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?

2015 Guide to Conquering SHRM Annual- Las Vegas

Las-Vega-300x132We’re just a few weeks away from the biggest collection of HR professionals in the world….. the SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition.  It’s one of those events where you’ll find HR pros in all phases of their careers, from all parts of the world, who work for every type of company under the sun.  Where better to put this collection of diversity but in Las Vegas!

Personally, I hate when events are in Vegas. Somehow the sights like people dragging their oxygen tanks around with them from one slot machine to another at 4 am, people on the street trying to flip nudie business cards at me, and hookers picking up Johns as I walk by the hotel registration desk just does not scream “HR Conference” to me.  But I digress.

The fact is that no matter the location, SHRM is one of the most valuable events for practitioners.  As a seasoned conference goer, I thought I’d share some tips to guide you through this year’s event whether it’s your first time or your twentieth.

1.  Attend my session.  Ok, maybe this shouldn’t be tip #1 but you have to admit that if I didn’t tell you to come to the session that Steve Boese and I are doing about HR technology implementation, I’d be remiss.  Seriously, be there on Tuesday morning bright and early for a session that will give you practical insights on implementing technology.

2.  Attend all the 7 am sessions.  I am not kidding. I get that it’s Vegas Baby! and that you’re thinking you won’t be able to get your party on if you have to be at a 7 am session.  Trust me….those are the great ones. Great topics. Great presenters.  Be there.

3.  Don’t stay where everyone else stays.  This is true for any SHRM conference.  It’s the only way you can have any real down-time, away from the conference mayhem.  Vegas is prime territory for finding a nice hotel like the Cosmopolitan or Aria where you can have great views and make time to hit the pool or spa.

4.  Diversify.  Break out of your routine and comfort zone.  Don’t just attend sessions.  Don’t just hang around people you know.  Plan to walk the expo floor and talk to at least 2- 3 new people each day of the conference.  Attend at least 2 sessions that you think sound completely irrelevant to your current job.  You’ll surprise yourself by learning something you normally wouldn’t.

5.  Network like a champ.  I mean it….I don’t want to hear that you’re an introvert.  Think of me like your mother telling you to eat all the food on your plate because of the starving children in China.  If you are fortunate enough to be at SHRM Annual, think of the thousands of your HR comrades who will NEVER have this opportunity.  I used to be that practitioner.  You’re there so be brave and introduce yourself to anyone who walks by you with a name badge.

6.  Know when to take off the name badge.  Earlier I mentioned partying  and if you’re the type that just needs to do that, remember to not wear your name out and about.  Nothing good can happen with your badge on after 5 pm.  It may even be a good idea to have an aka if you’re going out.  Just saying.

7.  Make notes.  Not just notes in sessions, but each time you return to your room, sit down and write a quick one page summary of what the takeaways were from that day.  You’ll be experiencing so much in a short amount of time so make the most of remembering what is important for when you return to your office.

8.  Take care of number One.  I used to be guilty of going to conferences and not eating properly.  Make sure you eat and sleep enough.  Also, it’s Vegas, so it’s dry.  Lather yourself in lotion constantly so your skin will love you and drink water at least 3 times as much as you would at home.  You’ll thank me later.

9.  Follow it all on social.  If you’re on social, you know the drill.  If you are not, at least get on LinkedIn and follow what people are saying about the event.  You’ll get good tips in real time of what is going on, where to be, etc.

10.  Have fun.  Seems it would go without saying but don’t just worry about sessions and notes.  Have a memorable trip.

Oh, and just to recap, come to my session on Tueday morning.  Can’t wait to see you there!

Anagnorisis & Peripeteia: What In the World Did I Sign Up For?

I stumbled upon a TEDx talk by Mike Rowe where he told a story of how he had to castrate lambs as part of his Dirty Jobs television series.  While he makes no preparation for the jobs he agrees to take on, in this instance, he said he had to do a bit of research to determine how this would work.  He learned that castration is done (typically and according to the Humane Society) using a rubber band.  It apparently takes about a week for them to drop off.  What they didn’t tell him is that it is an excruciating process for the lamb and that it is a week of pain.  I recommend watching his talk to learn what he had to do instead…

At any rate, the point of his talk turned into a discussion of anagnorisis and peripeteia.  Anagnorisis is the transition from ignorance to knowledge and peripeteia is a sudden turn of events where you often realize that everything you thought was right is suddenly reversed.  It was about learning what you’ve gotten wrong in your perception about work, how to recognize this and then change.

 

Food For Thought

What are the misconceptions of work that we all have that we continue to perpetuate based on our own ignorance?  Is it the idea that following our passion is the only way to go?  We all think we want that.  What if our passion doesn’t pay?  What if we are so ignorant in our current state of following the herd or even a bad leader that we are completely missing out on anagnorisis?  What if ALL the constructs of business and HR and technology are getting it wrong and we’re all just following along?

It’s a lot to think about and I don’t claim to have all the right answers.  What I DO know for sure is that if we stop questioning the status quo, we deserve what we get.  The only way to make progress~ real progress~ is to question what other people believe as truth.

  • We have to do what is necessary in order not to become complacent
  • We have to stop relying on organization or bosses to take care of us
  • We have to step up and be accountable and operate on principle
  • We have to keep questioning and changing processes
  • We have to examine and re-examine our technology choices so that we have the right solutions in place
  • We have to push the gas instead of continuing to coast

In closing, I share a quote that Mike Rowe said.  “The jobs we hope to make and the jobs we hope to create aren’t going to stick unless they are jobs people want.”  Think about that as you examine your own work and as you think about the positions you create in your organization.

I welcome your comments.

6 Years of HRringleader

Today marks the 6 year anniversary of HRringleader.  It’s been an amazing time, full of new ideas, opportunities and friends.  Truth be told, I started the blog as a way to learn about blogging so I could design a training about it for work.  I never thought it would turn into something that would change my life.  As I wrote more posts and shared my ideas, it became my personal journal that just happened to be public.

I don’t share everything I write, but I share most posts.  I don’t always have the time to dedicate to blogging every day as I once did, but even so, I hope that what I create is valuable to you and that you’ll continue to read and share.  I also enjoy when you share your ideas with me because that helps us all learn and grow

What I’ve learned from blogging is that nothing stays the same and that we all can use support as things develop and change.  I am grateful to each of you for helping me in that endeavor.  I once shared a poem by Robert Frost in a post and I’d like to do that again today as a reminder of the many changes to come in the next 6 years…

Nature’s first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Nothing Gold Can Stay, it is a tribute to innocence as well as to changes that we all go through.  So often as leaders and as human beings we are forced to lose our innocence little by little, situation by situation.  I’m reminded of a time of personal innocence when I first heard about this poem.  I was in junior high school and reading the book The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton.  It is a story of a group of young teenage boys who are coming of age.  Through many trials and tribulations, several key characters die during the story.  One character, Johnny, tells the lead character, Ponyboy, to “stay gold”.

Whether recalling the prose of a brilliant poet or the inspired quote from an author who speaks to a younger generation, the message is clear.  As you are faced with change, do all you can to hang on to your innocence about things.  The purity.  The raw emotion.  After all, nothing gold can stay.

I thank you and hope you’ll continue this journey with me.

Cheers!

4 Steps To Resignation or Promotion with Grace

*Sharing from the dusty archives…

We’ve all left a job. leaving-work

Whether voluntarily or involuntarily, leaving your organization or position is a commonality we all share at some point.  The difference is how each person handles that transition. For many employees, especially those who voluntarily resign, leaving is a process they go through.  It could involve months of thinking about it and planning out each detail. For those employees who are terminated though, they may or may not have much warning.  Either way, it’s important to realize the impact of behavior during the transition time.  After all, it’s part of the legacy you leave and what you were known for at work.

In a recent column in Harvard Business Review, On Stepping Down Gracefully, Robert Sutton describes the importance of this transition time for CEOs who step down or who take on roles with different responsibility. Like us, a CEO has to think about the message they send when they are asked to resign or if they are choosing to retire to a chairmanship.  The impact of behavior during those “peak” moments in a career are critical to how colleagues and even the successor remember the person who is leaving.  There are no real benefits to let hurt feelings taint the departure.  All that does is create enemies and burn bridges that may be needed in the future.

The same holds true for promotions.  Whether you’re leaving your current role for a promotion in your current department, leaving your department for another in the organization, or leaving your organization for an opportunity for a larger role at a different company, do so with grace.  The way you treat colleagues will have a great influence on how you are perceived in the future.

  • Tie up loose ends on issues–  Make it easy for your successor to step in.
  • Transition projects to capable leaders– By giving that leader all the information he or she will need to take over the project you will help ensure that the project will not be derailed as a result of your resignation or promotion.
  • Show respect–  The way you treat your colleagues, boss, clients and anyone else in the organization you come into contact with will be the last memory they have of you.  Make it a good one.
  • Give performance feedback to members of your team–  This is a critical action yet one that most people miss as they leave.  Without your input as a leader, often the incumbent will not have enough knowledge to complete the annual appraisal for that year and your staff will be the ones to pay the price.

What are other key things you have done as you’ve transitioned out of roles?  Be sure to share those in the comments.

Stop! 3 Things Leaders Should Not Do on March 6th

I have to admit up front that I am not a fan of made up, fake holidays.  I always figured if anyone in my life needed to use a made-up reason to say they love me (Valentines Day) or appreciate me (Mother’s Day), then they really don’t know me at all.  I would much rather have someone tell me they love or appreciate me on a random Tuesday then sending me a dozen roses that cost $150 on one of those days.  As an aside, this cynicism likely comes from working at a florist in my teenage years and seeing men forget their loved one until the last minute, then rush in to buy said $150 roses just to stay out of trouble.

candy_jar_tootsieWell, we are on the eve of yet another made up holiday…..Employee Appreciation Day.  It’s coming to an office near you on March 6th.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a BIG supporter of telling your team and all your employees how much you appreciate them.  I am a fan of hand written notes, emails, phone calls, taking them out to lunch and more.  What I am not a fan of is the leader who never tells their employee how much they appreciate them, then only does on March 6th as a way to think it’s “all good” for the year.

There are already articles and letters floating around from various organizations telling leaders how they can recognize their employees easily and with almost no thought at all.  It is unreal.  I’m here to say right now that if you are a leader, it is supposed to be hard, not easy.  It is supposed to take time, you are supposed to give feedback and you should put thought into it.  Here are 3 things you SHOULD do on March 6th, Employee Appreciation Day to turn the tides on the “easy” approaches that are not meaningful:

  1. Form Letters-  First, do NOT send the form letters full of jargon and business-speak.  At least, do not send them in the spirit intended.  Instead, print out the letter with all the (insert employee name here, insert project here, etc.) left in.  Then, hand write a note at the bottom sincerely telling the employee how much you appreciate them and that you’d never send them a form letter like the one the note is written on.  It will be quirky and unique.  Another option is to call the team together and start reading the form letter mentioned above to them.  As they look at you completely perplexed, stop reading and tell them they mean more to you than a form letter could ever say.  Go around the room, in front of their peers, thanking them and giving examples of what each person does to bring value to the team.
  2. Donuts-  I know, you’re probably thinking that Krispy Kreme or Duncan Donuts is RIGHT on your way to work and you can grab a couple dozen from the drive-thru.  Don’t do it!  Instead, do some reconnaissance today and find out what kind of candy, gum, or healthy snack each team member loves.  Go to the store and buy each employee’s favorite thing.  It will take more effort, that much is true.  The cost will not be more though and I guarantee that a sincere thank you as you hand the person their favorite snack will be well worth the effort.  I once had a boss bring me a huge canister of Tootsie Rolls “just because” I was working hard.  Since that’s one of my favorite candies, it was a wonderful surprise and I knew she valued me.
  3. Gift Cards- We’ve all heard the expression that money can’t buy you love.  The same holds true with  a thank you.  Sure, a $5 gift card for coffee is nice, but it’s the easy way out.  Instead, do a more personal act of service.  Something like asking each staff member if they would like something to drink, then going to your company kitchen or the local store, or even coffee shop, and picking it up or making it for them.  It becomes an act of service and for a boss to do something nice that makes them go out of their way is much more meaningful to the employee.

So, there you have it.  Three ways you can make a more meaningful impact in the way you thank your staff.  Oh, and by the way….thank YOU for wanting to do more to recognize them.  It takes a great leader to want to go the extra mile!

Draw Your Troubles Away: Creativity and Feelings

crayons_title*Sharing from the dusty archives…I thought it went well with the theme of yesterday’s post about the blank page and how we can be creative.

I came across a documentary called Crayons and Paper about children who reveal their experiences of the devastation of war through their crayon drawings.  Pediatrician Dr. Jerry Ehrlich began making trips to war-torn nations in 1991.  He took his medical expertise and a pocket full of crayons.  As he treated children and experienced the depredation of their world, he reached across any language or cultural barrier by offering a crayon and paper.  The children used the tools to create their vision of their world.  Not only were the drawings profoundly impactful because they were drawn by children living in the epicenter of a war, it was like a jolt remembering something very basic and important that I had long since forgotten.

Drawing is a therapeutic way to express our feelings.

When was the last time you drew something?  I honestly can’t recall.  I color pictures with my children, but those are usually part of a color book or something that comes pre-printed in an art kit.  Drawing can be an effective way to relieve stress according to the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association and I see the effects on my own children’s behavior and stress level when they take time to sit quietly and draw or color.  Why aren’t more adults using this technique to express our feelings or reduce our stress?

As we look at the various stressors in our work day, my challenge to us is to take time today to shut the office door or sneak off to a quiet place at work and draw. Even if it’s a pen and the back of a printed copy of the latest report from finance, just draw.  Let your mind wander and see what you come up with.  Feel free to share your experience in the comments or tell me why this isn’t helpful for adults.

Simulated Work Experience for Leaders

agelab*Sharing from the archives.  Robotics and computer simulation continue to grow as a topic in the organizations of today.  What do you think? Will robotic capabilities help us as leaders as we sprint into the future?

I recently read a fascinating article about an experiment at MIT’s Agelab.  Agelab researchers have created technology in a suit that uses robotic technology to take able bodied individuals and put them into a simulated situation where they have limited mobility, limited eyesight, etc.  They are hoping that by having younger individuals wear the suit while trying to perform “normal” day-to-day activities, the individual will experience the challenges an older person does with completing physical tasks.

Seeing the capabilities of the suit made me wonder, could MIT’s Agelab help generation X or Y understand the aging work population and their work behaviors?  From a physical standpoint, I think it could.  Jobs that involve a great deal of physicality can certainly be simulated by technology like this.  What would be even more interesting to me would be a way to simulate the mental challenges a leader faces, and those people in leadership roles tend to have been in the workforce longer.

Much like a simulator for pilots, creating a simulated work experience for leadership roles could actually help train and prepare more junior staff for roles they are working toward.  For example, it would give the staff insight into areas they need to increase skill and knowledge like understanding financial statements, feeling the pressure of multiple high-level demands from the c-suite, negotiating contracts and making critical hiring and termination decisions.

If you could create an ideal simulator for a skill, ability or task that a leader faces, what would you add to the simulated experience that you wish you had known when you were more junior in your career?