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 !!