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

My Fellow HRians !!

This past week the President of the United States gave the State of the Union address.  Regardless of where you stand politically, it amazes me that we live in a country where it’s leader addresses the nation with his plan for the coming year.  There are companies who never fully communicate the Strategic Plan for their company let alone an entire country !!

While the address occurred, there were several of us who participated in a chat on Twitter that was coordinated by Lisa Horn, SHRM Director of Congressional Affairs, and Chatrane Birbal, Sr. Advisor of Governmental Affairs for SHRM.  It was fascinating to hear people’s takes on things, but the underlying trend of the majority of the entire speech was . . . HR !!

Seriously !!  You can break it down like this – Employment and job creation (HR), Immigration (HR), Education and Training (HR), Retirement programs and MyRA (HR), Minimum Wage (HR), Equity in Pay (HR), and hiring the long-term unemployed and veterans (HR).

That’s amazing !!  When I read countless posts and articles about how HR is going to disappear or be irrelevant, I have to chuckle because we were the entire fabric of the COUNTRY !!

How much will get done?  Hard to say.  Will politicians get in the way and muck things up? Probably.  Do we have to fall into that same trap of inactivity and infighting ?? NO !!

Make Things Happen SignThis is a real chance for HR to have its voice heard within the walls of their companies, their local communities, their states and the US as a whole !!  If you aren’t advocating for these issues so they actually hear the perspective of HR professionals, then this is your chance to shine.  Look at what’s before you instead of sitting in the shadows and complaining about more things that are forced upon you due to regulations and legislation.  I’ve personally advocated at the State and Federal level and it’s invigorating !!  Legislators want to hear from people who actually do the work instead of only hearing from lobbyists.

The key you have to remember in all of this is that if you choose not to advocate or raise your voice, someone will who is on the opposite side of what you believe.  I’ve seen this personally happen.

You can be an example as well by modeling positive behavior in how you practice HR in your company !!

  • Look at how you compensate your employees.  If there is inequity, address it and be consistent.
  • Look at the long-term unemployed and veterans groups as pools of talent and experience versus thinking about what they “don’t have” for your company.  Investing in people who WANT to work for you is often more valuable then a  pretty resume !!
  • Be knowledgeable about the impact of immigration, minimum wage, retirement programs and training have on your organization.  Be the business voice to Sr. Management about these as an expert and stop waiting for someone to come to you.  Be proactive !!

I hope you can tell that this jacks me up !!  I hope you see the signs that are extremely visible in front of us.  The landscape is wide open and it’s a chance for us to step up, be heard and move an entire country forward.  I’m geeked and hope you join me, my fellow HRians !!

Take it All In !!

I’m glad to say that I’ve survived another phenomenal Ohio State SHRM HR Conference !!  It was spectacular from stuffing the conference bags and setting up the vendor booths all the way to the final session.  It truly is an exhausting week for many of us (by choice).

It’s fascinating to watch the interactions that happen at an HR conference.  I think this is mainly because HR folks love to be around others from their profession.  There’s camaraderie, laughter and a truly evident bonding that is needed at least once a year.  You have to know it’s fantastic to be around people who are working in very similar circumstances ranging from compliance to employee relations.

Another very interesting facet that I keep coming across is how involved people choose to be throughout the conference.  I get the fact that ALL of us are taking time away from our families, our workplaces and the projects that will be jumping to life come Monday morning once again.  Since this time is more focused around HR intentionally, it would make sense to me that you would fill every moment with everything you possibly could at the Conference.  Ironically, this doesn’t happen.  This isn’t to be critical – it’s an observation.

I think what is telling about this though is the issue of capacity.  People take in as much as they can handle in all areas of work, life and activities.  The question you have to ask yourself is – what is my capacity?  What if I could take in one more thing that may give me THE answer I need to do my role better?  What if I met one more person who could be THE one who connects me to resources, a career opportunity or other great HR pros who could make HR come alive?

SHRM CardAt the Conference we asked everyone to sign a birthday card for SHRM because it’s their 65th birthday this year. It was a simple thing to ask for a very small commitment. When people saw that their contribution was within reach, easy to accomplish and they had someone there to encourage them to do it – there was instant participation.  Once there was one signature, the next one seemed natural.  By the time one side of the card was filled, the next side began to take shape.  People wrote in all directions, sizes and locations.  No one argued and everyone joined in.  We even bled over to the back of the card because more and more people wanted to be included.

It was a card.  A piece of cardboard that still had room to take on more people. It hadn’t reached it’s capacity – and most of us haven’t either.

So, the next time you’re at an event – take in everything.  I mean it.  EVERYTHING !!  Don’t miss out on one moment. It is so fulfilling and you’ll take all that you’ve experienced and learned back to work and be an even greater HR person !!

Connecting !!

This week is truly a week I eagerly anticipate every year !!  That is because I know when September rolls around, so does the annual Ohio State HR Conference !!  I get excited because it’s a chance to break away from the day-to-day and be with my peers.  I know this sounds HR Nerdish but I’m unapologetic about it.

The Conference has an intimate feel to it even though we’re approaching 900 attendees and 90+ vendors.  The theme this year is “HR – Making Connections that Count” and I really dig the feel of this.  The question is, will people step out and make connections?

One of the real challenges of HR is that we try to gut it out or go it alone.  I don’t know when this trend where  isolation is seen as a strength ever started, but it needs to end !!  Ironically, there will be attendees who come to this great event (and others like it) and will do little to no connecting whatsoever.  No connections with resource partners, no connections with peers and no connections with people who could make HR truly come alive for them !!  Why is that?

I don’t think it’s a matter of introversion or extraversion.  I think it’s a case of risk aversion !!  I’m amazed how the folks who are in the field of HUMANS are so hesitant to meet others.  Is it because we’re different and won’t have anything in common?  Is it because someone will meet you and immediately ask you some insanely hard HR question, and if you don’t know the right answer, they’ll kick you out of HR ??

Then what is it?  What continually keeps folks apart and not connecting?

I have a theory . . .

ButtonsYou see, I collect buttons.  I have loads of them and they don’t follow any particular pattern or grouping.  They range from Monty Python, to types of beer, to rock bands to hippie related ones, to classic cartoons, to HR ones, etc.  Here’s a quick pic of just a few of my collection.  I’m trying to organize them to show them off and enjoy them !!

So, what’s my theory?  Just like the buttons we are a mix of a million different interests, emotions, ideas, insights, viewpoints and approaches.  However, we either think others won’t find us interesting enough, or we think we won’t find people who share our interests.  And that my friends is sad !!

I LOVE that we’re different !!  How dreadfully boring would it be if we were all the same ??  Seriously.

So, I have a challenge for you this week.  I plan to connect with every (EVERY) single attendee and vendor at the Conference.  Not just meet them – connect with them.  I want to learn about who they are and see how we can be resources to each other.

Your challenge is to meet one (1) new person this week and connect with them.  I think that keeps things pretty balanced.  If you’re one of the 900 attending #OHSHRM13, I’m geeked to see you, meet you and connect with you.  Maybe . . . you’ll even be wearing a button !!

Spread the Word !!

Last week I was up before the sun rose and was driving in and around country roads in a small town in Ohio.  I was hoping that my GPS was guiding me to my destination, but it was truly a matter of faith because I wasn’t near anything that looked like a conference center or meeting place !!

As I turned in the driveway of a small, local office building, I was a bit wary because I was the only car in the parking lot.  After a few minutes, a familiar face pulled up and I was at ease.  I was there as a speaker for a SHRM chapter.  As the room began to fill up, I was getting more and more excited !!  I love the opportunity to meet new HR folks and talk about the positive aspects of our field.

Once everyone was seated, I looked around at the 13 smiling faces and launched into my presentation.

That’s right – 13 people.  I had traveled the night before for 2 1/2 hours to spend a night in a hotel away from my family to speak to 13 people.  We had a great time !!

Spread the WordI’ve been seeing a push for HR practitioners to speak at Conferences which would be awesome to see.  But, I think it goes much deeper than that !!  You see, I think it is the obligation of professionals in HR to spread the word about what we do.  This isn’t something we “ought” to do, it’s something imperative for the sustainability of our field.

We rely on a relatively few number of people to be voices of HR, and that could be for a variety of reasons.  The reality is that ALL HR pros need to share the information and resources they learn about with others around them !! It seems very limiting to think that we attend these great events like chapter meetings and conferences to only take things in and never share them with others.  How does that help others in your organization?

It’s time for all of us to shift our mindset and see how the things we learn can truly improve our role, our company and our field.  If you read a great blog – share it.  If you get information about how to do something better – share it. If you hear a great speaker, then tell others about the takeaways you have.

The more we share, the stronger we become.  There’s no reason – no reason – for us to be isolated in what we do !!

So be on the lookout !!  I’m going to continue to spread the word in what we do.  I may even be getting in my car right now to get the word out to a group of HR pros, no matter the size.  It’s in my DNA, and I hope it’s in yours too !!

You Have A Choice !!

As the work week begins . . . you have a choice !!

You can enter the parking lot of your workplace and release a heavy sigh (as most American workers do every day), or you can wake up and decide what opportunities lay before you and how YOU can be involved to make a difference !!

I’ve been working on this myself.  It’s easy to sit at a keyboard and jot down words to share.  I often wonder if what is written by people is practiced or espoused.  Is it great motivational insight only?  I can’t really handle that if it is.

You see I’ve made a choice myself.  I choose to live abundantly vs. die indifferently !!

There’s a true reason behind such a statement.  Too many people float around every day.  Their work is “just a job.”  They don’t feel what they do makes a difference.  It has to be an incredible burden to painfully slog through the day thinking that what you do has little to no impact.

I don’t buy it !!  I really don’t.

You see, even not making a choice is . . . in itself . . . a choice.  You can’t sit idly by and think you’re not impacting other people.  Therefore, you’re making a difference, but maybe not one you intended.  I can’t sit by and just waste away thinking that by coasting I won’t make waves.

Make A DifferenceI want to make waves !!  I want to be uncomfortable each and every day in what I do in all aspects of my life.  There is too much at stake and too many lives to be reached.

In HR I hear too many of my peers lamenting what they can’t do.  Or, how their organization doesn’t value their contribution or HR itself.  I know this happens.  But, what are you doing to make a difference ??  Do you even look to see if that is what you can do ??

We have an incredible opportunity each and every day.  We can take the people we work with and allow them to shine, contribute and make waves !!  I don’t feel that people want to just “exist” in the workplace.  I’m not talking engagement here.  I’m talking impact !!  Employees want to add value to the Company, not just put their time in.  I would challenge anyone who says that this isn’t the case.  If it is, or if that is the general vibe in your workplace, then evaluate yourself first to see if you’ve made the choice to change that attitude.

We can bring light to an organization !!  We don’t have to get stuck in the trenches in the darkness, mire and muck.  We should cut through the trenches with vitality, intentionality and strength !!  This goes beyond passion.

YOU make a difference everyday in all you do !!  This isn’t some rah, rah speech.  It’s a fact.  The question is, what difference are you making ??

It’s a new week.  You have a choice . . .

 

 

 

Do You Love Your Job ??

Today is a first for Everyday People !!  I’m away on vacation with my amazing family, so I decided to have a guest post.  This is the first guest post ever for my blog, so I only have the BEST person to break this barrier – Dr. Daniel Crosby, PhD !!

Daniel is a dear friend and an incredible resource.  He is doing great work with Suited Jobs that you MUST check out !!   Suited is a tool that provides fit scores for
your company culture, job and provides suggestions for work that might better
suit you. Now, for the good Dr. !!

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One-sided relationships never work. This maxim sounds true, yet too many of us think that it doesn’t apply to our jobs.

Being highly committed to your job not only helps your employer, it helps you. Researchers have pointed out several benefits:

  • You’ll go above and beyond to be innovative and creative in your work.
  • You’ll be more motivated.
  • You’ll take less stress home with you.
  • You’ll be more likely to be recognized for your work.

Take an honest look at your relationship with your job. When was the last time you did something for your job you didn’t have to do? When was the last time you went out of your way for your job and didn’t complain? When was the last time you woke up excited to spend time with your job?

If the fire is no longer burning, just take a lesson from James Ziemer and find reasons to be committed to your work.

Love Your JobJames Ziemer, the former CEO of Harley-Davidson, started with the company in 1969. Only he didn’t start as an executive. He entered the organization as a lowly freight elevator operator. In this job, he was responsible for hauling motorcycle equipment from floor to floor. Only he wasn’t hauling just any old parts. To Ziemer, they were the crown jewels of the company.  In the years that followed, Ziemer became familiar with the operations of other parts of the business; he later worked in the manufacturing, engineering, accounting, parts and accessories, and finance departments. All of these experiences, in one way or another, would prove instrumental as he took on an executive role. Ziemer’s early experiences with Harley-Davidson were inextricable from the perspective he held while sitting at the top of the company.

Remember Ziemer’s story when thinking about your own work day. This new perspective can change how you look at mundane tasks and help to rekindle the old flame. Think of your job tasks as paving the way to something bigger and better.

Making cold calls? Sales skills will come in handy when negotiating your first large-scale acquisition.

Crunching numbers? You’ll need that skill when calculating your own salary.

Remember to look at the big picture. You might not be sitting pretty with your trophy job at the moment, but you’ll be proving to yourself that you are ready for more than just another quick Hollywood-type fling.

Eat. Sleep. Do HR.

Hey HR folks !!  Is the first word that comes out of your mouth when you head into work – “Ugh !!”  Seriously, does the dawning of a new day in your corner of the HR universe generate excitement and anticipation, or drudgery and a loathsome feeling?

The answer most people reading this would say – “It depends on the day !!”

You know, that’s fair.  The question you have to ask youself is what mood, or tone, do you regularly set as an HR pro?  As a department?  Do people like interacting with you, or do they do the classic, “Shhhh, it’s HR !!”

The are approximately 4 zillion posts on HR and engagement out there on the Internet now.  I suppose that even as I type, more are being typed and posted.  Rarely, however, do I see a post asking if HR is engaged.

Eat Sleep Do HRLet’s go back to how you approach this field that deals with people.  A friend of mine recently gave me this fabulous button.  ( I collect buttons, by the way.  Great hobby !!)

When I saw it, I just had to add it to my collection !!  I wear this button along with my “HR Rocks !!” button on my coat.  When Team Members see them, they either snicker or roll their eyes.  I’m actually cool with that because I want to get a reaction from them.  I ask them why they give the reaction they do, and the answer I get the most is “You sure are an HR geek !!”  Sweet !!

The other reason I got this button is to turn those of my peers who see our field as a giant mire pit of one problem leading to the next.  If any of you reading this feel this way, it’s time to reflect and see if this is the field for you.

I don’t want anyone to ever leave HR, but if any profession is defined by a black cloud or black hole approach, then you should get out of it.  I think HR is dynamic, challeging, uplifting, passionate and messy !!  How many fields can say that?  I don’t want HR to be soft and fluffy.  I don’t want HR to fall into the stereotypes that people often tie to us.

I do want HR to be inclusive, intentional and individualistic !!  We should meet people where they are – not where we think they should be !!

Recently, I met with a Team Member for the first time to recognize her for her 5 year anniversary.  We have over 1,200 Team Members who work various shifts on various days.  I wish I could know all of them personally, but that’s very difficult.  When she met with me her eyes were huge and she was anxious because she was meeting the head of HR.  When I explained that I was there to recognize and thank her for her 5 years of service, she burst into tears and gave me a bear hug !! “I love what I do !!  Thank you so much for this !!” Messy and emotional.  HR at it’s finest !!

So, this week as you get ready to jump back into the mix.  You have to ask yourself – am I going to just DO HR – or am I going to ROCK IT ??!!  I think you know the answer I hope we ALL say . . .

Enough or Not Enough ??

When you get to work on Monday, what’s the first thing that goes through your mind?  You’re in HR and you get the opportunity to do something great yourself and through the people that work with you and around you.  But, is that how you view things?

This isn’t just the “half full / half empty” question.  It’s much bigger than that !!  I was reminded of this just last week when my good friend, Brad Galin, crossed State lines from INSHRM to speak to the State Council at OHSHRM. He spoke on moving from Scarcity to Abundance.  The title may seem a bit heady, but it is a reality we all face when we hit the door this week.

People are difficult.  The odd thing that we forget in HR is that WE’RE people !!  So, if we’re difficult too, then how can others see HR differently?  In moving from scarcity to abundance, you change your viewpoint, your approach and your behavior.  It’s not enough to much wish that you’ll do better.  You need to move !!

Why is that important you may ask?  Isn’t in “enough” that we get our work done?  Aren’t we measured (and measure others) on productivity?  People aren’t processes or things.  We keep losing sight of that, and, in turn, HR suffers.

Negative to PositiveThinking, and acting, abundantly isn’t some wealth strategy where you’re promised some mythical get rich quick solution.  Being abundant means that your view starts positively and then moves forward from there.  It stays positive too.

Brad shared a great example from his work with Stone Belt, a non-profit group who works with adults with disabilities. He stated that the adults who are his clients are thankful for everything !!  If you stubbed your toe, they’d say, “That was awesome !!  Way to go !!  You did that great !!”  The room laughed, but it was refreshing to hear as well.

So, do you have enough or not?  Can you be a great HR person where you are, with what you have and who you work with?  Are you even asking these types of questions, or are you putting your head down and grinding through?

There’s too much of life around you to keep your head down !!  Remember that you’re difficult . . . just like everyone around you.  Isn’t that freeing ??  Now, jump into this jumbled mix of humanity and live it up !!  The folks around you have been waiting for you to join in !!

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