Small Acts of Kindness That Make a Difference

Waking up on Pacific time means that at 4 am this girl is wide awake.  The benefit is time to blog.  I was sitting here reflecting on a conversation I had last night with some friends.  We all travel quite a bit and one mentioned that he makes a point to ask the airport ticket agents, gate agents, flight attendants, bartenders and servers how they are doing.  This isn’t just a quick meaningless interaction either.  It’s a sincere question and he says it elicits the most surprising results.  People are always excited to tell him and it seems to make their day.

It seems like such a small gesture to ask, sincerely, how someone’s day is going.  Many of these professionals fade into the background of our travel days….like so many other people we come into contact with each day.  I wonder what the result would be if each of us spent today REALLY talking to the people that take care of us all day.

Today is the day to find out.  Let me know in the comments if you have good results or if it made a difference.  Happy Wednesday!

Can Professional Writing Harm Your Blog?

bloggingI’m siting here this morning about to head to the airport on a business trip and I’m thinking about this blog.  For the first four years, it was my outlet, my online journal of thoughts.  Sure, I had some posts that were full of research and took many hours to write, but many were just posts of what was in my head in the moment. After a few years, I actually became a professional writer, paid to come up with intriguing, researched articles.  I’m thinking this has harmed my blog.

How so?  Well, one of the most valuable aspects of blogging (and reading blogs) for me is the free-flow of thoughts.  Now, as I’m used to editors who look for specific learning points, referenced materials, or the “proper” process  of having a thesis and then giving examples to either prove or disprove it, it has changed what I post.  I find that many posts I write sit in my drafts for months, even years.  I am hesitant to share because they are not always fully thought out ideas.

The harm in that is that when I used to post them, it would spark comments and collaboration from all the readers.  We became a writing team of sorts.  We were in this together.  We learned from each other.  Well, going forward I am going to do my best to go back to the way things were.  I will continue writing professionally for clients, but on this blog, I will also add in some posts that are more random and that will hopefully spark your interest to join in a conversation.

What do you think?  What do blogs mean to you and do you think they should always point out a fully formed thought?

Top 10 Takeaways from The HR Technology Conference 2015

17th+Annual+HR+Technology+ConferenceThe 2015 HR Technology Conference just wrapped and it is time to collect my thoughts and reflect on the event.  First, thank you to Steve Boese and David Shadovitz for the work you do creating the event.  Thank you also to the team at LRP for selecting me as a speaker this year and for all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into producing an event of this caliber.  Even though I don’t work for LRP, although some think I do, it is an honor to be part of such a stellar event.

I attended as a speaker and an analyst this year.  I tried to make the most of my analyst time by visiting with as many solution providers as possible, mostly in the Expo Hall, which enables me to have advisory discussions with HR leaders throughout the rest of the year.  I also attended some great sessions like the Awesome New Technologies session and the Awesome New Startups session.  Both showcase the best of what we can expect from the world of HCM technology and it’s exciting to watch the transformation of our industry.  That said, I have ten things I am taking away from this year’s event.

Top 10 Takeaways

  1. Compliance reigns-  If you listen to some of the sessions and some of the leaders of various solution providers, you may believe that compliance is dead, or at least being killed off.  But much like your favorite character from a soap opera, compliance is not only not dead, it’s stronger than ever.  As a former HR leader, ensuring the compliance was being handled properly was what helped me sleep at night.  Knowing that risk was mitigated and that we had all the regulations met let me focus time on more of the “fun HR” strategies.  After talking to numerous vendors who strive to help keep your business in compliance so that you are freed up to work on other things, I’m excited to see that this is truly achievable for today’s HR pros.  Hat tip to Equifax Workforce Solutions and Talentwise for what you all have going on this year as well as what you’re doing in 2016!
  2. Move to Human-  It’s interesting to hear who is more concerned with the bits and bytes and who is focused on people. I know it’s a HR technology conference, however, those companies and speakers who focused more on the people….the human side of HR….were the winners in my eyes.  As I walked through the Expo Hall, I tried to pay special attention to the providers who talked more about the actual people and the benefit of the tools for the people than those who talked about features.  Several providers stood out in this area for me:  Ultimate Software, Silkroad and Globoforce.  Kudos for keeping the people front-and-center as you enter 2016!
  3. Marketplaces are the Future- This was the first year that one of the main buzzwords I heard was “marketplace”.  Giving employees and leaders the opportunities to make choices easier when it comes to a variety of solutions was refreshing.  Two standouts here were ADP and the ADP Marketplace showcased during Awesome New Technologies.  The second was PlanSource and their benefits marketplace.  I can’t wait to see how organizations embrace all the offerings.
  4. Opportunities for the Cloud-  For several years, talk has made it seem like everyone had already moved to the cloud.  As analysts, we know that this is not the case….YET.  The movement is certainly picking up and for me, the take away is that solution providers need to keep reminding themselves that NOT EVERYONE is there yet.  Give these organizational leaders time.
  5. Some Buzzwords are Overly Ambitious-  If I had a dollar for every time I heard the phrases “machine learning” or “predictive analytics”, I’d have left Las Vegas richer than if I’d played Craps.  I’m all for talking about the workplace of 2020 or 2025, however, don’t forget that many HR leaders and teams are still trying to find solutions to bring all their people data together.  Others are a step farther and can actually run reports on that data and make some recommendations.  Thinking that HR pros have all the tools needed to embrace prediction is overly ambitious.  The same goes for machine learning.  We are taking baby steps as organizations.
  6. Startups push the Established Vendors- One of the most exciting things for me during this event was the opportunity to connect with some very exciting startups.  From having the opportunity to answer questions for the startup community at HR Tech Tank on Sunday to spending time talking to entrepreneurs in the Startup Pavillion, I was energized.  Two standouts for me were Bridge US and Elevated Careers by eHarmony.  These two are doing great things and should be on your watch list for 2016.  It will be interesting to see how the more established providers react to some of the new ideas startups are pursuing.
  7. Not everyone in HR wants to do it all-  One topic that came up in a session I led was the disagreement on just how much a HR leader wants to do or has time to do.  For example, I think it is a great idea to have technology implementation that is faster and easier.  However, providers need to keep in mind that you have HR leaders who may not have time to implement this technology and that they want to pay you to do it.  They also need options for customized service from you because they may not fully understand how to purchase and implement a technology.  This is by no means a knock on HR pros….this is just a gentle reminder that sometimes, we all need to have a helping hand or be taken care of….even HR pros.
  8. Education = Comfort-  Whether it’s buying a technology, implementing a technology or just learning how to be a better HR leader, attendees want education.  The job HR leaders face is a challenging one and whether it’s through sessions at the event, discussions at a booth, or once they return back to their offices, they need ongoing education and support in order to be comfortable with technology.  An organization that is making strides on providing education for HR leaders is Peoplefluent.  I am glad to see their focus not only on the tools to help HR, but in making them comfortable.
  9. HR needs help with Internal Communications-  The primary way that HR teams communicate with employees and leaders is via email.  This is changing.  As HCM solutions begin to offer new avenues for communication in organizations, they should also offer more in the way of templates or service offerings on the communications to be shared.  Several providers are now offering solid resources.  A couple I liked were from Oracle and Successfactors.
  10. Approachability trumps formality- My final takeaway is around the way not only the event works, but how business works.  I am hearing feedback that people value the ability to be approachable far more than being formal.  Whether you’re a speaker or a provider, spend time planning how to make yourself and your organization more approachable.  Those of us in the HCM technology space are far more comfortable than the average HR buyer.  Let’s make them feel welcome.

So, those were my top takeaways.  If you attended, what were yours?  Be sure to share them in the comments section.

3 Critical Elements of Teamwork

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision.  The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives.  It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” ~Dale Carnegie

“Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable.” ~Kenyan proverb

Crimson Studios 2007Today, I am thankful for all the sticks in my bundles and teamwork is on my mind.  There are a couple things in my life right now that are reinforcing the importance of a strong team.  One is work, the other is personal.  From a work standpoint, having my own company and working for myself can be a limiting factor on teamwork….at least that is what I thought.  I was so wrong.

I’m learning that when you are independent, you can choose your team every day.  In just three short months, I have had the opportunity to work with more people and teams than ever before.  Add to that the ability to work with some former colleagues and it’s like winning the lottery.  I look at teamwork as a much more fluid state now because it’s something I can constantly change and evolve.  I also find that teaming in this way means having to quickly adapt to other work styles and it helps everyone grow.

What are the elements I view as critical to being a team?

  • Mission– Working with a group of people who have clear mission and who actively keep each other on track by ensuring we provide service that clearly links to the mission
  • Communication–  Open lines of communication and knowing your opinion will be heard
  • Respect–  Acknowledging the experiences of individual members and embracing them

The other team I am on is personal….my HRevolution team.  Working with Steve BoeseMatt Stollak and Ben Eubanks is wonderful.  Each of us volunteers our time to work together toward the common mission of pulling together an event for you~ the HR and recruiting professionals we want to interact with.  If you’re reading this blog, HRevolution is for YOU.

And, much like a work team or athletic team, the HRevolution team is focused.  We’ve got our goal, we communicate every day, and we have the utmost respect for each other and the strengths and abilities each individual brings to the table.  It’s a great feeling to be part of that.  And, we want YOU to be part of that.  Be sure to check out the HRevolution registration site and register for the event on November 7th in St. Louis, MO.  

Teaming is something that is important and impactful to all aspects of life.  What teams are you grateful for?  Feel free to share in the comments.  Hope to see you at HRevolution and add you to MY team!

Perks and Upgrades: Why Occasionally Spending More Makes Sense

Datsun B210I read an article that said that the Datsun B-210 was voted one of the ugliest cars of all time.  Now, just looking at the picture, it would be hard to argue that it is not one of the ugliest cars.  I’m not sure why they have it pictured with a train, because it certainly was not faster than a train- not even close.  And the color choice?  That 1978 burn orange is really attractive, if you’re into pumpkins.

I know it wasn’t the most attractive car of all time.  But, it certainly had its good points.  My dad actually owned a car just like the one pictured.  It was small and had no frills.  No air, no power anything.  It did come with an AM radio, but that was all.  I’m sure he bought it just to get to and from work.  He was a plant manager at a zinc refinery so it was definitely not a place you would want to take a nice car.  The chemicals from the plant ruined the paint on every car in the lot.  The reason I had the pleasure of riding in the car was that my dad thought it would be the perfect fuel-efficient mode of transportation one summer to travel from St. Louis to St. Petersburg Beach, FL.  That had to be about the longest, hottest, 21 hours in a car I can say I have ever had.  But, it got us to our destination and back home again.

We only kept that car for about two years.  Sure, it was practical at the time, but with a growing family it just didn’t make sense.  And based on the amount of time spent in the car, my parents realized that they needed a few perks and upgrades.

Really, the car is symbolic of choices each of us make every day.  In human resources, are we no different.  The economy is bad.  Is your company in the market for new HR technology?  A new recruiting tool?  Do you need help from a consultant?  I know the tendency is to shy away from spending.  But, that is only good in the short term.  If you buy the “practical but cheap” technology, you can bet you’ll be sorry in a year or two.  The economy will rebound.  Your business will grow.  Then, you’ll be back at square one and having to pay much more than if you negotiate today.

Some people will disagree, but I feel strongly about this.  Invest NOW in your company.  The time is right, the pricing is right.  Think about your next five to ten years, not just about today.

What do you think?  Is your company keeping spending on hold?  Are they spending but buying the practical or cheaper technology?  Or, are they visionaries who are taking a little risk and investing in the company’s future?  I’d love to hear in the comments.

Can You Keep Your Career Safe from the Robots?

HR Happy Hour 219 – Keeping Your Career Safe from the Robots

Recorded LIVE from SuccessConnect 2015 in Las Vegas, August 11, 2015

Hosts: Steve Boese

Guest: Karie Willyerd, SuccessFactors


This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve sat down at SuccessFactors customer conference SuccessConnect and spoke with Karie Willyerd, Workplace Futurist (i.e. the best job title ever), and author of the upcoming book Stretch: How to Future-Proof Yourself for Tomorrow’s Workplace.

On the show, Steve and Karie talked about just what a Workplace Futurist does, what are some of the big-picture work and workplace challenges that lay ahead for organizations, and then dove into the the issues and workplace opportunities that increased use of robotics and automation present. Karie laid out 5 key principles that anyone can use to help ensure their continued development, assert their value, and keep themselves and their careers safe from our future robot overlords.

This was a really fun show!

You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, or using the widget player below:

Check Out Business Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Steve Boese Trish McFarlaneon BlogTalkRadio

Thanks to SAP/SuccessFactors for having the HR Happy Hour Show at the event.

Finally, thanks to our show sponsors Equifax – learn more about how Equifax Workforce Solutionscan help you and your organization here.

And really finally, on iTunes or your favorite podcast app just search for ‘HR Happy Hour’ to subscribe to the show and never miss an episode.

Independence, Dependence and the Future of Work

Steve Boese and I recorded a new episode of HR Happy Hour that focused on a hot topic in the HR world- the difference between Independent Contractors and employees.  It then evolved into a full discussion on how the future mix of contractors will impact not only HR, but Talent Acquisition and the organization in general.  Be sure to check out episode #218 HERE, or using the widget player below:

Check Out Business Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Steve Boese Trish McFarlane on BlogTalkRadio


This was a really fun and lively conversation and we hope you enjoy the show!  Many thanks to our friends at Equifax Workforce Solutions for sponsoring us.  If you haven’t checked out what they are up to, please be sure to click through.

The discussion  Steve and I had reminded me of a post I wrote several years ago about the difference of being independent and dependent in general.  I think it still applies today, and maybe even to a greater degree than it did then.
“Independence means rebellion, risk, tenacity, innovation, and resistance to convention.”

revolution-global-voicesI first heard this quote during a conversation with Steve Boese.  He was reading the book ‘Slanted and Enchanted: The Evolution of Indie Culture‘ and it struck him as a meaningful quote.  Since then, he has written about it on his blog and even had the author, Kaya Oakes, on the HR Happy Hour show to talk more about independent thinking and indie culture.  What’s interesting is that the quote keeps rolling around in my head and coming back to me.

Why?  Because as much as I like to think I’m independent, I believe that as humans, we gravitate to being dependent.  It’s our natural state of being.  Although, it seems as if admitting that you are dependent is equivalent to career suicide.  However, as long as I can be influential in a positive way while still feeling support, I’m content depending on other people.  If I can be persuasive and respected while collaborating and my voice is still heard, I’m ok with dependence.

Dependence CAN be a positive experience.

It’s that feeling of being cared for or knowing that someone has your back.  The best teams are built off this interdependence as a core value.  It’s the way I feel when you read this blog.  Regardless if you agree or disagree with something I write, I still feel your support and I am in a dependent relationship with you.

Dependence is ultimately what drives business.  It’s being able to work together to meet someone else’s needs.  It’s the backbone of the economy.  So, why is it so attractive to tell someone that you are independent? Here are a couple reasons:

  • It’s the “cool” thing to do- Who doesn’t want to claim that they are part of the indie culture in their industry.  There are times when we feel like breaking out on our own is the ultimate way to be cool.  We can do our own thing, make all our own decisions, take greater risks, and ultimately, not have to rely on anyone else to make things happen.
  • It feels fluid– Being able to be agile and go with the flow more quickly is an appealing model for many of us.  However, with that also comes great risk that a majority of businesses that we deal with have bureaucracy that prevents or hinders their agility, thus affecting ours to some degree if we are their vendor.
  • Entrepreneurial spirit– Like many of the founding forefathers in US history, being able to have the ability to be independent and start out on a new course, over uncharted ground, is exciting.  That spirit is appealing.

I argue that at the end of the day, even the most independent person is still predominantly reliant on others whether that be as customers, as those that provide financial funding, or those people in your circle that act as your advisory board.

What do you think?  Is it ever really possible to be independent?  Or, it is the spirit that initially drives certain people who then ultimately become dependent like the rest of us?  Weigh in over in the comments section.

HBR is Getting it Wrong: The Internal RISE of HR

I love HRThis HR lady is fired up!  Lately, there is no shortage of posts and articles about Human Resources not being strategic, not being valued, and needing to change in order to make everyone else in the C-Suite feel better. From articles in  HBR (including their current magazine cover saying “It’s Time to Blow Up HR”), to Forbes to the Korn Ferry Institute, people are questioning whether or not HR can be strategic, what they need to do to become strategic and whether we should just start over from scratch.

As someone who has dedicated my entire career to working in HR and trying to further our profession, I can assure you HR leaders are strategic.  The issue as I see it from the trenches is a lack of respect for the value HR brings to the organization and for that, I don’t believe that “blowing up HR” is the way to correct it.  What HR needs is a re-brand.

If I were asked to describe my “ideal” HR department, it would be one in which every HR pro would:

  • Know the business- Speak the language of the particular industry they support.
  • Understand the financials- This is key to being able to strategically advise leadership on people issues. Ensuring you have a solid understanding of exactly how your organization makes and spends money, then be able to equate the people costs to the bottom line.
  • Get honest– They wouldn’t sugarcoat what is going on.  The only way to really make things better is to examine the issue at hand by being honest and transparent.
  • Encourage innovation– Include HR at all levels in brainstorming to truly challenge the traditional ways of doing things.  Some processes will remain the same.  Others will be taken to new and better levels.
  • Be recognized publically (internally AND externally) – Other work teams publicize their “wins”.  So should HR.

How do we get to the ideal? We RISE to a new level of awareness:

  • Reduce or outsource administrative functions where possible
  • Innovate to come up with fresh approachs to business issues about people, then aggressively share with the C-Suite and other leaders
  • Spread the word about what HR is and what it isn’t and  really publicize HR “wins” and successes
  • Engage all levels of the organization

I had the opportunity to speak to a group of HR leaders in Kansas City last night and one conversation was focused on how to rebrand HR in higher education.  This leader was describing how he is taking business principles to rebrand the HR team.  Instead of the employees working off old assumptions, he’s breathing fresh, new life into the HR team and then publicizing the interactions so that the overall opinion about HR changes.  It’s steps like his that will make HR rise….not blowing up the profession or tearing it apart.

All this feels like the culmination of many different approaches all leading to the same result.  A new HR. A refocused, redefined, re-branded HR.  The ball is rolling.  How do we gain momentum?