Repurposing HR !!

Recently, my family and I had a gigantic garage sale !!  Seriously, my entire garage, family room and front porch were filled.  We had all of the possessions of my mother-in-law who recently passed.  There were tons of memories as we sorted everything, and it took over a week just to sort all of the “treasures.”

We prepped, priced and positioned everything so it had the best chance to be sold.  Our goal was to sell it all with the proceeds going toward my son’s Eagle Scout project.  It always amazes me that when you have one of these sales your street is lined with people who just can’t wait to see what you’re offering.  We were scheduled to open at 9:00am and the first folks started showing up at 7:45am !!   No one was turned away and the sales started building.

People came looking for certain items and knew exactly what they wanted.  We were fascinated by people and their choices. We even came across some people who were “resellers.”  These folks were professionals.  They pulled item after item because they were going to take them and repurpose them into something “new.”  They were great negotiators and rarely wanted to pay full price.  I thought they were really fun and saw items that people may consider as junk as something that had potential.

There were a few items that we hoped wouldn’t sell because deep down we wanted to keep them.  We ended up with a set of antique 1/2 gallon milk bottles with a carrier that used to bring milk to people’s homes and a set of steel chairs from a patio set.  We took the chairs and went to work on them by scraping loose paint, washing them down and giving them a new color so that they each had a new look !!  We knew that these would be a unique addition to my daughter’s 1st college apartment.

Repurposed ChairsThey turned out great !!  It only took an hour and a few dollars to breathe life into something that had been buried in a garage gathering rust and dust.  It was also very fulfilling to know that this simple investment of time and work would help out someone else who could use them for years to come.

While I was giving the chairs a facelift, I thought of HR.  I know that may seem like a stretch, but hear me out.

How many things are there that we do that sit and gather dust after we create them?  We’re so excited when they were introduced, but we missed it when they were no longer relevant.  The difference is that if we had a sale of old HR stuff, people wouldn’t be lined up to check it out.

What do you have that needs to be cleaned and given a new coat of paint?  What do you have that needs to be put out for the sale just to flat get rid of it?

This week do some cleaning.  Don’t settle for how you’ve been doing HR.  Dig deep and take the items that need new life and give it them.  At the same time, take the systems, policies and procedures that have no purpose anymore and get rid of them.  Have the HR garage sale that you’ve needed to have !!  You’ll be glad you did !!

A Little Piece of My Heart !!

This week has been one of transition.  My mother-in-law passed away at the age of 77 after a battle with Parkinson’s disease and dementia.  Also, a dear friend of mine, who I sang alongside in our church choir, passed away gracefully at the age of 89.  I doubt that few who read this blog know these two great people who impacted my life in tangible, meaningful ways.  I am thankful that I can celebrate their lives and what they meant to me.

These two people also had an impact on my amazing wife, Debbie.  I don’t mention her much on social forums because she’d prefer to be in the background.  You see, she is a perfect reflection of the quote from Jerry Maguire – she completes me.  She and I are almost complete polar opposites and everything I do poorly, she does well.  I don’t know how my life would look without her.  I don’t think it would be nearly as positive and great as it is because she so gracefully and effortlessly fills the voids and blind spots I have.

The majority of the people who touch our lives are more like my wife, my mother-in law and my friend from church.  They are meaningful to us individually and the sphere of who they’re connected to varies greatly.  Even though I may be personally connected to them, I may not be connected to the other amazing people who they know and interact with.

I want to take the time this week to share something that you may not know.  Just like these three wonderful people – you have a piece of my heart !!

Too often, we downplay the impact EVERY single person in our lives has.  We keep thinking that people only make an impact if they have visibility, notoriety or celebrity.  Sadly, many people keep chasing those shallow attributes of our society thinking it will give more substance and meaning to their lives.

Piece of My HeartYou need to know that YOU matter – at least to me.  I don’t take any interaction I have with any person lightly.  It may be the one and only time we ever cross paths.  That matters.  I may not personally see how this affects either your life or mine.  But, I know that because you came across my path and in my life – you impacted me and made a difference.

I don’t view life in the manner that most people do.  To me, the “humans” are key because my life is not defined by my profession.  It’s just what I happen to do.

The losses I experienced this week reminded me that I don’t take enough time to let people who are in my life know how much I value them.  I guess I assume they know, but that is a missed opportunity.  This is something so critical to all of us as people to communicate how people touch our lives.

Make sure to notice everyone you come across this week !!  Don’t ignore, brush off or move past some ONE to some THING you think is more important.

I don’t take our connection lightly.  The fact that you would take the time to read this blog as well as connect in person and/or socially drives me and fuels my passion for people more than you know !!

I’m glad you are a piece of my heart !!  I know that I am better because of it !!

Image Courtesy of Deviantart.com

I Need a Hero !!

We drove to the theater with great anticipation hoping to get tickets in time for the 7:45pm showing of the brand new Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  The great ticket seller at the box office confused us when he said, “7:45 ?? The next show is at 7:15pm.”  We were early, but that meant we couldn’t get dinner before we went to see the show.  We decided to stay and head in to the theater.  The staff had us stand against the wall and form a line because the prior showing hadn’t ended.  We were an hour early.

As we stood there, the line to get in grew . . . and grew . . . and grew.  I didn’t remember a line forming before a movie like this since I saw the various Star Wars movies as a teenager. Everyone was patient, but you could feel the energy building and building as we got closer to the showtime.  The line was opened, and my son and I walked in and got the perfect seats for us.  The entire venue was filled in the next 10 minutes.

I didn’t know if others had a tradition like I do with my teenage son.  You see, every superhero movie that comes out means that we will be there to watch it.  I think we’ve made every Marvel, DC Comics, and smaller brand movies that have been released.  It is a shared experience that I truly cherish !!

It was a great movie !!  (You really should see it !!)  I loved it because Captain America is “odd” compared to most superheroes and most people in general.  You see, he’s completely selfless.  He is 100% others focused.  I love this attribute about him and want to encourage this in others as well.

By the incredible turnout at the movie, I can surmise that people find this attribute attractive as well.  We don’t see it often enough.  We live in a society, and work in companies, that are more self-focused than others-focused.  It seemed that people are looking for a “hero” of some sort.

Business HeroI’m not going to get into the definition of what a “hero” is because most heroes are active behind the scenes doing things that others never notice.  You see, I believe you can be heroic by being there for others and meeting their needs.  It doesn’t have to be something magnificent, but it does need to be something tangible.

So often in HR, and in articles about culture, we focus on making sure to identify the WIIFM (What’s In It for Me) factor.  What if YOU were what’s in it for others?  What if YOU chose to reach out and be there to meet the need of someone else in work, life or the community?

What would happen if YOU helped someone else AND expected nothing in return?  I think the world would be an amazing place !!  I know that it’s unlikely that many people will read this and try this, but I believe that the “Captain America” effect can happen in your life and in the lives of others.

So, this week shed your ego.  Open your eyes and see who could use a hero.  Then step up and act.  You’ll be glad you did !!

What’s Your Approach ??

At times Human Resources feels like it moves at an amazingly fast pace !!  There may be some peaks and valleys, but each day is more likely a blur.  I know many folks who have to double-check their Outlook calendars just to remind them what day it is.

With things moving so quickly all the time, there is the possibility that the field we should love becomes the job that is more drudgery than joy.  If you don’t think this is true, go to an HR Conference and listen to the conversations in the crowds.  Most of them are not positive and are laced with unending frustration.

There’s a way out of this constant drain of negativity.  It does, however, take a huge intentional effort which many aren’t willing to do.  It’s not “hard” but it is different from the norm.

It’s all about your approach . . .

ApproachYour approach to your life.  Your approach to HR.  Your approach towards your employees.  And, your approach towards others around you.

Let me share an example that just happened.  We are entering the SHRM Conference season.  There are phenomenal regional and State events that you should check out and attend.  I just attended and spoke at the 48th Annual Northern Ohio HR Conference (NOHRC) in Cleveland.  It’s a great event full of great programs, business partners and, most importantly, HR pros.

Often when folks go to Conferences, they are much more focused and concerned with which sessions have Strategic Credit, where are the best seats, who should they go see and what is going to happen . . . every . . . single . . . minute.  They willingly walk past every other attendee to get to their session without even greeting each other.  The session is FAR MORE important than the other attendees.

Having experienced this more often than I like, I opened my session by asking all of the people who came to take 30 seconds and meet the people around them. The energy level in the room jumped !!  People started smiling and they shook off the full day of sessions and activities.  Their minds were clear, they were ready for something different and we launched.

I shared with everybody my observation that we struggle with HR because of how we approach it.  Just like the conference setting, we are so much more concerned and focused on systems, policies and procedures than we are the people who work with us.  People who come to work and want to do great work, be recognized for it by person-to-person feedback and also want to see their company succeed !!

The other example I shared at my session was that when I attend an HR conference, I spend my time almost primarily seeking out friends, meeting new people and getting connected to them.  I also attend sessions, but usually to meet others.  When people go to conferences with me they better get used to delays because I will get, and give, countless hugs, handshakes and hellos.

You see, PEOPLE are my approach !!

This isn’t an admonishment, it’s an opportunity.  People make us who we are as a profession and it’s the most fulfilling approach I know.  So, this week, drop one system.  Ignore one policy.  Skip one procedure.

But . . . approach EVERY person with a new view !!  I guarantee you’ll love it !!

Image courtesy of Dragyn Studios

Mr. Browne Goes to Washington !!

This seems to be a “bucket list” kind of year.  I was fortunate enough to be elected as part of the Membership Advisory Council (MAC) for SHRM.  I get to speak at SHRM National in Orlando this June !!  And then, there was this past week . . .

A few weeks ago, I was sitting at the Xavier University men’s basketball game with my wife when I got an e-mail from the SHRM Government Affairs group asking me if I’d consider testifying at a Congressional House Committee.  I was very moved and humbled that I was asked in the first place. After I got over the rush of the moment, I had to consider if I should do it or not.

I believe in Advocacy by HR professionals and have done this at the State and Federal level for the past several years.  I think we forget that we live in a country where we are allowed to share our viewpoint and participate in our government.  It’s somewhat intimidating, but I have found that the representatives and their staff are longing to hear from our community because they don’t hear enough from practitioners.  They do hear from many lobbyists with various special interests, but they don’t get our perspective nearly enough.

Capitol photoSo, after clearing it with my incredible employer, I said, “Yes.”  I went through an interview with staff from the Committee, and last Wednesday morning I was sitting in the Rayburn Building at a long, wooden table in front of a microphone, a timer with lights and my remarks about to testify on behalf of SHRM.  As Chairman Kline called on me with “Mr. Browne,” I took a deep breath and began to share my testimony.  The questioning from the Representatives was heated at times.  I tried to represent my employer, SHRM and HR the best I could.  When it ended, I was relieved and still incredibly excited !!

Trust me when I say that I didn’t take this experience lightly at all.  To be a citizen sitting in front of members of Congress is something I’ll never forget.  This wasn’t something where you had to side with political ideologies.  It was a chance to give a business perspective from an HR pro.  I hope that people can see that we are a BUSINESS voice !!

I also hope that SHRM, and our community as a whole, can see there are Sr. practitioners who are involved, are engaged and want to move us all forward.

Here is my challenge to all of HR . . . Make your voice heard !!

If it’s in the context of your department, be heard.  If it’s with your employees and your Executives, be heard.  If it’s in an advocacy role at the local, State or Federal level, be heard.

A wise person told me once – If people don’t hear from you, someone else WILL be heard !!

HR, your perspective matters.  Be confident in who you are and in what you do.  This is a chance for you to set the example that you want others to follow.  Being passive and hoping that things will change, or evolve, isn’t effective.

By the way, as I walked out I asked if I could take my name tent.  The staff wondered why I’d want a piece of paper.  I told them that today mattered, at least to me.  I took it back and put it in my office so I can always remember when “Mr. Browne” went to Washington !!

Be Relentless !!

This past weekend was phenomenal because I spent it with the 50 SHRM State Directors at the Regional Summit. It’s great for so many reasons such as developing leaders, sharing best practices, learning what successes others are having and the most recent news from SHRM itself.

The true highlight for everyone attending was learning from Jason Lauritsen and Joe Gerstandt as Talent Anarchy !!  They showed everyone a valuable tool with the Hack Lab.  Hacking isn’t “new” to the business world, but it is lacking in HR and in volunteer leadership roles.  The level of energy and creativity was incredible !!

They also highlighted their great work from their MUST HAVE book Social Gravity which break down the immense value of our social capital. When this session was completed, there was a sharing of take aways, and a vast majority of the group shared that they were going to work on being more connected to each other.

RelentlessIn fact, my favorite response came from the North Dakota State Director, Stephanie Winterquist, when she said she was going to BE RELENTLESS at improving her social capital !!

It made me wonder if others in HR would be relentless too?  I know that “connecting” is an overused plea in HR blogs, but it keeps coming up because people just aren’t doing it !!  As soon as the conference was over, and before I caught my flight home, I sent a Linked In invitation to intentionally connect with the folks from the SHRM Leadership Summit that I hadn’t yet.  This isn’t to gather more “friends” or “followers.”  It’s to find others who can be resources for you and for you to be a resource to others.

HR will sustain its relevance the more it’s connected !!  That is an undeniable fact.  So, you have to ask yourself – will you be relentless too?  I think it’s time for all of us !!

Who Are You ??

I am an unabashed music freak !!  Seriously, I have music on constantly.  In my car.  In my office. When I do work around the house.  Almost everywhere.  My office has a signed copy of U2’s The Joshua Tree album (vinyl), a signed microphone from Peter Frampton and a huge collage of the legends of rock.

To keep my musical intake going, I’ve been listening to the autobiography of Pete Townshend, from The Who, called, Who I Am. It is incredibly raw, candid, deeply detailed and fascinating !!  This post isn’t meant to glorify the rock life because, honestly, he has made MANY choices that are detrimental in many ways.  The cool thing about it though is that he recognizes that and owns up to both his successes and failures.

However, one thing I am taking away from this deep dive into rock lore (he casually mentions how Jimi Hendrix was his friend . . .) is that Townshend is exactly who he is.  It’s not a charade.  It’s not an act.  It’s real at an almost uncomfortable level.

This brings me back to HR.  I think that too many of us in our profession are guarded in our approach to most of what we do.  We are hesitant to be ourselves at work because we’re “HR”.  This is odd to me.  How do we expect others in the workplace to be real and open when we’re not willing to be part of the tribe?

I think we’re missing out when we’re not transparent about our likes, beliefs, joys, concerns, successes, faults, etc.  In The Who’s epic anthem – Who Are You? – one lyric that Roger Daltrey screams is – I REALLY WANT TO KNOW !!

Most people I know, especially those in HR, are reluctant to put themselves out there because we feel we have to take on some corporate persona that distances us from everyone.  And you wonder why people take pot shots at who we are and what we do?  If we’re not willing to be genuine and accessible, then how do we expect others to take the first step?

Be Who You Want to BeHere’s how I have ALWAYS looked at life (and HR).  I make myself open and vulnerable the moment I meet you.  Does that mean that I’ve been hurt?  Yes.  Does that mean that some people take advantage of that? Yes.  Has it resulted in more lasting, sustainable and meaningful relationships in all areas of my life?  Most definitely !!

There is an amazing amount of risk and reward if you choose to live this way.  Overall though, it’s opened doors to be a more intentional person and HR pro who can more effectively connect with the humans all around me.  That matters.  And, it makes HR so much more meaningful and worthwhile.

To be the “Human” in HR you have to be the “human” first !!

So, this week start peeling back the layers and let people see the great person you are.  I have a feeling you’ll see how freeing this is, and I hope (truly) that I get to meet you, know you and see who you are !!

Image courtesy of Quote Diary

Focus.

By now you’re aware that we’ve entered a New Year.  The flurry of posts that flood blogs encouraging resolutions, new attitudes, new approaches, etc. have died down.  I love to see the positive launch into a new year because I think people are eager to start clean and move forward.

A new start is true for companies as well as it is for individuals.  Going into 2014, our company is taking an approach that most don’t – and I dig it.  Instead of piling on layers and layers of more goals and objectives, we’re stripping things down and asking people to focus.  In fact, it’s becoming so engrained in who we are that the CEO is sitting down individually with his leadership team to review what they’re focusing on each month throughout the year.

This intentional move is a bit uncomfortable because it takes “accountability” away from being something that you hope will happen to something that is EXPECTED to happen !!  I had my first meeting with the CEO, and it was so cool to see not only the individual approach to a collective whole, but that HR is supposed to be involved and have focus as much as all of the business units of the company.

So, what am I focusing on ??  The answer may seem obvious, but it’s . . . . people.

Focus 3This is a bigger challenge than you think.  Most companies thrive and build on processes and things in spite of people.  We all claim that people are our most valued asset, but the reality is that companies focus on revenue.  That’s not wrong in the least.  The question is do you work through your employees to allow them to truly perform, or do you just make sure things “get done” regardless of who’s handling the work.

The other aspect of this focus that is challenging is – people are typically focused on themselves and not others.  People are selfish.  They want to make sure they’re taken care of first and that their needs are being addressed.  This isn’t “wrong”, it’s human nature.

I want to see HR be a contrarian force in this challenge and be focused intentionally on others first.

This throws people (even people in HR).  Why would you put others first?  What if they take advantage of you?  What if they disappoint you?  What if they aren’t committed to this approach and it affects you?

All those things may come true (and probably will).  That shouldn’t dissuade us at all.  If HR truly puts others ahead of themselves, then actual cultural change will take root and blossom.  This isn’t some theory, it’s fact.  It’s just incredibly hard because it requires an incremental approach that evolves over time . . . and never stops.

I’m geeked about being able to practice this focus at my workplace.  I’ve been trying to do it all of my life.  To be able to have it permeate through a company’s culture is extraordinary and exciting !!

How about you?  Can you adopt this focus yourself?  Think about it.  What would happen to you in your life and in your HR role if others came first?  I think you’d like the result !!

 

 

More Folks I Learn From !!

In November, I started to share some folks I learn from and wanted to continue that effort as we enter a new year.  I hope that one of the things ALL of us do as we move into 2014 is that we strive to continually learn.  We can’t afford to be stagnant in any way.  I hope that these recommendations spark an interest for you to check out someone new and see if what they say helps you think of HR in a different way.  I value what they do and who they are !!  Let’s get started . . .

John WhitakerJohn Whitaker (@HR_Hardball on Twitter) is a force !!  Being from Texas, that shouldn’t surprise anyone.  When I first talked to him he said he was giving me a nickname because he gives everyone a nickname.  In fact, he goes by “Whit” and not John himself.  Whit brings it every time he strikes a keyboard to write a post.  He is a featured contributor to Fistful of Talent (an incredible HR compilation blog of great HR voices by the way !!), and his own blog, HR Hardball, flat rocks !!  I know that John also does presentations as HR events which stretch the everyday practitioner to look at the profession from different angles.  We all need folks who can bend our brains a bit.  Whit does this effectively and is a treat to take in !!

Gemma ReucroftLet’s now go over to the UK for Gemma Reucroft (@HR_Gem on Twitter).  Gem brings a grounded sensibility to HR, but doesn’t “settle” for the norms.  In fact, she challenges norms every time she posts.  As a fellow HR practitioner, she isn’t just espousing things HR folks “ought” to do, she’s practicing what she writes about.  I love that she keeps things simple and stripped down.  It makes her work very accessible and applicable to what you do in HR.  Her blog – hrgem: Thoughts on HR, work and doing good people stuff – captures who she is and her approach to our field. I have her blog highlighted in my Feedly list and eagerly wait to see what she has to share.  Make sure you connect with her !!

Mary FaulknerBack to the states and to beautiful Colorado !!  That’s where you can find Mary Faulkner (@mfaulkner43 on Twitter).  I met Mary at the SHRM National Conference in Chicago this year, and found out what a brilliant leadership, training and OD professional she is.  I have found it hard to connect with many OD folks because for many of us, it’s wrapped up in our HR generalist roles.  Mary is solid and her blog, Surviving Leadership, is one of the most straightforward blogs around.  She is just “breaking onto the scene” in social media, but you wouldn’t know that.  Her content is fabulous and is something I take to heart when looking at the leadership and OD efforts at work.

Make sure to connect with Whit, Gemma and Mary !!  You’ll be glad you have new outlets for resources in your work.  Be on the lookout for more folks I learn from.  There are a ton and I hope that there will only be more and more throughout the year !!

 

 

It Was 20 Years Ago Today !!

I’m very excited about Christmas coming this week !!  It is always an amazing time for faith, family, friends . . . and gifts.  This isn’t a post about the materialism of the season.  It’s about true gifts !!

You see, 20 years ago on Christmas day, my daughter was born.  I wrote about the miracle of her birth a few years ago.  It’s hard to believe that two full decades have passed.  Now, as a young woman, she continues to grow, flourish and amaze me.  She truly has been a gift to me and our family.

I consider myself very fortunate to be a father and enjoy every moment that I have with my daughter and son.  At the holidays, I think it’s important to reflect and be thankful for the important things in our lives.  My children DEFINITELY fall into this category.  I know that not all parent/child relationships are healthy, and that is unfortunate.  I wish that both parents and children would see the value in having each other in their lives !!

Gift GivingYou see, to me the best gift a person can give to others at Christmas, or any other time, is themselves.  That may sound idealistic in today’s cynical world, but I believe it to be true.

People are gifts !!  The opportunity we have is to look at each other that way, and also treat each other that way.  At Christmastime, we anticipate gifts and can’t wait to see what is hidden beneath the thin, colorful wrapping.  There is a tangible rush just to get beyond the wrapping to see what’s really inside.  I think that people are the same.  Just below the surface of safe introductions, small talk and demographic information, lies an untapped gift waiting to be taken in and enjoyed !!

I know that viewing people in this way may put you in the minority, but what a great group to be in.  It’s challenging and others will want you to walk away from this perspective, but don’t cave in.  Why not make this the norm versus the exception?

Here’s how you can get started . . .

During this holiday season, write someone in your life a note, a card, or even give them a call.  Let them know how much they mean in your life.  It may seem to come out of the blue, but it matters.  Be intentional about this and let folks know that they are the best gifts in your life !!

My life is only better because my daughter came into it twenty years ago on Christmas Day.  And, for the many friends and family members who read this blog, you are gifts to me as well.  The people in my life enhance it and that is something I treasure !!

I wish you all the best Christmas and holiday season you’ve ever had !!  May you be surrounded by “gifts” of those that love and cherish you for being in their lives, and may you be a gift to others !!