Spanning Boundaries !!

This past week I went to the SHRM Leadership Conference . . . on purpose !!  I have the honor of becoming the next State HR Council Director for Ohio SHRM in January 2012.  This is the same Council that this year won a Pinnacle Award from SHRM and also donated $40,000 to the SHRM Foundation for training resources regarding bringing vets back to work. Humbled !!!

I went to the Conference to meet other volunteer leaders from around the country as well as hear about the direction and vision of SHRM.  (Let me slip my obligatory HR disclaimer here – I dig that I’m involved with SHRM !!  It rocks to be a leader in this group and I’ll explain more in a bit.)

I went early to be involved with Capitol Hill Day and to be an advocate for HR.  It was so extremely cool to have the ability to talk to Congress staff about issues that are affecting employers across the country.  There were 400+ HR folks who participated and I can’t wait to “storm” the Hill again next year.

The State Council breakout session was phenomenal as well.  To hear the great things that other states are doing in HR was encouraging to say the least.  Also, there were several social media HR friends in the same forum.  We were able to be vocal in supporting social media, share success stories about State Conferences and also learn from others.

The highlight of the Conference for me though was meeting HR pros from other states.  It was so cool to break down the boundaries that so many put up in meeting one another.  I met several social media friends in person for the first time, and it’s always cool to put avatars and faces together !!  Each one of them were such great humans and I knew they would be.

Also, hanging out with folks from Illinois, Oklahoma, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Alaska, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Florida, Michigan, Washington, Virginia, Tennessee, Indiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kansas, California, New Jersey and Wisconsin on purpose just plain ROCKED !! (I tried to meet as many people as I could to really connect with them !!)

Back to my disclaimer . . .

I am geeked about where SHRM is going because of the intentional people who crossed those imaginary state boundaries to truly connect.  There are amazing HR people who really are moving the profession forward including people working within SHRM.

So, as I get to dive into this new leadership role please know this – the boundaries are down.  We’re now going to keep working to bring our profession together and move it forward intentionally.  It’s going to be something that hasn’t been seen . . . yet !!

Make sure you’re connected as well !!

Image “Human Bridge” Courtesy of Iurikothe

No accomplishment is too small !!

This past Friday night I had the incredible honor of being the commencement speaker for a college graduation.  I was humbled to even have been asked, but not nearly as much as I was after I attended this amazing event !!  This was the Fall graduation ceremony for Brown Mackie College.

I don’t know how much you know about Brown Mackie, but the majority of it’s programs are either Associates Degrees or Certificates.  Most of the students are “non-traditional” and they are phenomenal !!  While others may take education for granted, these folks are usually well past high school, are working while going to college and may be raising a family at the same time.

As I entered the Lakeside Christian Church where the ceremony was to be held, I saw every seat filled as family, friends, and children were buzzing about their family member becoming a college graduate.  It was noisy and people came from all walks of life and many of the graduates may have been the first of their family to reach this level of education.  To say this was an “accomplishment” would be an understatement.

Too often, we as HR professionals, look for the big splash – the MAJOR accomplishments that people are supposed to achieve.  We base entire systems on the vast, life-changing initiative (even though most are short-lived), and we reward people for them.  I’m reminded often by my colleague Paul Hebert and his good work on his blog, that we have much to learn when it comes to doing recognition and incentives well. Also, we belittle accomplishments like the one I witnessed at this commencement.  We say it’s “just” an Associates or a Certificate.  And, we completely miss it.   Completely !!

You weren’t there to see how MAJOR this really was to each and every graduate and family member.  These folks go to school 4 hours each night after a full day of work for 2 years to reach this milestone.  It was inspiring to say the least !!

Oh yeah, I gave my ten minutes and got people pumped up and motivated about their future, but I took a cue from what was going on around me first.  Before I gave one thought of my remarks, I asked the audience to rise to their feet and give the graduates the loudest standing ovation they’ve ever given.  The rafters shook !!

People have already probably have forgotten my words during my ten minutes.  But, they will cherish the accomplishment they reached for a lifetime.  I was blessed to be a part of it all.

So, this week, look around you.  Catch a glimpse at the myriad of small accomplishments that happen every day.  Celebrate them !!  Cherish them !! Then note how truly impactful each one of them is !!

 

What are you afraid of HR ??

When people ask me what profession I’m in, I don’t hesitate to proudly say, “HR !!  You know, Human Resources.”  Even when the response is, “Oh, sorry,” I’m not bothered in the least !!  Really, I’m not kidding.  Being in HR excites me and I wouldn’t trade it for any other profession (some of which truly do scare me !!)

One of the primary things that scares most folks I know in HR is that they aren’t quite sure where they fit in, or where the profession is going.  When your view on HR is “unknown”, I can understand why there might be some apprehension.

Too often people are paralyzed by fear and it makes them cautious, conventional and stuck.  These attributes aren’t attractive in any profession and especially HR.  So what can we do, if anything?

Glad you asked.  I don’t know if you’re connected to the good folks at Focus.com, but you should change that and get connected to them.  Recently, they published a survey that was given to HR practitioners entitled, Focus Research Study: 2011 Crowdsourced HR Survey.  It’s brilliant !!  You really need to click on this link, download the .pdf and see what people had to say.  It covers Trends in HR, the use of Social Media in HR and views on HR’s position in the organization.

I try to participate in all HR related surveys because I want to make sure to have a voice in things and also see what others are saying.  I can honestly say that this has been the most effective survey on HR that I’ve seen in quite some time.  It is reflective, critical and realistic.

You also need to read this to alleviate your fears.  Instead of wondering “what’s happening in HR?,” you can take these results in and see for yourself what your peers are saying. A special shout out to Charlie Judy and Caty Kobe who are working to keep HR relevant through work at Focus !!

So, on this Halloween change your outlook from being an HR Zombie to someone who’s no longer afraid and is excited to proclaim that you too are in HR !!

You Just Should Know How To !!

You know you’ve said this.  You may have even said it today to start the work week !!  We wish others would just “get it” because we sure know that WE do !!  I’m serious.  We want others to just know what to do because we’ve covered it over and over and over (or so we tell ourselves.)

This approach isn’t just true at work.  We want others to know how to do things because we told them to do it at home, in our civic activities, at church, at school – almost any environment has the issue of “assumed culture.”  This is when the people who have been around for some time assume that others get what to do through some form of mystical symbiosis, and then we get upset when they don’t do things right.

People, more than ever, are frustrated in their jobs and with their companies.  As an HR person, I hear this frustration coming from the C-Suite down to the front line on a daily basis.  Almost every day I can place the shared frustrations to assumed culture.  You see, we strive to make people conform because we feel that if everyone is pretty much the same, then things will go more smoothly.

However, this just isn’t the case.  I don’t know if there are things such as HR “formulas”, but if their were, I would have one that goes like this:

 Assumed Culture = Conformity which lessens Diversity or AC = Cf < D

This weekend my Boy Scout Troop camped near Old Man’s Cave in Logan, Ohio in the Hocking Hills State Forest.  One of the natural formations is called the Devil’s Bathtub.

The waterflow of the river that goes through the park rushes rapidly toward this formation and the water’s force has cut it into the constantly swirling whirlpool until it forces the water out this small opening several feet under the opening.  This is very reminiscent of how your employees feel when they are told they should “just know how to” do things.

This week take a new approach.  TEACH don’t TELL.  It may be frustrating to cover the same things more than once, but teaching people what to do and how the assumed culture works at your organization will make them better performing team members.  The time it takes is far more rewarding than building the frustration that eats at you !!  Try it out and let me know what happens . . .

The Inner Sanctum !!

One observation I’ve had about HR professionals is that they have historically been very isolated both professionally and personally.  This has to be either by choice or by design within organizations.  This observation continues to be affirmed when I attend conferences of any size.  HR people seem astonished that others would intentionally like to be connected to them.

Something I’ve been trying at my work, and toying with in general is this philosophy – Model the behavior you expect in others.

To that end, I’d like to talk to you about the Inner Sanctum !! (cue scary theme music)  What I mean by this is that I have a tight knit group of HR professionals who make up my personal inner sanctum.   This isn’t a “Personal Board of Directors” as you may have seen in other blogs.  There is something more substantial to this group.   They have some incredible shared characteristics that I think are essential for this to work.  They are:

  • They all challenge me in some way !! – These are boundary stretching folks and I need that in order to not remain stagnate myself.
  • They are willing to be candid !! – They speak their minds openly both positively or critically. They aren’t afraid to address my blind spots.
  • They are consistent !! – Each of them is incredibly consistent while remaining creative and unpredictable. They each have strengths that I learn from.
  • They are all genuine !! – Something I cherish in others is to be “who you are.” These folks don’t have pretense and don’t support it in others.
  • They are all my friends !! – I mean that. We talk about all things in our lives. Families, work, faith, ups, downs, etc. All subjects are regularly discussed.

Without this group of people to gird me in what I do in HR and business, I would be less effective. It’s just a fact.  I think that having folks you can count on is a professional differentiator.  This isn’t networking or being in a clique.  It’s intentional, fascinating and exhilarating !!

This week step out.  Start looking at who would make up your Inner Sanctum and then pursue it.  If you choose to do this, you’ll see a marked difference in how HR looks, feels and acts !!  I hope you do it and let me know if you do !!

 

Rehumanize Yourself !!

As my iPod continued on its endless shuffle at work, Rehumanize Yourself by The Police came on, and I found myself hitting repeat several times.  The song tells of people in “everyday” jobs who are reminded to humanize themselves because their work doesn’t really mean much.  Who knew that this song still has significance 30 years later?

I’m not writing about employees who seem to slog through the daily grind, I’m talking about HR practitioners !!

The job that HR does these days ranges from the ideal to the mundane.  It’s hard to find a sweet spot to truly excel in HR within organizations due to a myriad of reasons.  I’m not trying to define what may be ideal for some and mundane for others.  Where I’d like us to focus is this . . . humans are more important than systems !!

Systems are needed and provide great structure and definition.  Without them people make things up because they really want to do a good job. But without definition, they’ll make it up to fill time and make sure they are “busy.”  These folks are the sloggers.  They come in every day, knock out a job and then go back to what truly interests them.  Their jobs are a necessary evil to pay the bills.  Oh, yeah, I’m still talking about HR people.

No one said that HR had to be mundane !!  In fact, great HR is far from it.  However, it means getting outside the systems we create and enforce to the real heart of our businesses – the humans.

Where are you on the spectrum?  I get it that you can be creative in making new systems and that you can be broad in the “things” side of what HR has to offer.  But I’d challenge you in that those things impact people.

At the recent OHSHRM Conference, I challenged the attendees to be positive the whole time at the conference.  Sounds odd that you’d even have to say that doesn’t it?  But, I felt it was needed because I hear so many people stuck in what they’re NOT doing vs. what they do so well !!  I only heard positive things from people because they knew a different expectation was set for them.

In organizations, HR has to set that expectation themselves !!  So, this week be positive and encourage others to see what amazing things are truly happening all around you that you’ve been missing.  Make sure to  . . . rehumanize yourself !!

 Image courtesy of Dan White Jr.’s blog

 

Got an idea ??

Why has HR become passive within the organization?  There’s an on-going movement that is somewhat disheartening, and that is that HR feels it’s role is to be reactive and prepared.  To always play defense is not a healthy way to approach daily work.

Granted, HR does have to react because of the intangibles that people have each day, but if you’re just waiting for the red alarm phone to ring furiously off your desk, so you can jump into action, you’re doing things backwards.  Also, I can’t imagine how stressful you feel HR is by approaching the field this way.  When I talk to my peers, too many of them put themselves in this camp.  They also feel that this is what is “expected” of them from Senior Management.  Yikes !!

Time for something new . . .

Do you have ideas?  If so, do you share them, implement them, or shy away from them?  Do you feel you do/don’t have permission to act on your ideas?

Have you fallen into the pit of doing things the same way every day and for every situation?  If that is the case, let me share that I think that you have missed the value of how vastly different people and each situation you face truly is.  Most of us stopped either having, or sharing, ideas because we listened to others who beat us down when we want to try something new.

The other pitfall to ideas is that we think that systems “fix” people.  If we have the best system, it won’t matter who the people are. (I’ve heard this quoted verbatim at a company !!)  People are the difference at work and great people make great systems shine !!

Back to ideas . . .

I’d like to challenge you to follow my personal model.  I intentionally try to come up with 3 to 5 ideas a day to try something new at work.  Some are massive ideas, and some are small, trite things that take little to no effort.  The second step is that I try EVERY idea out.  EVERY ONE !!  That isn’t an exaggeration.

The response I can hear those of you reading this is – “But how do you have the time to have 3 to 5 ideas a day and then try them out?  My day is so full, I couldn’t possibly do that !!”  The fact is, my day is overflowing and I love that !!  With 3 to 5 ideas every day, it’s also new, challenging, fresh and positive.  Is that true with your full day ??

So, try it.  You have to remember that you don’t need permission to think and create.  You’re EXPECTED to think and create !!  Need to go now.  New idea brewing  . . .

Looking out from an empty stage !!

Well, we did it !!  The 39th Annual Ohio HR Conference – HR Rocks !! – has been performed.  It was exhilarating and exhausting.  There was an incredible flow of positive energy around every corner and many friends from the world of Social Media were pivotal to its success.

The attendees were engaged, upbeat and experienced a State Conference that tried to loosen the edges of conference traditions.  For instance, the OHRC Committee had a lounge which was decorated with a beaded curtain that lead into a vast room of lava lamps, comfortable furniture and, of course, rock music !!  The halls were filled with classic rock flowing all around people as they moved from session to session.  The Mosh Pit (exhibit hall) was always full and the resource partners in their decorated booths caught the vibe of engaging the group instead of being seen as just selling their wares.

The Kalahari staff were incredible and responded at each and every question and need.  This was during a week where the CEO of Kalahari was coming in for the wedding of one of his daughters.  We met him and he felt that the Ohio HR Conference and his amazing resort fit well together !!

So, I’d like to wrap the incredible week with some thank you’s.

First of all – thank you to the attendees !!  You chose to come out and get away from your desks to try something new and I hope it paid off in providing new ways for you to ROCK HR at your workplace !!

Secondly – to my Committee !!  If I hear one more piece about HR practitioners who don’t care or represent our profession, I will personally introduce you to each member of my Committee who will show you true business leadership with a sense of joy, drive and intent !!  They put on an incredible concert !!!

Third – to HR friends from Social Media who traveled from far and wide to attend (spy) and bring incredible energy, insight and support.  It was so cool to hang out with Tammy Colson and Frank Zupan at our incredible Wine Tasting and to mill around with John Jorgensen, Dave Ryan, Brad Galin, Joan Ginsberg and Bryan Wempen throughout the week was amazing because I could always find them and hear words of encouragement.

Fourth – to Social Media leaders who brought their talent and presented.  Thanks to Mark Stelzner, Benjamin McCall, Paul Hebert, Jennifer McClure, Bill Boorman, Mike VanDervort, Simon T. Bailey, China Gorman, William Tincup, Elizabeth Borton and Stephanie Thomas.  Now, don’t get me wrong – I thought ALL of our speakers rocked it !!  What this group did was put a real face on Social Media and HR.  They came engaged, stayed through the conference and made it amazing.

Fifth – For William and Bryan to promote Drive Thru HR to practitioners and for them to feature one of my committee, Clay Morris, during the week.  They continue to bring the HR profession to life !!

Finally – You have to end with a story . . .

A few years ago we agreed as a Committee to stop giving out plaques or crystal desk weights for service when you end your term as Chair.  We decided to be more personal and ask what people would like (novel idea) or get something that fit them, their personality, etc.  Well, my Committee outdid themselves this year.  Here is what I received . . . a signed copy of U2’s The Joshua Tree album (my fave group !!) and a signed copy of an HR Rocks album that our Marketing guru, Mike Medoro, created with signatures from each committee member and each speaker.  When I received them, I broke down and cried.

I am humbled to have been the Chair of this event.  I am floored it even happened.  And even more than that, I am proud to see that our profession now knows that HR ROCKS !!!!!

And now to help Fred plan 2012 – it’s going to be amazing !!!!

 

 

How do you start the week ??

This past week my two fantastic kids went BACK to school !!  My wife and I are truly blessed with two great kids.  Our daughter is now a Senior and our son is a Freshman at Lakota East High School.  What was so intriguing about their return to school is that when you asked them about the impending school year, they would both huff, sigh and drop their shoulders and say, “Yeah, we have to go BACK to school.”

Now, I know they’re both anxious about what the new year will bring and I’m sure they look forward to seeing old friends, and possibly making new ones.  They also will do amazing things this year that they don’t even know exist yet.  However, they look at the drudgery of the end of summer and the regiment of school.

It made me think . . . Isn’t this the same thing that the vast majority of workforces do each week?

Seriously.  How many of you reading this on Monday morning said, “Ugh, I have to go BACK to work !!”

Even if our weekend was absolutely horrific, we feel it has more value than going back to our jobs.  Now, I understand that there are tons of bosses, workplaces and cultures that aren’t going to make the “Best Places to Work” list soon.  However, you’re working.  Think of those, maybe even in your family, who aren’t working.

Your attitude is the difference when you either go BACK to work, or go TO work. Sure you will face challenges, but isn’t it cool that you have challenges to face?  Sure, people will disappoint you and let you down, but couldn’t you do the same?

In order for workplace culture to excel and be truly “engaging,” then it starts with each individual and their approach.  It isn’t someone else’s responsibility to make Monday great – it’s yours !!

I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but I make sure that the weekly entry from this blog comes out on Monday.  Do you know why I do that?  I’m not into SEO rankings or other quantitative metrics to determine my reach.

I want you to have a great start to the week !!  Really.  I may never meet those of you kind enough to read this blog, but I’ve chosen to be encouraging because it’s needed in all of our lives.

So, I’m off TO work.  Can’t wait to see what the next week brings.  I’m sure it will be an adventure !!

Come Together !!

I don’t know about you, but I’m geeked about the upcoming State SHRM Conference season !!  Now, some of you reading this think that this will launch into either a “pro” or “anti” SHRM post.  Sorry to disappoint you.  This is just to get you excited about doing something that ALL HR professionals should do . . . get involved and get professional development !!

I saw some tweets this last week that were highlighting the upcoming #ILSHRM and #INSHRM conferences and someone was comparing these two great events.  They both look great !!  I’m also excited to see HR Florida and Wisconsin SHRM !!  You know that I’m extremely geeked about our own #OHSHRM too !!

It doesn’t make sense to compare and contrast these events.  What matters more is that HR comes together as a profession.  We spend so much time picking things apart that we miss the outstanding things that events like these provide.

I am anticipating the tweets and posts that will emanate from all of these conferences.  I’m not able to attend all of them, but I can “participate” through the great speakers, social media forums and blogs.  We need to continue to seek ways to bring our profession together because we will have more strength and relevance in the business community if we do this.  There are still WAY too many HR professionals who continue to fight the good fight on their own.

Let’s change this !!

All next week, reach out to someone in HR you know who isn’t connected.  That could be connected to peers, connected through HR chapters, or connected on Social Media.  Then, connect them !!  We can’t break the “echo chamber” that people contine to write about without action and being intentional.

The reality of seeing hundreds of HR pros at State Conferences excites me !!  I think it should excite you too !!