No Permit Required !!

This past weekend my wife, daughter and I traveled to Athens, Ohio to help my son clear out his apartment one week before he graduates from Ohio University !! (I’ll write more about this milestone next week.) Being an alumni and proud Bobcat, I always welcome the chance to visit the town and my old school. There wasn’t a ton of time to enjoy ourselves in the sleepy city because we were there for a purpose.

I don’t know if you’ve been on a college campus lately, but parking is challenging. It’s a giant revenue option for landlords of apartment complexes and also for the university dorm system. Street parking in Athens is at a premium as well, and vehicles are bumper to bumper on each and every block. This isn’t a complaint, it’s just an observation of what students face. It’s always takes quite a bit of time to circle around and around blocks surrounding our son’s apartment with the faint hope that we’ll find a spot where we can squeeze in our car.

This weekend we not only had our car, but we also rented a UHaul box truck to get everything back home in one trip. The only truck available could have been used to move the contents of an entire house !! This made driving, maneuvering and parking an adventure to say the least. I wasn’t sure how we were going to get near his apartment building with this behemoth. There was NO way it would fit in any parking space.

As I was waiting near the truck as my family marched back and forth moving items to be loaded, my mind wandered and I wondered about the marked parking spaces and the permit needed in order to use them. You see, in addition to the distinctly marked parking spaces, there are a myriad of cameras for security as well as signs warning that illegally parked cars would be towed at the owner’s expense. My son even noted that as we were driving through town he saw four roving tow trucks eagerly searching for illegal activity. They couldn’t wait to bury their hook under an axle and tow yet another hapless car away to an impound lot. There would be at least a fee involved if not a traffic ticket.

This layered system which limited options and threatened punishment reminded me of the workplace. I know that may seem extreme, but hang with me. Many managers of others don’t want performance from their staff. They want people to occupy their space and their space alone. You can’t wander into any one else’s space because that would mean absolute chaos !! Wouldn’t it?

In addition to making sure people stay where we expect them to be, we add layers of veiled threats of punishments either through discipline or performance management systems. We so desperately want people to stay put that we develop programs and systems to ensure that moving around isn’t an option. We are no different than the lined parking spaces at my son’s university.

Why do we continue to think this effective? In the world of desired collaboration and engagement, how does confining people seem like the best option? Sure, the systems of limiting people’s experience and reach produces results, but are they the best results possible? I don’t think they are.

I think it’s time to have a “no permit required” approach to work. We need to foster relationships and expect that people will do their best when they interact outside their regular space. We can’t continue to bemoan the reality of corporate silos if we aren’t willing to break them down. I understand that we need structure in our organizations, but it should be structure that allows people to perform and not constrain. We can’t keep thinking the worst is going to happen everyday without imposed restrictions. People have the desire to get work done and done well if they’re given the environment to do that.

We ended up pulling the UHaul directly in front of the apartment garage. We parked our car in an empty space without a permit. I kept watch as everyone brought down the items to the truck, and was prepared to move if needed to let the other tenants out. We broke the “rules” in order to do the work needed. We accomplished it using a system that was speedy and efficient. We even had time to interact with the landlord’s son who saw we were breaking the rules. He commented on how it was smart to get a head start on moving a week before graduation and understood that we weren’t complying, but would be done soon.

This week take a look around and see if you’re causing more barriers and parking spaces to exist. Take this approach and remove the permits. You’ll be pleased to see how amazing people are and how engaged they can be if you’ll only allow them to work as people within a system instead of in spite of it !!

The Tie-Dye That Binds !!

If you don’t already know, I’m kind of a hippie. I have been for most of my life since college. I’ve tried to be an open minded person who looks at life from many, many angles. Don’t get me wrong. I have strong beliefs and values of my own, but I’m always keen on observing and hearing the perspectives of others. When I left my small village in Ada, Ohio to attend school at Ohio University, I had my eyes opened to so many different people from an innumerable amount of backgrounds, families, lifestyles and approaches.

It was at OU that I first met people who wore tie-dye clothing. I had seen some in movies from the 60’s and 70’s, but I didn’t know anyone who actually owned some. At college they sold tie-dye clothing of all sorts at stores, in booths on the street corner and at college festivals. I was drawn to the multicolor patterns and the way the clothing seemed to flow and blend together. I was hooked !! I started gathering more and more shirts over the years, and my wife even tie-dyed her garter as a surprise for our wedding. I’m still a big fan and wearer of tie-dye. My love for it has only grown.

What does that have to do with HR? Well . . .

This past week I had the honor of speaking at the Villanova HRD Annual Networking Reception. I had the chance to “meet” many of the students during a Zoom meeting. We hit it off and laughed a ton as we planned their event. I asked what they’d like to have covered and they shared that they wanted to hear what HR was “really like,” and if it matched what they had already learned and experienced. I tried to think of something fresh to present so I developed a presentation entitled “If I Knew Then . . .” I gathered my things and headed to the Villanova campus and I was geeked !!

After I checked into the hotel, I rode the elevator down do the conference room to set up. As the elevator came to rest, the doors opened and then I saw it . . . tie-dye !! The students had blue and white tie-dye shirts made with the hashtag for the event. I laughed and smiled because this was a complete surprise. I thought it was so touching that they chose to do this. We were all very excited to see each other in person, and I told them that their shirts meant so much to me.

Ironically, all of the students wore blazers over the shirts because they wanted to make sure they looked “professional.” That made me laugh even harder because their move is so reflective of the real culture situations we still have in the workplace today MANY years after I entered it. Think about it. In an effort to show support and camaraderie the students felt they still had to do something else to conform in order to be taken seriously by the people from the business community that attended that night.

Geeked to have a new item for my tie-dye wardrobe !!

How long can we continue to let something as simple as a piece of clothing determine whether or not we can “allow” people to express themselves? Seriously. You see, the students made a shirt for me as well, but I didn’t have a chance to get it before the presentation. I’m so glad it was late because the attendees would forgive me as the goofy, extroverted guest to wear tie-dye far more easily because I was visiting. But, they felt compelled to conform in order to be accepted by the outside “professionals.” I wonder how many of the professionals made comments or wondered why these future HR pros chose to be so intentionally non-traditional.

I see tie-dye differently. I think that something as simple as a multicolored shirt can show how much people want to be connected together. We spend so much time seeing people who choose to be different as “wrong.” Why is that? Why can’t we do more to value differences and see how those incredible personal attributes make up a pattern that shows how connected we are? I see people like a tie-dye shirt. The more colorful, swirlier and varied the better.

This week look for the tie (dye) that binds you to others. You’ll be amazed by all others have to offer without covering it up !!

Don’t Dwell !!

I mentioned recently that my wife and I have joined a gym. It’s at a neighboring city’s community center. It’s something we’ve talked about for years, and I’m glad we finally signed up. We intentionally started before the end of the year so we didn’t get caught up in the New Year’s resolution rush. It takes a ton of discipline, but it’s been wonderful.

One of the things I enjoy the most is that while I’m on the elliptical or the treadmill, I can put on headphones and listen to podcasts or music. I go back and forth between the two. Last week as I was huffing, puffing and sweating I was taking in the All Out 70’s playlist from Spotify. It’s an absolute fave station of mine. All of a sudden, a group that was extremely famous started singing one of their ballads. The group was Ambrosia and the song was “Holding On To Yesterday.” It’s a beautiful tune that was played often on AM radio. (Yes, I’m old and I’m cool with it.)

The song is about a relationship that used to be wonderful and the singer longs for when things were better and brighter for them. One of the great things about working out is that your mind has time to wander and consider different thoughts. Once I heard this song, I thought of organizational cultures and HR because we are folks who fiercely hold on to the past. People will make speeches and decisions based on a past accomplishment and use that as a point of reference for how they do what they do.

What’s funny about remembering the past is we only remember the good parts. Thankfully we don’t remember the challenges, obstacles and even pain that we went through at times to make change happen. The result was so phenomenal that the hard part of the past is easily forgotten.

We can’t allow people to dwell in the past. That is especially true for those of us in HR. The reality of how incredibly fast business changes doesn’t allow for it. You can, and should, learn from the past, but only as a point of reference. Learn from the decisions that were made – both good and bad. However, hanging your reputation on the past is honestly slowing you down and making you less and less relevant by the moment.

I find it better to look forward. It’s not easy for us to do this willingly because we want to have everything figured out before we step ahead. I love when people claim to be harbingers of “change”, but they aren’t looking forward at all. They’re relying on the past to set the stage . . . and then stay where they’re at. I have a quote from C.S. Lewis that I keep with me as a reminder that things ahead are far better than what is left behind.

This week take some time to reflect. See where your efforts are stuck in the past. Ask if it’s worth changing and moving things forward. This may not work for everything, but I’m sure there are items, policies, programs and procedures that could stand to have dust knocked off of them. You’ll be surprised how fresh your work becomes when you do this !! It’s time for us to quit dwelling on the past and holding on to yesterday. You’ll have to trust, and have a bit of faith, that things will truly be better ahead. This is how I try to approach every day. It’s hard to push against the grain, but worth it.

Now, you should still learn the song, because THAT is worth enjoying !!

Phone A Friend !!

Do you remember the television game show hosted by Regis Philbin Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? When it first aired my wife and I had two very young kids and we were glued to the set for every episode !! I have always been a trivia buff so this fed into me trying to guess the answers of the questions without any clues. Inevitably during the questions, contestants would get stumped either because they didn’t know the answer, or the stress of being taped while millions of people watched may them stumble.

The show had some “outs” for the contestants where they could either “ask the audience” or “phone a friend.” Those two options didn’t always help, but they were great to get an outsider’s perspective and insight as well as reassure your hunch.

I love phones. Always have. You see I’m old enough that I predate the computers we all carry in our pockets. In fact, I go back to a time where you only had to dial a “4” and the last four numbers of a phone number in my home town – on a rotary phone !! The call went through every time. I also fondly recall that you could talk to a friend (or significant other) on a phone FOR HOURS and it never got old.

Today though, even though we communicate and check in constantly through endless social media platforms, emails, blogs, pictures and texts, we can still be isolated. Don’t get me wrong, I think you can effectively communicate through all variations and forums. I’m actively involved in many myself on a daily basis. In the end though, nothing ever beats a phone call. Nothing.

What we’ve forgotten is that people long for direct, human contact and interaction. We want to hear people’s voices and see their faces. If this is electronic, so be it. The technology today is so incredible that you can sit in front of a screen and see a friend anywhere on the planet !! In person communication tops even phone calls because you can sense the emotion and context of another person face to face.

I’m a caller. A phone caller. I try to call people every day.

I have a long commute where I’m on the road driving at least 45 minutes each way. My job also takes me into the field to visit the great people in our company who work in our various locations. This means more screen (windshield) time. I love filling that time calling friends, peers and compatriots from all over regardless of time zone or time of day. I get geeked to hear their voice and all that is happening in their lives.

A dear friend of mine framed this approach very aptly this week, and I wanted to share it with you. You see . . .

“In your life, you are either spending time or investing time.”

I take time to talk to others because it has immeasurable value to me. I choose to invest my time in others. I truly feel nudges to give people calls because they’re on my heart or mind. If I don’t get them, I leave an encouraging message so they know that they matter and that someone is thinking about them. It doesn’t bother me if you think this is pie eyed optimism because it is !!

Just today as I was returning from a workout at the gym, I felt a nudge to call one of my best friends. When he answered, he started laughing before I even said, “Hello.” I asked him what was so funny and he said, “Of course you’d call right now. I have been so mad about things going on in and around my life and your goofy, smiling face pops up.” Then we chatted for 30 minutes. We didn’t solve one thing. But each moment was worth it.

I didn’t mention the two chats I had with folks thinking about going into HR, the person who wanted to chat about a potential job change and asked me to help her network, or the endless conversations I had at work. Every one of them was marvelous even though many were full of challenges.

This week, carve out some time to phone a friend. Just check in. Let them know that they’re not alone. It’s worth your time !!

Write. Read. Share.

I’m going into my eighth year of having an HR blog. It’s something I truly enjoy. It gives me a chance to share my thoughts, perspectives and ideas. I have always liked being creative, and having a platform like this gives me a chance to see what hits the page. I was a relatively early adopter of HR blogging and I admired the folks who were already active, visible and vocal when I started.

Many of the bloggers I read have tapered off. I understand that. It’s hard to come up with content, be consistent and sustain a blog. I miss seeing their work, but appreciate all that they did to bring the world of Human Resources to the business arena !!

Now, there are several new HR professionals who have started their own blogs. They are at various stages of their careers and come from different industries. It’s honestly exciting and reminds me of when blogging first began.

At the same time, there’s a concerning trend that is honestly disappointing. I keeps seeing more and more tweets and blog posts bemoaning that these new bloggers aren’t sharing anything “new”. They only contain retreads of ideas. Or, even worse, people spending so much more time tearing the ideas of others down instead of trying to listen and understand someone else’s perspective. The darkness, negativity and cynicism seems to be rampant, growing and prevalent. It doesn’t make sense.

When, in the history of society, did tearing things down ever result in building things up ??

I want to see this change. I want people to see people share all types of perspectives and insights. It’s not a matter of agreeing with everything that’s written. However, it does mean allowing all voices to be expressed. There is more than enough room for everyone’s blog. We don’t need to constrain things. Keep in mind that these new bloggers are reaching a new audience as well. The work they’re creating is solid and has real value. With that in mind, I’d encourage you to follow a new model – Write. Read. Share.

Write

As I mentioned earlier, writing for me is a release. I seem to have ideas constantly swirling around in my brain just trying to burst out. In fact, I write a weekly email for a global forum called the HR Net that I’ve been doing for 19 years. I write a song parody about HR and have written over 500 songs. Again, they just need to get out. Writing is cathartic. It’s key to get your ideas in front of others so they can be consumed, critiqued and understood. I think that getting your ideas down is where you should focus, and however you choose to approach this is fine. There’s no one method that works for everyone. The most important facet is to take the first step and write.

Read

I’m a voracious reader. I have been for as long as I can remember. I have two to three books going at a time, and they’re rarely from the same genre. I also read the blogs of many people they range from curated sites which gather the works of many authors to individuals who I enjoy learning from. You see, I read to learn. I don’t want to ever fall into the trap that my voice alone is all there is to know on any subject or facet of HR, work or life. With billions of people roaming the planet at the same time, I have to believe that they myriad of thoughts available is endless.

Share

Writing and reading are wonderful, but they are also self-serving. If I only express myself by writing and then only personally learn from reading, then the impact of that information is limited to my personal capacity. I think that sharing the work of others even more important than writing. I am a zealot about being others focused. It is in my core. I have never felt challenged, diminished or obstructed by shining the light on others. If you look back in history, the only way people learned was by sharing.

From now on, be encouraging of others. Let’s stop the trend of negativity for good. You have the time. Remember this – If you have time to write, you have time to read. If you have time to read, you have time to share.

Go forward and write what’s in your heart and on your mind. Read what others say and learn from them. And, share broadly and often so that our HR and business community can grow.

Write. Read. Share.

Blank Canvas !!

This past Friday my wife and I were invited by a friend to come to the soft opening of her new business. She had once been in a Corporate Wellness role, but recently was affected by a downsizing. This is never easy. To be between jobs is challenging for anyone. She reflected on what her next step should be, and after some time and talking with her husband she decided to open a Pinot’s Palette franchise !! These stores are where you can go and paint your own masterpiece with friends and family or on your own.

That’s a giant step for anyone. To make the move from a role where you’re part of a larger organization where you have co-workers and resources to becoming an entrepreneur takes faith. I wanted to make sure to be a supporter of her new endeavor, so we attended the opening.

Now, we honestly thought we’d come to congratulate her and share a drink and some finger food. We’d take a tour of her new place, meet her husband and wish them the best. However, as we opened the door we were greeted with life, upbeat music and MANY friendly faces. We looked over at the tables and there were 40 small easels all with a blank canvas on them. I thought that was a good representation of what a normal night would look at the business.

One of the new staff said, “Pick out an apron from the wall. We have a space marked out for both of you.” My wife and I looked at each other and then back at the staff member. I said, “I’m sorry. We’re supposed to grab an apron?” She replied, “Well, yes. You’re going to paint tonight !! We’re all doing Van Gogh’s The Starry Night.” We were caught off guard.

We grabbed an apron, moved to our places and stared at a blank canvas in front of us. My wife had never gone to a painting class, and I had only been once. As the room filled up, you could hear most of the people who were associated with the new owners share their same anxiety about what was about to occur.

Before we started, we both shared some food and a drink hoping it would calm our nerves. We also introduced ourselves to our table mates. The instructor asked us to take our places and get ready to paint. My wife leaned over to me and quietly shared, “I’m not sure I can do this.” I reassured her that she’d be fine, and then the painting began . . .

Let me break away for a second.

My wife’s response in facing a blank canvas is very similar to most people I know. We don’t like the unknown. When faced with a task that seems daunting and beyond our capability, we doubt ourselves. It’s how many face work daily and keep their anxiety to themselves.

Are you there to reassure others that they are capable? You have a great opportunity in HR to be an encourager on a daily basis. I wish more HR practitioners would do this. Employees yearn for acknowledgement and someone who believes in them. I hope you willingly step into that role.

Now back to painting . . .

Layer after layer was added to our canvases. What started as several brush strokes of deep blue paint now took form and started to look like a landscape. The conversations that people had ranged from people in awe they could paint to inevitable comparisons. Everyone stated that their painting wasn’t good enough. They didn’t look anything like Van Gogh’s work.

Back to employees and workplaces . . .

Sounds just like work doesn’t it? Instead of being encouraged for the performance people give through their effort, we compare. We have entire systems which measure what people don’t do and how they fall short. How backwards is this? And yet, we do nothing to eliminate this archaic and ineffective approach. We can, and should, change our approach to focus on the work that people do and expect them to be creative and perform. Workplaces would thrive if this became the norm and not the exception.

And now we finish . . .

My final piece of art !! Had a great time doing this.

Everyone ended up with their version of The Starry Night. Not one was the same, and that was perfect. Each person worked from their skill set and their interpretation of the instructions and what they felt and saw. My wife and I had a great time. We made new friends and went home with a shared experience our own “masterpieces.”

You can treat every day as a blank canvas because it is. Instead of doubting your ability, pick up a brush, dab some paint on it and start covering the white space. You can also be someone who adds color, life and vibrancy to other’s and their blank canvas. Do this on purpose and see how much better you enjoy your work, HR in general and the amazing accomplishments of others.

Practice the Practice !!

Last year in November, my wife and I joined a gym. We wanted to get healthy, and we wanted to get ahead of the traditional rush of folks who make their annual New Year’s resolution. This isn’t a major accomplishment for most, but since we’re both over the half century mark, we needed to make a change.

We chose to join the Mason Community Center for several reasons. First of all, it’s far enough away that you need to drive to get there. That’s good because the 15 minute drive makes you be intentional in using the membership. Secondly, the facility is phenomenal !! It has treadmills, ellipticals, weights, an indoor track, a indoor swimming pool and several basketball courts. The center is a magnet and it’s always full of people.

I loved all of the potential activities, but I was especially attracted by the basketball courts. You see, I’ve been playing basketball for over 40 years !! In fact, I played on organized teams for eight years in schools and was even recruited to play at the collegiate level (small colleges, but still !!) I chose to pursue my education at a larger university so I changed over to playing on intramural teams. Once I graduated and settled into my home/job, I kept playing on community teams. As I aged, my passion for playing competitively waned because of having great kids of my own and other items that took my time and attention. I “played” outside my house every once in awhile, but not like I used to.

Seeing the courts at the community center brought back the urge to play basketball again. I even asked for a new basketball from my wife for my birthday in January. I got one !! Since I had been so proficient and successful in the past, I couldn’t wait to get out on the court and shoot around. I decided to combine my workout and make it half treadmill/elliptical and half basketball.

I was so eager to launch my first shot with my new basketball !! As I hoisted the sphere into the air, I watched as it arced toward the basket . . . and came up about a 1/2 foot short. How could that be? I was really good at basketball. It should just come back naturally, shouldn’t it? I had the proper equipment and there wasn’t anything keeping me from performing, but I was awful. I made a few shots my first time back out. A few.

What was wrong? It didn’t make sense. Sure, I hadn’t played competitively for several years, but I wasn’t trying to jump into a pick-up game. I was only taking some shots to get back into the swing of things. The one thing I was missing was – practice.

We don’t like to practice. We don’t. It’s almost like joining a gym. We know it will help us feel better and it makes sense mentally, but we aren’t willing to make the time and effort needed to get involved. It doesn’t change the fact that practicing anything makes you better. This idea of practice pertains to HR because I think we’ve lost sight of practicing our practice.

Sure, we work daily in our field, but do we continue to practice to make us better? I think we tend to get in a pattern of how we take on HR in our corner of the business universe and we stick to it. That works and it’s functional, but it’s also limiting. The “practice” of HR is ever evolving and never remains constant. If we’re not keeping up on this movement, then we’ll be just like when I picked up a basketball again. Our efforts will come up short.

Did you ever notice that the word “act” is in the middle of the word “practice”? Practicing compels you to act. You can’t just wish something into existence. You need to move and break the pull of inertia.

It’s time for all of us in HR to practice our practice. Trust me. The more you practice the better professional you’ll be personally, for your company and for the field as a whole. So, consider this your new basketball. Time to get back out on the court and start practicing !!

A Bright Future !!

“How old are you? Seriously, what’s your age?”

Pretty straightforward isn’t it? If that’s how I introduced myself, how would you react? I bet you’d be “offended” or put off because you would wonder why that had any bearing whatsoever on our meeting. The next thought in your head would be wondering why in the world I would start a conversation in such a rude way. You’d wonder if I was judging you or making assumptions about you as a person just because of a number. That’s assuming that you’d even answer me.

Seems pretty outlandish doesn’t it? However, we continue to do this as HR professionals and think nothing of it. In fact, we have conference sessions, books and blogs about how to “deal” with these young whipper snappers disrupting OUR workforce !! (Insert the “Get off my lawn” with the obligatory fist shaking motion here . . .)

Every HR conference has a “Working with Millenials” speech that you can get credit for. Sadly, the room will be packed because we’re so mystified by such a difficult challenge. Ironically, the presenter most likely won’t be a millenial. It will be someone older complaining about how different these folks are from us. Sad. Just freaking sad.

How did the profession that espouses diversity and inclusion become the profession that delineates employees based on their age? Who said this was a good idea? And, why in the world would you pay anyone as a speaker on consultant to come in and teach you how to “DEAL” with people who are different than you? One other quick fact, the next generation after the millenials is already entering the workplace. I can’t wait until the next phase of generation separation starts happening !!

I hope you can tell this ticks me off. It’s disappointing on so many levels and it has to stop. Here’s how . . . embrace the folks who will replace us !!

My future and yours !!

A few weeks ago I was fortunate to have HR students from Ohio University visit me as part of a field trip. They visited four employers from different types of industries to learn about the companies and how HR was practiced. I was geeked to have them come learn about LaRosa’s, Inc. You see, I am a proud OU Bobcat alumni !! I mentioned that I graduated from college before the internet existed. There were audible gasps.

We had a phenomenal time together !! They were eager, engaged and hilarious. We spent the whole afternoon together, and I let them ask me anything they wanted to know. They asked pointed questions about how I viewed/practiced HR and what workplaces were “really” like.

Not once did the students hold my age against me as a barrier. I didn’t treat them any differently than any person I encounter on a daily basis. It never came up. Nor, should it.

I encouraged the students to take a serious look at the cultures of the companies they were visiting as a benchmark for what workplaces are like. I told them a truth that I know which is people will stay or leave a company because of it’s culture. I also wanted them to ask their future prospective employers to describe how they view HR and the role it plays in their organizations. I told them to listen to the response because it would reflect the company’s culture and would be the best measure of whether they should join that company or not.

We closed the day in a very cool, and humbling, way. I was able to give them a copy of my book and when I signed the copies I put “OU ’86” under my name. One of the students said “Like 1986 ?? Whoa !!” I laughed. I loved that they thought I was ancient.

The future of HR is bright because of students like these !! I take any opportunity I can to meet with and speak to students because I believe that they need to hear from business people who won’t treat them differently. Instead, you engage them as talented, wonderful future employees.

This week, stop the generation separation. I mean it. We’re better than that. Let’s make our present as bright as our future !!

#HRMixTape2019 – The HR Edition !!

A few years ago my good friend, Mark Hendy, a fellow HR pro from Wales in the UK put a challenge out to put together a mix tape of songs. I remember growing up and literally making mix tapes taking songs from countless vinyl albums. It was always hard to make sure all of the songs flowed well and you had to really work at starting the next song right after the other recording ended.

Mark threw down the gauntlet once again and invited HR pros from around the globe to make their #HRMixTape2019. I couldn’t resist !! People are still buzzing about the great movie Bohemian Rhapsody which is a biopic of the legendary band Queen. I loved the movie and have been an incredible fan of their music for decades. They have so many songs that drip with HR goodness. So, here is my mix tape !!

HR does face pressure every day because we tend to deal with challenging situations daily. Working with people is hard. Realizing that, make sure you have someone you can chat with so that it never overwhelms you.

We have the responsibility for our employees from the time they’re considered as a candidate until the time they leave our company. Terminations are never easy, but they are a reality of our work. So even though another person leaves, make sure that you handle these transitions with grace.

I can’t encourage you enough to reach out and connect with other HR pros. We will thrive, survive and keep ourselves alive only from the support of others who go through what we do. This Spring I hope to meet Mark and many other HR prose when I visit the UK. It will be great to meet folks in person after we’ve been connected on social media. I love having connections of my peers in HR and chat with them daily.

I truly believe that HR is a global community. I would love if we would look past our geography and connect. Together I think we can change the workplace, support the workplace and add value to our organizations. It will take one vision to do this and I know that we can all connect. I hope you’ll join me in making this happen !!

If you remember nothing else, know that you’re in the best profession on the planet !! The more passion you have around what you do, the more you’ll show other how much Human Resources truly rocks. You have the chance to impact and lift up people every day. Nothing rocks more than that. Nothing.

A mix tape wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t have a “hidden track”. I believe that HR and music bring everyone together. So, enjoy my absolute favorite Queen track as we head out. Peace to all !!

All the Verts !!

This past week has been an interesting week of interactions. They ranged from conversations in my office to various connections on-line in social media forums. I tend to take in as much as possible on a regular basis because I enjoy all of the contact. Yes, I am an extrovert. In fact, when I’ve taken assessments that measure this, I’m off the chart. That isn’t always a good thing.

I only mention that because my extroversion is only one small facet of who I am. We tend to take our “vert” and use it to lead in describing us as people. This is solid because it’s a fact. However, we often use it as a label to explain what we’re not instead of highlighting who we are. Knowing who we are is essential because self-awareness, in my opinion, is the baseline of healthy relationships, interactions and even leadership !!

One of the unexpected interactions this week was from my friend Paul LaLonde. He just started a new blog called the HR Philosopher and he described how we met each other in person at last year’s SHRM Annual Conference. I love that he described me as “a giant man with a booming voice and a tie-dye shirt” because it makes me smile. He also shared how he stepped out of his comfort zone to be intentional that we met. I love this because I’m the opposite. If I see you in a room, I want to meet you.

The reality of your “vert” is that it drives how you process thought, how you tend to communicate and how you approach meeting others and the relationships you develop. Your vert is your lead in. That is spectacular and not a hindrance. Respecting that people land all across the scale of extroversion and introversion is imperative because we start interactions based on who we are and regardless of who the other person is. I would challenge you to not charge, or creep, into interactions. Feel things out. See if there is receptivity in initiating contact. It’s safer for all the verts to do this.

The other unexpected connection I made this week was listening to a podcast. I love listening to the HR Social Hour 1/2 Hour Podcast because it features fellow HR practitioners. You get to learn about them more as people including how they arrived in the field of HR, their varied experiences and some personal faves in movies, TV and music. This week’s episode featured Natasha Desjardins, an HR pro in the non-profit sector in Washington, D.C. She lit up the microphone with excitement and passion which was an instant draw for me personally.

She shared an incredibly profound statement which she stated is a personal philosophy that she has adopted which is an African proverb – “I am because WE are.” She described it so well stating that who she is as a person is because of all of the great variety of people in her life that are connected to her. She never said, “Because I’m an ______vert . . . We are __________verts.” Her joy about how she is intentionally connected to others was spectacular to hear. Honestly, I clapped in my car when the episode ended.

This week enjoy the interactions with everyone you encounter because of who they are and not because of some label !! We are far more than our “verts”, but we are also who we are because of them. Connect on purpose my friends. Show others how amazing the whole you really is !!

(P.S. – Start by connecting with Paul and subscribing to his blog and listen to Natasha on the podcast. You’ll be glad you did !!)