HR Haka !!

A new workweek is upon us. How are you doing? Are you ready for what’s ahead? Have you bought into the pattern that Mondays are supposed to be horrid and a sluggish way to start the week? Are you someone that needs some motivation to get moving that even coffee can’t address? Worse yet, are you filled with dread or anxiety?

It is astonishing to me that we have perpetuated the idea that workweeks are destined to start poorly, work to some roller coaster hump mid-week, and then careen blissfully to the release at the end of the week so we can just get away from everything and everyone. Makes you want to wake up and jump to the commute doesn’t it?

Pile on top of this that we don’t fill our thoughts going in to work with positive vibes about people either. It’s true. We don’t anticipate seeing smiles and warm welcomes. We expect the worst, and we get it. It reinforces our malaise and we strap our our martyr gear and jump into the fray. Welcome to what HR has become !!

But wait . . . .

Why buy into the “norm” ?? Who is the person or entity that we can hang this on? The answer stares at you in the mirror every morning as you don your work clothes and head out into the midst of your work.

You are the reason this attitude and approach exists. It’s not others who cast their nets of darkness on you. They may be doing this, but if you’re defeated before you even enter the office, then you’re already conceding the worst is about to occur.

At SHRM16 this year, one of the keynote speakers was Dr. Amy Cuddy from Harvard University. She wrote a spectacular book called Presence which calls for people to bring their “boldest self” to their biggest challenges. Her work shows how that even though we teach fierce independence in our western society, most people are far from bold. She had great research and examples of people who felt open enough to embrace being bold.

One of my favorite things she shared was a video of the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team and their pre-game ritual where they get geeked before a match by performing a haka. According to Wikipedia the haka is “traditional war cry, dance or challenge from the Maori people of New Zealand.” When they perform this, they are facing their opponent and they are so animated and intense !! It’s awesome !!

HR HakaWhen I gave my presentation, I encouraged all of the folks in HR that we should do a haka every day before we start a thing. Think about it !! It would absolutely freak out your staff and other employees if they heard you getting ready to face the day this way. I showed everyone how mine would look and it felt freeing.

Imagine this. Starting your day boldly, intentionally and fiercely !! All of the junk that tends to want to clutter our mind and our efforts blows away and disappears. Also, you’re ready to be proactive and jump into whatever comes your way willingly.

It’s overdue my HR friends. People will be bold if we are bold first !! Shake off the Monday blahs and get ready. It’s time for your HR Haka !!

Resurrecting HR !!

HR is dead.

(At least that’s what people want you to believe.)

It’s staggering to me that there continues to be this on-going conversation that is desperately trying to kill Human Resources. Blogs, magazine articles, conference presentations, etc. It’s happening throughout the profession, and very few people are standing up against it !! Why in the world should we allow people to degrade, belittle and tear down our profession? It’s especially disheartening when some of those voices are coming from inside HR itself !!

I believe that there should always be discourse, dialogue and critique. If that doesn’t occur, then change doesn’t happen. However, trying to move things forward through tearing it down has never worked. Never.

The reason for this post, and the title, is that I truly believe there is a problem and HR does need resurrecting !! Also, with it being Easter, how could you not use this title ??

The problem, as I see it, is that we are working so hard to maintain the status quo, that we’ve lost the urge to stretch and dream to see what HR could be. We feel that keeping things comfortable and in line will make our role effective and needed in organizations. It helps to have some of that, but not as your primary approach. It’s interesting that we encourage others not to settle, but we don’t see that this advice also applies to us.

Still AliveI’d like you to consider some ideas to make HR alive for you personally and collectively as a profession !!

Stand up and be heard !!

When you hear someone taking a shot at HR and what you do, respond. If that happens in your organization, push back. Bring solutions that elevate the human element of your employees and pull the company together. Quit making efforts to manage to the exception and recognize the whole. If you see negative comments online, respond. Being frustrated behind a screen will not bring about change. Comment, share and respond !!

Get connected and involved in the profession !!

HR is a field of isolation by design because we deal with the difficult side of employee issues. They have to have a safe haven they can work with and come to. After awhile, that isolation builds up and you have nowhere to go. (or so you think). The best thing about being in HR is the other people who practice it !! Having a viable, interactive and living network of HR professionals is essential if you want to thrive in this field. There was never anything written in your job description that stated that you had to quietly suffer.

Reach out. Connect with others who are near you. Make social media the communication vehicle it was intended to be and find out that there are thousands of  people who do what you do, and they’re looking to connect as well !! Go to conferences to meet people. Join organizations like SHRM nationally as well as locally. Do it because it makes you a better HR pro, not just because you were told to do it !!

Believe in what you do !!

HR is alive and well. It’s not just a blog post or a rallying cry. It’s a fact. Every day senior management is seeking HR to step up and make sure that organizations are more human. It’s a natural instinct in most of us and the time for suppressing it is past. It’s not time for us to be wildly optimistic, but it is time for us to say – How can we make the workplace better?

There is value in what you do my peers and friends. Inherent, tangible value. As you head back to work this week shake off the cobwebs, drudgery and negativity which can swallow the best of us. It’s time to resurrect HR !! Will you join me ??

 

Keep Smiling !!

Quick set of questions. Do you know any children? Do you have children of your own? Have you ever been a child yourself?

This may seem silly, but I think we forget. We’re so busy being adults that we lose the sight of what it was like to be a kid. This past week, one of my co-workers showed me a video of his daughter at gymnastics practice. She did seven back handsprings in a row which is incredible by itself !! She needed to do at least seven in order to qualify to compete at her level. She was geeked after she hit this milestone for the first time. She went over to her Mom and, “I don’t think I can stop smiling !!”

Wow !! Think of how she’s approaching success. She had to practice for literally years to do seven handsprings in a row. I’m sure there were many disappointments along the way, and maybe even a feeling of quitting and giving up. However, she kept pushing forward and accomplished her goal. The other great thing about this story is that her accomplishment was to open other doors for her to reach even greater heights.

The entire time I spent to listen to this story and watch this video was five minutes. I thought it was amazing that he’d share this success story with me. It mattered to him to have me share this experience.

I’d bet that if I came to your corner of HR and listened to you, your sentence would be “I don’t think I can stop . . .” and then words would be filled in like “being frustrated”, “banging my head against the wall”, “avoiding negative people”, etc. I know this is generalizing, but we tend to come to work every day with our focus on what’s going to go wrong. We aren’t like kids who look at each opportunity as something fresh and new. The reality of work (or at least how we view it) has sapped us of being willing to see what we do as a child would.

What happened to us ?? Why do we see being “childlike” as a weakness ?? When we were kids we couldn’t help but look at things with wonder, awe and curiosity. I think that these attributes are essential to being a positive person and they are critical if you want to excel in HR !!

Steve Browne Pic 3So, I have a simple exercise that you need to try. It will cost you absolutely nothing, but it will reshape everything.  Smile !!

You may think that is inane and a waste of time. You have more important things to do that are much more effective when it comes to HR tools. I beg to differ. This is why . . .

If you smile at someone, they either will reciprocate (naturally), or they’ll avoid eye contact. When someone avoids my smile, I see it as a challenge worth taking on. I don’t confront them, I just wait for the next time I see them and give them a smile again. The difference between smiling because you were told to is smiling because you can’t help it !! When you meet people with your smile first, you’re setting the tone for the conversation.

I truly want others in HR to enjoy the field intentionally and all the time. This isn’t some parlor trick, but it is a call for you to bring out your inner child and let it shine. The next time I see you be warned. A smile’s coming because “I don’t think I can stop smiling !!”

P.S. – the picture is my smile just so I get a jump on things !!

 

The Year of Others !!

It is rare that you get to write a blog post on your actual birthday when you write a weekly post, but today is my day !! I’m thankful to be another year older and geeked for what this year holds (and hopefully many more years to come !!)

I’ve seen many year-end posts chock full of predictions and resolutions for HR for 2016. I’ve never been a big fan of resolutions because we talk more about how they fail than they succeed. I dig the aspiration side of what they represent, but few ever expect them to result in sustainable change.

I’d like to take a page from the Chinese Zodiac where they have the Year of the  . . . (insert animal of they year of your birth) and declare for HR that this is  . . . The Year of Others !!’

So, what does this effort entail ?? I’d like to throw out to the profession that HR needs to be focused on others and not themselves. This isn’t some fluffy feel good idea. It’s a viable way to influence business and affect the bottom line. The difficulty is that it takes a change in our mindset. Focusing on other people goes contrary to the “What’s In It for Me (WIIFM)” mantra. The thought that you have to identify the trigger for every single person as their WIIFM and make that a reality is not feasible.

However, spending time – uninterrupted time – with others at all levels of an organization is priceless and a differentiator. Why? It’s simple. People don’t do it now. Companies, especially at the executive level, feel that when you spend time with people you’re “wasting time” because things aren’t “getting done.” They’re wrong.

Their is NOTHING more valuable and long lasting than investing time in others.

Others ButtonIt’s so difficult because we are surrounded by a society that is self-centered. The majority of social media is predicated on how many views, likes, retweets, etc. that one gets. People are more than willing to post their own work but rarely will they curate and post the work of others.

You have to understand that if you join this Year of Others effort that you will be going against the flow. It gets tiring and you could get discouraged, but it’s worth it !! You have to trust me on this. Organizations, and senior management, are looking for ways that HR can be a business partner, and that can happen if you’re willing to put your waders on and step in the stream to walk against the current.

Doing this also means taking a risk that it will work, and we are unfortunately very risk averse as a profession. We can no longer be timid. Your employees are yearning for an advocate who will genuinely take the time to meet them, listen to them, care for them and work with them. People want to perform and they will do better when they know that someone is there for them. You can do this by showing supervisors how to more consistently approach people as humans and not as task fulfillers.

Will you join me? Will you be a part of the Year of Others? I think we can alter the HR landscape and make what we do relevant and desired. When you do this, you will see how being in Human Resources will matter for you both personally and professionally !!

It’s going to be our best year yet as an industry and I look forward to walking alongside you as we do this !!

Be a Student !!

I’m a big proponent of Social Media. The various forums give us a variety of ways to communicate, connect and learn from each other. It can be overwhelming at times because it comes at us from every angle and during every moment of the day.

What intrigues me though is how people approach Social Media. I find that most people present ideas, opinions and perspectives that I would not have necessarily come up with myself. I enjoy looking at the material I see as a way to build the amount of knowledge that we can use.

One thing that is challenging in how people use Social Media is when people are critical. Not in the way of poking at the status quo, but in the way where their style, or form of sharing. is to tear everything down. There are no areas that are off limits and the more critical the better. Very few solutions are offered and it is really disheartening when I see the tone of blogs tear people down.

I value hearing from others who don’t look at things the way I do. The fact is this happens every single day all around me. I don’t need Social Media to get that. I do think that Social Media has a “critical” feel to it because we spend the majority of our days being critical of each other and the experiences we have. This isn’t to point fingers. It’s an observation and one I’m guilty of as well.

It’s exhausting and not productive. When you think that you’re spending so much time being critical when you could take a different approach. I heard a piece of advice this week that hit me directly and made me want to change. Here it is . . .

Be a student and not a critic.

LearnThe thought is to learn from others instead of critiquing what they say, or who they are. This may seem passive, but I don’t think so. Hearing other’s points of view does not necessarily mean you agree with them. However, it also doesn’t mean that you tear what they say apart only because it differs from your beliefs.

This is essential in HR. One of the biggest roles you have on a daily basis is being a counselor. You are in a position where you hear the good, the bad and the ugly of people’s lives. If you take the posture of being critical, you will always see the dark side of what you’re facing. You can’t help it because you assume that the worst will surely occur.

You have a choice. You can listen, synthesize and respond to people, or you can critique, judge and react. This is true for all people in organizations and in life. I know that even in writing this people will be critics. My choice is to be the student.

I’d rather learn from you, get to know you and have a relationship with you. Even though our thoughts and opinions may differ, I can still learn. This week I ask you to stop being a critic, and start being a student.

Listen. Respond. Repeat.

How many people do you encounter in a regular day? Do you meet the same people every day, or does it vary greatly?

I know that I have hundreds of interactions every day and they are rarely the same even it is with some of the same small group of people. I understand people’s desire for these conversations and situations to have some commonality, but they rarely do. The differences may be significant or they be just a slight nuance that adds something new to the mix.

This constant variety is often a challenge and source of frustration for HR pros. We want to take some time to breathe or synthesize one interaction when another one happens on top of what we were just responding to. Since this is the reality of human resources and not the exception, we need to have a method that better prepares us to work through situations instead of facing a constant start/stop pace every day.

I have found that the longer I practice HR that deconstructing works for me far more often than creating something bright, shiny and new. So, I’d like to introduce how I handle the beautiful myriad of interactions I encounter. This is what I do . . .

Listen. Respond. Repeat.

Listen and RespondThey are three simple words, but in order for you to be consistent in taking this approach, you need to address some things that are in our way. I was talking with a great friend this week and he was sharing the challenge of the perceived motivations we think people have. We do our best to guess what will drive and engage people and this lends us to making assumptions about them without talking to them. Having this approach leads to more misses than hits. It’s true that you can “know” your people, but the circumstances of life are constantly moving. Therefore, people exist on a continuum and not in set places.

If you use listen, respond, repeat as your approach going in to interactions, you will eliminate those assumptions you may have because other’s are sharing first. Please note that this suggestion isn’t listen (sort of) and then come up with a solution while people are still talking !! I say this because we are so consumed with getting things done and moving on that we see our time as being wasted by the interactions we have.

If you think interacting with people is a waste of your time, then you may want to get another career.

Trust me. If you follow this approach, your employees won’t know how to react initially because it’s not what they’re used to from anybody. Most managers and supervisors also have perceptions that try to keep their employees in boxes versus taking the time to get to know them. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to see your employees surprised by you? It is very cool to see how they respond.

This coming week I hope you try this simplified way of practicing HR. Remember the first two steps work when you use the third. Take the time for your people and repeat it over and over. You’ll soon see that you take each encounter with people as something you’ll enjoy !!

 

What’s Your Culture Type ??

I’m a donor, a blood donor. I’ve been doing it for years because I had an incredible example who did it well before I even thought about giving blood. My grandfather lived in the mighty metropolis of Luckey, Ohio (now at 1,013 people). My brother and I were raised by my incredible grandparents as my mom worked and went to college. Our father passed away when I was four and my brother was two.

My grandfather was a dairy farmer who also raised crops. He was a person who I admired greatly because of his humor, his outlook on life and his work ethic. Growing up on a farm is something that I know shaped me, and I cherish every moment of those years with him.

On the brim of his hat, my grandfather affixed pins representing the gallons of blood he donated. He kept his hat a hat rack near the front door. One day as he put it on while walking out to the barn to care for the cows, I asked him what the pins meant. He said he donated blood and I had no idea what that was. I said, “If they take your blood, won’t you run out?” Without missing a beat he said, “Heck no Steve, God gave me enough blood for everyone. I’ll always have what I need.” Then he laughed deeply and we went out to the barn.

As soon as I was able to donate as a teenager, I started giving. I’ve been fairly regular in doing this and just gave again recently. In the mail last week, I received my next pin. I am now up to seven gallons. I might catch Grandpa in a few more decades !!

The great thing about giving blood is that they tell you your blood type. This is necessary for you to know because some day, you may need help from somebody. My blood type is O Negative – the universal donor. Kind of cool that I have “enough blood for everyone.”

Your workplace has a culture type too. The question that comes up is – do you know what your culture type is? Does it fit everyone?

HRPositive Logo 2I’d like to tell you about a “new” culture type that Paul Hebert and I are introducing called #HRPositive !!

We’re both a bit tired of people tearing down HR thinking that by doing this, it will build up the field in the end. When has this ever worked? How does approaching HR negatively and ripping it up for its faults, which it does have, improve what we do and who we are? Who sits back and says, “Man, if I could find a job that wallows in misery all the time, I’d be set with my dream career ??”

Enough’s enough. I have always believed in being positive. It’s not a shtick or some social media persona. I also am a huge believer that HR drives the culture of an organization. We do it through our behavior and approach. I don’t know about you, but I have seen being positive work with people almost every time you interact with them.

We’re taking this seriously and would love to have you join this movement. We’re looking for examples of HRPositive that is happening in workplaces, in social media and anywhere we can find it. We’ve started a Linked In Group called “HRPositive” that is open to folks who want to see the tide turn back to HR being a great field to be in. You’ll also see us use the #HRPositive hashtag on Twitter.

So, would you like to be a culture donor? We’d love to see Human Resources be practiced in a way that encourages people, engages employees and moves companies forward. Remember – we have enough energy for HR to be positive for everyone !!