#CarnivalofHR: Scary Tales from HR

It’s that time of year where we typically think of witches, candy and what we’re going to use to spike the Halloween punch.  This year, it seems to be more about the widespread scary clown sightings.  That said, I’m still a fan of watching scary movies- the cheesier, the better.

With that in mind, I decided to have a scary theme for this month’s Carnival of HR.  Anyone who works in Human Resources knows that it can be scary from time to time.  We’ve all had employees that went a little crazy, situations that seemed to fall apart no matter how hard we tried to make them work, and technology that scared us to death.  I think I’ll start by sharing a “scary HCM” blast from the past that is still relevant today, then a few new posts from the industry influencers who will show you how scary it is out there in the trenches.  First up, my favorite video of China Gorman sharing HR Horror Stories with me.  Trust me, it’s good and even my hairstyle is scary!



Westworld has to be one of my favorite scary movies of all time.  Made in 1973, I can remember my Dad taking me to the movie theater to see this when I was a very little girl.  What was he thinking?!?  If you haven’t seen it, or haven’t watched in awhile, it’s a great story of how AI has gone horribly wrong.  It makes me think about employees being scared the robots will take their jobs.  We have two great posts that tackle this topic.  First up, Steve Boese hits us with We are Pretty Sure Robots Will Take All the Jobs- Just Not OUR Job.  As always, Steve backs this up with data.  Next up is Ben Plant from Navigo News.  He shares Is Your Job in Danger of Being Automated? Click through to see if your job makes the list!


One of my all time favorite scary movies is SAW and most of the sequels.  I’m a sucker for going to those movies alone to make it even more scary than having someone to grab.  What scares me the most about SAW is that the situations are all caused by things people should already know.  It’s when the person doesn’t pay attention to the information or situation that they end up in the evil, life-threatening devices created by a madman.  Along those lines, but hopefully not as severe in consequences, are people who don’t know how their company operates and makes money.  You’d be surprised how many employees, and leaders, do not fully understand the process.  Ben Eubanks from Lighthouse Research & Advisory gives us some insight to help keep the boogeyman away.  Oops! How Failing an Interview Question Taught Her About HR Strategy.

Sleeping With the Enemy

While not a true horror movie, Sleeping with the Enemy as a suspenseful thriller has always kept me on the edge of my seat.  The idea that someone you think you know or can trust is really a psychopath, or worse, is the stuff real nightmares are made of.  What if Julia Roberts’ character had checked her husband’s background before marrying him?  It may have turned out a whole different way.  How does this play out in the world of work?  Well, there is still a stir about how much we should research our candidates online before we make an offer.  Ben Plant at Navigo News shares 4 Things To Check in a Candidate’s Facebook Profile to provide some insight on just how far we should go to not hire that “enemy” candidate.

The Witch

Now, bear with me on this next comparison.  The Witch is one of the best made modern horror stories.  Set in the 1700’s in New England, it’s a story of a family that strikes out on their own to create a life and settlement.  At that time, witchcraft was one of the scariest things to those settlers and the movie captures how a very raw, basic way of life can be turned upside down by something very scary.  This brings us to Robin Schooling and her post HR and the Digital Bubble.  Robin shares stories of HR teams who are still forced to operate using archaic tools and how technology can be wanted, but feared.

The Temp and Pacific Heights

It almost goes without saying that any kind of movie that has a stalking dimension is scary.  Whether it was watching The Temp or Pacific Heights, the stories are similar in that people are not always as nice as they present themselves.  They do scary, creepy things.  Check out this post if you’ve ever considered the question, “Do You Know Who You Work With?


We’re almost to the end of the carnival and I may have saved the best for last.  What is a good scarefest without mention of Mike Myers and Halloween?  Maybe it was his scary white, expressionless face.  Maybe it was the way he moved slowly after his prey.  Either way, he epitomizes all the key elements of a good scary character.  And like many good scary stories, there are SO many chapters so you can get your fix.  Similarly, I decided there has to be some industry leader out there with enough scary content to make a series.  I found it!  Mike Haberman.

Now, if you know or follow Mike, he is one of the nicest men you’ll ever meet.  He’s also incredibly smart and intuitive and his writing is always the type that teaches lessons.  Check out these three we’ll call:

Halloween: A Story of Sexual Harassment and Bad HR

Halloween 2: Onionhead in the Workplace

Halloween 3: Bit By Generosity in Pay

So, there you have it! I hope you have as much fun reading these as I did.  Stay safe this Halloween!


#AmericansInLondon A Collaborative Look at HR Learning in London


By Frank Zupan, Director of Talent Management at Associated Materials

12813971_10156716950515523_388711202620285107_nI hate that feeling…I was hungry. I was REALLY hungry. One of those times when I didn’t even realize how long it’s been since I’d eaten and I’m thinking, “Holy Crap, I’m so hungry, I’m dying here”. Come to find out I wasn’t really hungry for food, I was hungry for learning.

My Q4-Q1 work schedule as a corporate Director of Talent Management had been a bit brutal. A new boss, several enterprise-wide and functional initiatives on both recruiting and development sides of my “shop” with lots of heavy lifting, travel and deliverables. All leaving very little time to feed my learning needs. I was REALLY, REALLY hungry when I saw Bill Boorman’s Facebook post at the end of February about how the fast-approaching March #trulondon was shaping up. It appeared to be shaping up very nicely indeed. Over 100 registered, a very strong group of track leaders with solid topics, an “interesting” location, so of course I, randomly and without any clear strategy, clicked and registered to attend an unconference in London which was now less than three weeks away.

Of course two minutes after I’d registered Bill messaged me asking if I’d like to be a track leader. The great thing about the tru track format is that it’s part knowledge, part experience, part improv and ALL about the discussion. Suffice to say I’m now able to add “tru Track Leader” to my LinkedIn profile!

What a great decision! <patting myself on the back>. Add to the reasons listed above, I could also plan visits with friends and colleagues that I hadn’t seen since working in UK in 2006, jump on an opportunity to attend #HRTechWorld being held in London the following two days, and connect with some HR leadership pals that I hadn’t seen in some time, hence the #AmericansInLondon hashtag. #winning

Ultimately, and fortunately, I responded to an internal need that I hadn’t yet recognized or acknowledged…I was REALLY hungry for learning! And I was able to satisfy that incredible hunger with a fantastic learning experience at #trulondon and was lucky enough to connect that to extra learning at #HRTechWorld. Fantastic experiences at both events, connecting with old and new friends during a few days of serious learning and networking…WOW, did I ever need that! Add to all of this several great discussions with current technology partners to my business, and I would return to the States quite happy.

If you’re REALLY hungry for learning, you’re not alone. Whether through random circumstances from your “world of work”, or if you haven’t taken time to develop a learning strategy, my suggestion is to <continue to> connect online with the people driving the creation and development of professional and social communities. Find them, connect with them, talk to them, read their stuff, meet with them, learn from them, let them learn from you, and every once in a while, say YES to investing in your own development…or just stay HUNGRY.


Wake Up Kids! We’ve Got the Dreamers Disease

By Trish McFarlane, CEO of H3 HR Advisors

1545675_10156716950235523_5452239827204249531_nIf you’re like me, you’re someone who dreams about the future of HR. You think about doing things differently and shaking things up in the industry. One of the best ways I’ve found of feeding this addiction of mine is to network and learn from other dreamers in the industry. As someone who is fortunate enough to call this crazy HCM space my home, I go to my fair share of events. Each time I leave, I assess whether the time I spent was worth it or not, aka was my “inner dreamer” satisfied. Most recently, I attended TRULondon and HR Tech World. So, what makes these two fall in the “worth it” category?

As a destination, I can’t think of a single downside of attending an event in London. The only thing to keep in mind is giving yourself a little extra time to see a few of the best things London has to offer. If you’ve never been, the city is easy to navigate thanks to the Tube and trains. You can get almost anywhere in the city in a short time and wont’ need to rent a car. Add to that the numerous museums, eclectic restaurants, clubs, shopping and the ever-popular tourist attractions and it’s a great place to visit. From the dreamer perspective, there is a sense of wonderment and history that you can’t achieve anywhere in the U.S.


I’ve been attending the recruiting unconference for six years. It’s changed quite a bit over the years and as it’s developed, it is now one of the best places in the world (yes, in the whole world) to meet with recruiters, sourcers, talent acquisition leaders, marketing pros, solution providers and practitioners. The secret sauce for this event is that you walk in and immediately feel part of a community and a movement.

People who attend are tired of the status quo. They don’t want to do what everyone else is doing. They are there to challenge their own perceptions… and yours. They have the dreamer’s disease and they are going to make sure you have it too.   It’s a deliciously, wonderful mix of learning, networking and chaos. With Bill Boorman at the helm and the partnership of Noel Cocca and Matt Charney of RecruitingBlogs and Recruiting Daily, this is not only a great use of your time, but your money.

Track leaders managed to challenge us by thinking about how to apply the way auto dealers market to the way we market our businesses to candidates. They threw out the notion that we’ll all be out of work because the robots are taking over, well, at least the idea is that most of the recruiting function will be handled by automated systems that “learn” as they are used. Track leaders also cursed and laughed as they shared hacks for creating content. There were Tech Labs and product Show & Tell labs. It was a mash-up of all things great in the recruiting industry and the future to come.

HR Tech World

Attending my first HR Tech World was an experience. It’s a more intimate experience that provides all the learning and vendor interaction you’d expect from an event like this. From a forward-facing, dreamer lens, their solid focus on the numerous startups in the HR tech space is what drew me in. Not only were the startups available to learn about, there were specific disruptive sessions focused on the direction of the industry. Add to that a fun, informative “pitch” session by five of the startups and it made for an interesting day.

If you have the dreamer’s disease like me, check out both of these events and follow them online. They will point you to learning all year long and really help you challenge your approach.

People Talking

By Michael Heller, CEO & Founder of iRevu

1916154_10156716951180523_8415946151352119352_nI have been practicing human resources for years – practicing being the operative word. The more I learn about people, the less I feel I truly know. Therefore, I don’t expect to necessarily master the discipline as much as continue to become better at it. But along my way, I have picked up a few things: Most problems can be solved by listening sincerely and being empathetic. Throwing money at something might correct an issue short term, but rarely long term. My favorite? Never EVER judge a book by its cover. Never.

In 2015 I attended my very first TRU event. I ‘knew’ Bill Boorman from his online presence and met him for the first time in Las Vegas at a conference. He didn’t strike me as the typical HR professional, but had knowledge spewing out the brim of his trademark hat. He mentioned that he hosts an event – The Recruiting Un-conference – designed to get people talking.

“Get people talking?”

“That’s right, mate. People talking.”

What struck me was his emphasis on the ‘people’. Color me intrigued. The conferences / meetups / seminars I’d been to definitely had people talking. At the front of a room. With a slide deck and a quick wit. Don’t get me wrong, these people talking were great. They were armed with data and knowledge and technology and eloquence. But these people talking were talking TO me. Maybe at me? I don’t know, I tweeted a ton, got some great nuggets and if I stood in line I might be able to say a quick hello and introduce myself. This was my typical experience at a typical conference.

Bill told me that the TRU events are different. I realized instantly that he wasn’t joking. When I arrived to the venue this year, The King’s Head, it looked like a proper English pub. A pub?? For an HR Conference?? Walking inside, there were drinks and taxidermy. In every room, from the armed chimpanzee in the basement to the giraffes and tigers in the boudoir. I have to admit the butterfly room freaked me out a little. But, remember, don’t judge a book by its cover and: “People talking”.

So when he kicked off the event, there were a few takeaways. No name badges ensures that everyone is on a level playing field. No inflated titles, no fancy companies. If someone said something interesting and you want to meet them, by all means introduce yourself! The sessions are super topical and led by international HR A-Listers. People like William Tincup, Matt Charney, Trish McFarlane, Noel Cocca, and Stephen O’Donnell.

But the sessions (called tracks) are also different – the good session leaders are NOT there to show you how smart they are. They show you how smart and innovative YOU are. They are roundtable-esque discussions where everyone is encouraged to participate and share their experiences and thoughts. Anyone can participate, everyone learns. Everyone wins.

TRU events are extremely valuable. There’s a warmth and affability about them that draws you in, even when the discussion gets heated. In one session, ‘The Day in the Life of a Recruiter – how we spend our time?’ the leader asked as much and then stepped back while the track attendees discussed everything from sourcing to relationship building to extinguishing the fire du jour. In this session, the what wasn’t as valuable as the how. The attendees were so diverse and their approach so varied, I saw so many nodding their head and saying ‘wow, I never thought about that.’ I plan on attending TRU events for a long time to come.

This year TRU London helped me lower my associative barriers even further and I am better for it. Sure, I got to lead a track session and show and tell a software product. I got to meet people IRL I’ve only followed on twitter. But, I learned from everyone there – from the A-Listers to the regular people like me. If you want to wear a name badge and talk about what’s already happened, this is not your conference. However, if you want to be immersed in real discussion about what’s happening and will likely happen, you owe it to yourself to attend at least one TRU. Just be ready for the venue to spark as much conversation as the topics.





Carnival of HR: HR Bloggy Goodness

It’s fall and from where I am from, that means carnivals.  I’ve been to more small town homecomings than you can shake a stick at.  See, I even sound like I’m from the Midwest!

In all seriousness, today is the day for the Carnival of HR.  Anne Freedman of HR Executive Magazine online has outdone herself in pulling this together.  So, hop on over to their “The Leader Board” blog and check out all the great articles this month!

Odds and Ends: January 21st, 2011

Here we are at another Friday and I think I like the idea of pulling together some great quick hits and bites of information.  So, here’s what’s happening this week:

  • I’m excited to be a guest on the DriveThru HR radio show on BlogTalk Radio today at noon CST.  Co-hosts Bryan Wempen and William Tincup kicked off the new year with a revamped show that focuses on HR practitioners and the issues that affect their day-to-day.  But, the show today is not special because I’m on it.  It will be special because my two fellow HR Business partners, Cathie Meyers and Terrie Hart, will be joining me as guests on the show. We’re three HR pros who mix strategic guidance with the operational and tactical skills our leaders need.
  • This week was HR Carnival week and host Mike Haberman did a fantastic job of grouping posts by personal growth vs. company growth.  If you haven’t checked out a carnival before, now’s the time because there really is some amazing writing being shared.  Grab your cup of coffee or Mountain Dew and click HERE to enjoy the good stuff.
  • Now’s the time to register for a couple great events
    • There are only 33 tickets remaining to HRevolution in Atlanta on April 30th.  Be sure to give the event a look HERE and sign up today.  This will be THE HR event of the year!
    • HR Executive Forum in NYC on March 14- 16.  Use code RING11 when registering for the Forum and you’ll receive $130 off the early bird rate. Both the early bird rate and the promo code will expire 2/25.  Click HERE to register.  Hope to see you there!
  • HR Executive Magazine is now taking nominations for 2011’s HR Rising Stars.  If you’re reading this blog you either work in HR or you are someone who has an HR department in your organization.  Take a moment to nominate an HR pro who has made things better.

I’m Reading Today

image by fridaynite

Happy Thursday!  I planned to post something else this morning, but as I was reading through two new carnival posts first, I decided that what other people have written is far more interesting.  So, instead of staying here, click on one (or both) of the writing carnivals below.  You’re guaranteed to find a new writer to follow, a post on a topic you’ve been interested in, or even a  new person you’ll want to connect with.

Jane Perdue of the Get Your Leadership Big On! blog hosts the December 5th Leadership Carnival

Lance Haun of the Rehaul blog hosts the December 8th Carnival of HR

BIG thanks to Jane and Lance for pulling these carnivals together this week.  It takes a ton of time to do it justice and you both rocked!

Carnival of HR: Turning Points

I take the Carnival of HR pretty seriously.  I remember the first time I was asked to participate and as a new blogger, it was an honor.  There are carnivals that are serious and ones that are funny, ones that have no theme, and those that pick posts apart.  All in all, the best thing about the Carnival of HR is that there is something for everyone.  I hope that this edition has everything for everyone.  As we head into a holiday season and a time of reflection and thankfulness, I wanted to hear about moments that were turning points in peoples lives.  Earlier this week, I shared my moment that changed my path in A Road Less Twisted.

I then threw out a very personal challenge to any writer who wanted to participate in this edition.  They were asked to tell a story of a life changing moment and to let us inside an event that altered their path.  So, without further ado, I give you……

Robin Schooling-  Believe In Yourself A special look at how a grandfather was able to reach  through to a teenager when others failed.

Stephen Harrison- Equilibrium A look at two years of changes and how one man overcame them.

Joe Gerstandt- Turning Points and Lessons Learned Military service lessons not only benefit our country, they benefit the individual.

Ben Eubanks- Jobs in Human Resources Management (My HR Career #3)  Sometimes you have to really know what you want in order to make the right opportunity come to you.  Learn about Ben’s new job.  Congrats Ben!

Jennifer V. Miller- Know When to Get Off the Bus Living on a wing and a prayer for three months in Mexico.

Michael Haberman- Defining Moments: A Personal Story What happens when you’re on a rocket ship ride that is going nowhere?  Find out what Mike did.

Shauna Moerke- It’s All About Chemistry How a change in college coursework can set you on a path to success!

Michelle Berg- The HR Nightmare The call every HR professional dreads turns out to be a guide to a more honest career.

Doug Rogers- Cosmetology, Bad Relationships, and Grunge Bands? A chance meeting can lead to great things or having the life sucked out of you like a vampire.  Read this to find out which.

The HR Nightmare

*This guest post is from writer Michelle Berg of Elevated HR Solutions.  Be sure to check out her site and show her some love for sharing her personal story of how an HR matter turned terribly wrong…

So it’s 1 am, July 1 (Canada Day) and I wake up groggy to my cell phone ringing.  Typically, I ignore the late night accidental phone calls, but for some reason, I decide to pick it up.


“Oh Michelle, I’m so sorry to wake you,” she slurred.

“Who is this?” I could hear loud music in the background, people talking.

“Oh you mean you can’t tell by the voice? Then I’m your worst nightmare and I just wanted to let you know that you’re dead. You better sleep with one eye open, because payback is a bi$ch.”

I sat there, shaking somewhat. On one hand, I knew who it was. A woman I had to let go about four months before hand.  She had worked directly for me, and despite all the signs of a completely disengaged employee, I kept her, until she broke a confidentiality clause in front of several employees – regarding compensation and termination (an HR nightmare in itself).

At the time of the phone call, I was scared – but didn’t know what I should do.  I went to my management team the next work day and we decided to bring in the police.  That didn’t go so well for me (the police basically rolled their eyes at the situation) — and it was in that moment, that I decided to take the following week off to decide what my life was going to look like, because I had certainly had enough of this one.

As a member of senior management, of a low over-head but high revenue type company, I understood the challenges that would be presented in HR.  We were encouraged to work hard, but join in the fun and play hard too.  And after each night, I was literally paid to make the problems go away. And that I did – but only because I enjoyed the bonuses I seemed to receive along the way.  It’s not that we did anything illegal…but every day, I pushed any sense of morality away.  At one point, I even remember taking down my Certified Human Resources Professional diploma because when it stared back at me, it was haunting. I enjoyed living in denial (or was paid to live there anyway).

During my 12 year career, this was merely an escalation.  It didn’t matter which organization I was in – I found myself always in the drama.  I thought I could be the game changer in every organization I walked into – and for a while I was.  Until my inspirational and motivational discussions were perceived as nagging.  HR was blamed for hundreds of terminations (while not one was ever in my control), we were blamed for compensation increases (or lack thereof during the recession), we were blamed for terrible benefits programs, we were blamed for a lack of morale, heck we were blamed for turn over.  It didn’t matter what study I brought in, or specialists I engaged, or programs I developed – the indispensable linchpin I walked in as and respected for, always came to a crazy crash.  Sure – maybe it was me.  I’ve resigned myself to maybe I give up too easily.  Maybe I needed to be more creative. Maybe I needed to be less about the business and more about the people…

So I took all those ideas and thoughts and have opened up my own HR consulting firm that is geared towards small to medium sized businesses.  We have designed processes and programs to work with management to ensure simple, fast, customized solutions. I don’t have to be involved in the drama anymore.  I believe that manager’s need to manage and be responsible and accountable – and when they need a tool – I’m there to lend a helping hand.  Not only have I garnered huge success, businesses and management teams are empowered knowing someone has their back — and if they choose to take the advice I give – great.  If not, no problem.  In the end, I’m growing my team and building a company where my teammates will never live in fear, they are appreciated and they know what a difference they make to the organization.

In addition, I’m head of fundraising for a non-profit organization called Making Changes – an organization that provides resume writing and interviewing classes as well as professional attire for women to go to interviews with.  We serviced 1000 women last year on only $200,000 and we’re aiming to triple the funds and women reached this year.

I call that making up for lost time and massaging the soul.

A Road Less Twisted

I agreed to host the upcoming Carnival of HR on November 24th.  My idea it to have writers share stories of the events that changed their path in life.  We’ll be hearing some personal stories, some professional stories, and some stories that are very personal but that have impacted all aspects of the writers life.  My example definitely falls into this category.

I’ve been blessed with several game changing moments.  I could tell you about how I decided to get into HR because I do recall the exact moment I made that decision.  I could tell you about several times at work where incidents, both positive and negative, shaped my direction.  But when it comes to a moment so profound that it made me wake up for the first time in my life, it’s personal.  It’s a situation so deeply scarring that as I sit here typing it makes all those feelings and emotions come rushing up, even 28 months later.  I feel my palms getting sweaty and a nervous feeling in my stomach has gripped me.  But, even though I have such a physical reaction to even thinking about the situation, it’s a story of how something so negative can have a profound positive impact on a person.  It did on me.

In July 2008, I went to the hospital for a “routine” scope procedure.  You know the ones, fifteen minutes in-and-out with a short time to hang out in recovery.  Simple, right?  Well, my simple procedure turned horribly wrong when the doctor punctured my esophagus as he brought the scope back up.  I was not awake during the procedure and do not have memory of most of the next week, but my medical records and what my family told me is bad enough.  No one realized something was wrong until my body started swelling out of control.  With each breath in, air was escaping into my chest cavity and causing my lungs to compress.  Eventually, the air made it’s way into my cells and became a life-threatening situation.  I was in ICU and had to be transferred immediately to a more sophisticated hospital to the thoracic ICU.  After a grueling stay and several months on an all liquid diet, I was able to eat again for the first time.

Thankfully, I do not have clear memories of the darkest days.  What I do know is that the moment I was well enough to be released and I was wheeled outside the hospital I was grateful to take in that first breath of air.  I felt reborn.  This was my awakening.

From that day forward, I made a choice to never accept a defeating situation.  I realized that when I am in a situation I do not like, I have the power to change that.  I cannot expect others to change it for me.  I also made the decision to dedicate my life to being a good mom and to helping others.  I had always volunteered for organizations to help children, but that was when I decided to also begin reaching out to my career network and help people any way I know how.

What started as the worst experience of my life has turned out to be the situation that gave me my focus.  All things happen for a reason.  It’s our attitude toward even the challenging times that shows what we’re truly made of.  For me, it’s been a way to learn that a twist in the road was what it took to put me on a path to contentment, fulfillment, and loving who I am.

*Stay tuned later today for several guest posts on moments that changed people’s lives.  Then tomorrow, the full Carnival of HR!  Thanks to Shauna Moerke for allowing me to host.