Write. Read. Share.

I’m going into my eighth year of having an HR blog. It’s something I truly enjoy. It gives me a chance to share my thoughts, perspectives and ideas. I have always liked being creative, and having a platform like this gives me a chance to see what hits the page. I was a relatively early adopter of HR blogging and I admired the folks who were already active, visible and vocal when I started.

Many of the bloggers I read have tapered off. I understand that. It’s hard to come up with content, be consistent and sustain a blog. I miss seeing their work, but appreciate all that they did to bring the world of Human Resources to the business arena !!

Now, there are several new HR professionals who have started their own blogs. They are at various stages of their careers and come from different industries. It’s honestly exciting and reminds me of when blogging first began.

At the same time, there’s a concerning trend that is honestly disappointing. I keeps seeing more and more tweets and blog posts bemoaning that these new bloggers aren’t sharing anything “new”. They only contain retreads of ideas. Or, even worse, people spending so much more time tearing the ideas of others down instead of trying to listen and understand someone else’s perspective. The darkness, negativity and cynicism seems to be rampant, growing and prevalent. It doesn’t make sense.

When, in the history of society, did tearing things down ever result in building things up ??

I want to see this change. I want people to see people share all types of perspectives and insights. It’s not a matter of agreeing with everything that’s written. However, it does mean allowing all voices to be expressed. There is more than enough room for everyone’s blog. We don’t need to constrain things. Keep in mind that these new bloggers are reaching a new audience as well. The work they’re creating is solid and has real value. With that in mind, I’d encourage you to follow a new model – Write. Read. Share.

Write

As I mentioned earlier, writing for me is a release. I seem to have ideas constantly swirling around in my brain just trying to burst out. In fact, I write a weekly email for a global forum called the HR Net that I’ve been doing for 19 years. I write a song parody about HR and have written over 500 songs. Again, they just need to get out. Writing is cathartic. It’s key to get your ideas in front of others so they can be consumed, critiqued and understood. I think that getting your ideas down is where you should focus, and however you choose to approach this is fine. There’s no one method that works for everyone. The most important facet is to take the first step and write.

Read

I’m a voracious reader. I have been for as long as I can remember. I have two to three books going at a time, and they’re rarely from the same genre. I also read the blogs of many people they range from curated sites which gather the works of many authors to individuals who I enjoy learning from. You see, I read to learn. I don’t want to ever fall into the trap that my voice alone is all there is to know on any subject or facet of HR, work or life. With billions of people roaming the planet at the same time, I have to believe that they myriad of thoughts available is endless.

Share

Writing and reading are wonderful, but they are also self-serving. If I only express myself by writing and then only personally learn from reading, then the impact of that information is limited to my personal capacity. I think that sharing the work of others even more important than writing. I am a zealot about being others focused. It is in my core. I have never felt challenged, diminished or obstructed by shining the light on others. If you look back in history, the only way people learned was by sharing.

From now on, be encouraging of others. Let’s stop the trend of negativity for good. You have the time. Remember this – If you have time to write, you have time to read. If you have time to read, you have time to share.

Go forward and write what’s in your heart and on your mind. Read what others say and learn from them. And, share broadly and often so that our HR and business community can grow.

Write. Read. Share.

#HRMixTape2019 – The HR Edition !!

A few years ago my good friend, Mark Hendy, a fellow HR pro from Wales in the UK put a challenge out to put together a mix tape of songs. I remember growing up and literally making mix tapes taking songs from countless vinyl albums. It was always hard to make sure all of the songs flowed well and you had to really work at starting the next song right after the other recording ended.

Mark threw down the gauntlet once again and invited HR pros from around the globe to make their #HRMixTape2019. I couldn’t resist !! People are still buzzing about the great movie Bohemian Rhapsody which is a biopic of the legendary band Queen. I loved the movie and have been an incredible fan of their music for decades. They have so many songs that drip with HR goodness. So, here is my mix tape !!

HR does face pressure every day because we tend to deal with challenging situations daily. Working with people is hard. Realizing that, make sure you have someone you can chat with so that it never overwhelms you.

We have the responsibility for our employees from the time they’re considered as a candidate until the time they leave our company. Terminations are never easy, but they are a reality of our work. So even though another person leaves, make sure that you handle these transitions with grace.

I can’t encourage you enough to reach out and connect with other HR pros. We will thrive, survive and keep ourselves alive only from the support of others who go through what we do. This Spring I hope to meet Mark and many other HR prose when I visit the UK. It will be great to meet folks in person after we’ve been connected on social media. I love having connections of my peers in HR and chat with them daily.

I truly believe that HR is a global community. I would love if we would look past our geography and connect. Together I think we can change the workplace, support the workplace and add value to our organizations. It will take one vision to do this and I know that we can all connect. I hope you’ll join me in making this happen !!

If you remember nothing else, know that you’re in the best profession on the planet !! The more passion you have around what you do, the more you’ll show other how much Human Resources truly rocks. You have the chance to impact and lift up people every day. Nothing rocks more than that. Nothing.

A mix tape wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t have a “hidden track”. I believe that HR and music bring everyone together. So, enjoy my absolute favorite Queen track as we head out. Peace to all !!

The Coming Year . . .

I remember gathering at a friend’s house in 1999 for New Year’s Eve. The party was very casual and the crowd was made up of several couples with many little kids running around. The excitement was high because as the ball was going to drop and become the year 2000 we wondered if Y2K was actually going to occur. There was some anxiety mixed with a ton of skepticism.

We counted down, 5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 !! And, then the power went out completely in the house. It was pitch black and we thought that Y2K did happen. We all scurried to grab our things and get to our houses when the power returned. Todd, the home owner, came around the corner laughing heartily with his drink in hand. “Just kidding !!” We all pelted him with a barrage of Boo’s and then joined him in uproarious laughter as well.

So, here we are two decades later and we’re on the verge of stepping into yet another New Year. I’d have to say that many are still filled with a mix of anxiety along with skepticism. This may not be unique because every year we are faced with situations of all types. There may be personal challenges, personal opportunities or even larger scale circumstances that stand in front of us.

Many people will make a series of resolutions with the best intentions of keeping them, and they will have limited success. I have never been one to make resolutions because the areas of my life that I need to work on have a longer window than just to get started every January. Also, I know that when I’ve tried to make massive life jumps or switches, I fall back into my regular pattern way too easily.

So, am I going to do anything differently in the coming year? I wouldn’t classify my approach as “different”, but I would say that it’s going to be even more intentional. I want to connect HR pros to each other even more than I have in the past !! I also want to see people interact with each other with respect and grace even in the midst of differing opinions.

I continue to be astonished at the number of HR practitioners who try to conduct their jobs on their own. They may even be part of a larger HR team within an organization. Why do we think isolation will enable us to be effective and viable in HR? We absolutely must break this paradigm !! There is so much value in being connected to others who do what you do. This can happen through social media as well as in person. Please join me in helping others in HR connect with other practitioners. Let’s eliminate this facet of our profession for good.

While making connections, we need to step up as HR pros to facilitate AND participate in dialogue and discussions regarding the challenging issues in the workplace, our industry and the country. These conversations should lead to action which not only addresses issues, but does it in a way to move organizations forward. I would ask that we allow for true dialogue which considers all perspectives that is supported by respect and grace. This is overdue in all areas of our work.

I’m looking forward to 2019. I think it’s a chance for us to be positive and lift each other up. I hope you find the areas in your life that you’d like to continue, and that you’re successful. Happy New Year my friends !!

Do You Have a Minute ??

Do you remember the classic cartoon The Jetsons? I loved watching this show because it was a cool version of what people thought the future would hold. One of my favorite aspects of the cartoon was the video calls that George Jetson would make with his boss Mr. Spacely. The thought that you could make a “phone call” and see the person you were talking to was unthinkable in the past. It was some fantastic idea that you could only see from someone’s imagination.

Little did I know that a video call would become a reality !! This weekend I participated in something I could have never imagined would EVER happen in my lifetime. Let me backtrack for a second . . .

This summer at the SHRM Annual Conference in Chicago I had the opportunity to speak at two mega sessions, and it was incredible for many reasons. One of the many highlights was meeting Usman Abid from Pakistan. He came to one of my sessions and then proceeded to floor me by buying 38 copies of my book HR on Purpose !! for his entire HR team. Now, fast forward back to the present . . .

Usman sent me an email and asked if I had a minute to join him and his team for a Skype call over the weekend. He had taken my book and developed a two-day workshop based on it !! I was astonished to say the least. He came up with hashtags, themes and even shirts with double exclamation points. He also came up with this logo. The whole concept was humbling and overwhelming.

I jumped at the chance to talk to Usman and his HR team. I set up my laptop in my dining room and when the beep, beep, beep of Skype chimed, I answered and was seeing a room full of my peers on the other side of the globe. The. Other. Side. of the Globe !! It was surreal. The video call that I only knew from cartoons was now happening.

It was so fantastic to tell some stories, share some laughs and talk about a people-centric view of HR. The call lasted about fifteen minutes. I didn’t get a question, but someone did notice that I was wearing tie-dye with the #HRTribe hashtag on it. In fact, the folks in Pakistan cheered when I stood up and showed them the shirt. As we were ending our time together, I was overwhelmed with emotion as I thanked the team for the chance to be a part of their workshop through some tears.  Usman and his team said good-bye to me in Urdu which was very cool.

In my wildest dreams, I never thought that one day in my career I’d write a book. A book that would be purchased by a peer and then taken around the world. A book that would be developed into a workshop, and result in a video call between fellow HR practitioners in different global locations and time zones.

One thing to note . . . Usman’s did all of this work BEFORE anyone on his team even received their copy of the book !! They’re going to get their personalized signed copies at the end of the workshop.

I felt compelled to share this story for a couple of reasons. One – it’s amazing and overwhelming. You have no idea how much it humbles me that this has happened. Secondly, I think it’s important to remember that regardless of where we are in the world, we have common bonds as humans and as professionals.

The entire experience encourages me that there remains so much good in this world. As people, we can come together on purpose to lift each other up and do great work. Our humanity is a far greater bond than all of the distractions, anger and negativity that everyone seems to want to dwell on.

This week please remember that it only takes a minute to bring us together. I think we have the time to do that now and going forward !!

Go Global !!

I grew up in Ada, Ohio which is literally one square mile in diameter. It was magnificent and I had no idea of what the world looked like outside its perimeter. You see, I grew up in the pre-internet days and we thought traveling to Lima, Ohio to see a movie was a true expedition !! It took us 15 minutes to make that trek, but we couldn’t believe we had such freedom. I have to say that I enjoyed being blissfully unaware of the world outside my little village. That was over 30 years ago . . .

Ironically, the world has changed little for most of my peers in HR. We continue to live in a microcosm of the global reality we live in. There are many folks today (around the globe) who limit themselves to the city/town/village they live in as their lens for looking at what they do. It may even be more constricted in that some HR professionals only perspective is within their own organization.

We live in a global community whether we recognize it or not. We can’t keep existing in a flat world model. There don’t have to be any horizons on HR and how we’re connected. I don’t think I’m the only one thinking this. I continue to find and connect with great folks from every continent. The more folks I find, the more I get geeked to make these new discoveries.

In a day and age where countries are calling for more segregation and isolationism, I think it’s up to HR to span those boundaries and blur them more and more. I understand that we each have unique practices, laws and regulations, but we have one thing in common . . . humans.

There’s no logical reason for us to stay confined within our own geography. With technology and social media all around us, all we need to do is click a button to Follow, Link In or Friend each other. We can talk via Skype or video conferencing regardless of distance or time zone. It only takes someone willing to step forward.

I remember a few years ago when I went to my first SHRM National conference and we were AMAZED that there were people who practiced HR in areas of the world other than us. I’m not exaggerating. It’s as if we discovered an entirely new land. It happened again when I attended my first HRevolution event and we were astonished that others who were active in Social Media in HR actually existed and that we were real people and not just avatars on a screen.

Better TogetherIt’s time for the HR community to be global. I don’t mean global from a U.S. perspective. I mean global from an industry perspective. This goes beyond the great professional societies that I encourage you to belong to because they are wonderful forums. This is a call for individuals to make a grass roots effort to connect, communicate and collaborate.

I look forward to the day when I’ll get to travel to the UK, India, Africa, Australia, Japan, Canada, etc. and meet peers who get to work with humans. It will be fantastic to get to know them personally and see what great things they are doing in the field and inside their companies.

I want you to not only thrive in your village, but in your profession. Join me and see how we can be better together globally !!

Come Together

I just came back from a quick trip to Seattle. No, it wasn’t because I was chasing Pokemon for Pokemon Go. I was a part of the SHRM Talent Symposium hosted by the Puget Sound SHRM Chapters – Seattle SHRM, Lake Washington HR Association, South King County SHRM, and the Washington State Human Resources Council. Fortunately, I was able to speak and attend the entire event. There were 300 other HR folks who come out for the day to learn about current and future Talent Acquisition trends.

It was encouraging to see HR pros set aside time, leave their desk/office and take a day for networking and professional development. When I met different attendees, I found that most of them did not know each other. A venue like this allows people to come together – and this is needed more than ever !!

With all of the social unrest happening globally, we’ve lost something in the midst of emotion, rhetoric and posturing. While groups want to gather during this storm of change, they are overlooking the families that have been directly affected by violence, loss and unrest.

On top of all of the ever changing social climate, you have a highly charged election season in the US, Brexit in Europe and military coup attempts in Asia. It seems that you can’t turn on the TV or your phone or tablet and not be faced with massive shifts in the midst of extreme actions and dialogue.

What about the workplace?

You see, in the midst of all of this upheaval, these people are employees of some company or another. Please note that I’m not trying to belittle the social weight and implications of all of these events one bit. However, when the next tragedy hits the social media sites and airwaves, the prior one that still conjures up visceral emotions, is less visible and not as much of a priority as the newest occurrence.

And after whatever people are facing, they go back to work. They have to work through all of these emotions and also perform and produce. As HR practitioners, and as companies, we rarely walk into these situations head on. Instead, we hope that people cope and move on as soon as possible.

This has to stop.

Come TogetherIt is past time for the Human Resources profession to come together as one across the globe. This isn’t a time for self identifying whether you belong to Group A or Group Z. It’s a time for HR practitioners, and those who work with humans, to realize that we can be a bridge that will make a lasting impact on our employees who are either affected or dealing with these constantly changing social conditions.

We can’t keep being people wishing that things will be all right if we just passively sympathize and console people. It’s time for us to be intentional and strip away the practices that we think define who we are, and we should act as who we really should be – HUMAN RESOURCES !!

We should always be present and available for our people, but we aren’t. We spend so much time trying to categorize and place people into “controllable” environments and boxes when we could be spending our time in fostering and developing relationships.

I ache for all of the tragedy that is happening around me. It seems to be endless, and it may be. However, I choose to no longer just hope it will go away. We need to come together and be available for our HR peers, our communities and our workplaces. This isn’t something that is going to remedy itself by wishful thinking.

I don’t know exactly what this looks like, and it may be vastly different for each situation (as it usually is). But action needs to start now and continue going forward both personally, professionally and organizationally.

So, this week – step out, reach out and help me in making us come together !!

We Can Be Heroes !!

This past week the rock universe took one of it’s brightest stars back. The legendary David Bowie passed away after his battle with cancer. I have been a fan of his for decades.

Oddly enough, the first time I saw him was during a Christmas special where he sang the “Little Drummer Boy” with Bing Crosby. I remember watching the special with my Dad and he wondered who the “weird guy” was singing with Crosby. I said, “That’s David Bowie Dad, and he’s cool !!” He disagreed and thought that it was surreal to see the immortal crooner singing with this thin, pale British singer.

David BowieI’ve always been drawn to Bowie because he was willing to be himself. He never followed the norms that were expected in his music, his appearance or his approach. I also admired that he continued to remain relevant throughout his entire life when many of his peers faded into oblivion.

There are many attributes of David Bowie that I think translate well into how I practice HR and would love to see others consider and adopt. Please note that much of this is already happening. You just need to own it.

  • Be Genuine and Authentic

You could never note any time where David Bowie was not himself. He may have seemed contrary to his contemporaries, but he never apologized for it. I think HR people should be bold in who they are personally and professionally. It doesn’t mean that you should be avant-garde just to stand out. It does, however, call for you to not have an “HR/work face” and your normal face. There are too many people who feel that they can’t be themselves in HR and they end up being frustrated. If a company can’t accept you for who you are and how to practice HR, then don’t stay in that role or at that company. You’ll never have as much of an impact as you could.

  • Define new boundaries

Bowie shocked the rock world during his androgynous, glam rock Ziggy Stardust phase. He morphed into the sleek, fashionable man of the 80’s and then went a completely different route in the 90’s and 00’s with his band Tin Machine and working with artists like Trent Reznor. He constantly looked for new ways to be artistic and share his gift. It kept him relevant and others were inspired because he was willing to take risks and reinvent himself.

HR is reluctant to change. We feel the tried and true will always work, and we just need to apply it with small tweaks and adjustments. That just isn’t true. The biggest threat to our profession is whether we will stay relevant as a profession. To make sure we do, we need to see new boundaries and step out to set them. You don’t need permission. You just need to don the next phase of your career and adapt.

  • Share Your Work

I think there are too many of my peers who keep to themselves. This isn’t a matter of introversion vs. extroversion. HR people tend to sell themselves short and don’t recognize the impact they have on people every day. The music and contributions David Bowie made would have been diminished if he created and then shared his work with only a few people around him. Even though he was different, he stepped forward and shared his artistry with the world. He couldn’t keep things to himself and neither should we.

HR that only serves HR is meaningless. The business world without HR will continue to move on if we insist on working and living in arenas and forums outside of them. We need to be different ourselves and bring a fresh, challenging effort to what we do. As Bowie said, “We can be heroes. Just for one day.”

His message was meant to push others. His music was meant to make you see and think differently. He was one of my rock heroes and his impact will live on in HR if I have something to say about it !!