Given First

Trust.

It’s a topic that’s getting a ton of attention these days. It’s in our discussions, our social media and in societies around the globe. People are trying to determine if people are/aren’t trustworthy and there’s never a clear answer because everyone’s opinions and definitions are different.

I’m not here to define what “trust” is. However, I do want to tackle the first aspect of trust – and that is whether it is earned or given. The majority of people I know feel trust has to be earned. If trust isn’t earned, how do we know how people will act or treat each other? In the workplace, and life in general, people want you to tally a series of activities so that people will finally establish a certain level of comfort so that they can open up to each other incrementally over time.

I don’t think this works, and I never have. I give trust first.

You don’t have to earn my trust, my time, my empathy or my attention. I will give it to you. You don’t have to hold a certain level of job, have a minimum level of education, come from a similar family background, or share the same beliefs I have. I will give you trust the moment I meet you.

Will you disappoint me? Yes. But, I will disappoint you as well. Will I fail at some point in our relationship? Absolutely. Are there differences we have that will be possible points of disagreement and contention? Of course there are.

These happen because we’re humans.

If everyone has to earn trust first, how will trust ever happen or occur? Someone has to step up and be willing to be vulnerable and open up. Does being open mean that you are naive and blindly unaware of actions or stances that don’t match up with who you are? No, it doesn’t.

As an HR professional, I believe that giving trust first is the approach to take with everyone. Please note that when you take this stance you’re going to get bruised. People don’t trust those that give trust first. (Sorry for the pun, but it’s true). Employees are wary because most of them live in the “earn it” world. I want to encourage you that when the bruises come, trust people again. The next time it happens, do the same. I don’t want you to be a martyr, but I do think you have to fight through the disbelief with your consistency and your willingness to be intentional with people.

If you get to know me personally, and I hope you do, you need to know that the next step past trust is that I am fully in with getting to know you. I can see how many people do “drive by” relationships where I give you snippets of my time and attention. Those result in a multitude of acquaintances that may be miles wide but an inch thick. You have the appearance of connections and relationships, but at the most you’re nice to a bunch of folks. There’s value in that, but there’s also so much more available.

Employees want someone they can trust. It’s almost palpable in workplaces all over. It’s time for us to be the people who make that happen. Let’s turn the page and be the profession made up of people where trust is – given first.

I Will Follow !!

Followers.

It’s amazing to see how a word can transform and become something completely different. I’ve always thought of the word as a group of people who were willing to get behind someone, or some effort, that they believed in. I still do.

However, with the constant flood of Social Media, the term has taken on a new life. Now the word “followers” is associated with those that click a button on a social media platform in order to connect with another person. This action may have substance, or it may mean that they’re connecting to follow a trend. It’s a false sense of popularity and visibility that also carries weight. Countless lists that rank people on social media look at the number of followers as a metric to show “influence.”

Now, before you get all riled up, I’m not against these lists, this level of visibility or having a method for people to connect with each other. What does concern me is that leadership is watered down because following is no longer something that has significance.

In organizations, senior management invests in many people who they identify as “high potentials”. I’m not a fan because people perform at different times of their careers at a peak level due to the work they do as well as the environment or economic climate they are experiencing. I do believe that all employees have potential, but the isolation of a select few rarely leads to optimal results. The assumption is that high potentials are great leaders. In most cases these folks are charismatic and very visible to the “right” people. There are countless examples of people who are deemed to be the future of the company that either don’t pan out or leave because they were able to get someone else’s attention.

Leadership is written about daily in several blogs. It is something that is critical in organizations and people are striving to continue to define it, identify it and make it thrive. What is intriguing to me is that HR rarely jumps in on this topic either personally or organizationally. We typically position ourselves to support and respond to others who take on leadership roles. This needs to change.

Lead and FollowHR is in a perfect position to lead in all they do, and this is especially true in identifying those who should assume leadership roles within a company. I want you to consider a different, and much simpler benchmark, when seeing what leadership looks like.

Look to see who others in your company congregate around. See who is the person whose opinion is sought on a regular basis. This may, or may not, include people who hold current “leadership” roles by title. Titles don’t automatically infer leadership. Leadership is said to be better defined when you look over your shoulder and you see people there. In others words, do they have followers?

People want to follow and rally around someone. They look for leaders who focus on others and not just themselves. This is where having followers is key. As the observer of the organization, HR needs to see where this is occurring and take note. These are the people to check out and see how they are leading. They may be your real potentials that will continue to grow and succeed !!

This week step into a leadership role HR. Find out where the leaders and followers are in your organization. It’s imperative that we do !!

Drop Your Work Face !!

As you read this you’re probably getting ready for the work week. How do you do that? I’m sure it’s probably different for everyone, but there is preparation of some sort. You get your outfit together. You look at your calendar for the next day or even the whole week. The question I have is, “Which face did you choose to put on ?”

For some reason, people choose to act one way at work and another outside of work. In fact, they may have different work faces depending on who they’re interacting with during the day. One for senior management. One for your department. Another for your peers and one more for those who are in roles lower than yours. Gets tiring doesn’t it?

Why do we feel the need to carry multiple personas? What’s so hard about being ourselves? Let me share a story . . .

Early in my career, I worked for a Fortune 100 company as a recruiter. These were the days before “business casual” existed. Our department was going to go together to a company sponsored night at the Cincinnati Reds. We had seats in the stadium and weren’t in a suite. I had never been out with my co-workers socially because I was much younger than them. So, I had never seen them in “non work” clothes. I was geeked to go to the game. I chose to wear a Reds shirt, shorts, a Reds hat and, of course, my red Chuck Taylor low top Converse shoes !!

My co-workers actually stared at me and asked me if THAT was what I was going to wear to the game. They were in casual clothes, but very nice ones. I smiled, said “Yep, trying to show team spirit !!”

Work FaceI was given the tickets for me and my friend that were separate from the rest of the group from work. You see, I didn’t have the right work face on. I didn’t know I needed one !!

I don’t work at that company any longer, and I’ve watched over the places I’ve worked since then and I keep running in to more and more work faces. This needs to change – especially for HR !!

HR folks need to be genuine all the time and with everyone. You can’t expect people to be genuine themselves unless they see it modeled for them. Doing this will make you vulnerable, transparent and emotional. In other words – human.

Trying to play a game of being different personalities for different people within an organization only hurts you and your company. Also, you need to understand that employees are yearning for someone to be “real” with them. It’s missing in companies today, and that’s a mistake.

This week stop putting on a work face and be yourself. When you see others with work faces, make it safe for them to let them take it off. You’ll be pleased with more and more folks being genuine. Once that happens, then you’ll see true performance occur !!

Don’t Be a Bobblehead !!

Everyone has their quirks. Most of the time we keep them to ourselves, but I’m cool with you knowing one of mine. I’m a collector. Not a hoarder, a collector. I have always collected things that interest me. When I was young, I was even trying to get a world record collecting bottle caps with my younger brother !! We ended up with over 20,000 bottle caps that we stored in an old console TV box, but I digress.

Bobbleheads2Since then I’ve curbed my collections (somewhat). Now I only have collections of marbles, fossils and rocks and . . . bobbleheads. Now I know there are bobbleheads for all sorts of things now like TV shows, movies and even cartoon characters. I am more of a “purist” and collect them from my favorite sports teams. They capture a point in time and players that were popular or legends from the organization’s history. Living in Cincinnati, I am a Cincinnati Reds fan. I try to get to several games a year and especially if it’s a bobblehead game. Here’s the collection so far.

I’m very cool with collecting bobbleheads, but not being one. Unfortunately, I feel that many HR pros act like bobbleheards in their organizations. Very often we find ourselves nodding acceptance from Senior Management because we don’t want to rock the boat. We may not agree with what is being said, but we don’t push back. We just do our best to make things happen. HR folks are great implementers when we should be great instigators !!

Acceptance for acceptance sake diminishes our role and what we could be doing in organizations. Ironically, great leaders in senior management don’t want people who just say “Yes” and bobble their head up and down. They expect people to give their input and have meaningful discussions as well as potential solutions. When HR continues the myth of receiving some special invitation from senior managers to engage and be strategic, we are fooling ourselves.

I want to encourage you to take on a new posture as an HR pro. There are many reasons that we need to quit saying “No” to people. Also, there is just as much harm in blindly saying “Yes.” So, the posture to take is where we perform best  . . . “It depends.”

I know that people hate this, but hear me out. The only reason people want that instant “Yes” or “No” answer is so that you agree with their take and position on what they’re presenting. Now, if you say “it depends” only to buy time and hope things get better, that’s poor as well. Using “it depends” allows you to look at all sides of a situation. The key is to follow that response with a decisive stance base on your expertise.

The stance we should all take is to be daily strategic in all that we do. It is a stronger position to lead from. Yes, lead from. HR has the obligation to lead in organizations and not settle for being a support function that nods its head. You see, the bobble heads I have are kept on a shelf and we have been on the shelf for way to long as a profession !!

This week get off the shelf and start anew in your role. Bobbleheads are cool to collect, but stop being one professionally !!

Get Rid of Doubt !!

Another great week happened when I was talking with another one of my peers who was facing a tough challenge at work. She is in a senior HR role and was asked to talk to other senior managers about how roles are defined. She and I chatted and she had a solid plan and approach to have this tough conversation. It was balanced, professional and didn’t seem presumptuous which was a concern because she wanted to do well in working with this team.

As we were wrapping things up she said a telltale attribute that haunts HR pros – “I wish I didn’t doubt myself and felt more confident about this.”

Please understand that she is an incredible HR pro – one of the best I know. She wouldn’t be in her current role if that wasn’t the case. The difficultly is that HR people, in general, lack “organizational confidence.” We’ve been taught to be the caretaker who is behind the scenes. The person who makes sure that peace and stability are the norm.

There’s nothing wrong with those attributes. However, they can’t be what you lead with. Being confident in what you do is essential and is needed if you wish to have credibility with Senior Management, your department and with employees. If doubt is your lead in how you approach HR, then you won’t be seen as a resource worth engaging. In fact, people may avoid you, and HR in general, because they think you’ll be unsure of yourself.

Confidence and DoubtYou have to note that being confident doesn’t mean being arrogant. You can practice confidence with humility. The key is not only to be confident in who you are and what you do, but also to remove doubt. Doubt occurs most when you feel you are on your own. A real challenge in HR is that so many people are isolated as “departments of one” or they are not connected throughout their organization. Some of this is based on how HR is designed within a company, but some of it is by choice.

I’ve never come across another profession who feels that can’t be connected. What’s keeping you from doing this? There are a myriad of ways to be connected to each other, and it’s worth the time you invest in making this happen. I think one of the main reason’s we don’t connect is that we’re waiting for someone to make that first step and reach out. This is an obstacle that doesn’t make sense to me. In a field where we are meant to be WITH people, what would keep us from being with each other?

I have worked for years to build a network of people who are friends first, but they started out as resources. I had doubts in what I wanted to try in HR and I had to bounce my ideas off someone. Now, I have a true web of people around the globe that I can reach out to – and I make sure to do that often. I still face doubts, but have replaced it with confidence because I know that the friends I have in HR will be there to lift me up, lend an ear and are willing to question and/or disagree with me.

It’s time for you to get rid of the doubt you face as an HR professional. Reach out and connect to others. Don’t wait and keep trying to do things on your own. Don’t let doubt ever creep in again. Make connections that matter and build the confidence that others have in you !!

Fly Like An Eagle !!

This post isn’t a tribute to the incredible Steve Miller Band, but I may have to do that at a later time !! No, this week I’m straying from the world of HR to pay tribute to my son, Josh.

Josh as Eagle ScoutMy son became an Eagle Scout on Tuesday !! There really aren’t words that capture how proud I am of him. He has been in Scouts for almost 12 years and I was fortunate enough to travel along with him. It’s hard to picture that the little first grader who started as a Tiger Cub Scout is now a young man who will surely change the world !!

There are so many things that I love about Josh which made his Scouting experience unique and singular. My son is a free thinker who looks at the world as if it were an endless landscape. He took merit badges that others didn’t because he wanted to track things that interested him. He was disappointed that he wasn’t able to get the Truck Transportation badge before reaching Eagle. He really wanted to do this !!

Josh is smart, creative and has a sharp sense of humor. He often encouraged the other scouts in the Troop to look at things differently and try different experiences. He’s becoming a confident speaker in front of his peers and in front of crowds. It’s great to see him continue to develop and grow.

He didn’t settle on his project either. He wanted to do something that made an impact and would help many, so he decided to build a 12′ x 12′ shed for a local Animal Shelter. It was the largest project anyone in the Troop has ever attempted. He not only was successful, with the help of many of our scouts and adults from the Troop, but he also raised the most money ever for an Eagle Scout project. I’m not surprised that Josh wanted to “go big” because that’s how he sees life.

He faced a challenge that most Scouts don’t face while they work their way through ranks. His Dad was the Scoutmaster of the Troop at the same time he was moving up. Josh and I are very close. He would deny that if you asked him because our personalities are so similar. At times we are oil and water, but that never stood in his way. I can proudly say that Josh was able to develop relationships and become a strong individual even with me in the Scoutmaster role.

The other thing that I just have to say for him and about him (because we’ve talked about this) is that my son is a great example of why we shouldn’t stereotype and generalize his generation !! He is a fierce millennial and hates it when my generation (and others) say things about how his generation won’t be successful.

Did you know that only 4% of boys who start scouting become an Eagle Scout? His accomplishment has absolutely nothing to do with his age, and everything to do with his character and work ethic !!

He’s about to literally “fly” from our house as he heads to college in the Fall. It won’t be the same to not have him here to go to weekly Troop meetings on Monday night or go on another camping adventure or a national event like going with him to Sea Base. He’s not set on a firm major yet in college, but I have no doubt that he will be successful in all he does just like he was in earning this honor.

I can’t wait to see what he will do and who he will become. It will be an adventure I’m sure !!

Oh, yeah. I needed to close with this . . .

 

You’re Involved !!

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the SHRM Regional Business Meeting with all of the State Council Directors from around the country.  It is one of my favorite events to attend in my role with the MAC.  It’s a fave because the group of volunteer leaders that attend this are “all in” !! They help provide direction for their State Councils as well as the SHRM HR Chapters throughout their State.

There’s real value when you’re around people who share the same experiences you are having.  This year the entire event had a positive vibe because people came wanting to have their voices heard, share their ideas and opinions with each other and the SHRM Staff, and see movement.  There was definite movement and I’m geeked to see the Society listen and act.

A quick side note . . .

If you aren’t a member of SHRM, or a local chapter, and you’re in HR, you should reconsider.  Getting involved yourself is how things get better.  The more you’re engaged, the more you can share your insight, advice and experiences.

We had a great example of how being involved helps you both professionally and personally.

One of the presentations was with the SHRM Public Affairs folks about Social Media. It’s funny, but as someone who’s fairly active in social media forums, you fall into the trap that others are as involved at the same level you are.  I know that isn’t the case, but you lose sight of this.

There’s been a real wall put up by those of us in HR involved in social media pointing towards those who aren’t as active.  We’ve done one of two things – we’ve either tried to engage and embrace them, or we chide them for not being as “fully” involved as we are.  Social media should NEVER be an obstacle to HR.

90-9-1 RuleAndrew Morton, who heads up the Social Media efforts at SHRM, gave the attendees a refreshing and different perspective.  He told us about the 90-9-1 rule of social interactions in communities and forums.  It states that 90% of people on Social Media observe (lurk) as their level of involvement in social media. 9% comment (edit) the posts and content they see out on these forums and 1% create content.  He used a great video (The First Follower) to make his point.

His contention, and I absolutely agree with him, is that it’s great to be in the 99% when it comes to Social Media because you are still involved !!  You don’t have to be the 1% who creates and shares content.  It’s a misconception and shouldn’t keep you from being active in the 99%.

The video talks about the Lone Nut and his First Follower.  It shows that there’s more power in stepping out and connecting where you feel comfortable. You may always stay in the 90%.  You may move to the 9%.  And, who knows, you might be one of those lone nuts who creates and shares content !!

The key is to remember is that you ARE involved already !!  So, relish that, leverage that and make social media a part of how you engage, learn and 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 !!

 

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 !!

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.