I’m Certified !!

Three years ago, I went through one of the most harrowing professional experiences that you can have in HR !!  I sat for my SPHR certification.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with this trial, let me explain . . .

To get your certification in HR (either your PHR, SPHR or GPHR) from the HR Certification Institute (HRCI), you need to pass an exam which takes up to 4 hours to complete.  It is monstrous !!  When I went to take my exam, I entered a testing facility where you had to empty your pockets and put any personal items in a small locker before entering a room full of computer monitors.

The certification test is multiple choice, and you’re thinking, “Multiple choice?  That’s cake.  I loved those types of tests in school.  If all else fails, guess ‘B’ ” Remember?  Not the same by a long shot.  They have study classes that last 8 to 10 weeks just to get you prepared to take this test !!  I remember taking the practice exams between 40 to 50 times just to learn material.  (And those were old tests whose questions didn’t appear on the one I took !!)

The test allows you to skip questions, go back to them, line out answers you think are wrong, and then choose what you think is “right.”  Most of the questions have at least two of the four choices that could be right.  When you see “All of the Above” as an option, you start to get the shakes !!  How could ALL of the answers be right?

I finished the test with about 45 minutes to spare.  I reviewed my answers and made sure I was ready to “submit.”  Then in classic SHRM/HRCI style, when I hit submit a survey popped up asking me what I thought of the process and the exam.  I was ticked !!  All I wanted to see was pass or fail.  I rapidly hit “5” for everything was awesome, now please give me my results.  Then when I submitted the survey, the screen went blank.  BLANK !!  I thought I was going to pass out !!

Then . . . it said I passed.  I received my SPHR !!  I wanted to scream, but I thought the test proctor would taze me.  So, I hurried out of the room and burst into tears.  The proctor looked up and said, “You must be one of those HR folks.  Congratulations.”  Through my sobs, I thanked her, gathered my belongings from the locker and went home.

This week I recertified which means that I had enough professional development to retain my certification for three more years.  So, what does this story have to do with anything?

One of the keys that CEO’s, who were interviewed by SHRM, said was needed from HR in their organizations was that HR was knowledgeable in what the field does.  This was more than the administrative necessities of the job.  It meant that Senior Management expects us to be experts in what HR is, does and contributes.

When we yearn to be “part of the business,” the first thing we need to do is be experts in all things HR.  Being well versed in what HR does, and then gaining professional development to keep current and relevant is critical !!

It’s time for YOU to take that step that I honestly avoided for too many years of my career.  Getting your certification shows you have credibility and allows you to be in a position to take that step into a senior role when it arrives.

Harrowing or not – it has been the best thing I’ve done professionally and I encourage you to do the same !!

Ah, Creativity !!

This past weekend, my wife and I celebrated “date night” by going to see the new movie Moonrise Kingdom by Wes Anderson.  It was spectacular !!  A quirky love story that was colorful, insightful, well acted and involved incredible visual images and dialogue.  Also, it portrays Scouting in a perfect way which made me proud to be a Scoutmaster.  But I digress . . .

This post isn’t a movie review, but an observation.  You see, this movie is rare in this day and age of film.  Companies tend to opt for the bombastic blockbuster with the hopes of pulling in mass amounts of revenue regardless of the quality of the characters or the story. Don’t get me wrong, I’m right in line to see these visual joy rides as well.  My son and I have an agreement to see all comic book related movies (except Ghost Rider – I mean . . .)  We love the distraction and the ability to pretend to be Superheroes.  It is fun !!

But . . . it is also short lived.  We keep wondering “what’s next?”  Will there be a sequel, and will it “live up” to the one we just saw?  It’s honestly a lot like many people approach HR.

We want to have the blockbuster program, change, initiative that would make the Senior Management team take notice and give us that strategic position that we yearn for.  So, we focus so much on grand moves and positioning within our organizations to get noticed and justified, that we stop being creative.

Whenever I hear the term “best practices,” it just means that you’re copying what someone else is already doing.  That may work for you and certain components to transfer between companies in their HR efforts, but many do not.

It’s time for us to be creative !!  When you were a kid, you could take ANYTHING and make it into something incredible and limitless !!  As adults, we keep forcing ourselves, and our employees, to be rational and pragmatic beings.  Creativity gets sapped when it runs into policies, procedures and rules.

So, what can YOU do about it?  Willing to be the Moonrise Kingdom in your organization?  Willing to look at things differently and see how they lead to have long-lasting, meaningful change?

I am.  I hope you join me !!  It’s a far brighter adventure !!

An Intimate 13,500

Had to sit down to write about my experiences at #SHRM12 in Atlanta !!  It’s hard to capture some thoughts when you just spent the last four days with 13,000+ HR professionals in one place !!

The sessions were full of tangible content that ranged from entry-level HR material to edgy, thought-provoking strategic forums that were extremely relevant.  Three that stood out personally were from Jennifer McClure, Jason Lauritsen and former SHRM Chair, Sue Meisinger.

The keynotes from Jim Collins, Condoleezza Rice, Malcolm Gladwell and Tom Brokaw were spectacular !!  Each had a connection to HR in a broader sense.  They pushed us to think far outside our normal boundaries.

As a SHRM volunteer (on purpose), a true highlight for me was having time to network, discuss and share with other SHRM leaders.  It’s humbling to be the State Director for SHRM in Ohio.  Being in this role has great opportunities to move the profession of HR forward !!  To also be with others who share this passion is fantastic, and I always look forward to it.

The work of Curtis Midkiff (@shrmsocmedguy) on connecting HR and Social media was incredible.  To see many peers in the Dice Blogger’s Lounge as well as the educational area called The Hive, was promising.  To see HR start to understand these forums and see where it’s best to connect for them was a key success for the Conference !!

But . . . the TRUE highlight for me was knowing people at the Conference from around the country and then meeting amazing new people !!  Everyday I’d be in the Conference Center and here “Hey Steve !!” being shouted down the hall.  People from Ohio, Virginia, North Dakota, Illinois, California, Louisiana, Florida, New Jersey, Maryland, Alaska, and many other places. It was so cool !!

I noticed that several of the other attendees also had pockets of people they knew, but most of them kept to people they knew from their State.  In the past, I was one of those people too, but things are changing for the better.

HR people are starting to make more connections because they understand that we really do have a ton in common.  What is key to this is that there are connectors (like Malcolm Gladwell highlights in his Tipping Point book) who are reaching out and showing folks that being connected results in meaningful relationships.  This movement will not only improve HR, it will reshape it.

Next year is Chicago and (for the first time I can say) I can’t wait !!

Heading South !!

I’m not good at this “quick post” thing, but I’m heading to SHRM National in literally a few minutes from now and I’m geeked to say the least !!

So, I’m going to be tracking things and blogging more regularly than I do during the next week.  Just a head’s up.

What I’m really hoping for is to network, see friends, and most importantly – meet great new HR folks from around the globe !!

If you’re going, I hope to see you and I hope that you take the time to meet new folks, get connected and make our great profession even better !!

Blog soon . . .

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 !!!

 

 

 

3 Great Things !!

Yesterday we celebrated my daughter’s graduation with a party where family, friends and fellow seniors came from her class to wish her congratulations.  Our party was “scheduled” from 2:00pm to 6:00pm, so it made sense that it wrapped up at 10:30pm with friends sitting around a fire pit taking in the great day that we all experienced !!

This day just fit in with what I’ve been following lately and telling others about.  There is an amazing book out there from Shawn Achor called The Happiness AdvantageI love the book personally and I’ve taken just one of the many nuggets from the book and have put it into practice. One of the chapters talks about writing a journal and listing 3 great things that happened the day before.  The study that was conducted said that people who did this for only one week were more positive for up to six months later.

I shared this with the State Council of Ohio SHRM and asked everyone to start a journal because they work with great HR folks in their chapters and their workplaces.  There were two great folks from SHRM their as well and I asked them to join in (and they have).  Sensing the momentum and the incredible response, I introduced the 3 great things journal to my own HR department that I head as well as the GM’s from our restaurants, the leaders of our Ops group and some of our Executives !!

The results have been amazing (and we’re two weeks into it.)  In fact, a group of the OHSHRM presidents and I have been listing one of our “great things” on Twitter every day since the Council meeting – EVERY day !!

There are so many great and positive things around us, and we have the option to choose whether we’ll face each day negatively or positively.  It doesn’t mean that things don’t get rough or that challenges aren’t present.  However, HOW you approach things is in your control.  As humans, and as HR professionals, it’s time to change how we approach the phenomenal people that are all around us.

I know it works !!  It’s not some parlor trick or “trend,” it’s a way of life.  Try it out and let me know how your journal builds and flows.  You’ll start noticing amazing things that have been right in front of you all the time.

By the way – journal entry from yesterday:

1)  Scout friends coming over to set up the massive dining fly/tent we had for the party early in the morning !!

2)  Sitting around the fire pit and taking in the day’s memories !!

and (most importantly)

3)  My daughter with my Mom getting a hand made quilt for graduation.  A family tradition of love and creativity that my Mom does for all the grandkids.  Here it is . . .

Lest We Forget . . .

You may or may not know this, but I am a big geek !!  I always have been, and am quite cool with it.  In school I was in the geeky clubs, the nerdy societies and even had the giant tortoise shell glasses during the 80’s (with the essential feathered hair to compliment the look !!)

Tomorrow, I get to be with my fellow geeks to do something amazing !!  You see, every year I march in the Memorial Day parade in West Chester, Ohio with my Boy Scout Troop.  I am the Scoutmaster of said Troop, and there are very few things in life that I give more credence to than working with the Scouts.  There are tons of scouts who come out for this annual tradition.

We’ll gather tomorrow around 9:00am and march two miles to the local cemetery for a Memorial Day ceremony that always brings me to tears.  To see the people who have served, and continue to serve, our country always humbles me.  In the midst of our gathering, we are surrounded by veterans who have passed dating back to the Revolutionary War.

It’s easy for us to continue with our lives every day and never take note of those who serve for our country.  We’ve been at war for over a decade, and we’re more concerned with who may play in the NBA finals, or who wins Celebrity Apprentice. Don’t get me wrong, I live the same way.  Tomorrow, that cloud lifts and I can take time to be thankful and grateful for those who step in harm’s way for my freedom.

As professionals in HR, we can do our part by getting behind the good work of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR). We can also use the Veterans Hiring Toolkit from SHRM to help support the America’s Heroes at Work initiative from the DOL.

If those aren’t an option for you as an employer, there is one thing that ALL of us can do.  A dear friend of mine told me that every time she sees someone in fatigues or uniform in public, she goes up to them and says “Thank You for Your Service.”  This simple gesture means that world to people.  Once I heard this from her, I’ve been doing it ever since.

This Memorial Day, step out and be a little geeky.  The men and women of our Armed Services deserve no less.

 

The Mystique of HR ??

At a recent HR Roundtable I facilitate, an attendee gave the answer that “HR isn’t in the trenches to keep up the ‘Mystique of HR’ !!”  I doubled over in laughter and so did the room.  However, then he gave some background to his answer.  He said, “HR keeps people guessing as to what they do, and why they do it, so employees are never clear about what HR does.”  The room then fell silent.

It fell silent, because the context he gave around his answer truly hit home with those at the Roundtable and with me personally. How can I work in a profession where people think that some mystical being is behind some magical field of smoke and illusion in order to practice the art of Human Resources?

Unfortunately, the sentiment echoed at the Roundtable has truth to it.  We have allowed HR to be someplace people “go to.”  It’s a destination with some unknown consequence just waiting to be unleashed on people for coming to visit. (cue dark, scary music)

Can you even think of another industry that allows “ambiguity” to be it’s brand ??  I can’t.

The only way this moniker and conception of the whirling mists dissipate is for us to be forthright in who we are and what we do.  We can’t want people to see our value, we have to BRING IT !!  If people in your organization don’t know what HR is, or what they offer to the business, then it’s up to YOU to change that.  This isn’t Senior Managment’s job and you can’t wait for it to be written into the Strategic Plan.  You have to model clarity and consistency in how you drive HR throughout the organization.

This isn’t a pipe dream – it’s an expectation.  We can’t continue to think that HR will one day in the distant future get recognized for the invaluable contributions it tirelessly, and selflessly brings each day to the workplace.  (cue the Heavenly AAAAAHHHHS here)

I love the field I’m in and I work to make it an integral part of my company and encourage others in HR to do the same.  I think we need to take our cue from the sage philosopher Bruce Hornsby in his classic “The Way It Is.”  The chorus goes:

“That’s just the way it is.  That’s just the way it is.  Ahh, but don’t you believe them !!”

We can, and must, eliminate the mystique of HR.  We can’t continue to let people guess what we do.  I’m in . . . are you ??

 

Take the Detour !!

As I traveled to my nephew’s high school graduation this weekend, I was forewarned that the main highway to my brother’s house was closed for a 20-mile stretch in Tennessee.  Being from Ohio, and not knowing the sundry back roads of Tennessee, I was a bit concerned.  You see, we got a late start and we would be getting to the road closure at night.  Yes, I have a GPS, but you know as well as I do that they look for the shortest route to their destination and don’t like when you wander off course.

On top of having to leave the main highway, my brother advised me to follow the detour of the wide load trucks and not the flow of traffic.  I asked him why, and he said that it would be quicker.  Others coming to the graduation who had arrived earlier took the flow of traffic option and it took up to 2 hours to go those 20 miles.

My wife asked if we should trust my brother’s advice.  Being someone who doesn’t tend to follow the flow very often, I said, “Sure, let’s see where the road takes us.”

It turns out that it was a much quicker route.  However, during the detour our car was sandwiched between two semis barrelling through mountainous roads with little to no lighting.  Also, whoever designed the roads must have loved the art of massive and quick changing curves versus having straight stretches of road.  It was challenging, harrowing and exhilarating !!

My brother was right and our trek was much quicker than what the others had to suffer through.  I was glad to have taken his advice and also the route that I wasn’t “supposed” to take.

It made me think of HR (of course).  You see, we are a part of the most risk averse profession around.  It shouldn’t be that way, but it tends to be.  Whenever we are pressed with a decision, we tend to take the “flow of traffic.”  It’s a shame because there are a multitude of other routes availabe, we just need to try them !!

You see, the route I took gave the same result as the others who also had to leave the main road.  However, I was only one car among many trucks !!  I had to have faith that my intuition would pay off.

This week, take the detour a different way than what you normally do.  Be creative !!  See where the road leads and what outcomes occur.  It’s worth the risk !!