The Coming Year . . .

I remember gathering at a friend’s house in 1999 for New Year’s Eve. The party was very casual and the crowd was made up of several couples with many little kids running around. The excitement was high because as the ball was going to drop and become the year 2000 we wondered if Y2K was actually going to occur. There was some anxiety mixed with a ton of skepticism.

We counted down, 5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 !! And, then the power went out completely in the house. It was pitch black and we thought that Y2K did happen. We all scurried to grab our things and get to our houses when the power returned. Todd, the home owner, came around the corner laughing heartily with his drink in hand. “Just kidding !!” We all pelted him with a barrage of Boo’s and then joined him in uproarious laughter as well.

So, here we are two decades later and we’re on the verge of stepping into yet another New Year. I’d have to say that many are still filled with a mix of anxiety along with skepticism. This may not be unique because every year we are faced with situations of all types. There may be personal challenges, personal opportunities or even larger scale circumstances that stand in front of us.

Many people will make a series of resolutions with the best intentions of keeping them, and they will have limited success. I have never been one to make resolutions because the areas of my life that I need to work on have a longer window than just to get started every January. Also, I know that when I’ve tried to make massive life jumps or switches, I fall back into my regular pattern way too easily.

So, am I going to do anything differently in the coming year? I wouldn’t classify my approach as “different”, but I would say that it’s going to be even more intentional. I want to connect HR pros to each other even more than I have in the past !! I also want to see people interact with each other with respect and grace even in the midst of differing opinions.

I continue to be astonished at the number of HR practitioners who try to conduct their jobs on their own. They may even be part of a larger HR team within an organization. Why do we think isolation will enable us to be effective and viable in HR? We absolutely must break this paradigm !! There is so much value in being connected to others who do what you do. This can happen through social media as well as in person. Please join me in helping others in HR connect with other practitioners. Let’s eliminate this facet of our profession for good.

While making connections, we need to step up as HR pros to facilitate AND participate in dialogue and discussions regarding the challenging issues in the workplace, our industry and the country. These conversations should lead to action which not only addresses issues, but does it in a way to move organizations forward. I would ask that we allow for true dialogue which considers all perspectives that is supported by respect and grace. This is overdue in all areas of our work.

I’m looking forward to 2019. I think it’s a chance for us to be positive and lift each other up. I hope you find the areas in your life that you’d like to continue, and that you’re successful. Happy New Year my friends !!

What’s Your Sandwich Board ??

I love when you’re out browsing shops in a town and you see a sandwich board. They are either telling you the specials of the day, or they have a catchy message to try to grab your attention. I have to be honest that I love the ones that are humorous, sarcastic or a bit snarky.

If a sandwich board is creative enough, it will cause you to stop and consider dropping in. You may not have planned to stop at that particular establishment, but the message on the board drew you in.

My wife and I were getting some birthday cupcakes for my son this weekend at Tres Belle Cakes and Coffee Shop. Before we entered the store, the sandwich board made me stop, smile and laugh !! We were heading to the store regardless of the sign because we had a “purpose” before us, but the sign set the mood going in.

When we went in the store I asked about the coffee they had, and we ended up walking out with a few “additional” pastries. I also saw a coffee brand new to me called Death Wish Coffee which both intrigued and concerned me at the same time. I may have to return to at least try this strong brew !!

While I was enjoying my pastry from the store, my mind began to wander and I wondered what my sandwich board says when people meet me both as a person and in my HR role. I also wondered what others see when they interact with HR. If I had to guess, most messages on people’s boards would be more self critical and reserved because most HR pros tend to be conservative and cautious.

Have you asked what others think of HR in your company? I know that many companies do this through surveys, but I’d like to challenge you to gauge how people see you through personal interactions. That is more telling than allowing someone to sit behind a survey to share with little or no context.

I hope that when people encounter me and my team our sandwich board says that we’re approachable, empathetic, understanding, human and . . . fun !! Yes, fun – It’s the “F” word that should define HR regardless of what your company is like. There’s no reason that people shouldn’t read our board based on our behavior and look forward to interacting and working with us.

This week take some time for reflection. If you had to actually post a sandwich board outside your department/office, would it invite people in? If it wouldn’t, what steps would you take to reformat not only your message, but how you practice HR?

I think that all HR pros should establish how they can market themselves with a simple message and attract people so that they want to know us, work with us and enjoy all that HR can be !! Have some fun (from now on) and create your sandwich board !!

Wonderful, Always

This past week I woke up earlier than normal because I need to do some last minute shopping and prep for a day of development for our managers. As most people tend to do, I had a list in my head of what I needed to purchase. I wanted to get into the store and avoid contact if possible so I could “get things done.”

As I was hurriedly walking to the aisle for the supplies I was seeking, a cashier caught my eyes and greeted me. “How’s your morning going so far?”

“Great !!” I replied. “How about yours?”

She said, “Wonderful, always !!”

I stopped walking. I was struck by her response. This was not your normal greeting. I smiled and made a note to remember her reply. I gathered my supplies and couldn’t wait to get to her checkout aisle. I just had to talk to her more. As I checked out, we chatted for a few minutes about the day ahead and how it was sure to be great. I thanked her and I went off to set-up my meeting . . . but my attitude had completely shifted.

Did I mention that this interaction happened at Wal-Mart at 7:00am in the morning? Yes, Wal-Mart. There was something else that occurred as I was shopping. Every employee warmly greeted each other. Every. One. And, they didn’t do they typical “drive-by” greeting with the obligatory non-engaged response of “I’m fine” or “I’m good.” It was so refreshing to see and experience !!

Let’s put things into context. The employees I was observing worked in a retail environment that gets more criticism than other retail outlets. People judge folks who shop at Wal-Mart and make offhanded, look down your nose remarks about them. However, the employees seemed more authentic and engaged than most employees I’ve seen in any workplace !!

Now, I understand that all of us have “life” going on in varying degrees of challenges and/or success. That won’t change because life moves in waves. I wish we were always on the crest of those waves, but there will always be the inevitable troughs that come as well.

I admire Carol (that is the Wal-Mart cashier I met) because regardless of what is happening in her life, she chooses to genuinely see things as “wonderful, always !!” I love that a front-line team member is positively authentic. It’s a posture that I try to take and would love to see be the truth of anyone who works in Human Resources.

This isn’t about being naive or utopian in your approach to the day. It’s proven that if you start your day, and then continue through it, with a positive mindset that most of your interactions will go well. This is true even during the most emotional and/or dark circumstances you encounter during your day.

This week be intentional and determine that you will start each day positively. Don’t just make this a resolution. Work on making it your norm.

You have to trust me that when you do this things will improve. Your work will become manageable regardless of the obstacles that will occur. When you are out with your employees, you’ll brighten their day first before they have a chance to dump another load of crud at your feet. When you’re consistently positive on purpose, you eventually shape the culture of your company and the relationships you have with others.

I hope that from now on you’reĀ  wonderful . . . always !!