You can count on me !!

You may, or may not know, that I am an incredible music freak !!  I can’t get enough of it and this Thanksgiving weekend a true classic popped into my head – Count on Me by Jefferson Starship.

When my extended family gathers for either Thanksgiving or Christmas, we call it BIG Thanksgiving or BIG Christmas because there are so many family members that attend.  Before we eat and open with a prayer, we count off – literally.  We have had a few family members pass away over the years, but we never stray from this tradition.

So, it begins 1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . 4 . . . etc. until we get around the oval. (It’s never a circle because there are too many folks.)  This year we had 35 and it’s been as high as 60.  Included are aunts, uncles, cousins, their kids, and starting this year the newest generation has it’s first engaged couple.

I know that you need to be careful about what you do/don’t share on-line, but I’m 47 years old and completely cool with that.  If you met me you’d say I’m at least 28, so age is not the focus here. My family has been getting together intentionally between 50 to 60 years because I have aunts, uncles and cousins older than I am.

Think about that.  Being together, intentionally, for 5 to 6 decades and NEVER missing a holiday.  We’re not unique in this and I’m sure there are families who have met for centuries, but the point of the gathering is this . . . we COUNT on each other to be there all the time.

It’s a great example for you personally as well as an HR professional.  You NEED to be counted on, and others NEED to count on you !!  Too many employees are out on their own within a company and they need someone they can rely on.  Remember, you aren’t their for Management, nor are you there for employees.  You’re there for EVERYONE !!

Is that how you approach HR?  Have you even stepped back to look lately?  Just think how HR would be viewed in organizations if people knew they could be counted on !!

This week, start something new and reach out to someone in our profession and get connected. Be someone that others can count on !!

Spanning Boundaries !!

This past week I went to the SHRM Leadership Conference . . . on purpose !!  I have the honor of becoming the next State HR Council Director for Ohio SHRM in January 2012.  This is the same Council that this year won a Pinnacle Award from SHRM and also donated $40,000 to the SHRM Foundation for training resources regarding bringing vets back to work. Humbled !!!

I went to the Conference to meet other volunteer leaders from around the country as well as hear about the direction and vision of SHRM.  (Let me slip my obligatory HR disclaimer here – I dig that I’m involved with SHRM !!  It rocks to be a leader in this group and I’ll explain more in a bit.)

I went early to be involved with Capitol Hill Day and to be an advocate for HR.  It was so extremely cool to have the ability to talk to Congress staff about issues that are affecting employers across the country.  There were 400+ HR folks who participated and I can’t wait to “storm” the Hill again next year.

The State Council breakout session was phenomenal as well.  To hear the great things that other states are doing in HR was encouraging to say the least.  Also, there were several social media HR friends in the same forum.  We were able to be vocal in supporting social media, share success stories about State Conferences and also learn from others.

The highlight of the Conference for me though was meeting HR pros from other states.  It was so cool to break down the boundaries that so many put up in meeting one another.  I met several social media friends in person for the first time, and it’s always cool to put avatars and faces together !!  Each one of them were such great humans and I knew they would be.

Also, hanging out with folks from Illinois, Oklahoma, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Alaska, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Florida, Michigan, Washington, Virginia, Tennessee, Indiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kansas, California, New Jersey and Wisconsin on purpose just plain ROCKED !! (I tried to meet as many people as I could to really connect with them !!)

Back to my disclaimer . . .

I am geeked about where SHRM is going because of the intentional people who crossed those imaginary state boundaries to truly connect.  There are amazing HR people who really are moving the profession forward including people working within SHRM.

So, as I get to dive into this new leadership role please know this – the boundaries are down.  We’re now going to keep working to bring our profession together and move it forward intentionally.  It’s going to be something that hasn’t been seen . . . yet !!

Make sure you’re connected as well !!

Image “Human Bridge” Courtesy of Iurikothe

Forever in Blue Jeans !!

When Neil Diamond sang the iconic song Forever in Blue Jeans, I don’t think he knew he was dealing with such a taboo subject for the workplace !!  Seriously, you do know that denim is evil, don’t you ??

This coming week I’m traveling to Washington, D.C. for the annual SHRM Leadership Conference (#SHRMLead).  I’m very excited to go because I have the honor of being the next SHRM State Council Director for Ohio in 2012 !!  I can’t wait to work with the 26 SHRM chapters in the State as well as with other leaders throughout the country.  I think it will be a great way to continue to keep the profession relevant in general as well as another way to keep trying to bring our whole profession together and connect them !!

A true highlight for me will be on Thursday when I get to join other HR professionals on Capitol Hill to visit lawmakers and lobby on behalf of HR.  I really am geeked !!  To get ready, those attending listened to a webinar put on by SHRM to get an overview of what the visit would entail and the issues we were going to focus on.

It was very well done and was just a glimpse of what we needed to learn in order to have a successful visit and leverage the time we had with our representatives and their staff.  During the webinar people could post questions, which I thought was cool.  I think it’s amazing that I live in a country where I can go to have an audience with the national leaders of the government and express my opinion to them.  It truly is astonishing !!  I submitted a question asking who the two people were in Congress who had an HR background because it was noted in the webinar.

So, when the moderator started to relay the questions to the leaders of the forum, my jaw hit the floor !!  We spent the first 15 minutes of the 20 minutes we had left for questions talking about clothing.  “What should we wear?”  “Can I wear blue jeans with a suit coat?” – and then the firestorm happened.  People sent in myriads of comments (not questions) about the evil of jeans.

When I hear my peers question why companies don’t take HR seriously – here’s your answer . . . We continue to focus on the splinter issues when we miss the lumber all around us !!  When we could have been focusing on the issues for this lobbying opportunity, people chose instead to focus on proper attire !!  I’m not sure what I’ll wear to visit Capitol Hill.

On Friday, night our State Council, Ohio SHRM, is up for a Pinnacle Award which is the highest award for volunteers from SHRM, and we have a tradition of wearing logo’d clothing to these things.  At the banquet we’re wearing these great gray fleece jackets . . . . and blue jeans !!  I wonder where the focus will be ???

What are you afraid of HR ??

When people ask me what profession I’m in, I don’t hesitate to proudly say, “HR !!  You know, Human Resources.”  Even when the response is, “Oh, sorry,” I’m not bothered in the least !!  Really, I’m not kidding.  Being in HR excites me and I wouldn’t trade it for any other profession (some of which truly do scare me !!)

One of the primary things that scares most folks I know in HR is that they aren’t quite sure where they fit in, or where the profession is going.  When your view on HR is “unknown”, I can understand why there might be some apprehension.

Too often people are paralyzed by fear and it makes them cautious, conventional and stuck.  These attributes aren’t attractive in any profession and especially HR.  So what can we do, if anything?

Glad you asked.  I don’t know if you’re connected to the good folks at Focus.com, but you should change that and get connected to them.  Recently, they published a survey that was given to HR practitioners entitled, Focus Research Study: 2011 Crowdsourced HR Survey.  It’s brilliant !!  You really need to click on this link, download the .pdf and see what people had to say.  It covers Trends in HR, the use of Social Media in HR and views on HR’s position in the organization.

I try to participate in all HR related surveys because I want to make sure to have a voice in things and also see what others are saying.  I can honestly say that this has been the most effective survey on HR that I’ve seen in quite some time.  It is reflective, critical and realistic.

You also need to read this to alleviate your fears.  Instead of wondering “what’s happening in HR?,” you can take these results in and see for yourself what your peers are saying. A special shout out to Charlie Judy and Caty Kobe who are working to keep HR relevant through work at Focus !!

So, on this Halloween change your outlook from being an HR Zombie to someone who’s no longer afraid and is excited to proclaim that you too are in HR !!

The Inner Sanctum !!

One observation I’ve had about HR professionals is that they have historically been very isolated both professionally and personally.  This has to be either by choice or by design within organizations.  This observation continues to be affirmed when I attend conferences of any size.  HR people seem astonished that others would intentionally like to be connected to them.

Something I’ve been trying at my work, and toying with in general is this philosophy – Model the behavior you expect in others.

To that end, I’d like to talk to you about the Inner Sanctum !! (cue scary theme music)  What I mean by this is that I have a tight knit group of HR professionals who make up my personal inner sanctum.   This isn’t a “Personal Board of Directors” as you may have seen in other blogs.  There is something more substantial to this group.   They have some incredible shared characteristics that I think are essential for this to work.  They are:

  • They all challenge me in some way !! – These are boundary stretching folks and I need that in order to not remain stagnate myself.
  • They are willing to be candid !! – They speak their minds openly both positively or critically. They aren’t afraid to address my blind spots.
  • They are consistent !! – Each of them is incredibly consistent while remaining creative and unpredictable. They each have strengths that I learn from.
  • They are all genuine !! – Something I cherish in others is to be “who you are.” These folks don’t have pretense and don’t support it in others.
  • They are all my friends !! – I mean that. We talk about all things in our lives. Families, work, faith, ups, downs, etc. All subjects are regularly discussed.

Without this group of people to gird me in what I do in HR and business, I would be less effective. It’s just a fact.  I think that having folks you can count on is a professional differentiator.  This isn’t networking or being in a clique.  It’s intentional, fascinating and exhilarating !!

This week step out.  Start looking at who would make up your Inner Sanctum and then pursue it.  If you choose to do this, you’ll see a marked difference in how HR looks, feels and acts !!  I hope you do it and let me know if you do !!

 

Looking out from an empty stage !!

Well, we did it !!  The 39th Annual Ohio HR Conference – HR Rocks !! – has been performed.  It was exhilarating and exhausting.  There was an incredible flow of positive energy around every corner and many friends from the world of Social Media were pivotal to its success.

The attendees were engaged, upbeat and experienced a State Conference that tried to loosen the edges of conference traditions.  For instance, the OHRC Committee had a lounge which was decorated with a beaded curtain that lead into a vast room of lava lamps, comfortable furniture and, of course, rock music !!  The halls were filled with classic rock flowing all around people as they moved from session to session.  The Mosh Pit (exhibit hall) was always full and the resource partners in their decorated booths caught the vibe of engaging the group instead of being seen as just selling their wares.

The Kalahari staff were incredible and responded at each and every question and need.  This was during a week where the CEO of Kalahari was coming in for the wedding of one of his daughters.  We met him and he felt that the Ohio HR Conference and his amazing resort fit well together !!

So, I’d like to wrap the incredible week with some thank you’s.

First of all – thank you to the attendees !!  You chose to come out and get away from your desks to try something new and I hope it paid off in providing new ways for you to ROCK HR at your workplace !!

Secondly – to my Committee !!  If I hear one more piece about HR practitioners who don’t care or represent our profession, I will personally introduce you to each member of my Committee who will show you true business leadership with a sense of joy, drive and intent !!  They put on an incredible concert !!!

Third – to HR friends from Social Media who traveled from far and wide to attend (spy) and bring incredible energy, insight and support.  It was so cool to hang out with Tammy Colson and Frank Zupan at our incredible Wine Tasting and to mill around with John Jorgensen, Dave Ryan, Brad Galin, Joan Ginsberg and Bryan Wempen throughout the week was amazing because I could always find them and hear words of encouragement.

Fourth – to Social Media leaders who brought their talent and presented.  Thanks to Mark Stelzner, Benjamin McCall, Paul Hebert, Jennifer McClure, Bill Boorman, Mike VanDervort, Simon T. Bailey, China Gorman, William Tincup, Elizabeth Borton and Stephanie Thomas.  Now, don’t get me wrong – I thought ALL of our speakers rocked it !!  What this group did was put a real face on Social Media and HR.  They came engaged, stayed through the conference and made it amazing.

Fifth – For William and Bryan to promote Drive Thru HR to practitioners and for them to feature one of my committee, Clay Morris, during the week.  They continue to bring the HR profession to life !!

Finally – You have to end with a story . . .

A few years ago we agreed as a Committee to stop giving out plaques or crystal desk weights for service when you end your term as Chair.  We decided to be more personal and ask what people would like (novel idea) or get something that fit them, their personality, etc.  Well, my Committee outdid themselves this year.  Here is what I received . . . a signed copy of U2’s The Joshua Tree album (my fave group !!) and a signed copy of an HR Rocks album that our Marketing guru, Mike Medoro, created with signatures from each committee member and each speaker.  When I received them, I broke down and cried.

I am humbled to have been the Chair of this event.  I am floored it even happened.  And even more than that, I am proud to see that our profession now knows that HR ROCKS !!!!!

And now to help Fred plan 2012 – it’s going to be amazing !!!!

 

 

Time to Stage Dive !!

This coming week I’m attending the 39th Annual Ohio HR Conference, HR Rocks !!, as its Chair. It has been an incredible year in planning this event.  You see, this event only comes together because of my amazing Committee !! (See last week’s post . . .)

And, this week, I get to enjoy the main reason I attend ANY conference . . . the people !!

As I type we are over 700 attendees and there will be another 180+ staffing the booths of our incredible Resource Partners as well as 20+ speakers/presenters.  That means I’ll get to see, meet and hang out with almost 1,000 great folks who are all about HR !!  That may not get others outside our profession geeked, but I can’t tell you how amped I am to encounter each and every person !!

Last week we launched a new facet to our Conference by conducting a pre-Conference conference call and attendees could call in to get the lowdown on the activities and events happening throughout the week.  When I asked for feedback, it was overwhelming to hear that people valued the personal touch that we were offering even before they hit the doors.

We’re trying to set a new trend in SHRM conferences by expecting everyone involved to be engaged and ready to have the best conference experience they’ve ever had !!  As I’ve mentioned before, people can only change their behavior if it’s modeled for them by others.  HR professionals need to take note that this is something that we hope is a takeaway for them from our Conference and it then permeates their workplaces.

I get in the van tomorrow packed with materials, goodies and surprises to head across the State to land at beautiful Sandusky, Ohio and the Kalahari Resort.  Just mere hours before I get to meet great new folks !!  I may not even sleep tonight because of the excitement !!

Behind the stage . . .

Next week an event over one year in the making takes the “stage” when the 2011 Ohio HR Conference, HR Rocks, comes to life !!  It looks like the hard work will pay off because the event offers phenomenal HR Rockstar speakers as well as 17.25 HRCI hours.  This post isn’t about the event so much as it is a sincere “Thank You” to the crew – my fabulous OHRC Committee.

Too often in today’s lighting fast society, we pay attention to those that are the most visible.  We make our judgements as to whether we like them, or not.  And, we judge what they do to see if it has value or credence based on every move.  This is a shame because behind the most visible people are a group of people who truly are the stars and make things come together.

The Ohio HR Conference (#OHSHRM on Twitter) is planned, designed and executed by HR volunteers – 100% !!  This can’t ever be the work of one person, nor should it be.  When I see so many questioning SHRM and it’s Board, it’s position on things and transparency, I think too many HR professionals forget the amazing work of State Councils, Chapters and State Conferences !!

Remember, if you want to find something negative in anything, you can.  It’s easy.  But, to find and thrive in something positive takes more effort which, in the long run, is much more worth it !!

So, I want you to meet, and get to know my crew this year.  Each of them is a successful and forward thinking HR practitioner who want to see HR excel and be relevant.  That is why they work so hard (along with their full-time jobs, families, other civic activities, etc.) to put together such an amazing event !!

They are listed and linked with their Linked In or Twitter profile so you can connect with each of them (which I highly recommend): Fred Eck, SPHR and Heather Speer-Edwards, SPHR(Programs); Katrina Plourde, SPHR and Kara Kilby (Registrations); Ashley Patterson, PHR and Sheri Caldwell, PhD, SPHR, CIR (Resource Partners) ; Clay Morris, SPHR, Sandy Manjura, PHR and Julie Stephens, SPHR (Arrangements); Mike Medoro (Marketing), Karen Luther, SPHR (Treasurer), Chris Henning, SPHR, (Secretary), Martine Scheuermann, SPHR (Past Chair) and Andrea Gurcsik, SPHR (Ohio SHRM State Council Director).

I’ve been on the State Conference Committee for eight years with a vast majority of these folks and I consider them dear friends.  I have been with them through life events, job changes, tears and tons of laughter !!  They are the reason that #OHSHRM will be great next week !!

So, when you come as an attendee to the Ohio HR Conference, I want you to stop each of these folks to say “Thank You” along with me.  They are extraordinary and unparalleled in the HR profession !! I am thankful to be their friend and humbled to be their Chair.

See you in a week when you will see how HR Rocks !!

 

Image courtesy of Stage Crew 

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 !!