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 !!

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 . . .