An Intimate 13,500

Had to sit down to write about my experiences at #SHRM12 in Atlanta !!  It’s hard to capture some thoughts when you just spent the last four days with 13,000+ HR professionals in one place !!

The sessions were full of tangible content that ranged from entry-level HR material to edgy, thought-provoking strategic forums that were extremely relevant.  Three that stood out personally were from Jennifer McClure, Jason Lauritsen and former SHRM Chair, Sue Meisinger.

The keynotes from Jim Collins, Condoleezza Rice, Malcolm Gladwell and Tom Brokaw were spectacular !!  Each had a connection to HR in a broader sense.  They pushed us to think far outside our normal boundaries.

As a SHRM volunteer (on purpose), a true highlight for me was having time to network, discuss and share with other SHRM leaders.  It’s humbling to be the State Director for SHRM in Ohio.  Being in this role has great opportunities to move the profession of HR forward !!  To also be with others who share this passion is fantastic, and I always look forward to it.

The work of Curtis Midkiff (@shrmsocmedguy) on connecting HR and Social media was incredible.  To see many peers in the Dice Blogger’s Lounge as well as the educational area called The Hive, was promising.  To see HR start to understand these forums and see where it’s best to connect for them was a key success for the Conference !!

But . . . the TRUE highlight for me was knowing people at the Conference from around the country and then meeting amazing new people !!  Everyday I’d be in the Conference Center and here “Hey Steve !!” being shouted down the hall.  People from Ohio, Virginia, North Dakota, Illinois, California, Louisiana, Florida, New Jersey, Maryland, Alaska, and many other places. It was so cool !!

I noticed that several of the other attendees also had pockets of people they knew, but most of them kept to people they knew from their State.  In the past, I was one of those people too, but things are changing for the better.

HR people are starting to make more connections because they understand that we really do have a ton in common.  What is key to this is that there are connectors (like Malcolm Gladwell highlights in his Tipping Point book) who are reaching out and showing folks that being connected results in meaningful relationships.  This movement will not only improve HR, it will reshape it.

Next year is Chicago and (for the first time I can say) I can’t wait !!

Heading South !!

I’m not good at this “quick post” thing, but I’m heading to SHRM National in literally a few minutes from now and I’m geeked to say the least !!

So, I’m going to be tracking things and blogging more regularly than I do during the next week.  Just a head’s up.

What I’m really hoping for is to network, see friends, and most importantly – meet great new HR folks from around the globe !!

If you’re going, I hope to see you and I hope that you take the time to meet new folks, get connected and make our great profession even better !!

Blog soon . . .

Staring at a blank page . . .

Who here lives a “full” life?  One where it seems you never have enough time to get done what you wanted to accomplish?

The answer is that everyone has a life that’s full. What’s different for us is what we choose to use to fill it.  Whenever I hear someone say they don’t have enough time, I truly am skeptical.  It doesn’t seem like they’re bored.  In fact, when you ask them, they say they’re “busy.”  When you ask what they’re busy with, there is rarely a good answer because they really don’t know.  They just know they’re exhausted being busy.

Whenever I make a surprise phone call to friends, our first question to each other is, “So, how are you doing?”  I usually answer, “Man, I’m full and I love it !!”  Then we talk about the amazing things going on in our lives, our families, our friends and our work.  I do my best to get off the HR “what’s the new project” talk to make sure that we talk about all facets of our lives.

There are days that do seem to get away from me.  I’ve given up the notion that I control much at all.  Being in HR, I truly want to be in a position to move things forward while including everyone around me as much as possible.  I look at each day as a blank page.

This isn’t some idealistic, pie in the sky, you really can’t live that way approach.  It just allows for things to happen at different paces and within the flow that they need to occur.

I mentioned last week that I’ve been on this crusade to list 3 great things a day in my journal.  At first, I looked at the blank page in front of my journal and the regular anxiety of what to write crept in.  “Would it be interesting enough?”  “Am I just going through the motions?”  “Did anything great really happen?”

Now, the words pour out of the pen themselves and I stop at 3, but I could write pages and pages.  You see, before doing this, being busy was easy and it followed the path of everyone around me.  I was frustrated.  I felt overwhelmed and out of control.  That’s lessened considerably because having the blank page is honestly welcoming.

As you start this work week, and your to-do list is already 14 behind when you roll over to hit the snooze button – stop, breathe, and start over.  Start with a blank page and let your day be filled with the great things that are sure to happen to you.

Remember, when you hit the office, you’ll be running into people who are already “full” and won’t be able to get past being busy.  Help them out.  Add them to your page and see what stories unfold !!

 

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 !!!

 

 

 

3 Great Things !!

Yesterday we celebrated my daughter’s graduation with a party where family, friends and fellow seniors came from her class to wish her congratulations.  Our party was “scheduled” from 2:00pm to 6:00pm, so it made sense that it wrapped up at 10:30pm with friends sitting around a fire pit taking in the great day that we all experienced !!

This day just fit in with what I’ve been following lately and telling others about.  There is an amazing book out there from Shawn Achor called The Happiness AdvantageI love the book personally and I’ve taken just one of the many nuggets from the book and have put it into practice. One of the chapters talks about writing a journal and listing 3 great things that happened the day before.  The study that was conducted said that people who did this for only one week were more positive for up to six months later.

I shared this with the State Council of Ohio SHRM and asked everyone to start a journal because they work with great HR folks in their chapters and their workplaces.  There were two great folks from SHRM their as well and I asked them to join in (and they have).  Sensing the momentum and the incredible response, I introduced the 3 great things journal to my own HR department that I head as well as the GM’s from our restaurants, the leaders of our Ops group and some of our Executives !!

The results have been amazing (and we’re two weeks into it.)  In fact, a group of the OHSHRM presidents and I have been listing one of our “great things” on Twitter every day since the Council meeting – EVERY day !!

There are so many great and positive things around us, and we have the option to choose whether we’ll face each day negatively or positively.  It doesn’t mean that things don’t get rough or that challenges aren’t present.  However, HOW you approach things is in your control.  As humans, and as HR professionals, it’s time to change how we approach the phenomenal people that are all around us.

I know it works !!  It’s not some parlor trick or “trend,” it’s a way of life.  Try it out and let me know how your journal builds and flows.  You’ll start noticing amazing things that have been right in front of you all the time.

By the way – journal entry from yesterday:

1)  Scout friends coming over to set up the massive dining fly/tent we had for the party early in the morning !!

2)  Sitting around the fire pit and taking in the day’s memories !!

and (most importantly)

3)  My daughter with my Mom getting a hand made quilt for graduation.  A family tradition of love and creativity that my Mom does for all the grandkids.  Here it is . . .

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 !!