#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.

Encourage Daily !!

We all have things that have become daily habits. They range from when you wake up to whether you have breakfast or not to how you commute to work. These daily activities are so ingrained into our lives that we actually notice if something is slightly off. In fact, those slight variations can throw us off greatly (but we’re good with change – remember?)

Consistency is needed in our lives. We like consistency, and it gives us comfort knowing our daily routine. What’s interesting about our patterns is that they are most likely self-focused. We take care of ourselves far more than others. There is value in this, but it also may set up blinders. We can become numb to our routine and just glide through it without thinking about it.

When my kids were very young, I would take them to daycare everyday. It was a given part of my morning ritual Monday through Friday. I enjoyed getting their day started before heading into the office. One day, I packed my son into the car and started my commute. This day, however, I turned onto the highway and was blissfully moving in and out of traffic. About five miles along, a small voice from the back seat said, “Dad, am I going to daycare today?” I snapped out of my haze, and there was my son waving to me as I looked in the rear view mirror. He laughed hysterically with glee about my panic. We turned the car around and I dropped him off before heading back to work.

My routine had lulled me into just going through the motions to the point that I ignored my son !! I think this happens to too many people as we go into work. Why do you think people came up with the term “the daily grind”?

Aren’t you tired of this? Wouldn’t you like to break out of the doldrums and have a vibrant, engaged day – every day ?? I do and I have a way for you to break out of the doldrums as well. Encouragement.

We pass by a countless number of people every day without even noticing. They aren’t part of our daily habit. That needs to change. A friend of mine, Carlos Escobar, blogged and shared a video of a subway transit worker who greets every single person every day. He intentionally takes the time to say “Hello” to every person.

Encouragement is so simple and yet so difficult. The act of encouraging and saying something to lift someone up takes seconds of your day. Seconds. Not hours, seconds. We come up with excuses of why we shouldn’t encourage others. We may even fall into the awful mindset that if we encourage others they’ll “expect it” !!

In order to fight the urge to avoid, I want to encourage you to make encouragement a daily habit. Also, I want you to lift up everyone you encounter – even those who may not want it. This simple act will completely alter your daily outlook on life, work and interactions. Encouragement is the baseline for healthy relationships.

Tomorrow, as you start your work week, begin to notice others. Start a new daily routine. You’ll see the dark part of your days lighten up. You’ll see people respond positively where that may not have been the case. It’s worth the effort.¬†Encourage others daily !!

Be Good

A few weeks ago I received a nondescript envelope in the mail at work. It was from my dear friend, Brad Galin, who also happens to be in HR. Inside the envelope was a small scrap of paper and a sticker. The note said, “Saw this and thought of you. – Brad” I looked at the sticker and smiled.

A small black circle with a positive message that fit in the palm of my hand stated – Be Good to People.

It’s a simple message. Four words that carry incredible weight and meaning.

It’s interesting that there’s an entire company that produces this message on a variety of products. (You should check them out !! – Be Good To People) Their whole mission is to spread this message in many different ways so that we all have a visible reminder. They want to see kindness be a constant in our lives and our society.

So, you need to ask – Why would we need this reminder? Unfortunately, it’s necessary because the majority of all that we see, consume and share isn’t good. I appreciate people speaking out against wrongs and ills that are happening in our workplaces, our neighborhoods, our cities and our country. It just seems that we’re constantly in some form of battle that pits people against each other. It’s exhausting and disheartening.

It’s also ironic when someone brings up a simple solution such as “be good,” the response is a scoff and skepticism. Now, THIS is something worth challenging. I’m an unapologetic optimist. I believe in humans without having them go through hoops to earn my trust or respect.

I dig that Brad thought of me when he picked up this sticker. I also appreciate that he took the time to reach out and mail it to me. That personal touch is so meaningful and it gives me a framework on how “being good” can work.

Small actions make a huge impact !!

That’s it. Simple. We need to understand that much of human interaction can turn from ugly to positive by small steps that happen on purpose. When you have that first encounter at work or at home tomorrow to start your week, the move is yours. If you are pressed and you feel your face begin to get flushed with your reactive response, breathe and then be good.

The reason this call to action is so difficult is that we need to fight against our inclination to instantly respond and try to solve something. Being good fights against the urge to react and move on. This call asks you to go against the flow of not only what you’re used to doing, but also how others expect you to respond.

What you need to know is that it’s worth the effort. It doesn’t matter what role you hold in your organization. This call isn’t only for HR because we’re the “people” people. Being good is for all people.

This week look for areas where you can take a small step. When you see that opportunity, take it. It will change your day, your week and possibly your life. Remember this – Be good to people.

HR Kaleidoscope !!

This past week I was fortunate to present to my home SHRM chapter the Greater Cincinnati HR Association (GCHRA). It was special to me because this is the place where I “grew up” as an HR professional. They provided the laboratory to get to meet peers in the field, learn and develop HR skills and learn to grow in the role as a volunteer leader. To be asked to come back and now present to the chapter was amazing.

Please note that I never take the opportunity of speaking at HR events for granted. It is something that gives me energy because few things in life get me more geeked than being with other HR peers !! I was also eager to try out a new “personal workshop” based on my book – HR on Purpose !! The reason I was eager was that I was trying out a new concept for attendees.

The concept is this – I think attendees at HR events expect the speaker to wave some magic wand through their presentation and give people black and white takeaways. These takeaways will be perfect when used regardless of the industry or how HR is viewed in their organization. This just isn’t true. If it was, then we’d all need to hear one presentation from one speaker and then all of our challenges would be solved.

The reason this was framed as a personal workshop is that we discussed topics and concepts, and then everyone took time to write down what mattered to them. Here was the next radical move – no one shared what they wrote down !! No one complained or felt on the spot.

I think that every HR practitioner follows many of the same concepts in their role. However, every company is different. Also, HR has to be pliable and morph into different shapes and sizes because people are unique. We can’t keep thinking that the one approach fits all works. It never has and never will. Why ?? Because HR is a kaleidoscope.

Did you ever have a kaleidoscope as a kid? They are one of the coolest toys because no matter how many times you look through them, the pattern is different. It’s a simple toy. Metal tube (the best are made of tin.) Tiny bits of colored plastic enclosed at one end of the tube that move loosely while still being a bit contained. The end of the tube where the colored bits are can be twisted and rotated to make things roll around and give you a new picture. The only other aspect is looking up towards the light so you can catch the different fractals as they move.

This is just how HR is in reality. We need to look to the light (or positive) side of what we do. Then, move things around and we’ll see the colorful bits (our people) move, shift and perform to make new pictures and results.

After the workshop, several people came up and shared that they had been looking at HR the same way for years and years. Having some time to hear a different perspective and then write down some things to act upon reenergized them. They left eager to apply something they learned based on what THEY needed !! It’s not a novel concept, it’s just something we’ve not done.

Going to HR events, chapter meetings and conferences is essential so that you get your batteries recharged and you also meet, and hang out with, your HR compatriots. The key is to twist your kaleidoscope and no longer go just to be motivated and jacked up by a speaker. Try something new and take notes that work for YOU so that you can continue to grow and thrive in all you do !!

I recommend that you do one more thing. Buy a kaleidoscope for yourself and keep in in your workplace as a reminder to keep HR fresh and colorful all the time. I have one that I look at all the time. It works !!

Friends in HR !!

HR is often a profession practiced in isolation. That’s unfortunate but true. HR folks are isolated both inside their organization somewhat because of the nature of the work that we do, and outside because HR people are reluctant to connect on purpose. I find that amazingly ironic that we work with humans all day, but don’t have many HR connections. I understand that people have different capacities when it comes to how many connections they have, but to continue to work in an isolated manner will only hurt you in your career.

Why are we so hesitant in connecting? Do we just want to get away from our work and we feel that if we have HR friends, we never really break away? Is it because we are slow to trust people?

I’m sure there are other questions that may answer this situation. However, I think that if you’re alone, you need to remedy that. Please note that what I’m encouraging you to consider is far more than networking. I think you should have friends who work in HR.

This past week I had the opportunity to travel to Nebraska to meet new HR folks in both Omaha and Grand Island. I then went to the annual Volunteer Leader Summit in Washington, D.C. where I saw many old friends as well as met many new HR peers. These events are extremely invigorating for me !! I feed off the idea of meeting new people – especially those who are in HR.

During my time in D.C., I was fortunate to go to the retirement celebration of SHRM CEO Hank Jackson. We gathered at The Phillips Collection museum which has a limited exhibit of Renoir paintings including the famous Luncheon of the Boating Party. A docent from the museum spent about 15 minutes explaining all of the nuances of this French impressionism masterpiece. I’m a huge art geek and I could have listened to her for hours. The one point that she made about the piece was that the boating party Renoir painted was made up of his friends. His friends !! in

Having friends in HR is necessary because they DO understand what you face on a daily basis. They DO feel the same ups and downs. They want to be included in their organizations as partners and contributors. The anxiety and concern that you may have in your head about stepping out to have friends just isn’t the case.

You see, we all want to belong. It’s innately human. Since we work in a field where we don’t have many friends internally within our companies, we need to find some outside. Whenever I go to HR events to speak or attend, I seek out HR peers to make sure to get to know them and get them to break out of the funk they’re too often sinking in. I do this by intentionally taking time to greet them, talk to them and learn something unique about them, and get them connected with others. I can’t stand seeing people remain isolated.

Are you isolated? Fix that. Reach out to someone else in HR and make a friend. Someone who will listen, grow and thrive with you. What’s the result in doing this? Your friends will become YOUR masterpiece !!