’m hopeful that we are connected, and if we aren’t, I’m hopeful that we can become connected.

I’m thankful that you’re involved in some way with HR and people.  It is a challenging field, but it is also one of the most fulfilling careers a person could ever pursue.  You have the chance to interact with humans everyday, and you never know how your interaction may deeply impact them.

Here’s how to move this forward.  Be like my friend and thank someone who has impacted you.  Don’t wait for the perfect moment or a particular setting.  Reach out today with a note, a phone call, an e-mail, or something you know will matter to them.  Watch what happens.  See how you will be recharged each and every day.  You won’t have to wait for that next holiday.  You’ll see that being Thankful is a fantastic state to be in all the time !!

Advancing HR !!

I spent the last week at the SHRM Volunteer Leader Summit in Washington, DC.  It is one of my favorite events because the attendees are some of the most active and engaged members that SHRM has.  It’s also very cool in that people come from all fifty states and also US territories.

I am a SHRMmie and am proud of being involved and connected.  I know that this can cause angst amongst my peers, but I’ve found that the more I’ve become involved, the more encouraged I am that SHRM is listening and moving in the right direction.  For those of you kind enough to read my blog, you may not be involved in SHRM, but I would ask that you read on to see how they are taking steps that are positive.

Here are the themes that came across as well as some observations . . .

SHRM Certification – I was able to take the Pathway Tutorial to see how the SHRM Competency Model is defined and answered sample questions that are like those that will be on the exam starting in 2015.  The tutorial is impressive and shows that this model is focusing on a person’s professional development and how to recognize and utilize the competencies in your HR role.  You complete a self-assessment to see which competencies you should consider bulking up.

I received my SHRM-SCP by doing this and there were 480 folks who received their certification in total.  It’s very cool to have both designations now.

I know that the ongoing argument about the tutorial vs. an exam will continue, but let me give you an alternative approach.  SHRM has chosen to recognize the work that I, and those also currently certified.  They aren’t discrediting my current certification in any way.  I’m proud to have my SHRM-SCP and plan to support the ongoing evolution of the program.

Member Connection – There are two great aspects I saw in regards to connecting with others.  The SHRM Leadership Team and the SHRM Board of Directors made a visible change than what I’ve experienced in the past.  They were actively connecting with Volunteer Leaders throughout the summit in sessions and during meals.  This may not seem big, but they’ve heard the feedback about being disconnected and they are taking steps to improve that.

There was also more intentional connections occurring between States and Regions.  The MAC has set the example that we are a profession first and reside in locations second.  We’re ALL in HR !!  We should do more and more to blur the lines of isolation and look at ways to bring everyone together.  I spent time with people from all over the country and built more and more relationships.  It’s starting to make a difference that will only make us stronger.

Forward#AdvancingHR – The most encouraging theme I saw throughout the event is that the focus of SHRM is looking past the “seat at the . . .” approach, and is looking at how to advance the profession through integrating HR throughout business.  It’s great to see that we’re taking a broader view of what HR can, and should be.  They launched a new SHRM TV commercial showing the direction, and this is just the start of the marketing efforts. I’m geeked that advancing the profession overall is what we’re doing.

Now, I know there is always room to improve.  You have to know that your voice is being shared with Leadership and they are responding in tangible ways.  I also know that there will be detractors and skeptics.

I choose to connect instead. By being involved intentionally myself, I can add my feedback and the feedback of others.  I have seen results and I think you’ll continue to see them too !! I hope you’ll check things out, get involved and get connected so we can all Advance HR !!

 

Beyond the Exam !!

In a few weeks, I’m attending the SHRM Volunteer Leader Summit in Washington, DC.  I get to attend as one of the Membership Advisory Council (MAC) members.  I love volunteering in this capacity, and I just found out that I will be the MAC for the North Central Region again for 2015 !!  Very geeked about that !!

While I’m there, I’ll get a chance to take the tutorial and get the new SHRM-SCP certification.  I’m eager to see how this goes and add it as a certification along with my SPHR which I earned from HRCI.

As the new SHRM Certification comes to life, I’m seeing another wave of people making arguments for one certification versus another.  The discussions aren’t productive, in my opinion, because people are asking people to choose a side and discredit the other.

Here’s the side I choose.  I choose to be on the side of Human Resources.

My certifications are important to me.  I know how difficult it was to earn my SPHR and I value it – and will continue to.  People continue to focus on the exam, but certification is far more than that !!  The exam was important and a gateway to more opportunities.  The next step is on each of us personally.

Moving ForwardAs HR professionals, our focus needs to be on continuous professional development and moving HR forward.  To do this, each of us need to own our certification from each body we receive them from. These certifications don’t belong to SHRM or HRCI.  They belong to us !!

Secondly, we need to educate ourselves and choose why we belong and give our time towards any organization.  If you are a member of SHRM, ask yourself why you do this and if it adds value.  If you want to get certifications from SHRM, HRCI, or other bodies, ask yourself why you’re doing that and if it also adds value.

Stand up and own who you are as an HR professional !!  Don’t get caught up in the arguments.  Set a new norm of being excited about what HR does and what it will do in the future !!

You see, I’m very intentional.  I became certified because I chose to.  I joined a local SHRM chapter and took on a leadership role because I chose to.  The other roles I’ve been fortunate to hold are because I wanted to keep moving ahead in leadership to bring the HR community together at the local, regional, State and National level.

I continue to move beyond the exam and I want you to as well.  The present and future of HR excites me to no end !!  Rise above the discontentment and move forward.  It’s what we need to do now and make it our practice going forward !!

 

Be a Builder !!

 

When I look at the vast field of HR, I have to say that I am swayed to the power of Culture more than other facets.  I truly believe that people decide to either stay at a company or leave it because of its culture.

Cultures vary with each company that exists.  In fact, you could even note that each department within a company has its own culture.  With so many different environments, it seems difficult to think that we keep trying a “one size fits all” approach and think that it will work.  There are too many factors to take in, and it’s honestly exhausting to try to make everything fit.

In the past, I thought that changing the culture in an organization was the answer.  I fell into the mythical trap that things can only get better if things are viewed as wrong and then fixing them.  That is extremely presumptuous when you step back and think about that.  To think that a culture can only improve if it’s first destroyed devalues all that has been in existence before you were part of that culture yourself.

Building CultureThis week something hit me like a ton of bricks.  It was an actual Aha moment !!  What if you built your culture instead of changing it ??

You may argue that this is semantics, but I don’t think it is.  Building a culture is working from the environment you currently experience.  I’m not saying that everyone has the best culture, but it is what you have to work from.  If you have a construction approach and not a destruction approach, you can see where there are opportunities to build.  Think of how healthy you would be as an HR person if you were adding to things instead of limiting them or tearing them down.

You need to understand that this is contrary to how we currently practice.  We are doing way too much justifying and reporting in our roles.  Reporting is important, but reports exist because of results.  Without actions that generate results, your reports are shallow and mundane.  If your focus were to evaluate, take some measurements and see how areas of your culture could be enhanced and improved, imagine what could happen !!

We are always looking for ways to enjoy what we do, and this can be the start of building our profession to be even better.  It takes some risk to see things positively and differently, but it’s worth it.

So, this week strap on your tool belt and your hard hat.  There are cultures out there where you can be a builder !!  They’ve been waiting for you to get started !!

Image courtesy of People Matters (one of my fave blogs !!)

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 !!

What’s Your Sentence ??

As I write, I’m recovering from the Ohio SHRM State Conference. It was another incredible event full of learning, fun, laughter and engaged HR pros. Everyone there found something that they could use as a takeaway to improve their role back at the workplace.

Personally I was geeked to be able to give a presentation myself !! It is always a highlight for me when I get to speak to my peers. I also enjoyed participating in a Town Hall to update folks about the new SHRM Certification with Nancy Conway from SHRM.

I enjoy going to events like this because I seek out sessions that will stretch me and how I look at what I do. I want to hear new thoughts and approaches to see how I can approach HR in my organization in a fresh and relevant way. I was encouraged that the entire conference would have sessions like this when Bill Taylor opened as the conference’s first keynote. Taylor is the author of “Practically Radical” and I was intrigued as he shared real world stories from today’s companies that are differentiating themselves.

He also shared a story when John F. Kennedy was President and a noted female Republican member of Congress met with the young leader. She confronted the President and questioned his scattered approach to his job. She told him that he needed to be someone who would be remembered by what he did in one sentence.

Kennedy took that advice to heart and Taylor challenged the conference attendees to reflect on this advice as well. He asked what your sentence is for HR? What is the sentence for your company and what is your sentence for you?

I think it’s something that calls for you to set up your legacy, but I’d like to challenge you to make it your present approach to HR !! Think about it. You don’t have a legacy until after you’re finished. To get to that level of being positively remembered, your actions have to start now.

I think it starts by reflecting to see if how you’re practicing is genuine or manufactured. Are you putting on a facade which is fraught with stereotypes of HR and the myths of what others say about us? Are you putting on this shield over your clothes because you feel that’s how you are “supposed” to act?

Be Who You AreYou can’t expect others to be genuine if you aren’t willing to be genuine yourself. The fact is that if you’re genuine, you will be more attractive to the people around you. I’m not talking about your physical appearance. Genuine people are a draw and attract others. If you attract others, you can establish a relationship with them. If you have a relationship, you can talk about anything and influence the behavior and performance of others.

To get this going, I want to share with you my sentence. I hope that it comes true. I need to establish this in order to make it come to life. Here it is . . .

” I want to make a difference in people’s lives every single day.”

Not sure what that difference will be.  Not sure that I’ll even get to see it.  However, it’s what I can do that matters.  It can shape my attitude, my behavior and my approach.  It will keep me grounded and mindful that my actions affect others.

I’m glad I went to OHSHRM just for this.  Trust me, there was much more that I learned, but this will serve as a cornerstone for how I practice HR from now on.  I have my sentence.  Now you have to ask yourself – what’s yours ??

 

Culture of Awesome !!

There are countless numbers of blogs and articles regarding culture.  I’m absolutely in that mix because I feel that culture is the most critical factor of today’s workplace.  The challenge I see though is that people continue to offer models of what will absolutely work for you.  I think this is an incredible presumption !!  I can’t come close to understanding what your company culture is or isn’t.

There are a few assumptions I can make that will be accurate:

  1. Your company has people that work there.
  2. All the people you have are different and unique.
  3. No one agrees on having the same culture.

In our constant pursuit for the silver bullet for all things HR, we tend to get frustrated because we can’t make everything “the same.”  I’d like to suggest one component regarding company culture that you can control, but you overlook.  That cultural component is . . . YOU !!

In organizations, we talk about others and how THEY need to improve their behavior.  In fact, the majority of our time in Human Resources is dealing with the behaviors of other employees.  After a while we get desensitized to thinking about how we affect the behaviors of others because we are always trying to address and “fix” people.  That approach is exhausting isn’t it?

Be AwesomeA friend sent me this picture with the message, “I thought of you the moment I saw this.”  I am smiling even as I type this blog because I get Geeked everytime I see it !!  What makes it an amazing picture is that the advice is not to start with others, it’s for yourself first.  Behavior is most affected by what you model and not what you dictate.

If each and every day started this way for you, how would your day go?  Imagine that this framed your behavior as you pulled up to work, got out of your car, and as your hand hit the handle of the door to enter your building – it was on !!  I understand that this could be tough to pull off for some people even one day a week.  I just believe that HR has the ability to set the tone of the culture where they work.  If you came in to set up a Culture of Awesome – you would set the world on its ear.  People would look at you, and at HR, differently.  There may be some skeptics to start, but you’ll see that it will become a norm for the environment around you.

Tomorrow, or when you read this, start with Rule 1, move to Rule 2 and see how you start working better with everyone around you as you incorporate Rule 3 !!  I think you’ll agree that it’s AWESOME !!

It’s How You Look At It !!

This past week we lost a comic genius in Robin Williams.  It’s sad that he passed because he always seemed to bring joy through his work.  I’m one of those who “grew up” with Williams from his stand-up comedy, through Mork & Mindy and all of his movies.

I enjoyed his comedy because he looked at things from a slightly different perspective.  His views were frenetic and never predictable !!  I think that’s one reason that people loved watching him because you never knew what what coming.  I think most would agree that they loved watching Williams and his madness, but they would not be comfortable practicing it themselves.

Different viewHaving a different perspective on things is never popular.  The pressure to stay within the norms of interactions, conversations and actions is huge.  If you are an outlier, then people tend to look at you as a disruptive force instead of something inviting.

HR needs to learn from Robin Williams in a couple of ways.  The first is that we should be the group that brings the different perspective to situations.  We have the opportunity to represent both the employee and the leadership in organizations.  Too often we are seen as representing management only.  We need to be the voice of both sides and that takes some moxie to stand up and not be aligned to the Company only.

Secondly, we can breathe life into our role and our organizations like Williams did for us.  Today, people don’t enjoy coming to work.  It’s well documented and publicized to the point that you wonder if anyone enjoys work anymore.  We can be the overwhelmingly positive model through HR.  Each company has it’s struggles and obstacles, but it’s how you approach things.

One of my favorite Williams’ movies was Good Morning, Vietnam.  In it, his character takes the horror of the situation people were involved in and looks at it differently.  The humor he brought gave the troops a little light despite the situation they were in.  I know what we do on a daily basis doesn’t compare to that type of extreme environment, but bringing a positive viewpoint to what we do is sorely needed !!

This week take the step to start having a different perspective in what you do, how you do it and allow others to bring in different viewpoints as well.  Also, make sure you’re taking time to laugh and bring a positive perspective to HR and the employees you get to serve.

 

 

The Value of Context !!

I am a dad.  It has to be the greatest accomplishment I’ve ever had, or will ever have.  My kids are on the verge of being adults now so they are doing more and more on their own.  What I’m finding is how easy it is to take a small amount of information and blow it out of proportion if you are missing context.  I’m seeing this both from them spreading their wings and having to make bigger life decisions as well as my wife and I letting them fly more.  We don’t always have context around what their decisions are, and it’s hard not to want to step in and “fix” things.

Please note that my kids are flat amazing !!  My wife and I are fortunate because they’re both honor roll students (college and high school).  And, they’ve made great choices (so far) in their friends, activities and life.

ContextThis past week I had a chance to get some more context myself.  In addition to being a father, I’m a SHRMmie.  A SHRMmie is someone who is active with SHRM as a volunteer, chapter member, etc.  I see it as someone who has made a broader attempt at getting involved with SHRM as an organization.

I went to an event put on by my local chapter where Dr. Kari Strobel from SHRM Research presented on the SHRM Competency Model.  I’ve known about SHRM’s work in this area for the past few years and have heard about it as it was being developed.  Now that it’s completed, it was intriguing to see the depth of the model and how it can be used by HR practitioners.

I learned that they have taken the model and equated each of the competencies to levels of your career.  So, you can take the “Business Acumen” competency and see how to utilize it as an entry-level practitioner to a Sr. level practitioner.  I appreciated seeing that the model didn’t take a one size fits all approach.  I also like that the model is a mix of behavioral competencies as well as solid HR technical knowledge as a competency.

When the presentation finished, the attendees wanted to quantify the SHRM Competency Model to the new SHRM Certification and the impending exam that will launch in 2015.  Dr. Strobel handled the questions well and understood that people wanted to seek context around this change.  The questions and answers were very good and each one let people build on what was said before it.

It was obvious that the Certification issue is still very personal and emotional – and it should be.  You see, when people put their emotions into something, they care more about it and want it to be protected.  I appreciate that people care about their professional status and their certification.  As an SPHR myself, I agree that it matters.

What I’d ask everyone to do with this passion, is seek context.  Please note that I don’t want you to seek context to sway you one way or another.  I want people to take the time to seek context because then you can make educated decisions on what you plan to do.

So, as you continue to look at the different aspects of the SHRM Certification as it evolves, get more information.  Go to an event at your local SHRM chapter or State Conference.  Reach out to someone and talk to them.  Go to the site they’ve developed specifically for the SHRM Certification here. It helps to see more about what is happening.

I am excited to see things moving.  I’m working on trying to learn more and understand more and get as much context as I can.  I hope you’ll join me !!