Stop the Definite Maybe !!

As we are headed into the midst of the great State SHRM Conference season (Ohio SHRM is just a month away !!) , I continue to see sessions on “being strategic.”  Don’t get me wrong, it is imperative that we are strategic in what we do.  It just confuses me that this topic is at every conference . . . every year, and it has been for at least the last 10 !!

Has “being strategic” changed that much over the past decade?  I think we need to quit thinking that we are going to reach a business “awakening” and experience nirvana.  As if, one day you walk in and it hits you that you have reached some plateau.  We need to eliminate one thing in our way, and the journey to being consistently strategic will be at hand.

Stop the “definite maybe.”  Other, than being an incredible song by the Kinks on their State of Confusion set, there’s no place for being indecisive. HR needs to be decisive in order to be strategic.

I’m the first one to absolutely follow the “it depends” model of HR because circumstances are never the same when you’re in the midst of employee issues.  Being adaptable to move within, around and through situations will allow you to truly consider a well-rounded decision.  But . . . the key is to decide !!

Recently, I’ve been faced with many people who want policies to be concrete laws that are carved into stone tablets that we can smash people with when they are violated.  However, we’re rarely consistent when we choose to take a hard line stance because the “it depends” factor will come into play.  You like one person more than the other.  One person’s a “high performer” and the other’s a “slacker.”  The list goes on and on. Even though people beg for absolutes, they pull back when, and if, the absolutes affect them.

The two keys to remember are: (1) Policies are parameters that allow people to move and perform within them, not rules to look for ways to discipline and terminate and (2) Come to a resolution on things understanding that that resolution may bend, mold and morph the next time you’re faced with a similar situation.  People react well when you’re decisive – even if it’s bad news they’re getting.

HR, this is a chance for us to shine !!  Senior Executives want people who can bring things to closure and move things forward.  It’s great to get in the fray and slug things out a bit if it means that things move ahead.

So, this week, get out of the mire and trap of indecision !!  Plant your flag !!  Take a stand !!  Be the champion for ALL  of your employees and stop the definite maybes !!

Release Your Inner Pop Artist !!

Last week my family and I enjoyed an incredible week of vacation in Chicago !!  We took in sites such as the harrowing Skydeck of Willis Tower, the incredible Lincoln Park Zoo and the Cloud Gate “Bean” sculpture in Millenium Park. We ate well in local restaurants and had a glorious time !!

A true highlight for us was the Art Institute of Chicago.  My kids are old enough to “tolerate” art and they even sought out some pieces/artists on their own that they “just had” to see.  It was cool to experience this with them.  They know that I’m an art buff and love to see how people express themselves creatively.  A true surprise during our visit was the Roy Lichtenstein exhibit.

Ironically, we walked into the back of the exhibit which featured his work from his final years and we worked our way backwards.  What was fascinating was that when we got to the “beginning” of where we should have started, we saw that he started out like other abstract artists of his time.

He hadn’t developed his style like you see here from his painting “Whaam!” from 1963.  His colors, styles and brush strokes could have been mistaken for other artists of his time.  He chose to develop his own style and approach to art and he ended up one of the most dynamic and memorable creators of Pop Art ever !!

It made me think of HR.  (I know that’s geeky, but go with it.)  Most HR people I know are great copiers, mimics and people who take on “best practices” that they admire from others.  This type of HR is very effective and you can be very successful doing this.

But, what if you released your creativity and took your work, and profession, in a different way?  What if there was a Pop Artist just waiting to burst onto the scene to be heard?  What if your “work” and art was someday seen in museums and exhibits?

Sound crazy?  I don’t think so.  Not in the least.

You see, I believe that there is creativity in each of us.  Some may repress it or ignore it, but we love creating things as people.  HR needs creativity in so many facets.  There really are no limits as to what can be done in your role, your company and your field.

Why not be like Roy Lichtenstein who learned from his peers and then took a step out in a whole new direction?  Just think of what you could do !!  I try to be creative every day in at least one way.  This week see if you can join me and release some of the creative brilliance in you just waiting to hit the canvas !!  I look forward to seeing your work !!

Image courtesy of Art Encyclopedia 2012

Savor Every Moment !!

I am digging that the Olympics are on !!  I’ve loved watching both the Summer and Winter Games since 1972.  The thing that is unfortunate, to me, this year is that people on Social Media are raking NBC over the coals because our “instant society” has results before the athlete even completes an event.

On top of that, people are scathing about how the network is slower than we can post, blog or tweet.  In doing this, I think they take away the performance of the athletes, the compelling human drama and the visual appeal of watching the event unfold.  I never look for the results, and if I happen to see one, I still watch the event with anticipation.

You may say this is naive or old fashioned, but I think it calls to mind an imbalance in life that social media has afforded us.  Let me share two quick stories . . .

On Friday, I went to the retirement dinner of my 70 year old Dad.  He had worked for the Mid-Ohio Energy Cooperative as the Accountant. His career for the last 22 years was for a small company in a rural town in Ohio.  It was spectacular !!  They told stories about my Dad and his “Donisms” which brought the room to tears with laughter.  When my Dad spoke, he got a bit choked up thanking the company for the ability to earn a good wage with benefits.  He pointed to his family and said, “Look how much you have provided for me so that I am blessed to have provided for my family.”  Amazing !!

Tonight we had a cookout with four close girls basketball families and their Coach (w/ family) one last time before the girls head to college.  We laughed, reminisced and enjoyed our company one last time as a tight knit group.  We vowed to meet every Christmas break and summer to make sure we stayed in touch as a group.  Phenomenal !!

When it comes to HR, we are tending to be more like the instant world of Social Media versus the picture above called “Holding a Piece of Time.”  We rush to immediate action and/or judgement without taking in all aspects of what is involved.  We think the “stories” that surround us honestly get in the way of our real jobs.

This week try something new !!  Savor the moments around you.  Take in everything and see that, more often than not, great things are happening.  You can still take in all of the events, enjoy the movement and come to great decisions.  In fact, your results will be spectacular.  Don’t rush . . . savor !!

 

Buffaloes, Planes and Wiffle Ball !!

This past week I was completely unplugged as I was at Summer Camp at the Pioneer Scout Reservation with the Boy Scouts. To say it was spectacular would not capture the experience enough !!  I know that the idea of camping for a week in 100+ degree weather for a few days followed by 14 straight hours of monsoonlike rain isn’t for everyone, but I wouldn’t trade it in for the world !!

There were so many memories forged, but let me highlight just a few . . .

  • I slept through a heat lightning thunderstorm in an open field approximately 100 yards from a herd of buffalo at the Wild Winds Buffalo Preserve.
  • My son flew an airplane including lift off . . . and he’s 14 !!
  • Our Troop built a wiffle ball field inside our campsite.  They made the bases from log pieces cut by them with a two-man saw.
  • The kids challenged the camp staff to a wiffle ball game on our field and beat them 16 – 6.  I was deemed a “traitor” because I put on a staff shirt and hat and played for their team !!

The list could go on and on.  The amazing thing is that even when I’m away from the “normal” world of work – HR still happens.  Our leaders and scouts went out of our way to bond with the Staff and encourage them in all the great work that they do.  Everyday staff members were in our site to socialize, play Euchre (an essential of scouting life !!) and even ask for advice.  They are talented young men and women who choose to take their summers to help boys advance in their scouting career.

The best lesson I learned from camp this year was that, because I was disconnected from the outside/electronic/social media world, I could focus.  I could focus on what mattered the most . . . the people around me.

Whether it was calming a young kid down from a serious bought of home sickness, or seeing my son become a young man and lead others, you didn’t have the chance to focus on anything else.  You could take in every challenge, obstacle and opportunity and encourage, coach and guide people to be successful in what they were pursuing.

We hosted the leaders from the summer camp’s other Troops at our site and I taught them how to share one great thing about their kids and they stayed at our site for 2 1/2 hours sharing amazing things !!

This break from the wild pace of life reminded me that I want to continue to be an HR professional who focused on people first.  You know that when we focused on the boys they completed their work, laughed for hours and hours, and worked together to do things that they’d never try on their own.

I think we make HR too hard.  I am taking the lessons from this past week and implementing them even more.  So, each night I’m going outside to gaze into the night sky and breathe deep to keep me grounded.  Of course I’ll be wearing tie-dye, and you can see that this legacy will continue with at least a handful of young men for years to come.

I call him “Dad” !!

Other than being married, the greatest joy I have in life is the gift of being a father !!  You’ve seen me write about both of my kids, Melanie (18 and soon heading off to college) and Josh (14 and planning to take over the world).  I’ve even written about my biological father who was a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War.  Today, however, I’m writing about my dad.

You see, I hail from the Center of the Universe which is also known as the Village of Ada, Ohio.  This is where my brother and I grew up during our formative Jr. High and Sr. High years and where my parents still reside.  This story starts about one year before we moved to this incredible mecca !!

My mother is in the 1st wing of the “Mothers Hall of Fame” !!  That is not an exaggeration.  ANYONE who has met my mom would say this within minutes of meeting her.  Since I was the “man of the house” since the age of four, I was very protective of my mom and didn’t quite get why she had to meet someone else. Thankfully, I wasn’t really in charge and the good Lord brought Don into my mom’s life.  He seemed cool enough, but I didn’t want him getting “too close” to my mom.

One night after they had been “courting” (that’s what they called it – not me), he came to the room where my brother and I stayed and we had the following conversation:

Don – “Boys, I wanted to talk to you and ask you something.”

Steve – “Sure.  What do you want to tell us?” (I didn’t allow my younger brother to speak because I was – and still am – the firstborn)

Don – “Well, your mom and I have decided to get married.”

(My brother and I were stunned and shocked.  How could she do this?  We didn’t need him !!  He went on . . .)

Don – “Well, boys, I just wanted to ask.  When we’re married, do you want to call me ‘Dad’ or ‘Don’ ??”

(Get ready for it.  Here comes the most calloused response in the history of families !!)

Steve – “We’ll call you ‘Don’ because you will NEVER be our father !!”

(Did I mention that I was an idiot 13 year old punk?)

Don – “That’s fine boys.  Good night.”

He didn’t put up a fight and was incredibly gracious (as he always has been.)  Later that summer in 1976 during the glitz of the Bicentennial, my brother and I stood in polyester suited glory at my mom and Don’s wedding.  We moved to Ada and the rest is history – well, sort of . . .

Don raised my brother Mark and I as if we were his own sons.  He was always fair, structured and showed us amazing things.  He taught us about work ethic, manners, treating women with respect and most of all . . . love mixed with incredible humor !!

The day of my high school graduation, he grabbed me and hugged me and told me he loved me.  He followed that with, “So, when are you moving out?”  Through laughter and tears I embraced him and said, “I love you Dad !!”

He always had been my “Dad” and now I realized it.  He has been nothing but amazing my whole life with him.  He showed me, and continues to show me, the mantra I live by:

Model the behavior you expect in others.

He’s now a grandfather five times over and he comes to most of the grandkids events.  He never missed one event my brother and I were involved in – EVER !!

This week he made sure to let me know that he was retiring at the young age of 70.  I adore my father !!  If I can be half the man he has been for me, then I know that I will have left a grand legacy.

Happy Father’s Day to anyone fortunate enough to be a Father.  Never take it lightly for you are leaving a legacy to each and everyone you touch !!

Staring at a blank page . . .

Who here lives a “full” life?  One where it seems you never have enough time to get done what you wanted to accomplish?

The answer is that everyone has a life that’s full. What’s different for us is what we choose to use to fill it.  Whenever I hear someone say they don’t have enough time, I truly am skeptical.  It doesn’t seem like they’re bored.  In fact, when you ask them, they say they’re “busy.”  When you ask what they’re busy with, there is rarely a good answer because they really don’t know.  They just know they’re exhausted being busy.

Whenever I make a surprise phone call to friends, our first question to each other is, “So, how are you doing?”  I usually answer, “Man, I’m full and I love it !!”  Then we talk about the amazing things going on in our lives, our families, our friends and our work.  I do my best to get off the HR “what’s the new project” talk to make sure that we talk about all facets of our lives.

There are days that do seem to get away from me.  I’ve given up the notion that I control much at all.  Being in HR, I truly want to be in a position to move things forward while including everyone around me as much as possible.  I look at each day as a blank page.

This isn’t some idealistic, pie in the sky, you really can’t live that way approach.  It just allows for things to happen at different paces and within the flow that they need to occur.

I mentioned last week that I’ve been on this crusade to list 3 great things a day in my journal.  At first, I looked at the blank page in front of my journal and the regular anxiety of what to write crept in.  “Would it be interesting enough?”  “Am I just going through the motions?”  “Did anything great really happen?”

Now, the words pour out of the pen themselves and I stop at 3, but I could write pages and pages.  You see, before doing this, being busy was easy and it followed the path of everyone around me.  I was frustrated.  I felt overwhelmed and out of control.  That’s lessened considerably because having the blank page is honestly welcoming.

As you start this work week, and your to-do list is already 14 behind when you roll over to hit the snooze button – stop, breathe, and start over.  Start with a blank page and let your day be filled with the great things that are sure to happen to you.

Remember, when you hit the office, you’ll be running into people who are already “full” and won’t be able to get past being busy.  Help them out.  Add them to your page and see what stories unfold !!

 

Carnival of HR – What’s Good About Edition

To say I’m geeked to host this edition of the Carnival of HR would be an understatement !!  I asked great HR folks to send posts this time that were positive.  Therefore, the “What’s Good About” theme.

Too often we get caught up in what’s not working in HR.  I wanted this edition to take a break and reflect on the amazing things that happen in our field and with our people.

For those reading this . . . I’d like you to take a new approach as well !!  I look at the Carnival as a great resource connecting me with folks that can help me do HR even better in my little corner of the HR universe. I make sure to read these folks work all the time and have their subscriptions in my Google Reader.

I have some new voices that I’ve added because of hosting the Carnival.  Any time I can get more input, I’m good.  So, sit back, read the teaser below of each entry and then go out, get to read their good work and make sure to connect with the authors through Twitter, Linked In, etc. !!

There are a ton of submissions below, and I encourage you to take in each and every one because they ROCK !!

Peace to one and all – Steve (It’s ALL good !!)

Starting things off is Naomi Bloom (@InFullBloomUS) with Reflections on a Long Career – Part IV – great list of “to-do’s” to keep you viable and active !!

Ian Welsh (@ianclive) adds a strong post with Passion for Human Resources and our Voyages of Discovery! – any time someone combines “passion” with “HR” you get my attention !!

This post from Daniel Crosby (@incblot) shows you how he always makes the mix of Organizational Psych and HR so cool ! – Career and Happiness: How They Relate.

I can’t wait to meet the next contributor, Doug Shaw (@dougshaw1) in real life this Fall at Ohio SHRM !!  Until then, I can enjoy his post – Olympian – great take on teamwork !!

The rally cry from Cathy Missildine-Martin (@cathymissildine) gets you pumped up in HR Has Its Game Face On!

The folks at i4cp chime in with a solid post about Stragegy in Action. Make sure you follow this intriguing group on Twitter @i4cp.

Fellow #HR rock music freak, Paul Smith (@Pasmuz) brings our profession to life with It’s What You Know In HR.

I love the perspective from Mike Haberman (@MikeHaberman) because I am a storyteller myself !!  Check out – A revisit to Storytelling: A Key HR Competency?

A new voice to me, but one I now subscribe to is Sandrine Bardot who’s blog Compensation Insider hails from Abu Dhabi !!  How cool is that for global HR ??  Great read from her with her summary from the Middle East Human Asset Summit.

This post from Matthew Stollak (@akaBruno) brought back great memories about “Must See TV” when NBC ruled the television world – One True Passion.

Nancy Saperstone, another submission from the UK (awesome !!) – gets right to the theme with Happy in HR.

The prolific author Paul Hebert (@IncentIntel) entered a great post that was featured on another great resource – Fistful of Talent – HR Should Run Volunteer Organizations.

The driving force behind the scenes of the Carnival of HR, Shauna Moerke (@HR_Minion) takes a fresh look at What’s Good About Job Hunting.

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@blogging4jobs) did the coolest thing by submitting a person who guest posted on her site, Lisa Bonner.  Really cool perspective from her in How Do You Stay Sharp & Focused?

The title of this post, Assume the Best, is a great reflection of its author Ben Eubanks !!  Make sure you connect with him on Twitter at @beneubanks.

Another post about passion with an “ad lib” twist from Chris Ponder (@Chris Ponder) is really a cool approach. Could you do it ?? Can You Speak About Your Passion Ad Lib?

Michael Carty (@MJCarty) popped in from his holiday (vacation to us) to share his Best of the HR Blogs from May – all great reads !!

Stephanie Thomas (@proactivemployr) makes the EEOC cool and fun !!  Check out her conversation with the EEOC Commissioner !!

A true genuine heart, Brad Galin (@bradgalin), gives a great post in Good Will in Bad Times.

Always showing how leadership and HR are intertwined, Jay Kuhns (@jrkuhns) adds his submission of You Have the Power.

Mervyn Dinnen (@mervyndinnen) nails the theme with this gem – reasons to be cHeeRful – Love it !! Very creative !!

Cool archive post from Buzz Rooney (@TheBuzzonHR) that I just had to stick in – The Founding Fathers Would Have Loved HR

I love when Tim Gardner (@TimJGardner) shares about his family.  I love doing this too and it always shows me what’s good !! – Heritage

Dwane Lay (@DwaneLay) offers compelling and down-to-earth advice with this great post – What’s Good About a Bad Boss

A great post that pulls us all together from Susan Avello (@susanavello) – What’s Good About Community

Closing out this phenomenal compilation of HR voices, is Chris Fields (@new_resource) with the appropriately titled – Let me tell you what’s good about HR

ENJOY THE CARNIVAL !!!

 

 

 

Get rid of the “n’ts” !!

This may seem like an odd title, but I was slapped back into reality at our OHSHRM Leadership Day for Chapter Presidents.  We had a great, upbeat day which featured a Leadership Bootcamp lead by Tom Terez to open and then Bruce Boguski to close with a great motivational piece about how we approach each day as people in HR and our lives in general.

One item Bruce hit on is the words we use.  Seems simple, but it’s amazing how many negative words just fill each and every moment of our days.  We use these words when we talk about others and even ourselves.  It was especially telling when he asked us to reflect on these words in our work as HR professionals and leaders.

What are the words ??  You know them all too well.  Most of them end in “n’t”. Words like “Don’t”, “Can’t”, “Shouldn’t”, “Couldn’t”, “Won’t” . . .

Does this sound familiar?  You wake up to head to work and you tell youself you don’t want to deal with so-and-so today . . . You can’t handle how another department is handling a certain situation . . . etc.

When you sit back and think of how many “n’t” words fill every sentence that we use, you’ll be shocked.  (I had to really had to be intentional in writing this post to see if I could even do it without n’t words other than for examples !!)

Now, think about our HR practices and policies.  The vast majority of the ones I see are written with more don’ts vs. do’s.  If we continue to approach our employees with what they can’t, or shouldn’t, do – how can we expect them to look at what they do from a positive perspective ??

It’s time for us to change this !! We can, and should, be genuinely positive !! Who says that we have to continue to go with the flow of darkness that seems to take up most aspects of media, entertainment and culture?

We’ve come to a point where positive people bother us.  Well, I plan to bother people.  A LOT of people !!

It’s a real challenge, and I’m only one day into it, but I’m going to do my best to reduce and get rid of the “n’ts” – I hope you join me !!  Think how much better our workplaces would be if HR took this approach !!