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 !!

Where Everybody Knows Your Name !!

This past week was the Ohio HR Conference.  It was phenomenal in each and every way !!  This was my 14th year as either an attendee or SHRM volunteer at the event.  There are so many aspects of the conference that resonate with people ranging from the great programming and professional development opportunities, the gigantic themed resort at Kalahari or the social times together.

I’m fortunate to have several of the speakers as friends, and I made sure to ask them what resonated with them.  More often than not, they said that they felt truly welcomed and a part of the fabric of the Conference.  (Side note – we invite the speakers to stay all week with us at OHSHRM and let them attend sessions, social gatherings, etc. just like the attendees)  Now, we have speakers who don’t do this as well, but the ones that do notice the vibe.

Growing up in the 80’s as a young adult, I was a HUGE Cheers fan.  Every episode of the sitcom was great because the cast of characters wanted to see each other and share their lives and experiences.  Even the theme song captured the “culture” of their beloved Boston pub . . . “Sometimes you want to go Where everybody knows your name, And they’re always glad you came; You want to be where you can see, Our troubles are all the same; You want to be where everybody knows your name.” Theme by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo.

HR people long for that camaraderie just as everyone else.  It’s great to have a culture that promotes that because the hope is that those HR pros can continue that effort in their organizations !!

You see, sometimes the best “professional development” is to remind us that we need to recharge our batteries and be welcomed.  This coming week, make sure to be welcoming yourself and show employees the value of being welcomed each and every day !!

Play Ball !!

This week I head out to the 40th Annual Ohio HR Conference – HR: A League of Our Own !!  Geeked isn’t even a strong enough word for how excited I am !!

The Conference Committee has once again put together a spectacular event including national speakers, buckets of HRCI credits, incredible Resource Partners and other surprises that will make for a sold-out show !!  Standing room only !!

I know that we are in the midst of State Conference season.  As I was packing my gear getting ready to head north to Kalahari Resorts in Sandusky, Ohio, I wanted to share some things I’ve found that make a conference successful !!

Have a game plan !! – That goes for every aspect of the conference.  How long does it take to get there?  Are you firm on which sessions/speakers you want to see?  There are many more questions to consider, but by planning ahead, you won’t be rushing to decide when you arrive.

Meet the team !! – No game is complete without meeting the great folks around you.  I know this may come easier to some than others, but we’re in HR – we should be able to get out and make some great new professional connections.  This includes both attendees and Resource Partners !!  The vendors may be the perfect piece you’ve been looking for to enhance your efforts at work.  Don’t just get the swag.  It is fun, but meet the great folks too !!

Start the Wave !! – This is a big step for most folks, but conferences are not only a great venue for professional development, but they’re also a great place to stretch a little.  Go to sessions that may show a different perspective than what you’ve traditionally attended.  You may find great information that can make your HR efforts a “grand slam” in your organization !!

So, in the end, get off the bench and hit the field.  It’s time to Play Ball for all of us !!  Make sure you are getting out to a phenomenal SHRM State Conference around you.  They are amazing and you’ll love them !!

 

 

Stand Up Against the Odds !!

My family and I just rented (yes rented) The Hunger Games.  We were enthralled !!  No one had read the books, so we had no preconceived notions.  It was intense, dark, dramatic and hopeful !!  If you haven’t seen it, please do.

In the story, Katniss, the heroine, goes through an adventure none of us would venture to volunteer for or dare to endure.  One of the incredibly moving images of the movie is from the inhabitants of her District.  She hails from District 12 which is a mining area and the poverty is devastating.

The people watching her compete in the Games all lift their hands in a three-finger salute of solidarity supporting her and against the State.  It is moving and causes them to rise up in action to fight the oppression they are under.

Sorry to be so geeky – but there is a point to all this.

As HR professionals, we often find ourselves in the middle of “everything”, but still on our own.  HR folks are one of the few professions who continues to try and perform in isolation within companies.

It’s time for us to raise our three-finger salute in solidarity.  Not “against” anything – but FOR each other !!  Too many of us feel like Katniss in the Hunger Games out surviving for ourselves and doing our best to fend off the fires that we rush to put out.

We need to be more connected as professionals and as a profession.  In doing so, we will be better able to lead in our companies, mentor others and move things forward.  If we keep trying to do things in isolation, then we’ll be picked off and no longer be in the Games at all. (Read the books and see the movie – shameless plug.)

So, if you have a chance to go to an HR Conference – do it.

If you have a chance to reach out and attend an HR chapter meeting or professional development event – do it.

If you can connect with people on Social Media forums like Linked In, Twitter, etc. – do it.  Don’t be afraid of these.  See how to use them best !!

And most of all, if you can personally connect with other HR pros “in person” by phone or face-to-face – then don’t pass up that chance !!

As you are reading this, my right hand is raised in a three-finger salute looking for you to join me as we stand together in HR !!

 

Go Tagless !!

I love the new campaign from Hanes with Michael Jordan.  The most recent ad shows a man trying to cook at his grill while the tag is telling him everything to do.  (Watch it here).

The “tag” line at the end of the commercial is fantastic !! “Tags are annoying. So we got rid of them.”

The message sticks with you and you see yourself nodding as the tags in your clothes mysteriously start to itch.  But I digress . . .

We tag people all the time (or label them).  It happens in all facets of life, but especially in the workplace.  By labeling someone, we feel we can contain them and that they should fit in our box of who we think they should be.  I’m not specifically calling out the classic EEOC categories here either.  We put labels on people and expect them to live within those.  Most of the time those labels aren’t communicated either.  They are just whispered by management, or they are our filter on performance reviews.

HR has a chance to really impact an organization when it comes to removing tags !!  However, we need to start with ourselves.  You can’t expect others to follow this movement, unless you first remove your own tags.

For instance – remove the tag that you’re “only” in HR.  We are a vital facet of all organizations due to the simple fact that they have people.  If they have people – they need HR.  Secondly, remove the tag that you only exist for either management or employees.  You exist for ALL employees and can therefore be a consistent force and voice for all levels of the organization.

When you’ve removed your tags, then look at the various HR systems in your Company to see where things need a little trimming.  Allow your employees to develop, grow and move throughout the company instead of making sure they fill a certain niche.  It doesn’t mean promoting everyone “up or out,” but it does allow people to excel by taking on work where they can add value and utilize their strengths.

One “tag” you should keep is “genuine.”  It’s missing in many corners of our profession, and it needs to be sewn back on.  Helping organizations remove their labels is essential and it is an area where we can shine !!

What do you say?  Can you do it, or do I need to have Michael Jordan come over and say, “Hand it over.”  Go tagless with me.  It rocks !!

One Small Step . . .

This weekend one of my heroes passed away – Neil Armstrong.  Maybe because he was a farm boy from Northwest Ohio, or because he was proud to be “nerdy,” or because he was humble and genuine.

I vividly remember being in my Grandfather’s house in tiny Luckey, Ohio with my aunts, uncles and cousins crowded around the TV as Walter Cronkite reported the landing of Apollo 11 on the moon.  When Armstrong actually came out onto the ladder and began moving toward the surface of the moon, there was awe and silence in the house.  After he uttered his immortal words and stepped onto the moon, my Grandfather – the epitome of the hard working farmer – just kept saying, ” I’ll be damned.  I’ll be damned.”  The general disbelief of what we all just saw was burnt into our lives forever.

If you’ve ever seen interviews with Armstrong after this life- changing event, he remained unassuming, thoughtful and curious.  He wanted to see people continue to stretch boundaries, just as he had.  The Armstrongs live about 30 minutes from my current house just outside Cincinnati.  So, this legend, was living a regular life and that is a great example !!

When he said “One small step,” he inspired a nation.  It makes you think.  What could I do if I took one small step?  So often, in our lives, and especially at work, we think that change has to occur in giant chunks, or earth-shattering movements.  In reality, it only takes those small, incremental steps.

What are some steps you could take in HR to be this type of “explorer”?  Could you make sure to say “Hi” to ALL of your employees (and not just the ones you’re comfortable with)?  Could you challenge something that needs to be corrected, but no one will step forward?  Would you join a local HR chapter, go to a regional or State Conference to meet other HR folks?

The questions and efforts are all within our reach.  This week, find your Neil Armstrong moment and take one small step forward in some area of your life.  Who knows – it might end up being something that is a “giant leap for all mankind” !!

Image courtesy of NASA

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 !!

 

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 !!