HR is Puzzling !!

I love puzzles !!  I mean it.  I love the challenge of opening a box and seeing thousands of tiny, misshapen pieces that only show a portion of a bigger picture.  To be honest, I like puzzles that are also a little unique.  I’m not a big fan of the large, scenic panoramas.  If it’s something that challenges you and comes out with a very cool end product – then I’m in.

At Christmas, the kids and I all got puzzles.  Here’s a look at them . . .

PuzzleCool puzzle of the US made up of license plates !!

Bowie Album PuzzleA double-sided puzzle of David Bowie’s classic album – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars !!  Dig that – puzzles and rock combined !!

Puzzles also offer great lessons for HR.  Here are a few . . .

  • Give things framework !! – The first rule in most puzzles is to put together the frame because it defines the puzzles boundaries and also gives it just enough structure to give it cohesiveness.  Great HR does the same when you look at employee situations as well as your systems and “frame” them up !!
  • Every piece counts !! – When you look on a puzzle box and see that there are 1,000 pieces, then you rely on the fact that without even one piece, the puzzle is incomplete.  What if we looked at our teams and our employees in the same way?  If we had the approach that every person mattered, wouldn’t you strive to make sure that happened?
  • We come in different shapes !! – It’s time that HR understood that diversity is all around us in our organizations.  It’s not a program or an initiative.  It’s a fact !!  Just like puzzle pieces, people each add their own take, shape, approach and view on the work we do.
  • Look at the big picture !! – The thrill of completing a puzzle is that you get to see the results of your work and the whole picture comes into view.  Too often, HR gets hung up on one piece and can’t let it go until that one is “fixed.”  When you see how the whole puzzle of employees, integrating HR, being strategic and moving a company forward come together – you’ll try to help pieces fit vs. trying to fix them.

All of us in HR have puzzles we have to evaluate, consider, assemble and/or disassemble everyday.  Instead of looking at that as a point of frustration, why not view it as a great thing to do?  Seeing things come together will help you enjoy HR everytime the next puzzle comes along !!

 

I’m Manic !! Who Knew ??

I love things that make me think !!  I relish something that truly challenges the way I approach life, work, values, etc.  Following the norm has never really appealed to me, and I love hanging around contrarians.  You know, people that take the boundaries of what is normally expected and then stretch them in ways in directions that just didn’t seem so readily visible.

Meet Dr. Daniel Crosby – a friend, colleague and contrarian.  He is an accomplished consultant to many industries, speaker at several conferences and now an author !!  Recently, a non-descript manila envelope arrived at my house near the holidays with Daniel’s address on the return label.  I opened it and there was no note – just a book.

Not That Great BookThe title hit me square between the eyes !! “You’re Not That Great – A Motivational Book.”  I was laughing so hard because it took me by surprise.  How did he know?  What this book just for me?  Then I opened the front cover, hoping for a bit of his wonderful satirical wit . . . and it was blank.  Must have come straight from the publisher.

So, even though I didn’t get a special note (which he actually covers very well in the book) I jumped in !!  Once I started I couldn’t put it down. (And didn’t even really want to !!)

The book challenges you on every page and makes you use your mind.  Normally when you read business books (especially about HR) you find more and more of the same things with someone’s “twist” on them.  Not this book.  It goes into great places to tear down your preconceptions and makes you understand the traps your brain puts you in when it comes to items like giftedness, self-esteem and being a bit crazy.

I loved the chapter that states “Mania is a state of abnormally elevated mood that could almost be thought of as the opposite of depression . . . hypomanic (that is, slightly manic) individuals tend to be more creative and more prolific than their non-diagnosable peers.” (p43)  Sweet !! Daniel often wants me to “cheer up” because I seem to be too positive.  Now . . . I’m hypomanic !!  Dig it !!

You can see yourself in these pages and they are extremely applicable to what we do in HR !!   The psychology of people is intertwined with every facet of HR.  Instead of reading another tome on how to improve your talent management or some insane performance management system – read this instead !!

Learn how you tick, how others tick and then see what approach works.  Daniel helps affirm the fact that we are unique, slightly flawed and 100% human !!  Make sure to delve into this book.  I am rereading it already to be able to understand myself and also work with the GREAT people around me.  It’s worth the investment !!  Get yours now !!!

I added the extra !!! for Daniel because . . .

Complex Island

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image Courtesy of the 20 x 200 Blog

Time to reflect !!

Being that it’s the last post of 2012, I thought it would be appropriate to reflect on something.  I have seen other great bloggers make lists, reissue great old posts from the year and make resolutions.

I wanted to try something different.  I want to make an “intention” for 2013 !!

What’s an intention?  It’s different than a resolution because most of them are derived at by looking at some significant “gap” in our lives and then resolving to radically alter ourselves and our behavior to attain our ideal.  More often than not – they fail.

An intention is a commitment to be intentional in a way that builds on who you already are and incrementally moves you forward.  It honestly can be in whatever area of life you wish to try – faith, discipline, relationships, etc.

For my 2013 Intention, I plan to practice more and more “others focus.”  It’s pretty simple, I want to focus on others and help them succeed !!

We are surrounded by people who grew up being fiercely independent and willing to go to almost any length to personally succeed in spite of others.  We continue to reward this in organizations and encourage it in others.  Ironically, the newest generation entering the workplace rapidly doesn’t get this.

The current generations belittle the newest generation because that’s what’s been done for centuries !!  We think that ours is better than the next.  That ours works harder, is more loyal, etc.  Honestly, each generation is amazing in its own right.

Change QuoteI’m fortunate to have two great kids, a freshman in college and a sophomore in high school.  They’re teaching me the value of “interdependedness.”  They rely on others to a fault.  Socially, interpersonally, professionally, academically.  There isn’t an area where they aren’t connected to someone.  They want personal success, but they want others to succeed as well.

I dig that.  I have tried to be someone who puts others first.  This runs contrary to most I encounter and it usually results in some awkward looks and/or conversations.  I want to continue to build on this and make others around me develop, grow and burst into greatness !!  You may think this is to idealistic, but why should people have to settle in order to make others happy?  It’s my “intention” and not yours.  There’s no reason to settle.

So, where are you going to reflect this year going into 2013?  What will you see when you look in the mirror?  Where can you be more intentional?

I know that by making others better, they, in turn, will make me better.  That rocks and I can’t wait to see what happens !!  Happy New Year everyone !!

My Christmas Wish !!

One of the best things about Christmas time is that people come together.  Whether it be families or friends, people make time out of their hectic lives to be with each other.  I know that I’m looking forward to our family’s “Big Christmas” where all of my
Aunts, Uncles and cousins gather in tiny Luckey, Ohio at the American Legion Hall.

We’ve been gathering as a family for over 50 years now and it is something that I treasure.  When all of us are in the same room, it is quite like a company.  Four generations are gathered, and the interests, skills and talents are all very diverse.  There are white collar, blue collar, small business, corporate, urban and rural representations.

Christmas WishThe key to all of it is that we have the common bond of being family.  This brings me to my “Christmas Wish.”

Our profession of HR is like my family.  We come from all generations, from all walks of life, from all types of industries and from all areas of Human Resources.  The gigantic difference is that we aren’t all together.  I honestly don’t understand that !!  There isn’t a good reason for us to be separated, isolated or divergent !!

So, help me by being a part of this wish.  I have this crazy, hairy goal to truly connect all HR pros from around the globe.  You may ask why someone would even desire something like this.

I see it this way . . .

We are only better if we’re together.  We can learn from each other.  We can come together on issues to make the workplace better for both employers and employees.  We can make our professional associations stronger and relevant.  Instead of rallying against them, let’s work together to make them better !!

With technology especially, we can be more and more connected.  I cherish the times to see and meet HR pros in real life because then the connection really takes on a new life of its own.

We can’t keep trying to improve HR being isolated.  It has never worked, and it won’t work in the future.  I also hear from friends who are stating that even HR blogs are lacking “new” ideas, or things that are fresh.

Let’s take our cue from my favorite Christmas song ever because of who did the duet.  It’s the Little Drummer Boy sung by Bing Crosby and David Bowie.  It happened on a 70’s Christmas special and I remember watching it live with my family.  My Dad asked who the “freak” was and I said, “Dad, you know that’s Bing Crosby !!”  After running away from him, we both sat down to listen and it was beautiful.

Here’s my challenge . . . Join in !!

Threre are great new efforts by Charlie Judy on HR Fishbowl and Paul Smith on Welcome to the Occupation for HR folks to share their voices. There are also great collaborative groups you can learn from like: XPertHR, Women of HR, Fistful of Talent, Performance I Create, The EO List and Talent Culture.

Instead of nodding at this post and saying that you’re in or supporting this effort to be more intentional and connect with other HR pros, write a comment on the blog to let me know it.

Seriously.  Step out (including you uber social folks who RT, but rarely comment) and join in.  If this was on Facebook, people would rally.  This takes a bit more of an effort.  Join in.  Be intentional and starting now and through 2013 – connect !!!

Breaking Bottlenecks !!

Control.

Is it something we really have?  Why do people continue to struggle to control things?  It may be human nature to make us feel stable or have stasis vs. imbalance, but what does control lead to?

BottleneckI think it leads to bottlenecks.  Bottlenecks are unnecessary blockades in our workplace today that are caused, more often than not, because of the need for control.  There’s an on-going feeling that if things funnel through the fewest people, then we have a better chance of being efficient and productive.  Some people are very successful at this and rise to the top of their organizations.  In fact, being a control freak is sometimes rewarded in organizations.

The past two weeks I’ve seen a different approach that excites me !!  Ironically, for those of you in HR, both involved SHRM (at the State Level).

The first experience was at the Indiana SHRM Leadership Day !! I was fortunate enough to be the “keynote” speaker and talked about HR being involved in Social Media.  Brad Galin and Angie Brawdy did a fab job of getting the SHRM chapter boards to attend.   I’ve heard a ton of presentations about this topic, but I took a different approach.  I opened with “Ice, Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice (because it’s Vanilla Ice) and encouraged folks to be: I ntentional, C onnected and E ngaged to the level they feel comfortable.  Instead of beating them to death for not being uberinvolved in every platform and comparing themselves to social media giants, I encouraged them to break out and find their own way.

The second experience came at the Ohio SHRM Leadership Day the following week where we had a Boot Camp !!  Each chapter was encouraged to send multiple volunteer leaders and the focus the whole day was on them.  Teaching them about resources, laughing, encouraging them and having fun in helping them become successful.

The bottlenecks of communication that can so easily be built were blown away because more people heard the messages.  They were able to take things in, filter them and decide how to move forward because they were ALL capable !!

It was great to see people energized about HR and  how they can be involved !!  Bottlenecks were broken these last two weeks and I want to encourage you to see where bottlenecks are in your organizations and see if you can get them unclogged.

Remember the sage words of Vanilla Ice . . .

“Stop, collaborate and listen . . .”  It works !! Peace out !!

HR in the Five One Three !!

This blog post is part of a collection created by various Human Resources professionals that was the brainchild of Victorio Milian (@Victorio_M). This “Carnival” of HR posts centers around the theme of HR and Home. To read the rest of the collection click here. You’ll be glad you did!

I am a Cincinnatian.  It’s not where I “started,” but having been here since 1986, I can say proudly it’s my home.  Being an HR pro in a conservative city has its advantages and disadvantages.  It’s safe and stable, for the most part.  But, the struggle for innovation took some time to blossom honestly.

You see, HR has deep roots in Cincinnati !!  Back when SHRM was the American Society for Personnel Administration, two local SHRM HR chapters gathered.  The Butler/Warren County SHRM chapter, just north of Cincy, has the designation of chapter “001” and the Greater Cincinnati HR Association (GCHRA) , my home chapter, is designee “008.”  So, we were in on the ground floor once chapters started forming.

Like most areas of SHRM, the chapters kept to themselves, but then a group of HR pros began stepping forward.  When you look at the history of the Ohio State Conference and the State Council of SHRM, you’ll find many Cincinnatians who were Conference Chairs, State Directors and Regional reps for SHRM.  These great folks laid the groundwork for what’s happening now in the Queen City.

You see, we started reaching out and connecting HR pros before Social Media came along.  We didn’t know that we were going to be “ahead of the curve,” but it appears that we were.  The HR Net was started through GCHRA back in 2001 to try and get HR pros more connected.  It started as a simple e-mail listserv tied to an internet message board with 200 people.  Now, in 2012 it reaches over 6,000 HR pros worldwide and allows them to post questions and events that are HR related.  Two things that differentiate this forum from most is that it’s free (and always has been) and each week people can sing along to a song parody about HR !!

As Social Media started to be born, Cincinnatians jumped in with both feet !!  It was like people were just waiting for the mechanism to get more connected.  Some of the early adopters (who are still active and visible) include Jennifer McClure (@JenniferMcClure), Margo Rose (@HRMargo) and Benjamin McCall (@BenjaminMcCall).  One of the things that “put us on the map” was when we “won” the most active HR community as the (513), our area code, on an episode of Steve Boese’s (@steveboese) great HR Happy Hour blog radio show !!

More and more HR practitioners and consultants from Cincinnati jumped into the Social Media HR space and began phenomenal blogs and started reaching out to become part of the larger HR community.  When I was asked to finally jump into the Social Media pool, I brought the platform of reaching HR pros that we started with me and then things exploded !!

One of the genuine positive outcomes of Social Media is that it has taken communities that only existed in their hometown and started intertwining them together.  Many of the great things we had done in Cincinnati were being done in other pockets around the country.  Being in Cincy, you are in a place that exudes that hometown feel.  We are doing our best to make others from around the Social Media space and the HR profession join us and make that hometown feel permeate throughout all we do !!

So, now I’d say, looking back at things that we have been innovative and the future only looks bright !!  I hope that we are a catalyst that continues to bring HR folks together for years and years to come !!

Image Courtesy of Zazzle

Opportunity or Task ??

“People.  They’re all around us every day.  It’s as if we HAVE to deal with them !!!”

Sound familiar?  Sound like you?  Sound like most people in the workplace . . . and HR?  It’s not surprising.  The workplace is filled with people.  It’s an amazing fact.  They desperately want to interact, communicate, perform and excel.  But, most of our efforts each day are to limit, thwart, conceal and conform.  Why is that?

Do you know that the 1st thing the vast majority of people do when they take that first step out of the car to enter the office is to heave a massive sigh and drop their shoulders resigned that they are off to WORK once again.  We do all in our power to make sure that people are in line, on task and diligent.  We overlook the chance that they are creative, intuitive and willing.

I think it’s because we treat the interaction between people as a task and not an opportunity.  We dread the possibility that someone will want us to stop, spend time with them and listen !!  Our e-mail, twitter account and texts are vastly more important than the conversation we are “stuck in” right now.  We are so horribly distracted and long for impersonal means of communication, that we will do almost anything to make sure we keep things short and sweet in person.  Ironically, we wonder why people never change the behavior we see in them that we wish would improve !!

The fact that this must change in the workplace is a gross oversight in HR !!  In our quest for “engagement,” we refuse to genuinely interact.  By making things a program, we miss the opportunity to take things in, relish and reflect on what is said and then act in tandem with others.

We tend to say, “Well, if Steve would just change, then I could make things work between us.”  (or something similar)  The fact is that we need to take the initiative and first step to look at others (even the really difficult ones) as an opportunity each and every time we interact.  People deserve this to be honest.

So, this week, drop your task list even though it will make most of you twitch a bit.  Look around you.  Find the sea of people that are a vital component of you are and what you do and dive in !!  It will get messy, challenging and even overwhelming.  But, the outcome is worth it !!

 

Hot Chocolate Made With Milk !!

A few weekends ago an amazing person passed away !!  She influenced more people than she ever knew and she never would have taken credit for any of it.  Did you see her passing in the press/social media?  No, I’m sure you didn’t.

You see, it was my Aunt Elaine.

After 81 phenomenal years, Aunt Elaine moved onto the next stage of life where I’m sure she was welcomed with open arms !!  I was at the SHRM Leadership Conference when her funeral services were held and I was disappointed to not be there for my extended family and the myriad of people who came to show their respects and shine as an example of who she touched.

You see, my brother and I were incredibly blessed when we were very young.  Our Dad, a Vietnam Vet, passed away in 1968 after losing a battle with Hodgkin’s Disease cancer.  We were 4 and 2 at the time.  Living in the mighty metropolis of Luckey, Ohio (yes, it is a town) would have been difficult for my Mom to raise two young boys except for our incredibly tight knit family.  Most days we were with my Grandma and Grandpa as Mom went to work.  However, we were often at Aunt Elaine’s , a mere mile and a half away as well.

I fondly remember spending the night and waking up before dawn with my cousins to go out and work in the barn doing chores to care for the farm animals.  It was hard work for a young boy, but every aspect of it was spectacular !!  The warmth, the smell, the sounds – all of it permeated every inch of you and made you feel connected to the life of being a farmer.

After chores, we would all bounce back into my Aunt and Uncle’s simple farm home to a table overflowing with food !!  Farm fresh eggs which we had just gathered, bacon from the farm, toast from homemade bread and of course – hot chocolate made with milk !!  The chance to have breakfast, or any meal, at my Aunt’s house was an incredible treat.  We thought this was “normal” for when we were at the farm and revelled in it !!

Why does this all matter ??

You see, we all leave a legacy in our lives whether we choose to or not.  My Aunt Elaine touched countless numbers of people with her laughter, her charity, her positive glow and outlook on life and her love for family.

In HR we work around people every day and we have the chance to be a positive imprint on their lives.  We often think that by focusing on the “business” of what we do is more important than caring for others as people.  Just remember – that leaves an imprint as well !!

So, this week, what can you do to be that simple mug of hot chocolate?  Be intentional and value all of those whose lives you touch !!  It will matter eternally !!

Together as one !!

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the SHRM Leadership Conference. It is a true favorite for me because it is made up of fellow HR volunteers from all over the United States !!  I also had the chance to meet some great people from SHRM India !!

What continues to amaze me at these intentional gatherings is that people still tend to run in the groups of people that they know.  People stick within their State more than cross boundaries to meet others even though we are all in the same profession and we also have the commonality of volunteering !!

Fortunately, I have always believed in expanding boundaries.  I love connecting with new people wherever I go and SHRMLead was a great opportunity to “reach across the aisle” and make this happen.

When I did this, along with my compatriot John Friend from North Dakota, incredible things began to happen !!  People began to recognize the great things that bring us together.  We have a passion for HR, people and seeing the profession strengthen and grow now and into the future.  We also want to see it be relevant and necessary in all businesses and industries.

However, this won’t happen unless we start to realize that we are all in this together !!

If we want HR to be better – we need to be together !!

If we want SHRM to be better – we need to be together !!

If we truly want to be global – we need to be together !!

The only thing that keeps us from doing it is that we need more folks to reach out and be willing to connect with each other.  We grow stronger as a whole when we incorporate the phenomenal ideas, approaches, strengths and diversity of our geography and our opportunities we face !!

By the end of the week I had been meeting and hanging out with people from Ohio (gimme since it’s where I’m from), North Dakota, Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, Hawaii, Illinois, New York, California, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Montana, New Jersey, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Washington, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arizona, Arkansas, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, and India !!

These weren’t just chance meetings or passing each other in the halls.  We spent time together advocating on Capitol Hill, sharing ideas in breakout sessions, sharing meals and the occasional adult beverage, and laughing about the incredible field of HR !!

I’ve written that one of my favorite groups of all time is U2 and their song “One” captures it all – “We’re one, but we’re not the same.  We get to carry each other – Carry each other”

This week reach out.  Make that intentional connection with other HR people. Join me in starting to bring us together.  It’s going to happen !!  And I’d love it if you were part of us . . . together !!

 

Do Something About It !!

This coming week I get to attend the SHRM Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.  The gathering is for Regional, State and Local Chapter leaders.  We get together to share what’s great and also give input on how we’d like to see things improve.

Before going further, let me be clear on my stance on SHRM . . .

I’m a fan !!

I know that things can be improved.  However, I would state that we could make that argument not only about our various organizations, but about our profession as a whole as well.

I didn’t used to have this perspective and I was once far from being a “fan.”  Let me share a story about someone who was EXTREMELY intentional with me in the past . . .

I have been facilitating a monthly HR Roundtable in Cincinnati for the past 12 years.  I never would have made it this far if it wasn’t for one fateful meeting.  We had another full house and the session went very well.  At the end of the meeting, I was complaining about our local SHRM chapter and pontificating that the Roundtable was “so much better” than what they had to offer.  A person heard this and she literally pinned me to the wall when she did.

She said, “I’m tired of you bashing our chapter.  If it’s so bad do something about it !!  Don’t just sit here making comments.  If you want it to change, then step up and get involved.”  Now, you have to understand that this great person is about 5 ft. 2 in. tall and I’m 6 ft. 5 in. tall.  It was quite the site.

This wasn’t some passionate SHRM zealot.  It was a person who cared about the chapter and didn’t like people making snarky comments about it as if they were film critics who never saw the movie.

I took her words to heart.  I jumped in with both feet !!  Instead of easing into a volunteer capacity, I ran for Vice-President of the chapter.  I won (which surprised me) and that lead to beint the Chapter President.  During my tenure, our chapter won the Pinnacle Award from SHRM at the same conference I’m attending this week.  I went on to be involved at the State level and lead a phenomenal team two years ago for the Ohio HR Conference with our HR Rocks theme !!  We had the most successful conference to date.  Could have stopped there, but then took on the role of State Director for Ohio SHRM – which is where I am . . . for now.

Please forgive my personal SHRM history.  The point is that because someone stepped out and confronted me to take action, I have had incredible fortune and success.  I also have made lifelong friends and have done a small part in trying to make SHRM and HR better.

So, this week I am geeked to see friends, make new connections and see what else I can do to make SHRM even better.  I hope that this week you can do the same in your corner of the HR universe.

It’s time to quit wishing things were better.  Do something about it !!