Give It Up !!

As you head into work this week, how does your plate look? I’m sure it’s full. I’d be surprised if it’s not. Knowing that’s the case, how are you going to start the day? Are you going to pull your big boy/big girl boots on and jump into the fray? You probably will and it will have limited success. It will probably lead to frustration and a feeling that you’re never getting ahead.

I’m not being critical because you may have things all together. I’m not one of those folks. I get distracted often. The distractions are a mix of what is natural in HR by being pulled in several directions at the same time, and the reality is that I can follow a shiny object if it gets into my field of vision. I think it’s important to be reflective and honest about how you’re wired. However, I don’t think it should be an excuse for being effective in your role.

I recently attended a great training class at work on Planning. The reason that it rocked was that it wasn’t about “method,” it was about components. I have struggled with the idea of planning my entire career because it has always been presented to me as a series of must do steps and endless to do lists. This training broke things down into components that emphasized focusing on the “big rocks” in front of you and work from there.

DelegateInterestingly enough, one of the tools that helped you keep your eyes on the big rocks was delegation.

Ah . . . the D word !! We espouse that it’s necessary, but we struggle to do it with any sort of consistency. There are many reasons for this that are myths, and it’s time we faced why we choose not to delegate.

Loss of Control – We’re control freaks, especially if you work in HR. We are so protective of what we do. Some of that “close to the vest” approach is needed, but we are way too overprotective. We make the assumption that others can’t handle certain aspects of HR because of confidentiality. The problem is that even though that may be the case on some issues, our profession is so broad that there is a ton that we can give to others. We need to quit thinking that HR is a cloak and dagger job.

They won’t do it “right” – Yikes !! This is said many times a day in the workplace. We state we won’t delegate because we know others won’t do it the way we do. There are so many things wrong with this outlook. First of all, you are assuming that others will underperform because we do it so well. Who gets to judge that? Secondly, we assume that when people do things differently than we do, then it’s wrong. If you take away anything from this post, please remember this HR !!

Different isn’t wrong – it’s just different.

How can we claim to value diversity in our organizations if we think that doing things in alternative ways is wrong? Seriously. Examine this because if you allow this thought and behavior, you can guarantee that you aren’t genuinely diverse. Diversity is a strength and delegation would show you that it is.

We’re afraid – Whenever you give something up, there is a feeling of uncertainty. You can’t shake this. It will happen every time you delegate. However, you can reduce this anxiety if you give expectations and clarity to others when you delegate. That doesn’t mean that you do 90% of the work and then “allow” someone to finish the last 10%. Practice makes perfect with delegation. Keep doing it regularly and you’ll be more comfortable with it over time.

It was great to learn the power of delegation and how it relates to planning. I wanted to add one more perspective to this. Delegation is a powerful way to develop your staff. Giving them projects and tasks allows them to stretch, grow and perform.

So, this week change your view and start emptying your plate. Take a breath, calm your nerves and take a step to give it up !!

Going Deep !!

The majority of our days are spent with people in some form or fashion.  In the workplace, you encounter people in many situations and often with different outcomes.  Even though we spend the bulk of our time at work, we don’t really have “deep” relationships.

This isn’t bad.  In fact, the reality taking relationships deeper at work can be tenuous.  The dynamics in the workplace need balance in order for them to be effective.  Collaboration comes from a healthy give and take with folks.  You can have very close friends you work with, but I think that leaves a gap that most of us want filled.

Do you have folks you can “get real” with?  Someone who really challenges you and makes you dissect your views, opinions, etc. to have you take time to be introspective.  Someone who doesn’t automatically agree with you.  If you don’t, you should.

Why do you need someone like this?

Going DeepIt’s necessary because the culture in most organizations strives for conformity.  Conformity of thought, actions, appearance, etc.  And, unfortunately, most HR people love this !!  The least resistance makes our jobs comfortable.  If people “fall in line,” then we think we’re being effective and doing our jobs.

The opposite is actually what should be our goal.  One of my great friends who makes me go deep just reminded me – “If you’re comfortable, you’re not growing.”  So true !!  Having someone who you can bounce ideas off who isn’t in your organization is great because they don’t have the same filters and assumed culture that your workplace inherently has.

There are some key things to consider if you have someone to go deep with:

  • It has to be interactive and not one sided !! – This isn’t a forum or venue for someone to just be a sage, mentor or someone who espouses their opinions.  This is dialogue.  You both have to press each other.
  • It has to be intentional !! – You can set time aside to have conversations, but make sure it’s top of mind and timely.  This isn’t a therapy session.  It’s a chance to lock horns with someone when you need to hit them up.  Also, anything goes in these interactions.  You have to understand that you’re trying to be stretched here, but that it’s still safe.
  • It has to be genuine !! – Whenever I have these conversations, it’s raw, passionate and direct.  You never hear catch phrases or HRspeak – EVER !!  In fact, it’s how most people would love to express themselves in companies if they could.  You know that you can be open with the others involved because they have this expectation as well.
  • It has to be limited !! – I would limit the number of folks you engage in deep conversations.  Why?  Most people won’t do it well.  That’s a real shame, but most won’t take the time or really dive in when they talk.  People want to keep things at the surface level which is cool.  But, it also never fills the gap to stretch beyond your norms.

So, this week, if you don’t have someone you can go deep with, find somone.  If you have someone, give them a ring to talk to them.  This goes beyond electronic forms of communication and demands a relationship.  Trust me.  If you get a few of these folks around you, you will become the businessperson that your Company truly wants around !!

Become a Contrarian Craftsman !!

You have to know that I’m incredibly passionate about HR !!  I’m really passionate about most things actually.  Most of the blogs, conferences and resources out there are incredible in their observations, perspectives and approaches.  You can get people geeked about something pretty easily, but what people want is how they can apply what they read and learn in their everyday roles.

Too often we lack tools to apply the great things we learn.  That’s about to change !!  I how that you are a voracious reader as an HR professional.  It’s a needed attribute because you can stay current and relevant in the field.  My newest “find” to do that is something that gives you applicable tools as well.

Lean HR BookYou need to pick up Dwane Lay‘s new work – Lean HR !!

“Lean” is not a new concept by any means, but it IS a fantastic and unique approach to Human Resources.  Dwane takes the tools that have been traditionally used in manufacturing and shows how they can bring efficiency and reduce waste in HR.

The concept of reducing waste is SO needed in HR !!  Don’t think so?  There are so many layers of unnecessary tasks that it would take thousands of blogs to even try and capture it all.  I can remember in one of my roles where a company had an 8 page coffee making policy !!!  Eight pages !!  Not to mention a policy to make coffee !! Don’t even get me started on my wife’s company who has a current 10-page dress code policy !!

One of the key things that Dwane starts off with is the ability to be a contrarian – a person who takes an opposing view on things.  His reasoning is that you need to be comfortable in asking “Why?” and that is something that usually annoys us.  However, it’s key to be able to look at things from many vantage points to see if it can be done more efficiently.  This is where the cool tools come in !!  They are very understandable and you can use the data that exists around you.

I love this book and it’s a double bonus that I know the author !!  He’s an incredible resource and has introduced a work that will truly transform HR and give us a new method to make us the business partners that we long to be.  You’ll make HR a craft like it deserves to be instead of a field where you feel like you face constant obstacles.

Make sure to get a copy and start eliminating the waste that so desperately needs to be eliminated !!  You’ll be glad you did !!

HR is a Rock Ballet !!

If you didn’t know this about me . . . I am a music freak !!  Each week I write a song parody about HR in the HR Net. I try to post on Twitter each day using the #HRMusicShare tag to see what other music HR pros are enjoying.  Just started sharing music with UK HR friends about what music we are listening to during our work commute using @CommuteMusic with a theme each week !!  And, then I make sure to have music constantly playing in the car, at my office, or on my laptop.

I know I have issues, but I’m good with it !!

However, this weekend, I mixed absolutely all of my HR geekedness when I saw Peter Frampton play live with the Cincinnati Ballet performing in front of him and his band !!

Frampton Ballet

It was sublime.  Seriously, it was simply amazing to hear music I grew up with interpreted through dance.  Frampton was so moved by this combination that the 2nd act was made up of completely new music that he composed just for this three performance event !!

As the notes of Black Hole Sun, While My Guitar Gently Weeps and Do You Feel Like We Do wafted into the air and over the crowd of the Aronoff Center, I thought about the unlikely mix of rock n’ roll with the artistry of ballet.  The creative director for the ballet wrote in the program how difficult it was to convince Frampton to do this and for the ballet community to embrace a completely different medium.

It’s honestly like mixing HR into business !!  For years, HR has focused on getting a “seat at the table” which is a silly venture honestly.  Great HR is strategic daily in what it does and how it approaches the practice of HR throughout an organization.  This isn’t about getting acknowledgement to sit in an Executive Level meeting.

Try this instead . . .

Fully integrating HR throughout an organization is a much healthier, and sustainable, approach.  Bringing the constant angst, struggle of people in all their flawed glory (rock music) with the beautiful flow of business (ballet) is more natural than you think !!

Most people say they have to “go to” or “come to” HR inferring that HR exists outside the normal movements of business in an organization.  I look at it this way – if you’re department has people in it, then you have HR all around you !!  So, quit trying to play on a stage where people have to come see your concert.  Bring your concert to them !!

Just like the ballet I witnessed this weekend, this works.  This week, strap on your guitar, plug in your amp and crank it up.  The ballet is waiting for you !!

Image courtesy of Cincinnati Ballet

Connecting the Dots !!

Most people start the New Year with resolutions that quickly fade or fail leaving people with a feeling of sluggishness.  Sweet !!

I want to offer an alternative and that is to make 2012 intentional !!  Let’s start with a story . . .

I went to SHRM Leadership this past fall with other SHRM State and Chapter leaders and directors.  Many people spent time with folks from their own state or region because they’re familiar with each other and it is a great time to get away.  I, on the other hand, spent much of my time meeting great folks from Illinois, Florida, Alaska, Kansas, SHRM staff, etc.  I couldn’t get enough of meeting HR folks from other areas to see how we connect.  To me, this was the best way to spend time because there are so many amazing HR pros all over that do great things.  I had to see what they were doing.

So, I’d like to throw out this challenge (and opportunity) to all of you in the HR community – In 2012, start connecting the dots !!

I know that the whole “social media” thing can be overwhelming and noisy.  However, I find there are  folks developing and sharing great content that you can use in many facets of our work.  We need to stop thinking that isolation works for us as a profession and do what we can to be more connected.

Now, I’m not sure what that looks like for you, but let me list some suggestions:

  • If you’re someone who reads blogs – take a step and leave a comment.  Bloggers love to hear from folks who read their work.  If you feel compelled, then comment.
  • If you haven’t been to a local HR forum, then go to one.  Try them out and see where you can connect in person with other great HR folks !!
  • If you haven’t been to a conference or Unconference, then make plans to go to one this year.  You’ll find incredible people, just like you, connecting and learning more to advance the profession.
  • If you haven’t met folks in person, then take the steps to do that !!  One of the true highlights I had in 2011 was meeting social media HR folks in person.  It has led to incredible personal and professional relationships.
  • If you’ve just been service oriented in HR at work, change that and be intentional !!  Organizations expect HR to be dynamic, relevant and integrated.  Take the steps to make that happen !!

It’s just a start, but I hope that you take the next step to be more intentional.  I’ve already been making plans to meet more great HR folks in person and I’m using the same list for myself.  It’s time to take action !!  Will you join me ??

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 ??