#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

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!

SAW

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?

Halloween

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!

 

Gen X Used to Feel Entitled Too- Did You?

generation-xSo, you think the Millennials invented the idea of feeling entitled?  Well, it’s not true.  No, other generations of young people have felt entitled.  I felt that way too.  Yes, Gen X has our share of dreamers and employees that were so eager to take on new challenges.  The difference I’m seeing is that when I was early in my career, I had older and wiser bosses who knew just when and how to put me in my place.  There wasn’t concern about hurting feelings with direct feedback.  They just did it.  They lived it.  I never once felt coddled.

I remember being twenty-seven years old and feeling like I knew it all.  I thought I knew better than my boss and I really believed I could “see the big picture”.  I just knew he was holding me back.  After all, I had a M.A. in HR Management and a few years of experience.  Why couldn’t he SEE how ready I was for a promotion?

Well, for starters, I didn’t put in enough time.  In my exempt role, I thought work could be left at the door when I headed for home.  Second, I didn’t do anything proactive to continue my learning in the human resources field.  No webinars.  No articles.  Nothing.  Third, I focused on administrative tasks.  I wasn’t stretching myself to think of the impact of my tasks.  Fourth, I had no idea what my boss really did.  To me, it looked like he was on the phone and in meetings.  How hard was that?

I remember the day I told my dad this boss was holding me back.  He gave me some great advice that I still embrace today:

  • Shadow your boss.  Find out what he really does and how he reached that position.  Watch for skills he uses to connect with people in the company and if he is successful, model those.
  • Come to work early and work late.  Learning how to do more than administrative tasks takes time and practice.  Back then, this meant many hours in the office.  Today, using technology, it’s easy to work early in the morning or late at night from the comfort of your home.
  • Keep educating yourself.  Always.  It’s not your company’s responsibility to do it all for you.
  • Volunteer to take on more challenging work without expecting money or title. Those will come in time.

Somehow, I made it to a more mature state of mind.  I like to think I grew up.  Not sure that it had anything at all to do with my generation, it was just more of a life lesson.

How did you progress through your career?  Did you experience any similar feelings?  What generation are you part of?

I’d love to hear all these answers (and more), so please jump over to my short, pulse survey on Generations and Leadership.  It takes 1- 3 minutes to complete and I really appreciate the feedback!

 

Over 40? Don’t Work More Than 25 Hours a Week

clockHave you heard about the recent study released by the University of Melbourne’s Neuroscience Institute?  In their Applied Economic and Social Research study, they looked at the optimal number of hours a week an employee should work.  Their findings were surprising, to say the least.  Research showed that for every hour you work up to 25 hours a week, your cognitive function steadily increases.  Any hours worked above that threshold sees a decline in cognitive function.  They also say that workers over 40 who work more than 25 hours a week have a harder time recovering from any loss in cognitive function.

If this is true, you can only start imagining the implications.  When you think about the employees that are the decision makers in an organization, it is typically people over 40 years old who work more than 40 hours per week.  In fact, many work 50- 60+ hours a week.  What does it mean when you have your leaders losing cognitive function, yet making major strategic decisions?  Is this something we should worry about?  Additionally, when you think of the traditional 8 hour workday, there are many employees that waste several hours a day at work, so are they already working 25 hours per week?

In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think this study will make anything change overnight.  However, it does give food for thought as we look to ways of working smarter and more collaboratively.  Some questions that come to mind:

  • Would providing a more collaborative workplace be able to support employees working fewer hours?
  • Are there certain times of day where decision-making is optimal?  If so, could concentrating work hours around those times lead to being able to work fewer hours?
  • Are there process changes that can be made to better support employees working PT hours?
  • If workplace changes were made, would employees even agree to work fewer hours?  Would this mean less pay, or more productivity in fewer hours?
  • What are the cost savings associated with more PT workers?
  • Do these findings better support the claim that by 2020, as many as 40%- 50% of jobs will be held by contingent workers?

Like many research studies, there are more questions than answers.  The next thing we know, researchers will be telling us to drink at work.  Oh wait, they already have.  At any rate, it’s fun to think about all the implications.  What do you think?  Would working fewer hours be good for you?  For your organization?  I welcome you to tell me what you think in the comments.

 

 

 

Are You the Grit of the Company?

gritI was listening to NPR this morning, as I do every morning after dropping my kids at school.  Normally, they are doing the market report when I’m in the car, but today, my timing was off and the show hosts were discussing how difficult it can be to predict the future of organizations with a former Intel futurist.  As he described the role and how he handled it, at one point he referred to himself as the “grit” inside the organization that often had to tell other leaders what no one else would say.

I started thinking about how I behave inside organizations and ultimately, how you behave too.  There are many times I’ve found myself being the grit in organizations.  Grit, or being abrasive, is thought of as a negative.  I don’t think it has to be a negative label though, it’s quite the opposite.  Being seen as the grit should mean you’re a go-to person who will be honest and tell leadership where the gaps in thinking may be.  In fact, it goes beyond that to being able to tell leaders which paths they should not be taking.

The key to being the “grit” in a positive way is finesse.  One thing I’ve learned over the last twenty of my career is that being disruptive may be fun, but it does not make for the ability to bring change on a consistent basis.  Since many people still enjoy working for one employer for a long period of time, understanding how to be influential without being completely abrasive is an art.  Those are the leaders that actually drive change in organizations.  I found a fascinating article on Forbes that details the 5 Characteristics of Grit.  I encourage you to check it out to see which characteristics you have.  Things like resilience,  endurance, excellence, conscientiousness, and courage are all important in determining the level of grit you have.

So now that we’ve determined that grit can be a positive in the workplace, how can you tell if you’re style of grit is disruptive vs. influential?  

DISRUPTIVE OR INFLUENTIAL?

  • Do the C-Suite execs avoid you because you are constantly telling them to do things differently?  Disruptive
  • Are you the first person the executives call when they have an issue?  Influential
  • Have you tried, unsuccessfully, to “sell” the same idea to every executive and can’t get anyone on board? Disruptive
  • Do you curse or swear a lot at work for no real reason? Disruptive
  • Do people eventually come around to your ideas, even if they need a little time to digest the idea before embracing it?  Influential
  • Are you honest?  Influential
  • Brutally honest at all costs?  Disruptive

Like most people, I want to change the world.  I’m sure you do too.  And while there are a few “disruptors” who make a name for themselves and get positive change in spite of their approach, most people prefer to be influenced.  I learned early on that being influential is not about your job title.  It’s all in your style and the way you bring other people over to your way of thinking.  It’s also about being open to new ideas….even if it means discarding your own ideas.

So, which are you? I’d love to hear from you…

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….

 

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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Are You Stressed Out? How To Cope Today

Image from timeshakers.co.ukIn business, we are constantly told that we need to see the big picture.  We are reminded to set long-term, meaningful goals.  We are considered successful and are rewarded when we can take a vision and turn that into reality over the course of time.

But sometimes, when the stress in our workplace becomes too much, you just have to make it through the day.

Start by reminding yourself that we all have those days where we can’t set the world on fire.  Sometimes it’s about just checking off a few tasks and not thinking about the big picture at all.  It’s how we cope.  Then, there are those times we get so wrapped up in the moment that we put far more time and energy into a short-term situation.  It may be because we are under the weather, burned out, or just needing a day of “routine” vs. strategic planning.  But, having those days does not mean you are not a great leader.

Here are some benefits of just being in the moment:

  • Tasks- It can be a great feeling to have a list of tasks a mile long that get checked off.
  • People-  Taking a day to catch up on all those calls you’ve been meaning to return can leave you feeling like you accomplished more than you expected to.
  • Self-  You can give yourself permission to feel ok by doing a solid day’s work.  You can feel satisfied that you still did a good job.

I don’t think it does any leader benefit to always be pushing ahead at 100 m.p.h.  It just leads to being burned out.  Take those days once in awhile to get through a more “routine” existence.  It may just be the little bit of rejuvenation you need. I find that reading up on suggestions of how to cope better sets me on the right track.  I like the article “Why Stress Management Is So Important For Your Health” by Dr. Isaac Eliaz.  What do you think?  How do you handle those days when you’re stressed out or unmotivated?  Share your thoughts in the comments.