Please say “Thank You” !!

Sitting at my keyboard in my house on Labor Day, I am thankful that I have a holiday to spend with my family and recharge my batteries.  At a time when more and more people focus on what is wrong with our economy, our political infighting and world turmoil, I again am thankful for the day to gather my thoughts.

As I was on a morning walk today, I was reminded of something that I too often forget on days like Labor Day.  As I enjoy a holiday, there are thousands of people who are working today to serve others.  If you didn’t know, I’m an HR professional in the Restaurant Industry.  The company I work for, LaRosa’s, Inc., is a true iconic tradition in Cincinnati. Today, the majority of folks I work with will be at our restaurants serving people who so graciously choose to dine with us.

There are others who are working in gas stations, hospitals, retail locations, hotels, and more while others celebrate the holiday.  Ironically, most people take this service for granted and actually expect people to be there to meet their needs.  In fact, few people who use these services take time to say, “Thank You !!” to the people who are working while they enjoy their day off for the holiday.

This really needs to change.  I know that I hear stories of employees who don’t think their employer gives them feedback or thanks them for their efforts, and they hate it.  They should.  The lack of constructive feedback in the workplace is a shortfall that too many people encounter on a regular basis.

So, today when you’re enjoying the holiday and you go to purchase something at the hardware store to work on a home project, or you go grab a pizza at a restaurant – say “Thank You” to the people who are working today.  It is deserved and will go a long way into making our workplaces better each time someone takes the time to do it.  Have a great holiday !!

 

How do you start the week ??

This past week my two fantastic kids went BACK to school !!  My wife and I are truly blessed with two great kids.  Our daughter is now a Senior and our son is a Freshman at Lakota East High School.  What was so intriguing about their return to school is that when you asked them about the impending school year, they would both huff, sigh and drop their shoulders and say, “Yeah, we have to go BACK to school.”

Now, I know they’re both anxious about what the new year will bring and I’m sure they look forward to seeing old friends, and possibly making new ones.  They also will do amazing things this year that they don’t even know exist yet.  However, they look at the drudgery of the end of summer and the regiment of school.

It made me think . . . Isn’t this the same thing that the vast majority of workforces do each week?

Seriously.  How many of you reading this on Monday morning said, “Ugh, I have to go BACK to work !!”

Even if our weekend was absolutely horrific, we feel it has more value than going back to our jobs.  Now, I understand that there are tons of bosses, workplaces and cultures that aren’t going to make the “Best Places to Work” list soon.  However, you’re working.  Think of those, maybe even in your family, who aren’t working.

Your attitude is the difference when you either go BACK to work, or go TO work. Sure you will face challenges, but isn’t it cool that you have challenges to face?  Sure, people will disappoint you and let you down, but couldn’t you do the same?

In order for workplace culture to excel and be truly “engaging,” then it starts with each individual and their approach.  It isn’t someone else’s responsibility to make Monday great – it’s yours !!

I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but I make sure that the weekly entry from this blog comes out on Monday.  Do you know why I do that?  I’m not into SEO rankings or other quantitative metrics to determine my reach.

I want you to have a great start to the week !!  Really.  I may never meet those of you kind enough to read this blog, but I’ve chosen to be encouraging because it’s needed in all of our lives.

So, I’m off TO work.  Can’t wait to see what the next week brings.  I’m sure it will be an adventure !!

Come Together !!

I don’t know about you, but I’m geeked about the upcoming State SHRM Conference season !!  Now, some of you reading this think that this will launch into either a “pro” or “anti” SHRM post.  Sorry to disappoint you.  This is just to get you excited about doing something that ALL HR professionals should do . . . get involved and get professional development !!

I saw some tweets this last week that were highlighting the upcoming #ILSHRM and #INSHRM conferences and someone was comparing these two great events.  They both look great !!  I’m also excited to see HR Florida and Wisconsin SHRM !!  You know that I’m extremely geeked about our own #OHSHRM too !!

It doesn’t make sense to compare and contrast these events.  What matters more is that HR comes together as a profession.  We spend so much time picking things apart that we miss the outstanding things that events like these provide.

I am anticipating the tweets and posts that will emanate from all of these conferences.  I’m not able to attend all of them, but I can “participate” through the great speakers, social media forums and blogs.  We need to continue to seek ways to bring our profession together because we will have more strength and relevance in the business community if we do this.  There are still WAY too many HR professionals who continue to fight the good fight on their own.

Let’s change this !!

All next week, reach out to someone in HR you know who isn’t connected.  That could be connected to peers, connected through HR chapters, or connected on Social Media.  Then, connect them !!  We can’t break the “echo chamber” that people contine to write about without action and being intentional.

The reality of seeing hundreds of HR pros at State Conferences excites me !!  I think it should excite you too !!

Maybe I’m Amazed !!

This must just be my “bucket list Summer.”  On Thursday, I got to see a second dream rock concert !!  In July, I saw U2 with three of my closest and dearest friends at Soldier Field in Chicago.  This week I saw Sir Paul McCartney in Cincinnati !!!  To say I was geeked would be an understatement !!

To see one of my rock heroes live was amazing.  He was more than I even thought he’d be live.  And, I think that was true of the 40,000+ people that went to see him.  We all had images in our heads, or ideas of how we’d hope he’d perform.  Everyone was probably also hoping for him to play “their” favorite song during the night.  I know I felt that way and he did play my favorite song of his incredible career . . . ALL of them !!!

What was surprising to me was that there were tons of people who thought he may have lost a step, couldn’t sing as good as he used to.  After all, he’s very close to 70 years old !!

Then it struck me.  This is how most people view people at work.  Most of us look to compartmentalize, or label, people based on our perceptions of what, or who, we think they are.  This is not good.  We continue to feed on the notion that people are bound to disappoint or detract from us.

In fact, I came across a person this week in a conversation at an outside meeting, and our discussion focused around how he felt that EVERYONE would take advantage of things, or them at work.  When I said I disagree and I thought that was a pretty cynical way to view people, they said, “Steve, you’re just naive !!”  I disagreed with them and we left the conversation at an impasse.

By the way, the conversation was with another peer in HR !!

I love that I’m naive !!  I love that I went to see a childhood hero of mine expecting to be blown away by him and I was !!  He played for three hours and had more energy than 99% of the people who came to see him.  He told genuine and gripping stories of John Lennon, George Harrison, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton (all his mates) and also about his kids, why he wrote the songs he did and more.

I happened to go to the concert with my amazing wife (crushed when Paul played Maybe I’m Amazed sitting next to her !!)  I also was there with another best friend (who’s my HR mentor) and his wife.  We were all geeked going in and even more so coming out !!

So, this next week at work, quit thinking the worst about those around you.  Instead, be amazed !!  Because, the truth is, the great humans around us are amazing !!

Come on Get Happy !!

When you saw the title of this post it either made you smile or cringe.  Do you need to be “happy” at work? Heck, can you even be “happy” in HR ??

The cynics out there, many of whom are my dear friends, would be saying things like, “It’s not the 70’s again !!  This isn’t The Partridge Family !!”  Some people at work, and life in general, feel that making someone happy is imposing on their personal space or beliefs.  Others, refusing to be happy, come to work everyday in a dark mood while ominous dirge-like music plays in the background.  There are countless statistics that now show that most people want to leave their job for something else.  For some – ANYTHING else !!!

So, why am I going on and on about being happy?  It’s because I’m knee deep into a great new read called The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor.  It’s a fascinating book that hit at the right time.  The premise is counter to most of the history of the field of psychology and that is this . . . If you are happy, you’ll be successful.

Achor points out poignantly that all of us have been looking at this the other way around – When I get successful, I’ll be happy.  However, the research shows that people never feel they’re successful enough – ever.

So, what does this have to do with HR?  EVERYTHING !!!

Many HR people I know are miserable in what they do.  They are burdened by the reality that working with and dealing with people is rough.  There is no doubt about that.  But, you don’t have to be miserable.

One of my friends visited one of our franchise locations a few years ago when I just had joined LaRosa’s, Inc.  He asked the owner if he knew me and he said, “That’s the new HR guy isn’t it?  Man, what’s wrong with him?  He’s happy all the time !!”  Great isn’t it?  The owner and I know each other more now and he’s a great guy.  He still wonders how I can be happy and be in HR.

So, this week ask yourself . . . happy ??  I think Achor is dead on by his premise that a person needs to be genuinely positive before they’ll ever be successful.  What do you think ??

 

What are you holding on to ??

HR is fraught with so many things that it clings to which aren’t really necessary.  We publish policy after policy to no avail.  It’s amazing how much is put together in manuals and handbooks with the hope that behavior will somehow be affected, changed or altered.

Recently, I was told about a company that has an eight page dress code policy !!  Eight pages !!  When I asked about it and actually read it, they missed things that people could wear that would really set people on end.  So, instead of addressing the one or two actual people who were not wearing “appropriate” clothing, HR comes out with this eight page literary work – that no one follows !!

While I was surrounded this past week by 70,000 singing fans at the U2 concert in Chicago, the band played a favorite of mine from No Line on the Horizon called Moment of Surrender during their second encore.  As I was singing along with Bono (and everyone else), I was struck by the lyrics that say “At the moment of surrender – Of vision over visibility – I did not notice the passers-by – And they did not notice me.”

We sometimes lose our vision in HR.  There is so much that we need to let go of and let it float away !!  If you truly look at much of what we do, our policies, procedures and systems don’t tell employees how to DO work.  They focus on what NOT to do !!  And, in having this approach, we’re amazed that things don’t change at work.

It’s time for us to stop doing this.  We need to have ways for people to perform, excel and shine in our organizations.  We need to stop trying to police behavior and, instead, build a framework and an environment where people can be engaged and utilize their strengths.

So, as you go to work this Monday, take a look at the volumes of things you write which you think are being followed. Be daring.  Take a policy no one follows and rip it out of your handbook.  See if anyone notices.

It’s time for us to learn to let go.  What’s your next move ??

Do you care ??

I recently read a great post by my friend Jay Kuhns on his MUST read blog – No Excuses HR where he talked about unmet expectations.  I find his work to be so thought provoking and it made me wonder something . . .

Do we care about what matters to our employees?

I keep seeing posts on how to “fix” HR and yet few of them ever mention employees.  We use phrases like “talent” “human capital” “assets” and I could go on and on.  I followed much of #SHRM11 on-line and it was fascinating to see what was talked about !!  It looked like a great Conference and that is great to see.  But, again, I noticed that we talked about our profession, social media, legal updates and many of the same themes we see at all conferences.  What’s missing ??  . . . Employees.

We continue to spend so much time on systems, culture, transactional items and compliance which all affect people, but do you spend time wondering what matters to them?

Let me give you an example . . .

I’m sure everyone has a “bucket list” that they’d like to complete before they no longer have a chance to do that.  Next Tuesday, I get to check something off the list when I get to see U2 in concert in Chicago with three of my lifelong best friends.

I can’t wait !!  I’ve been a major U2 freak ever since they came out as a group in the mid-70’s.  I have all of their music (including bootlegs) and have read about them in books, blogs, articles, etc. Now, you may not be a U2 fan, and it may not matter to you.  I get that.  Not everyone should like the same things.

As HR professionals, though, do you find out what matters to your employees?  Or, does that take too much time?  I find myself more and more learning about the lives and bucket list items of those I work with because it has so much value.  It may not be my interest, or what I would choose to do, but it matters to them.

I think if HR people spent more time with their employees vs. worrying about their own identity within the organization – HR would blossom into what it is called – HUMAN Resources.

So, my challenge to all of us in this phenomenal profession is this – take the time to know those around you.  Don’t get mired in systems and other things that make you feel “busy” while ignoring the best thing around you – people.

Have a great holiday weekend !! I’m going to be with thousands of new people jammin’ with Bono and the boys !!! Peace to all.

Will it Make a Difference ??

As I’m typing this post, many of my peers and friends are enjoying the SHRM11 Annual Conference.  Yes, I am jealous because I always enjoy being with others who share my passion of HR !!  The tweets that are flying under the #SHRM11 hashtag are great to read, but they lack in that personal experience.  Ah, well, maybe next year . . .

The question I want to pose to the 14,000+ HR pros who have gathered at SHRM11 is  . . . Will it Make a Difference?

Will attending the largest gathering of those in your profession change how you approach HR when you return to your various workplaces?  When the lights and sites of Las Vegas dissapate, will you be making more of an impact in HR, or will you go back to the norms and ways you are following today?

I hope it transforms you !!  You can’t miss the chance to attend events like this and not come away with great things like new contacts, a broader vision of what HR offers, a new way to tilt the windmills that face you on a daily basis !!  Don’t just get enamored by the great keynotes, the great vendor events and the endless piles of swag you’ll take home from the Exhibit Hall.

Use this time away from the office this week to come back energized, enthusiastic and willing to move your company forward !!

If people don’t do this, we will continue to fight a stereotype that I personally heard this week from a question I posted on Focus.com regarding development vs. training.  A person responded that HR has to first “get it’s act together” before focusing on either topic.  I responded to this person and was pretty pointed that I didn’t appreciate his stance on our field.  He’s entitled to say what he’d like, but it eats at me that anyone continues to think that HR doesn’t “get it.”

So, don’t disappoint me you 14,000+ HR folks attending SHRM11 !!  I know you’ll have a wonderful time, meet and catch up with wonderful peers . . . just remember to come back and make a difference personally, professionally and for HR as a whole !! I can’t wait to see what you’ll do !!

HR Rocks !!!

You just had to know that I was going to use this title at some point . . . .

Next week thousands of HR pros will convene in Las Vegas for SHRM11 and there are people all over the profession with differing views about the event.  But, I tend to lean more toward Charlie Judy’s viewpoint that it is a significant event for HR pros to attend.  The realization that we need to be continuously seeking professional development is a fact and not just something to comply with HRCI.

You see, if we don’t continue to learn more and be effective in our knowledge – we lack relevance.  Remaining relevant in today’s business environment is honestly our biggest challenge !!  You can cloak it in many different ways, but if we aren’t relevant, we will cease to exist.

So, what can all of us do to combat this?  Go to conferences !!

Unfortunately, I can’t attend SHRM11 and I am bummed because many of my friends from all over the country are going to attend and I am jealous.  However, I want to make sure that all of you also consider another great venue that is a viable option – the State SHRM Conferences !!

The “conferencing” opportunities after SHRM National are plentiful and I wanted to highlight a few for you to  consider:

The 2011 Wisconsin SHRM Conference happening 10/12/11 – 10/14/11 in Madison, Wisconsin.  They offer an incredible program with solid keynotes from Rich Horwath and Scott Christopher and are celebrating their 25th Anniversary as a State SHRM Conference !!

The 2011 Indiana State HR Conference on 8/29/11 – 8/31/11 in Indianapolis, Indiana features two great keynote as well – Steve Gilliland and Marcus Buckingham !!  The HR Florida State Conference & Expo also happens on 8/29/11 – 8/31/11 in Orlando, Florida.  Their keynotes include Tony Hseih, Lisa Ling and Daniel Pink !!

The 2011 Illinois HR Conference and Exposition will happen a week earlier on 8/22/11 – 8/23/11 in Chicago, Illinois.  The theme of HR Leaders: Inspire, Support and Challenge will be anchored by keynotes from Ryan Estis, Jason Lauritsen & Joe Gerstandt and also China Gorman.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Ohio’s conference – HR Rocks !!

You see, I’m the Chair of this year’s Conference and I’m so excited I could pop !!  Our program has been certified for 17.25 HRCI credit hours with 9.25 hours being Strategic !!  The conference happens 9/21/11 – 9/23/11 at the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Ohio.  Our keynotes include Simon Bailey and China Gorman and our program features many of the thought leaders you follow in the world of Social Media !!

I hope you can attend these great conferences and I would LOVE to feature all of the great State SHRM Conferences that happen all across the county !!  We need to understand that there is one more INCREDIBLE benefit from attending these events.

HR gets more connected !!  We need to continue to do this intentionally because we are stronger together vs. trying to fight the good fight on our own.  So, I’d like to offer to all SHRM State Conference folks out there, get in touch with me so we can get further connected !!  It would ROCK !!

Peace of Mind !!

When we in the wacky world of HR talk about the importance of “engagement,” are we talking about others or ourselves?

Seriously.  I’ve been really contemplating this lately and I continue to feel perplexed when I see Conference sessions, blog posts, and white papers on the importance of engagement, but it always seems to be about someone else.

If HR isn’t engaged, why should we expect others to be engaged?  Have you asked yourself if you really love being in HR?  Don’t get me wrong, this is not a “why people hate HR” post.  This is a challenge to see if you’re truly in the field you enjoy.  I find that the people who manage their careers the worst are people in HR.  We will go out of our way to help others in their career endeavors, but we shy away from taking this and being intentional.

Remember – If you don’t manage your career . . . it will manage you !!

I’ve learned this through personal experience and also from watching others who continue to state that they struggle with being effective in our field.  Trust me, there’s no other field I’d rather be in !!

I keep seeing posts encouraging people to attend #SHRM11 and I hope that people do because events like this can be spectacular . . . with a catch.  If you aren’t going to forums like this to network, seek great professional development and also learn to be a better HR professional, then you’re just missing out.  Take these opportunities to move yourself ahead so that, in turn, you can return to your company to move them ahead as well !!

I think we all need to be comfortable “in our own skin” when it comes to being in HR and to quit apologizing for it.  I think it was captured best by one of my favorite bands, Boston, in their classic Peace of Mind:

“Now if you’re feelin’ kinda low ’bout the dues you’ve been paying

Future’s coming much too slow

And you wanna run but somehow you just keep on stayin’

Can’t decide on which way to go

Yeah, yeah, yeah

I understand about indecision

But I don’t care if I get behind

People livin’ in competition

All I want is to have my peace of mind.”

So, take some time to reflect.  Get rid of any indecision.  It would be great to look around in our field and see people who really had that peace of mind to make HR rock !!  Come on and join in !!