Doctor, Doctor !!

This past weekend my amazing daughter accomplished something 21 years in the making !! (if you start from Kindergarten) She earned her Doctorate of Occupational Therapy from the University of Indianapolis. To say that my wife and I are proud would be a gross understatement.

I know there are many families who are celebrating the graduations of their children from high schools and colleges all over the world. It’s a milestone that still gives me chills to see people reach any level of education. There are countless hours of studying, research papers, projects and presentations. Each one seems daunting at the time they’re due for both the student and their parents. So, I want to wish a hearty congratulations for everyone celebrating graduations this Spring and Summer. Make sure to enjoy them.

Now, back to my daughter Melanie . . .

There were 52 people in her class who earned their Doctorate this weekend, and they are all part of the inaugural doctoral class at UIndy. There were many proud parents, spouses, partners, children and extended family. It was wonderful because we don’t have enough times in our days where there is only positive energy. You didn’t hear one complaint. Instead, you could hear an audible sigh of relief from everyone involved.

We have been so fortunate over the academic portion of Melanie’s life. She has been at the top of her class ever since she began school. She never faltered and pressed herself to succeed. My wife and I expected both of our kids to perform, but left it to them to do the work and get the results they’ve earned. She continued excelling throughout high school, undergraduate and throughout her graduate studies. She ended up with a 3.93 GPA out of 4.00 in her doctoral program. (I know, slacker. She left .07 on the table !!)

More than any academic achievement, we’re proud of who our daughter is as a young woman. She is someone who has a strong faith and a heart for others. She has served people in many different arenas around the world including Ghana and many inner cities throughout the U.S. She attracts others like a magnet and is a close friend to many. You’ll find her to be selfless and yet self-aware and confident. She’s also fiercely funny and a joy to be around. My wife and I often heard from teachers, friends and their families how much they enjoy having Melanie around.

Remember how I said I was proud ??

We’re most impressed by what a great human Melanie has become. She is positive and does her best to bring life and light to all she encounters. You can’t ask much more than that from your children.

Now, like all of those other graduates, she steps out to take her next step. The difference this time is that she won’t be going to another school. She’ll soon be sitting for her boards and then will enter the workforce somewhere. I’m geeked that she’ll be in a field where she’s taking care of humans because that is what she was made to do.

There were many tears shed and they glistened on my face at every event I attended. It’s hard to believe that 24 plus years ago I held this beautiful little girl born on Christmas Day. And, from now on, I get to call her Dr.

I can assure you it will never get old !!

To Blog Or . . .

. . . not to blog. That is the question. Whether, ’tis better to keep your thoughts to yourself. Or, to take the chance to put yourself out there for people to critique.” (With apologies to William Shakespeare)

I’ve been blogging on a weekly basis for over seven years now. It’s something that I truly enjoy and hope to continue for years to come. Sure, it’s tough to come up with new “material” all the time, but that is part of the challenge. I have a handful of friends who have been blogging for longer than I have, but that number continues to unfortunately shrink.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I understand that it takes a ton of energy to write – more than most people think. I also get that you can tire of blogging, lose interest in the passion you once had, or you have other circumstances in life that pull you in new directions. I’ve noticed a few new movements in social media that honestly excite me instead of discourage me !!

Podcasts – More and more of the “original” HR bloggers are now starting podcasts. They are still sharing their voice, but in a different format. Podcasts are fantastic and diverse. You can find them on HR, business, the arts, etc. It’s a great way to broaden what you know. I hope that these friends continue to blog, but as long as they’re sharing – I’m good.

New Voices – There are many new voices who have begun to blog and they are in various stages of their careers. I love hearing what they have to say and their perspective. Yes, they’re covering some topics that have been blogged about in the past, but so what ?? I have added many of these new bloggers to my Blog Roll and I encourage you to check them out.

HR Conferences – There have been bloggers who have attended HR conferences for years. They are brought in to provide coverage and share what they’ve heard in sessions. It’s a great way to get content out. I’m especially excited about the #SHRM18Blogger squad that has been convened this year. They have been very visible and active to bring the event to life even before it occurs in June.

There is one trend I do not like to see, and that is when I hear about people who demand absolutes from blogging. The idea of “for and against” has rarely yielded anything positive. The reason for that is that if YOU are for something, then you see is has value. If it runs contrary to your beliefs or how you practice HR, then you tear it down.

I’d like to suggest that we stick with a better approach and that is that blogs “inform” us. They always have and that is why blogging still intrigues me !! I want to be informed of views that both align and divert from mine. I love reading the blogs of many of my peers to learn from them. I don’t agree with all of them, but they give varying perspectives. That is the beauty of sharing thoughts and ideas.

I’d encourage you to start a blog if you want to share your voice. I’d encourage you to read other’s work so that you can see where people are coming from and be more informed. One other item . . . I encourage you to share the work of others.

I know I’ve stated this many times before. In order to shatter the social media/blogging echo chamber, share the blogs of others. It’s not enough to “write into the wind”. I love to see other’s work shine and get spread around the globe. We have the means to do it. Please join me in this effort.

Blogging connects us and makes us a stronger HR community. The stronger our HR Tribe is, the more we influence the industry and organizations. I look forward to seeing what continues to be written !! I choose to blog.

Image from the Editorial Cartoonists – Cox & Forkum

 

Glory Days !!

This past weekend I traveled back to my hometown for a sobering event. The father of a dear friend of mine from high school passed away. I know this isn’t unique to any of us because we will all face the loss of those who are close to us at some time or another. I relished the opportunity to go back to my hometown because it’s like going inside a Norman Rockwell painting. Seriously.

I grew up in Ada, Ohio which has 5,600ish residents. It’s the type of place where everyone knows everyone and has for generations. I went to a school where every grade, Kindergarten through 12th Grade, was in one building (and still is). Walking into the Ada Baptist Church was like walking back in time. I immediately saw dear friends that I unfortunately hadn’t seen for anywhere from between 10 to 30 plus years. However, it was like we never missed a beat.

My friends from my hometown !! (Left to Right) Me, Dave West, Jeff Gossell, Bill Kent, Mark Browne and Joe Simmons

After a beautiful service and celebration of my friend’s father, we all gathered in the Fellowhip Hall for a meal and a chance to catch up. I immediately hooked up with my High School classmates and we asked about what has happened since we last saw each other. Then, we shared memories and laughed. We laughed so hard and so long, my ribs ached and my head hurt. It was magnificent !!

The time flew by and we didn’t want it to end. We all exchanged our contact information and agreed to get together again soon because we all agreed that we had waited far too long. It was bittersweet to leave the church and head back into my regular life. I did get to hang out with my brother and parents for a few more precious hours before I headed home.

As my wife and I headed back towards our home two hours away, I reflected on the day. I was thankful that she was so incredibly supportive and allowed me to reconnect with my mates. It made me also realize something that I had overlooked way too often.

The people in our lives on purpose. (Even if it’s only for a small slice of time.)

We walk through each day caught up in endless distractions all begging for our attention. Most of those, by the way, we seek out even though we complain about them. There are tons of people who move in and out of our days. Do you take the time to notice them? Or, do you take them for granted because they serve some functional role that is yet another cog in  your day?

You’re missing out on so much because it isn’t a mistake that these folks are in your life. That includes your family, your friends, your co-workers and the folks you encounter when you go to various places. As HR professionals, we need to wake people up so that they stop running to keep up with everything to intentionally connect with the humans all around them.

This is an opportunity for us to lead in our organizations. It shouldn’t take a significant life event or business calamity to bring people together.

I know that I was fortunate to grow up in a quaint town with an amazing family. To have friends that I still can hang out with is also a blessing. I don’t think this has to be an exception. I think it can be your norm.

This week pause, stop and breathe. Then, reflect on someone in your life that you may have drifted from that you’d like to see how their life is going. I know they’d appreciate it, and so would you.

Understand that others are in your life on purpose !!

Treat people this way and see how your life begins to enrich and grow. I hope you’ll get a chance to share great memories and new experiences as well !!

Just Ask !!

This past week I had a business owner from another town reach out to me for advice. That may not seem odd to you, but this isn’t that common for most folks. Let me give you a little background. We’ve met once or twice in passing at HR conferences. I think he’s a great businessperson with a heart to help others. We’ve never worked on anything directly, and he is not a vendor that I use.

Now, if you don’t know this, I’m a massive extrovert !! I thrive on human interaction from any front and in any circumstance. I don’t know if they make an “E” big enough on the Meyers-Briggs to describe how I enjoy interacting with others. So, when this business owner reached out, I felt it was normal. I was geeked to see what he needed and if I could help.

I responded to the e-mail he had sent me and then followed up with a phone call. He happened to be at a conference in New York, but said he’d give me a ring during a break. We connected later in the day and had a great conversation. I was able to hear what he was facing, give him some ideas and resources and ease his concern about the people situation he was addressing.

Please note a critical point here. It didn’t matter that this business owner reached out to me specifically. The key is – He was willing to ask for help !!

Again, we aren’t that familiar with each other. He needed someone to talk to, and he liked my approach on things from what I’ve written and what he’s heard from my presentations. That takes quite a leap of faith to reach out, and I admire him for taking a chance to do it.

I think it’s a brilliant example that we should use ourselves personally and professionally. Too often we feel that we must be fiercely independent in all we do. That is silly, selfish and naive. The myth of self-sufficiency in the workplace is what leads to isolation, separation and silos.

There are far too many people who want to ask questions, but they are hesitant to do so because they’re afraid you won’t take the time out of your day to answer them. It’s true. We would rather struggle and eek through our circumstances instead of asking a question because we’re afraid to impose on others. That breaks my heart.

You have the time to help others. This isn’t a “job duty” or part of your some insurmountable burden. I get discouraged when I see others who won’t take time to invest in other humans. You have to understand that you’re missing out when you can’t take the time to answer questions.

The 15 minutes I spent answering questions for this business owner will hopefully get him out of the funk he was in so he can move forward. THAT is worth my time. I know that we don’t work together. But, I want to see others succeed in what they do. It may sound Utopian, but I’m good with that.

I urge people to connect with other HR people intentionally on a daily basis. I do it through this blog and social media platforms. I continue to fight against the tide of people who want to do things just on their own. I do this because I have questions, and I relish the chance to reach out and ask someone for their insight and advice.

Always remember two things  . . .

We’re better as professionals and as humans when we’re intentionally connected, and

We’re better when we have the courage to break out of our independence and ask questions !!

This week take the steps to connect with others and remember to Just Ask !!

 

Love Your Job !!

Over the past several years, I’ve been fortunate to travel to HR conferences all over the U.S. I’ve had to learn how to be a “good” traveler through much anxiety and frustration. I know that is an unfounded fear, but I’m just being candid.

This past week I was fortunate to travel to New Orleans to be the opening keynote speaker for the Louisiana SHRM State Conference. It was an amazing event and checked off another item from my personal bucket list. But I digress . . .

To catch my flight, I awoke at 3:00am to drive down to the airport and make sure I was there two hours before my flight. Now, I know there are people who are regularly up and about and working at this hour, but very few. Driving the major highways was wonderful because I must have only passed 20 cars or so. I cruised down to the long-term parking lot where I normally park each trip and was given my allotted row to settle in. As I groggily stumbled out of my car to get my luggage, the shuttle pulled up to take me up to the airport as it always does. However, this time was much different !!

“Well, GOOD MORNING !! Are you excited to catch your flight today?”

This was NOT how I expected to be greeted at 3:45am. Not at all.

“Jump up on board. I have a few other folks to gather and then we’ll be on our way.”

His over the top cheeriness was an incredible surprise. He was genuine and  pleasant. Two others joined the shuttle and he welcomed them in the same joyful manner. As we headed out of the lot and up to the terminal, he continued.

“So, which airline is everyone on? We’ll be up there in just a few minutes.” We responded and he kept going.

“I just love my job !! I get to meet new people every day and they’re all from different backgrounds and headed to different places. I especially love kids who fly. They’re so excited about getting on a plane, and when they return they’re even more excited about where they’ve been. I love hearing their stories. You guys are my last trip up and back tonight and then it’s off to home and bed. It’s been a great day !!”

I sat in the shuttle with a gigantic smile on my face. Any stress or travel anxiety had disappeared and I was ready to go. His approach to his work is still sticking to me. He doesn’t have the more glamorous, visible or high level job. He is in a role where people more often than not don’t want to interact with the others sitting next to them. He didn’t ask if he could share his joy, he just did it. I feel that he does this with everyone who has the fortune to ride his shuttle.

Is this how you view your job?

I doubt it. To be honest, even though I consider myself a positive person, I don’t have this natural level of joy all the time. However, it was so infectious that I’ve decided that this is my goal going forward. Think of how HR would be within companies if this was our approach every day. How would you feel about yourself? How would you treat and view others?

I think it would be magnificent !!

This week own this approach. Love your work. Love your job and take steps to intentionally engage others. It changes your day for the better !!

Rest for Work !!

Have you ever been exhausted? Or, is a better question, when aren’t you exhausted? When you meet most people the two answers that are given most when you ask how someone’s day is going is either “busy” or “tired.” Neither option sounds that appealing. Honestly, if those are your only two options for how life is going, it seems rather limiting as well.

When we talk about rest it’s usually in response to whatever pace we run in our daily activities. We yearn for an escape most likely so we can collapse. Whenever you collapse, you’re overdue for anything you can truly consider as getting rested. It’s as if your body takes over and finally shuts you down just to make sure you don’t hurt yourself.

A trend that still gets attention when it comes to wellness and HR circles is the myth of work/life balance. The premise is that we need to “get away” from work in order to embrace and enjoy life. Again, it’s a means of escape from one facet of our lives. There’s no balance per se. It’s an attempt to make everything feel stable so that work doesn’t swallow us. The intention is good, but the reality is not fully attainable.

It’s odd to me that in order to rest, we’re succumbing to a feeling (or a reality) of not being able to carry on. That seems backwards to me. Now, please note that this is how I’ve approached rest for most of my life. I never feel fully rested because it’s as if I’ve run some sort of endless marathon that I’m going to have to rejoin in a matter of hours.

This past week, I heard a different approach that caught my attention that I’d like for you to consider. What if you rested FOR work ??

If you looked at resting yourself to get prepared for instead of escaping from work, how would that change your day? Seriously. If you were rejuvenated and geeked to jump into what was ahead of you versus falling onto your bed or sofa, think of what you could accomplish !! It would transform you and how you approached your work and those you would encounter.

I am planning on changing how I look at, and obtain, rest for myself. I want to be proactive in all that I do. Getting rest for work will take discipline. Most great things that prepare you for life take discipline and are well worth it. Making time for rest is much more appealing because you know that it’s a more regular part of your day. You wouldn’t settle for what you could get. You’d enjoy the rest that you plan to take.

There’s another reason I’m turning this around in my life. I work with humans every moment of every day. Being rested and ready to meet folks on purpose is a much healthier perspective to have. I believe that HR should be proactive as much as possible. Turning the corner on this facet of life would allow me to be at my best regardless of who I encounter.

What about you? Aren’t you tired of being tired? This week change your pattern and start resting for work !! You’ll be glad you did.

 

Gratitude

When I was a junior in high school, I took Chemistry. The class was a mix of juniors and seniors and was sure to be challenging. On the first day, a very young man walked into the room with a white shirt and a tie as we were chatting away and not paying attention. He turned to the chalkboard and wrote his name – Mr. Lusk.

He didn’t appear old enough to be a “Mr.” We soon found out that this was his first teaching opportunity after graduating from college. So, he was sitting in a room of students who were only four to five years younger than he was. Mr. Lusk was soft spoken and somewhat cautious in his approach. It had to be daunting to walk into a room where most of the students had been together since kindergarten !!

His first few weeks with us didn’t go well. You see our class had a mix of nerds (me included) who were geeked to learn Chemistry, and jocks who felt they had to get this class under their belt for college. They were there reluctantly and made that known every day. Mr. Lusk was strong even though he seemed meek. He had a down to earth teaching style and he made the different facets of the subject jump off the pages. A group of us (on the nerd side) decided to take him under our wings, and fight off those who didn’t want to be there.

A bond developed with four of us and we called ourselves “The Conclave.” We began to stay after class and also spent our study halls down in the chem room. We began to excel as he kept investing in us, and we, in turn, kept supporting him when others tried to dispel him as a teacher. Mr. Lusk survived and even started a second year of chemistry and a physics class that the Conclave willingly took. That was in 1980.

Mr. Lusk is still a fixture in Ada High School. He has been the same great teacher who invested in me almost forty years ago. His investment in me and hundreds of students since has left an amazing impact on every life. I have kept in touch with him and I tell him often how grateful I am that he got through those first few months when everyone tried to make it so hard for him. I’ve watched him become a father of very successful kids himself, and have shared my life with him as well.

His willingness to invest in others deserves more than a “Thank You.” Giving thanks is wonderful and polite, but he deserves gratitude. His example set the stage for me, and I want it to be an example to set for you as well.

If you’re in HR, you have the chance to be the person who invests in others. It’s a choice. You can either be like Mr. Lusk, or you can pass over others to get to the work at hand. I’d rather be the person who invests because you never know that the time you are intentional may have an impact and a legacy you never saw coming. People are worth it and deserve your focus, your time and your encouragement.

Who are you investing in? Are you being intentional to make sure others are acknowledged and lifted up? Why not?

This week I want to encourage you to do three things. The first is to switch your focus to one where you will invest in others. Secondly, go to those who have invested in you and thank them. Showing gratitude to them will sow the seeds in you to show gratitude to others on a consistent basis. Third, make sure you check out the new Impact Makers podcast from Jennifer McClure and subscribe to it !! She is featuring those who’s she’s seen make an impact on her and others. It’s a great example of what gratitude can do.

Mr. Lusk probably didn’t have the goal of making such a substantial difference in the lives of his students. He has, and I for one, am grateful !!

What’s Your Name ??

Your name.

Everyone has one. The truth is that it is the most significant identifier of who we are as a human. You prefer to have others know your name when they talk to you because it provides a more personal connection. What is unique about names is that we’re very content knowing our own, and that’s about it.

The majority of people I meet willingly share that they struggle remembering the names of others. I find that fascinating and disappointing at the same time. It’s just not true. You know the names of many, many people, but you just don’t recognize it. For instance, you know the names of your immediate family and all of your extended family. Those names may actually extend for generations, and you’re able to recall every one without any effort.

You also know the names of many celebrities that span over decades. You can name the movies or television shows they were in, or the music that they perform. I’m not a celebrity follower, but I know too many of their names myself because they surround us.

So, you know more names than you think. However, the names of the people who pass by you every day are ignored and we “can’t” remember them because we’re “not good with names.”

I think this should change. People were given a name for a reason. To blow this off due to a lack of interest is not a good excuse. I don’t buy it. Why ?? I am good with names. I think that I have the names of thousands of people in my head at one time or another. Some of this may be that I’ve worked at this, but I think it’s also a set of factors that are a bit different than you may consider.

If you’re in HR, then I think it’s imperative that you are good knowing the names of those in your workplace at a minimum. There shouldn’t be an employee that walks through work anonymously. Now, I understand that we all work in company’s of various sizes. It could be very challenging to know every single team member’s name. That doesn’t make it less important, and I have some ways to make it less daunting.

Know that it matters – As mentioned before, our name is our unique identifier. We were given one on purpose. Remember that because remembering the name of other’s will keep you “others” focused which is the best type of HR.

You remember those who impact you or influence you – Remember the celebrity example? You remember those folks with ease because they’ve left some imprint on you. The same is true with your family and friends. So, treat those you work with with the same weight. Be an influence on them and expect them to be an influence on you.

Invest the time to remember names – It’s not as hard as we make it. The truth is that we’ll put our time towards things that matter to us. People should matter !! Knowing someone by their name will establish the foundation of a relationship. It’s key to all areas of your life.

Don’t be afraid to ask – We seem to hit a wall of fear if we forget someone’s name. The truth is that people are very forgiving if you take the time to ask them again. I’d work on it not happening regularly, but people will give grace since they struggle with remembering names as well.

This week start a new trend and approach. Work on remembering the names of others. It will change your perspective on relationships as well as other’s view of you. By the way, my name’s Steve.

#HRMixTape2018 – The Employee Edition

I was so geeked when I heard that my friend, Mark Hendy, was bringing the #HRMixTape challenge back for 2018 !! Being a giant music freak, I couldn’t pass this up at all. I wanted to take a different look for mix tape and focus on our interactions with employees. Working with humans is essential in all we do, and I’m sure you’ve run across these situations. These songs could be a great resource to be played in the background as you address things. Let’s jump in !!

U2 – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

Instead of slogging through endless performance reviews that rarely move the needle, have a talk with your employees to see what they’d like to do in their roles and in the company. Getting clarity is far more valuable than any silly form or report card !!

Elvis Costello – Accidents Will Happen

We need to allow failure to occur in our organizations. The constant push for endless perfection isn’t realistic or sustainable. Let people stub their toes. They’ll learn from that far more than trying to achieve 100% every day. Have some faith in them and show them some grace !!

R.E.M. – Stand

One of the best skills we can have ourselves, and develop in our employees, is the ability to make a decision and stand by it. There is far too much ambiguity throughout our organizations. Help people to be intentional and confident. You will enjoy HR even more when you do !!

The Clash – Should I Stay or Should I Go

We always encourage companies to be filled with employees who feel they fit and can contribute. However, we rarely help people manage their careers. If we were more intentional about this and lost our unfounded fear, we’d have people choose to be with us and thrive. We’d also have people move on to new opportunities where they may fit even more naturally !!

AC/DC – Thunderstruck

Your employees rock and so does HR !! We should be doing all we can to encourage them, lift them up and provide a positive work environment for them to crush every day !! Whenever Angus Young starts this amazing rif, my passion jumps through the roof. I hope yours does as well !!

Well, there’s my #HRMixTape and I hope it gets you moving and grooving with your amazing humans on purpose !!

Fighting Distractions !!

Recently, I went out of town for the first SHRM Board meeting of the year. It gave me a break from the norm of heading into the office every day. Taking a short mental break from your normal pattern is incredibly refreshing. Now, I was going from one type of work to another, but it was a break nonetheless.

Having an interruption in my normal pattern helped because it broke up the myriad of distractions that exist on a regular basis. HR is never the same every day. This isn’t a complaint, it’s our reality. Because we’re in the business of humans, the unexpected is what we’re sure to face the moment we head into the office. Since we work within this unpredictable environment, we can easily become distracted. There are so many different situations that present themselves that it becomes overwhelming to try and pick through everything to find a clear path.

You need to understand one thing about this constant flow of distractions. I wouldn’t trade it in for the world. I would not function well in a job where things moved from A to B to C to D to . . .

I would much rather stay in the world of A to 7 to Purple to Llama to B. I know that doesn’t “make sense”, but I do think it’s a more accurate flow to the day of a human resources practitioner. Since this is our reality, how can we flourish within this miasma of being pulled in thousands of ways? There are a handful of suggestions I’d like to propose that will help you cope.

Accept your reality – I can almost hear your deep sigh as you read this, and you’re mumbling, “Really ??” Yes, really. You will be less frustrated when you own this. Life isn’t linear. It never has been. Understanding that there are very few predictive patterns in your “normal” day will allow you to try other mechanisms to fight distractions.

Be decisive – This is the bane of almost every HR person I know. This doesn’t mean that you should overlook alternatives. You absolutely should because the situations we address are never black or white. However, you need to stop the flow of distractions by making a decision and then implementing it. Taking a more firm stance on items will remove some of the things that push and pull for your time – at least for a moment.

Take a walk – This may be literal or figurative. Whatever constitutes a “break” for you is something you need to regularly do to stop the noise. Get away from the pace and the people who long for your time and attention. Not forever just for a moment. Having that intentional break from your normal day will help clear the fog. You’ll feel refreshed and ready to jump back in.

You aren’t the only one – We often get exasperated with our own days, and we think we’re the only ones facing distractions. That is narrow thinking. The truth is that in today’s non-stop pace of work, technology, life, family, etc. – all people are swimming in distractions. Understanding this is critical because when you interact with someone else you’re entering their world of distractions. Let others know that the push and pull they’re facing is okay and you both can work within this every changing flow.

Buy a book –  Now, relax because this isn’t a shameless plug, it’s a recommendation. One of the best gifts I ever received was the book Orbiting the Giant Hairball by Gordon MacKenzie. He accurately captures the workplace and shows how you can “survive with grace.” It’s worth the read, and you’ll find it a resource you’ll reference often.

We are distracted. It’s not wrong, it’s what we face. Thanks for taking a “break” to read this. Now, jump back in the mix.