HR Can’t Be Strategic If They’re Busy Being Your Mother

noseI’ve been honored to work in the HR industry for twenty years.  Honestly, with all the perceived negatives, there are so many more great moments that make working with people worthwhile.  But, as I sit here as an analyst, conducting research surveys and interviewing HR leaders, I find it sad that we are not really moving the needle as much as we should.  Why?  Because organizations ask HR to be more strategic while making them take care of the unusual, mundane and sometimes gross aspects of people management.

Unusual?  Gross? Mundane?

Yes, HR leaders and their teams are still doing the “dirty work” that managers don’t want to handle.  Do you have an employee with body odor and don’t want to handle it?  Just go to HR and they will address it for you.  What about the employee that dresses inappropriately, showing just a little too much of their stuff?  Yes, just take that one to HR too.  Here’s one for you….employees rubbing boogers on the men’s room mirror?  Yes, even that can come to HR to address.  I know these may sound like things a parent would address with a child, but I assure you these are all very real in our workplaces.

I don’t know how the HR department became the keeper of all these great incidents, but I am ready to hear that the managers in the organization are stepping up to handle them.  Then, and only then, will your HR teams have time to actually work on strategic things to help drive revenue or support the business goals of the company.

What about you?  If you work in HR, are you still spending time on these issues, “mothering” employees and leaders, or am I just happening to get a lot of stories from the trenches that are not true?  I’d love to hear your comments….

Suffering at Work: The Skeleton That Supports the Flesh of Genius

whiplash-2014-movie-review-car-accident-playing-drums-bloody-andrew-neiman-miles-tellerFor those who know me or listen to me on HR Happy Hour, you’ll know that each year, I rush out and binge on as many of the Oscar-nominated movies as I can.  There is something magnetic about a movie intended to make you really think compared to all the summer blockbuster action movies that are just around the bend.  Well, this time last year, I had the pleasure of watching Whiplash.  It’s a movie about the complex relationship between a student and his conductor of a jazz band.  But more than that, my takeaway then was that it’s about the need to go through harsh feedback and sometimes pain in order to develop.

When I wrote Cringeworthy Feedback: How to Take it and How to Dish it Out, I was so close to seeing the film that it was all I could think about.  Now, a year later and after watching the movie a few more times, I see it’s like an onion and I’m peeling the multitude of layers back to reveal even more significant meaning.  So you see, it’s the perfect Oscar movie because it continues to make me think about what lessons come from examining the relationships.  Dr. Matt Stollak, beloved friend and professor at St. Norbert College, shared an article with me that made me want to revisit some of the themes from Whiplash.  The article he shared was a review by Matt Zoller Seitz called 30 Minutes on Whiplash.  In his article, Matt says:

“This formulation is insidious, cruel, reductive, joyless. It turns the pursuit of artistic excellence into a referendum on the ability to endure shame, rejection, public humiliation, doubt and physical punishment. It’s as singleminded in equating endurance and transcendence as Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.” Nevertheless, as a indicator of future success, the ability to withstand suffering is hard to beat. It might in fact be the skeleton that supports the flesh of genius.”

As I read that, I focused on the suffering.  Do we need to suffer for our art?  Do we need to suffer in order to experience greatness and excellence?

I don’t believe I’ve ever thought about these questions in relation to greatness or excellence at work.  I’ve had a more practical approach and that is if you work hard, it leads to success and excellence at work.  When I really think about those key moments in my life that made a difference in the way my work habits developed, they involve failure.  They involved hardship, doubt, insecurity and many feelings that are negative.  From that, the work that was forged became more meaningful to me because I felt that I really had to work even harder to overcome the obstacles.   I wonder if I would have achieved many of the successes I have without the hardships.

I think not.

So, what about you?  If you have reached levels of excellence in your career that you’re proud of, were you able to get there without suffering?  I’d love to hear your perspectives in the comments….

 

The Gifts of the Quest

Have you ever thought about addressing all the imperfections in your life?

Well, I have.  I’ve been on a journey of mind, body and soul.  It all began when I finally realized that I needed to take time, for the first time in my life, to be alone to contemplate and decide where I need to be bold and when I need to rely on someone else to help support me.  I recently took that time and am just now realizing some of the implications that personal and professional changes will bring to me.  They are true gifts.  Part of my journey is related to taking huge risks and challenges on professionally and those are well underway.  Part of the journey is addressing personal issues of health, wellness and family.  All the changes will take time, but I am feeling positive about them all.eatpraylove

Tonight as I prepared a much healthier dinner than normal as part of changing my health, I saw that Eat, Pray, Love was on television.  It had been several years since I last watched this movie and since I remember being inspired by it the first time around, I watched again.  The last time, I was inspired to write about it here on the blog when I discussed seeking a soulmate.  If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s about a woman on a journey to find herself and redefine who she is and what she thinks is important and possible.  I won’t give any spoilers, but thought I’d share a quote from the end of the movie that speaks to any of you reading this post who are on a journey of rebirth in your own career or personal life.

“I’ve come to believe that there exists in the universe something I call “The Physics of The Quest” — a force of nature governed by laws as real as the laws of gravity or momentum. And the rule of Quest Physics maybe goes like this: “If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared – most of all – to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself… then truth will not be withheld from you.” Or so I’ve come to believe.”

― Elizabeth GilbertEat, Pray, Love

So, if you’re on a journey, I applaud you.  It’s not pretty, nor is it easy.  Kudos for taking the first steps…

Do You Owe Someone An Apology?

*Sharing a blast from the past…

i-am-sorryI was traveling down the worm hole that is the internet, when I landed on a 2010 story in Psychology Today called The Science of Effective Apologies.  It caught my attention  for a couple reasons.  First, I hate to apologize.  I will do it and I think you should too, but I can’t think of a time when it really made me feel better.  Second, I’m intrigued by the science behind why people do, or don’t, apologize and the impact on the recipient.  All this reminded me that there are many situations in the workplace where you or a colleague may feel disrespected, under-valued or even outright wronged.  Have you received an apology?  Did it help?  If you were the person who hurt a colleague, did you apologize?

According to the author, Gary Winch, PhD., beyond the three components most of us expect in an apology (expression of regret, actually saying the words “I’m sorry”, and requesting the person’s forgiveness), “Studies have found that in addition to the three basic ingredients, three additional apology components play an important role in determining whether an apology will be effective: 

  1. Expressions of empathy
  2. Offers of compensation
  3. Acknowledgments that certain rules or social norms were violated

These components were found to be most effective when they were matched to the characteristics of the person to whom the apology was being offered.”

I don’t know about you, but all that sounds like a lot of thought and work need to go into a sincere and effective apology.  Don’t get me wrong, I do believe you should do it.  I wonder though, is it the thought that apologies can be complex that keeps people away from giving them?  As a believer that it’s all about making the recipient feel better, I still wonder if some colleagues do not do this because they perceive it as them giving away their power.

We all have known colleagues or leaders who refuse to apologize, right?  According to a 2013 study in the European Journal of of Social Psychology“Results showed that the act of refusing to apologize resulted in greater self-esteem than not refusing to apologize. Moreover, apology refusal also resulted in increased feelings of power/control and value integrity, both of which mediated the effect of refusal on self-esteem. “

So, are leaders less likely to apologize?  

Whether they are or not isn’t as important as the fact that if you are in a leadership role, it is healthier for your team to apologize when you are wrong.  It’s a balance, of course, of knowing when it will be needed and meaningful.  None the less, it’s something to consider if you’re a leader who wants to humanize yourself with your team in order to build and reinforce trust.

What do you think?  Do you apologize?  Has someone at work apologized to you?  Share in the comments…

Ideas of How to #WorkHuman Today

It’s been a good week here in the mid-west.  I had a great time leading a webinar earlier in the week with Globoforce.  The topic was how to make our workplaces more human.  Tall order, right?  Well, I hope I provided many examples that HR leaders (and other leaders) can use to make small strides in this area.  In case you missed it, you can listen HERElogo_light_backgrounds2

One of the main points I made in the webinar is that people need a workplace where there is LOVE.  Not the romantic kind of love that is the nightmare of every HR pro around, the kind of love that means that you genuinely care and are concerned for your colleagues.  We all have so many things going on in our busy lives that sometimes, when things are less than perfect outside of work, we can’t help but let it impact us during work.  AND THAT’S NORMAL.  For years, we’ve all been brainwashed that we need to leave all our troubles at the door when we come to work.  We have to be strong, stay focused and produce, produce, produce.  Well, no more!

One reason workplaces quickly become less human and don’t have that love and compassion is that we don’t know many of our colleagues.  I was watching CBS Sunday Morning, my favorite news show, and they did a story about Freshbooks and how they are innovating in the way they encourage connection among colleagues.  Freshbooks is a Toronto-based company that has instituted voluntary “employee dating” at work.  This isn’t romantic dating, it’s setting people up on blind dates with colleagues for purposes of getting to know their co-workers better.  You can catch the whole video HERE.  Basically, employees volunteer to be matched with someone they don’t know.  The woman who makes the matches tries to select people who would never normally cross paths or work on projects together.  The two parties then have a “work date”.

While awkward at first, 100% of the employees who participated say they would do it again and it was worth it.  They are able to learn more about what other parts of the organization are up to AND they get the benefit of making a new work connection.  Think about what would happen if you tried this in your company.  Would it lead to greater connection, more collaboration, more innovative ideas?  I’d venture to say that it would.  That’s what I call #WorkHuman in action.

So, my challenge for you as we go into this next week at work is to view your workplace through a different lens.  Is it human?  Do you feel real connection there?  If you can’t answer yes to those, then find ONE thing you can do differently to start changing the tone.  It may just be taking a stranger to lunch.  I’d love to hear how it goes in the comments…

 

Recruiterbox and the Facets of a Robust Recruiting Strategy

When it comes to recruiting candidates, there is no shortage of advice or recommended tools.  As someone who doesn’t jump on every trend, I tend to watch the market and analyze how things are shaping up before I weigh in.  Each year, I evaluate countless tools and technologies in the Talent Acquisition space.  I recently came across one tool that stands out and deserves your attention.  Why?  Because it addresses many of the tenants of recruiting that I hold dear as a former practitioner:

  • Business needs
  • Organizational culture
  • Finding the most qualified employees
  • Solid understanding of budget and the actual cost of hire

Recruiter Box Logo

These facets are widely accepted as some of the most important when determining your talent acquisition strategy.  With many organizations now spending time and money on specifically creating world-class recruitment strategies, they are putting a lot of thought into each facet. In terms of business needs, organizations used to open a ton of positions just because someone left the company. Today, there is much more mindful consideration regarding whether or not there is a true business need for a specific role. Organizational leaders have found that spending the time to rethink and reevaluate a specific role’s requirements often leads to different and better candidates.

With regard to the organizational culture, this is now something that is a major aspect of planning and hiring. Organizations think about how their employer brand impacts their ability to attract better, more qualified candidates who will outperform their predecessors. Lastly, having a solid understanding of budgets and how the cost-per-hire changes from industry to industry (and position to position) has a major impact on hiring. As leaders have become more educated, so have their hiring decisions. With that in mind, savvy leaders are looking for tools to help support their focused talent acquisition strategies.

Recruiterbox is one tool that can help incorporate those facets into your own strategy.  What is Recruiterbox? It is a type of recruitment software that simplifies and optimizes your hiring process. You can post job openings, manage candidates, collaborate with colleagues, and use data to help you make an informed decision – all in one place.  And the brains behind this software even provide advice on how to improve your hiring process, too.  Just check out this video they created on the cost of a bad hire.

Having tools and solutions that help make your recruitment process a winning one is, well, worth your time and money.  I encourage you to check out Recruiterbox to see how this software can help transform your talent acquisition process.

 

 

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HR Happy Hour #231: Employee Financial Wellness

HR Happy Hour 231 – Employee Financial Wellness

Hosts: Steve BoeseTrish McFarlane

Guest: Steve Wilbourne, CEO, Questis

Listen HERE

This week, join Steve Boese and me as we discuss the increasingly important topic of employee financial wellness and well-being with guest Steve Wilbourne, CEO of Questis, a software and services provider of employee financial wellness technology and resources.

We talked with Steve W. about the issues many employees are facing with financial planning, financial readiness,  unforeseen expenses or challenges, and the benefits to organizations and to employees in providing more modern, personalized, and affordable tools for employees to help manage their finances.

In addition, Steve (the host Steve), made a semi-serious pitch for the return of employee pensions, I shared a preview for the widely anticipated HR Happy Hour Oscars show coming soon, and Steve shamelessly appealed for some big-time corporate sponsors to come on board, (are you listening Delta and Dr. Pepper?).

You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, or by using the widget player below (Emaill and RSS subscribers will need to click through)

This was an interesting and informative show about employee financial wellness, many thanks to Steve Wilbourne from Questis for joining us. To learn more about Questis, please go towww.myquestis.com.

Thanks for listening and remember to add the HR Happy Hour Show to your podcast subscriptions in iTunes, Stitcher Radio, or any of the major podcast apps. Just search for ‘HR Happy Hour’ to subscribe.

Don’t Ask “Gifted Employees” To STRETCH If You Don’t Mean It

In elementary school I was considered a tenacious student. I was advanced in many of my subjects and became bored with the status quo.  Never afraid to voice my opinion, I was the kid that only had one question.  Why?  I never understood why a teacher had to give me constant direction and I really only liked the teachers that gave me room to think.  I also wanted to lead the other students.  I wanted to organize them for projects and sometimes, for protests.   If you’ve met me, there will be no surprise there because it really still describes my style and approach to life.

giftedI share that story because when you were considered “gifted” back in the 1980’s (and maybe even today), schools would put you in a special program to hopefully provide challenging learning.  Ours was called STRETCH.  I remember going to take the test to determine whether or not I would be accepted into the program.  I was in the third grade.  I recall that one of the tests involved a whole page of circles and the instructions were to use lines to make the circles into something else.  Well, being the creative thinker I am, I didn’t make the “normal” or expected clock or basketball.  I added lines to the outsides of the circles and changed them into lemons and balloons.  I changed them into objects that had circles inside them.  I truly thought “outside the box”, or circle, as it was.  Well, turns out, that was too radical and I was not accepted.  The next year when I went to take the test, I drew all the expected items like clocks and basketballs.  I was quickly accepted into the program.

The significance is that even then, I learned that people really don’t want your creativity.  They say they do.  They may test you and tell you they do.  But, when real creativity comes out, they become afraid and push you back into the box you popped out of.  It’s disheartening.  I’ve seen this happen in every job I’ve ever held.  Employers usually want creative conformity.

So, what does this mean if you’re heart and mind make you a highly creative thinker?  

Well, as I see it, you have choices.  You can conform to the status quo and be unhappy or you can let your creativity shine and maybe not have solid roots planted for very long.  To me, the world needs the risk-takers, the people who push limits and who want to bust up the status quo.  You wouldn’t want  a whole department of us, but one or two may be just the spark you need to turn your department or organization around.  At any rate, the lesson is not to ask employees to be highly creative if you don’t mean it and don’t plan to support it.

What do you think?  Are you highly creative and if so, how has that impacted you at work?  If you’re not, how has hiring highly creative people worked in your organization?  Did they make it long term?  I’d love to hear your comments.