Carnival of HR – What’s Good About Edition

To say I’m geeked to host this edition of the Carnival of HR would be an understatement !!  I asked great HR folks to send posts this time that were positive.  Therefore, the “What’s Good About” theme.

Too often we get caught up in what’s not working in HR.  I wanted this edition to take a break and reflect on the amazing things that happen in our field and with our people.

For those reading this . . . I’d like you to take a new approach as well !!  I look at the Carnival as a great resource connecting me with folks that can help me do HR even better in my little corner of the HR universe. I make sure to read these folks work all the time and have their subscriptions in my Google Reader.

I have some new voices that I’ve added because of hosting the Carnival.  Any time I can get more input, I’m good.  So, sit back, read the teaser below of each entry and then go out, get to read their good work and make sure to connect with the authors through Twitter, Linked In, etc. !!

There are a ton of submissions below, and I encourage you to take in each and every one because they ROCK !!

Peace to one and all – Steve (It’s ALL good !!)

Starting things off is Naomi Bloom (@InFullBloomUS) with Reflections on a Long Career – Part IV – great list of “to-do’s” to keep you viable and active !!

Ian Welsh (@ianclive) adds a strong post with Passion for Human Resources and our Voyages of Discovery! – any time someone combines “passion” with “HR” you get my attention !!

This post from Daniel Crosby (@incblot) shows you how he always makes the mix of Organizational Psych and HR so cool ! – Career and Happiness: How They Relate.

I can’t wait to meet the next contributor, Doug Shaw (@dougshaw1) in real life this Fall at Ohio SHRM !!  Until then, I can enjoy his post – Olympian – great take on teamwork !!

The rally cry from Cathy Missildine-Martin (@cathymissildine) gets you pumped up in HR Has Its Game Face On!

The folks at i4cp chime in with a solid post about Stragegy in Action. Make sure you follow this intriguing group on Twitter @i4cp.

Fellow #HR rock music freak, Paul Smith (@Pasmuz) brings our profession to life with It’s What You Know In HR.

I love the perspective from Mike Haberman (@MikeHaberman) because I am a storyteller myself !!  Check out – A revisit to Storytelling: A Key HR Competency?

A new voice to me, but one I now subscribe to is Sandrine Bardot who’s blog Compensation Insider hails from Abu Dhabi !!  How cool is that for global HR ??  Great read from her with her summary from the Middle East Human Asset Summit.

This post from Matthew Stollak (@akaBruno) brought back great memories about “Must See TV” when NBC ruled the television world – One True Passion.

Nancy Saperstone, another submission from the UK (awesome !!) – gets right to the theme with Happy in HR.

The prolific author Paul Hebert (@IncentIntel) entered a great post that was featured on another great resource – Fistful of Talent – HR Should Run Volunteer Organizations.

The driving force behind the scenes of the Carnival of HR, Shauna Moerke (@HR_Minion) takes a fresh look at What’s Good About Job Hunting.

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@blogging4jobs) did the coolest thing by submitting a person who guest posted on her site, Lisa Bonner.  Really cool perspective from her in How Do You Stay Sharp & Focused?

The title of this post, Assume the Best, is a great reflection of its author Ben Eubanks !!  Make sure you connect with him on Twitter at @beneubanks.

Another post about passion with an “ad lib” twist from Chris Ponder (@Chris Ponder) is really a cool approach. Could you do it ?? Can You Speak About Your Passion Ad Lib?

Michael Carty (@MJCarty) popped in from his holiday (vacation to us) to share his Best of the HR Blogs from May – all great reads !!

Stephanie Thomas (@proactivemployr) makes the EEOC cool and fun !!  Check out her conversation with the EEOC Commissioner !!

A true genuine heart, Brad Galin (@bradgalin), gives a great post in Good Will in Bad Times.

Always showing how leadership and HR are intertwined, Jay Kuhns (@jrkuhns) adds his submission of You Have the Power.

Mervyn Dinnen (@mervyndinnen) nails the theme with this gem – reasons to be cHeeRful – Love it !! Very creative !!

Cool archive post from Buzz Rooney (@TheBuzzonHR) that I just had to stick in – The Founding Fathers Would Have Loved HR

I love when Tim Gardner (@TimJGardner) shares about his family.  I love doing this too and it always shows me what’s good !! – Heritage

Dwane Lay (@DwaneLay) offers compelling and down-to-earth advice with this great post – What’s Good About a Bad Boss

A great post that pulls us all together from Susan Avello (@susanavello) – What’s Good About Community

Closing out this phenomenal compilation of HR voices, is Chris Fields (@new_resource) with the appropriately titled – Let me tell you what’s good about HR

ENJOY THE CARNIVAL !!!

 

 

 

Lest We Forget . . .

You may or may not know this, but I am a big geek !!  I always have been, and am quite cool with it.  In school I was in the geeky clubs, the nerdy societies and even had the giant tortoise shell glasses during the 80’s (with the essential feathered hair to compliment the look !!)

Tomorrow, I get to be with my fellow geeks to do something amazing !!  You see, every year I march in the Memorial Day parade in West Chester, Ohio with my Boy Scout Troop.  I am the Scoutmaster of said Troop, and there are very few things in life that I give more credence to than working with the Scouts.  There are tons of scouts who come out for this annual tradition.

We’ll gather tomorrow around 9:00am and march two miles to the local cemetery for a Memorial Day ceremony that always brings me to tears.  To see the people who have served, and continue to serve, our country always humbles me.  In the midst of our gathering, we are surrounded by veterans who have passed dating back to the Revolutionary War.

It’s easy for us to continue with our lives every day and never take note of those who serve for our country.  We’ve been at war for over a decade, and we’re more concerned with who may play in the NBA finals, or who wins Celebrity Apprentice. Don’t get me wrong, I live the same way.  Tomorrow, that cloud lifts and I can take time to be thankful and grateful for those who step in harm’s way for my freedom.

As professionals in HR, we can do our part by getting behind the good work of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR). We can also use the Veterans Hiring Toolkit from SHRM to help support the America’s Heroes at Work initiative from the DOL.

If those aren’t an option for you as an employer, there is one thing that ALL of us can do.  A dear friend of mine told me that every time she sees someone in fatigues or uniform in public, she goes up to them and says “Thank You for Your Service.”  This simple gesture means that world to people.  Once I heard this from her, I’ve been doing it ever since.

This Memorial Day, step out and be a little geeky.  The men and women of our Armed Services deserve no less.

 

The Mystique of HR ??

At a recent HR Roundtable I facilitate, an attendee gave the answer that “HR isn’t in the trenches to keep up the ‘Mystique of HR’ !!”  I doubled over in laughter and so did the room.  However, then he gave some background to his answer.  He said, “HR keeps people guessing as to what they do, and why they do it, so employees are never clear about what HR does.”  The room then fell silent.

It fell silent, because the context he gave around his answer truly hit home with those at the Roundtable and with me personally. How can I work in a profession where people think that some mystical being is behind some magical field of smoke and illusion in order to practice the art of Human Resources?

Unfortunately, the sentiment echoed at the Roundtable has truth to it.  We have allowed HR to be someplace people “go to.”  It’s a destination with some unknown consequence just waiting to be unleashed on people for coming to visit. (cue dark, scary music)

Can you even think of another industry that allows “ambiguity” to be it’s brand ??  I can’t.

The only way this moniker and conception of the whirling mists dissipate is for us to be forthright in who we are and what we do.  We can’t want people to see our value, we have to BRING IT !!  If people in your organization don’t know what HR is, or what they offer to the business, then it’s up to YOU to change that.  This isn’t Senior Managment’s job and you can’t wait for it to be written into the Strategic Plan.  You have to model clarity and consistency in how you drive HR throughout the organization.

This isn’t a pipe dream – it’s an expectation.  We can’t continue to think that HR will one day in the distant future get recognized for the invaluable contributions it tirelessly, and selflessly brings each day to the workplace.  (cue the Heavenly AAAAAHHHHS here)

I love the field I’m in and I work to make it an integral part of my company and encourage others in HR to do the same.  I think we need to take our cue from the sage philosopher Bruce Hornsby in his classic “The Way It Is.”  The chorus goes:

“That’s just the way it is.  That’s just the way it is.  Ahh, but don’t you believe them !!”

We can, and must, eliminate the mystique of HR.  We can’t continue to let people guess what we do.  I’m in . . . are you ??

 

Take the Detour !!

As I traveled to my nephew’s high school graduation this weekend, I was forewarned that the main highway to my brother’s house was closed for a 20-mile stretch in Tennessee.  Being from Ohio, and not knowing the sundry back roads of Tennessee, I was a bit concerned.  You see, we got a late start and we would be getting to the road closure at night.  Yes, I have a GPS, but you know as well as I do that they look for the shortest route to their destination and don’t like when you wander off course.

On top of having to leave the main highway, my brother advised me to follow the detour of the wide load trucks and not the flow of traffic.  I asked him why, and he said that it would be quicker.  Others coming to the graduation who had arrived earlier took the flow of traffic option and it took up to 2 hours to go those 20 miles.

My wife asked if we should trust my brother’s advice.  Being someone who doesn’t tend to follow the flow very often, I said, “Sure, let’s see where the road takes us.”

It turns out that it was a much quicker route.  However, during the detour our car was sandwiched between two semis barrelling through mountainous roads with little to no lighting.  Also, whoever designed the roads must have loved the art of massive and quick changing curves versus having straight stretches of road.  It was challenging, harrowing and exhilarating !!

My brother was right and our trek was much quicker than what the others had to suffer through.  I was glad to have taken his advice and also the route that I wasn’t “supposed” to take.

It made me think of HR (of course).  You see, we are a part of the most risk averse profession around.  It shouldn’t be that way, but it tends to be.  Whenever we are pressed with a decision, we tend to take the “flow of traffic.”  It’s a shame because there are a multitude of other routes availabe, we just need to try them !!

You see, the route I took gave the same result as the others who also had to leave the main road.  However, I was only one car among many trucks !!  I had to have faith that my intuition would pay off.

This week, take the detour a different way than what you normally do.  Be creative !!  See where the road leads and what outcomes occur.  It’s worth the risk !!

Everyone needs a Homer !!

This past week was tough, and something that no one in HR looks forward to.  One of my co-workers passed away.  His name was Homer.

Homer was amazing !!  He was the first person I saw everyday as I came into the office.  He greeted me with a smile and a warm handshake.  We exchanged jokes, laughed about life and talked about the day, our families and our work.  He loved working for LaRosa’s, and it wasn’t something to “say”, it was what he believed.  His pride in his work showed.

By the way, Homer cleaned the parking lot of the Corporate Office and also two of our nearby restaurants . . . and he was 79.

Homer was a great loving husband, father and veteran.  Also, he was my friend.

Lately, I’ve been seeing a trend in HR and in the blogosphere to group folks together so that we can better “address” or “handle” their generation.  I’m concerned by this because I think it waters down the spectacular fact of our diversity as individuals.  When I was born can be proven, but who I am as a person is an individual characteristic.  I think HR suffers when we try to group people into different categories so they can be more homogeneous.  It may seem “easier,” but it devalues what each person brings to work each and every day.

I’ve said it before, but I truly feel that HR should be practiced person-by-person.  Our employees deserve our focus, attention and care.  If you ever hope to be a diverse organization, then you need to really look at how HR is practiced in your place.  If everyone fits into a giant herd, or a “generation”, then you need to make an adjustment.

This week our company lost a dear individual who impacted the lives of many.  He did this intentionally and unabashedly.  I hope to carry on his example so that others can see how amazing each person who touches our lives really is.  I deeply miss him already.

Look around you this coming week at work.  Is there a Homer at your place?  There should be.

So Much Room to Move !!

Rain for hours.  Mud everywhere. Solemn flag retirement.  Scavenger hunt.  Tons of Euchre games.  Food that is flat amazing.  Big word Saturday (you got credit if you used big words during your conversations). Flames shooting from a lantern, and everyone points and says, “Mr. Browne – look !!  Cool !!”

As I type this week’s post, I’ll be honest, I’m exhausted.  I just returned from a weekend of scouting with the great boys and adults of Troop 941. It’s our annual “advancement outing” where we get our new scouts started along their way, and the older scouts also work on things to advance in their ranks. It seems that every Advancement Outing is filled with challenging weather and unexpected surprises.  This one was no different !!

One of the things I truly love about Scouting is that the focus is to let the boys learn, fail, learn again, teach and then move forward.  The hope is that they get the spark to someday reach Eagle Scout.

It’s interesting because the Troop is a microcosm (big word) of the workplace.  Every boy is different and has quirks that make them truly standout.  As adult leaders, we do our best to guide them to making the decisions that will allow them to truly develop.  We are constantly fighting the urge to jump in and fix it all because we learn that our greatest trial is . . . patience.

The beauty of the system is that the boys can do so many things in so many ways to reach their goals.  This drives some adults (and boys) crazy because they feel that tight structure will lend a successful end for one and all.  Some kids don’t even see the structure (which warms my heart !!)

In the workplace, we in HR use policies as our “structure” and we do our best to enforce, cajole and discipline everyone who falls outside of them.  We think we’re doing our job, but not really.  I think policies are broader than most.  They should be parameters that allow people room to move and perform.  They should never be vehicles for control than can never be fully reached and will most certainly not allow people to be consistent.

We need to be like the scouts who look at eminent danger and say, ” Oooh, cool !!”  I learn something every time I get to go and lay under the stars and the rain and the mud.  Amid all that, you only hear playing, laughter and memories being made.  It’s a great “workplace.”  Maybe we’d all enjoy what we did a bit better if we loosened the reigns and allowed people room to move !!

It’s Opening Day !!

This week I participated in a true Cincinnati tradition !!  My family and I went to Opening Day for the Cincinnati Reds.  It was truly a spectacle to behold !! Everyone was smiling, laughing and anxious for the start of a new baseball season.  The smell of bratwurst, pizza, beer, popcorn and peanuts filled the air.

People didn’t want to miss any second of the festivities.  The Reds have always valued this tradition since they were the first Major League team ever.  Fans are loyal and educated about the storied past as well as being encouraged about the current team.  They know stats, performance indicators and have strong opinions about their favorite players.

All eyes were glued to the field when they paid honor to wounded veterans who had proudly served our country.  Next was the unveiling of a gigantic American flag that covered the outfield as an enormous plane flew over the stadium at the perfect moment amid roaring cheers !!  The ceremonial first pitch followed and then we moved onto the game.  You could hear all types of conversations going on all around you, and every “ooh” and “ahh” of the plays on the field was palpable.

Seeing this event was truly a treat for my family and me.  It also made me think . . .

42,000+ people were filled with awe, joy and hope for baseball players that don’t even know they exist.  We go to work everyday with a team of people we need to have succeed more than any sports team ever will.

So, what if we treated the beginning of the day like Opening Day at work?  We were geeked to see everyone !!  We cheered their performance on and wanted to see them bring their best in all they did !!  We knew that each person had a role that made the team thrive and we built on it, encouraged it and gave them the equipment to “knock it out of the park.”

As you start this work week, you can have that Opening Day feel !!  What do you say?

Who gets your attention ??

The past few weeks are some of my most favorite as a basketball fan with the NCAA tournaments (both the men’s and women’s tournaments.)  I’m a giant basketball fan having played since I was young, seeing my kids play and being an AVID fan of my alma mater . . . Ohio University !!

You know Ohio University, it’s that one in Athens, Ohio.  The 1st public university in Ohio.  The one who’s mascot is a Bobcat . . . NOTBuckeye !!

So, you can imagine my excitement when the men’s team won their conference tournament and made it to the “Big Dance” !!  They were matched up against Big 10 power – Michigan in the first round, but you wouldn’t know that because the commentators from CBS focused on the “more talented and more recognizable” school.

NOTE:  This is not Michigan’s fault and I actually admire their school, and all the schools who worked hard enough to make the tournament.  Please read on . . .

After Ohio U. pulled off the upset to advance in the tournament, CBS then struggled because their next opponent was the University of South Florida from the Big East.  Who would they focus on?  Well, it honestly was a mix, but the commentators stammered throughout the broadcast because neither school was considered “premier.”  OU triumphed again and moved on to play a truly legendary program – the University of North Carolina.

The game Friday was incredible and Ohio University took the mighty Tar Heels to the very last second and just missed a basket that would have clinched the victory.  Instead, they played overtime and UNC won.  I was sitting in my basement so excited about how great my alma mater had played, and was interested in seeing what would be said after the game by Roy Williams, the UNC coach.

Both he, and one of his stars, Tyler Zeller, said that Ohio played a great game and they were fortunate to win.  They both wanted to give Ohio credit.  There was one Bobcat fan who had tears in his eyes.

You see, this is so similar to what we do in organizations.  We focus on the “stars” and the “high performers” because they are well-known, visible and (in most cases) performers.  But where do future stars come from?  What do we do with people who are a great team, but may not have a superstar?

Our feedback to employees tends to be like the commentators from CBS who did this with EVERY team that wasn’t well known or listed as a better seed.  Isn’t it time we look for those who bring great strengths to the workplace every day?

What would happen if we had a great focus about ALL our employees?  What if we expected the best from everyone and gave them the opportunity to perform?  What if we quit focusing on negative and what isn’t working with things, and instead, encouraged people to do their best?  Then, when they do, give them feedback on their success !!

I’m proud of Ohio University and what they accomplished.  I can’t wait to see what happens next season !!

Image courtesy of the College Book Store, Inc. page on Facebook

 

What we gain through loss . . .

This past week I lost a large part of my past. The church I grew up in, Ada 1st United Methodist, burned to the ground.

NOTE: Now, please know that I’m well aware that the “church” is not the building.  I hope you read on to see what I’d like to talk about . . .

Many memories happened at this church.  Weddings of my cousins and friends.  Funerals of dear people from Ada including grandparents.  Making pumpkin pies and hard tack candy for our youth group fundraisers.  Holding hands with my first girlfriend while I was supposed to pay attention to the service.  And most of all, tons of experiences that shaped me as a young man and helped define my faith.

Also, this past week, I learned of a friend’s, Dawn Hrdlica-Burke, loss of her father.  Three others facing serious, if not life threatening, health situations.  A continued group of people who remain jobless, and several folks near me recovering from the devastation of recent tornadoes.

Now, if you read my blog with any regularity, you know that I’m generally an extremely positive person !!  It’s not a facade or on-line persona, it’s who I really am.  So, when significant things hit home they really hit home.  It made me think . . .

You see, when I posted on Twitter and Facebook that my hometown church had been destroyed, I received messages of empathy and encouragements from literally around the globe.  That floored me !!  I was so thankful that I had people that cared enough to reach out and give a kind word.  And then I thought again . . .

Every day in the workplace the people around me are going through “stuff” just like this or worse.  Do I take the time to see if they’re truly okay?  Or, do I do the obligatory “Hi, how are you?” waiting for their inevitable answer of “Fine.”  We continue to be polite with each other because that next e-mail or task is really what we’re focused on vs. taking the time to see how someone truly is.

The fact of the workplace is that we want people to focus on the “stuff” we think is truly important like processes, projects and time frames.  We don’t want to deal with people’s “stuff” because that takes too much time, and what if they truly want me to care?

As I mentioned before, I was floored at the responses I received and am thankful that I have people who feel close enough to share their thoughts.  However, I truly feel that many people walk through the doors at work every day with life’s struggles in front of them, and they may have few, if any, people supporting them through what they’re facing.

It’s time for HR to be the model and break this distant approach with people.  People DO matter and it SHOULD matter to us how they’re doing.  It may get messy and you may have to act, but isn’t that great?  We need to be the ones taking the time to see how people really are.  It may be the ONE thing they’re looking for – a genuine connection at work.

This week, break the mold.  Be the Human that others need.  Take the time to get involved with their “stuff.”  It will change the world !!

Get Your Hands Dirty !!

This weekend my wife asked me to start sprucing up the house for the impending graduation gathering for my daughter in three months.  I needed the nudge because I was dreading the work ahead.  I love being outside, but this level of yardwork was going to be massive !!

One task was to realign the wall I constructed several years ago around our front landscaping.  There are 150+ pavers that span the front of the bed.  Now, this wall has needed attention for some time, and I would see that one or two pavers were out of line, and I’d get them back into the wall with minimum effort.  However, when I looked at the work in front of me it was more like an orthodontist facing a challenging set of crooked teeth.

The chore almost put me in the ground.  To repair the wall and get it where it should be took over four hours of digging, removing roots, being covered in mud and replacing about 1,000 worms who were wondering why they home was being “remodeled.”

I had to get my hands dirty and fully throw myself into the project in order to see a better end result.  As I sit here typing, I’m exhausted and yet invigorated !!  This simple project reminded me that we all need to reexamine how we do HR.

  • How many times do we see systems that need our attention, and we do a quick fix or update just to give it a little more life, when it needs a true overhaul?
  • How often do we sit behind our desk and shoot off an e-mail when we could go and see someone face-to-face to see what their situation entails first hand?
  • How often are we critical of how others handle HR situations, when we could be more integrated with them to help them succeed?
  • How often do we look for “best practices” when we should be creating “next practices” ourselves?

This list could go on and on.  So, the opportunity before us is pretty simple.  We need to get our hands dirty.  This week take a look at the “wall” that you see every day and see if it can be torn down, reconfigured and brought back to life.  It’s worth the work !!