Finding Inspiration from the Tournament of Roses Parade

Rose-Parade-2014

The end of December is a time of reflection for many.  We review our lives from a personal and business perspective.  It’s also a time to think about clean slates and starting the new year off right.  For many, that means resolutions about health and wealth.  For others, it is a time of predictions.  For me, it means one thing- – The Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California.

For as long as I can remember,my annual ritual has been to watch the parade on television.  One thing that always intrigues me is the theme.  Each year, a different theme is selected and the floats all have to depict and represent that theme using natural materials such as roses, flowers, seeds, fruit and bark.  They are also typically high-tech and computer animated, which adds to the fun.

From 1972 and The Joy of Music, 1988’s Thanks to Communications,  1997’s Life’s Shining Moments, to last year’s Dreams Come True,  I can always relate the selected theme to something I’d like to do or think about in the coming year.  2015 will be no different because the theme is Inspiring Stories…”

I draw inspiration from so many places that I don’t give much thought to how each story inspires me.  For 2015, I plan to be more thoughtful and conscious of who and what inspires me at home and at work.  I predict that this extra step will help guide me toward a better understanding of what the future holds.  It will also free my mind to exploring options I may not have thought possible.  Only time will tell if this prediction holds true.

What about you?  What inspires you as you think about the future?  I encourage you to watch the inspiring stories that unfold in the Tournament of Roses parade this year and let me know if you have any “ah-ha!” moments.  Comment or tweet me!

*Be sure to look for the O’Fallon Township High School Band (O’Fallon, IL) marching in the parade.  We’re so excited to have our town represented!

Stop Playing the Blame Game at Work

the-blame-gameSanders!  Where is that presentation I told you I needed by noon today?

Uh, sir…..I was going to have that ready for you but Bob Smith over in marketing didn’t get me the images I needed yet.

Sanders, I told YOU to have it ready!!

Um, but sir, I was trying my hardest.  I also had some issues with our connectivity and couldn’t get PowerPoint to load properly on my pc.

Sanders, you always blame others for your deficiencies.  YOU’RE FIRED!

Who’s to blame?

All too often, something goes wrong at work and the finger-pointing begins.  It doesn’t really matter what the circumstances are.  It doesn’t even really matter who the players are.  What matters is that once a problem arises, everyone falls into the CYA mode.  This reaction is quite natural and is detailed in attribution theory, a social psychology theory developed by Heider, Kelley, Jones, Ross, and Weiner.  When we are successful, we attribute those results to ourselves and a very positive, internal locus of control.  When we fail or a situation fails, we attribute those results to others and external factors.

How to stop blaming others

Show some empathy. We are not perfect and should not expect perfection from others.   In fact, we know deep down that blaming someone who we think “did it” does not help correct the situation.  Think about that horrible feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you realize you screw up.  Now, imagine you’re the other person.  Offer to help him/ her out of the hole they just dug.

What if you really are the culprit

Own up. It’s always better to own up to a mistake before your boss or someone else notices.  Once you realize you could have done something better or differently, let your boss know.  Explain that you realize you made the mistake and that you should have done xyz instead.  Then, have a proposed solution ready.  If you are in over your head, admit it and ask for their advice on correcting the situation.

Start a tradition to head off the need for blame

Take the lead. We all know that having a strong offense is the best defense.  With that in mind, start a department tradition where everyone knows that the blame game is not allowed.  When someone new joins the department, make sure they are told.  Once you have your team on the same page that everyone deserves support, you’ll find that you spend much less time dealing with the bickering among employees and much more time coming up with solid solutions when problems arise.
By actively working to change the tendency to blame, we’ll be part of a more productive workplace.  What do you think?  Do you see blame and finger pointing at work?  How do you address it as a leader?

Don’t Blame HR for Making all the Bad Policies

policymanualPolicy manuals have been a topic of contention for years.  There are those firmly in the camp that they are not needed.  There are those who believe in a minimalist approach, only including what is absolutely legally necessary to add clarity (I fall in this camp).  Then there are those organizations who have a policy for everything.  I’ve worked in all types of organizations and no matter if the manual exists or how long it is, I’ve heard employees comment that they do not like “HR’s policies”.
I can tell you from experience that HR is not writing all of your organization’s policies.  In fact, the most senior leadership often comes to HR to add specific policies, thus they are sometimes more operationally focused or financially focused.  Those that HR truly creates tend to be more compliance and legally driven.
So why does this matter?  I think it represents just one way that HR gets a negative reputation.  I’ve been called the HR police more times than I care to admit.  The truth is that as human resources, we love NOT to be the HR police.  We’d love nothing more than not needing a policy manual.  The reality though is that someone has to ensure there is some standard of behavior in an organization and HR is often the group that leads that.
So, the next time you’re unhappy with a policy, try to think past the standard idea that HR created it.  Try to imagine that at some point, a leader thought it was necessary.  HR is often the group responsible for carrying out the enforcement of policy.  In addition, if you disagree with a policy or feel it could be improved, don’t hesitate to speak up.  Collaboration in policy making can actually lead to happier employees.  Take a chance…

Christmas Re-Gifting: Good Idea or Torture?

*From the dusty archives…

The Frowl- photo courtesy of Chris Frede (@HR_Buoy)
The Frowl- photo courtesy of Chris Frede (@HR_Buoy)

Well, we’re full on in the gift giving season and I’m wondering about re-gifting.  I don’t do it BUT, I have received several presents over the years that still sit in the closet, unopened.  Maybe I should give them to someone else.

Let’s see, I have:

  • Several strange ornaments
  • Some nice binoculars.  These are cool, but I really haven’t found anything I need to see that close up.
  • A puzzle of New York City.  I like to travel to NYC, not make puzzles of the skyline.
  • A bible.  Ok, I already have a bible.  Don’t know why someone thought I’d need a new one.  The old one does ok and quite honestly, the only one I read is the Children’s version anymore.
  • Movies like The Money Pit, Major League, and Batman Dark Knight. I’m fairly certain those should be given away.

So, you see, I could really give some great gifts to my family and friends and not have to brave the stores.  At my last job, we all re-gifted one hideous gift.  It was called the Frowl.  It was a pottery piece that looked like a cross between a frog and an owl.  It was either some odd candle holder or a toothbrush holder.  We figured that out because it had holes in the belly.  Each person who received it couldn’t wait to pass it on to someone else at the next holiday or milestone.

What do you think about re-gifting?  Do you do it?  What’s the WORST gift you’ve ever re-gifted or received that you think was re-gifted to you?  Share in the comments!

What’s Killing Creativity in our Students?

HRevolution Official Logo blackIt’s been a week since #HRevolution 2014 wrapped and I’m just now coming down from the high of being around such brilliant people.  It is always the one event that I can’t write about immediately because there is so much information to process.  While there is great value in each session, one that touched me personally was “Sally Can’t Doodle and it’s Your Fault” led by Lois Melbourne.

Lois, Chief Story Officer at My Future Story and thought leader in the industry, has embarked on a career path where she helps students learn about various industries and careers.  This is something Lois has been passionate about for many years and she’s now putting that passion and her knowledge to use by writing books targeted at students.  These books will help them as they determine which career their studies will support.

In this session at HRevolution, several discussion topics emerged:

  • Do schools kill creativity in our students?  Lois encouraged all attendees to watch the TedX talk by Sir Ken Robinson on the topic as a way to get them thinking.  Discussion centered around the current state of the public school system in the US and whether it needs to change.  There was mention that US businesses need to partner with the school system in order to ensure that students are prepared to enter the workforce.  Another discussion was around the fact that we do not have a “business system” in the US so it is hard to partner with the school system.  Since each organization has to decide whether to reach out to schools, then come up with it’s own approach on how to partner, there is a lack of consistency.
  • Do jobs currently posted as “degree required” really need to have applicants with a degree?  Several in the group mentioned that it’s a way for recruiters to single people out of the hiring process.  Others started naming jobs that are traditionally degree-required that would not have to be.
  • What are Maker Faires and what is their impact?  When Lois mentioned Maker Faires, most attendees were not familiar with them so this was a definite learning point.  According to their website, Maker Faires are, “Part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new, Maker Faire is an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors. All of these “makers” come to Maker Faire to show what they have made and to share what they have learned.”  I’d encourage you to check them out.
  • What does it means to have tenacity?  She then talked about tenacious inventors and how without them, we would not have many of the innovative, creative solutions and products we have today.  This made me wonder how people become tenacious.  Is it a characteristic you’re born with or can we learn tenacity?

All in all, the session was nothing short of amazing.  It’s not often that I walk out of a conference with more questions spinning in my head then I walked in with.  It’s an energizing feeling.  I’ve spent the last several days using my free time to listen to the TedX talk and to research more about our education system and what we can do to find a new way to prepare students for the future work world.

I don’t have many answers yet, but I know that these themes will emerge in my writing as I think through them.  What do you think?

Is our current education system adequate for preparing our students?  If changes are needed, what needs to change?

Do our children even know how to be creative anymore?

How can we send our children through the same system we went through, yet expect different results?

Share your thoughts in the comments.  I’d love to keep this conversation going.  

*Special thanks to our sponsors: Mercer, Symbolist and Small Improvements for making HRevolution possible and for all your personal and professional support.

 

HCMx Radio- My New Podcast Brings Research to HR Pros

BHG-HCMx-Radio-Logo-1400Today is an exciting day at Brandon Hall Group; it’s launch day for our radio podcast, HCMx Radio. It’s the only podcast in the HCM arena that weaves current market research, HR technology, and industry leaders into each episode.

As the show’s host, my goal is to bring something unique to the HR industry. When I was an HR leader and practitioner, one of the things I always needed was data and understanding how to use it. Now, with this show, that is what we’ll be giving to our listeners.

HCM practitioners such as CHROs, CLOs, CTOs, VPs, directors, and managers will find value in the show’s ability to provide current research data laced with rich perspective that they can use in discussions with their internal organizational leaders. They will also benefit from hearing solution providers describe their product roadmaps and how their solutions can benefit organizations.

Solution providers will gain value by being able to interact with analysts as well as by showcasing solutions that are advancing the HCM market.  Finally, industry influencers will find value in being able to get information quickly that they can turn into compelling content.

New episodes will be shared at least twice a month and will be available on Blogtalkradio as well as www.brandonhall.com and iTunes. In the first episodeStop the Insanity: How to Get Different Results with Your Employee Engagement,

I welcome my colleague, Madeline Laurano, VP and Principal Analyst of Talent Acquisition for Brandon Hall Group, who will discuss her recently completed research on employee engagement and how organizations can leverage the power of their relationships to drive business results.

Other topics in the coming weeks include Recruitment Marketing, Performance Management, and Planning for HR Technology in 2015. I hope you’ll join us and I welcome feedback on each episode as well as what you’d like to hear about in future episodes.

 

HR Happy Hour #194: Small Improvements

Recorded Wednesday October 29, 2014

Hosts: Trish McFarlaneSteve Boese

Guest: Linda Jonas

This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve and I were joined by Linda Jonas, International traveler, and Director of Marketing for Small Improvements, an HR technology provider of tools that provide a simpler, easy to use, and more engaging approach to performance management, workplace feedback, 360-degree reviews, and more.

We talked about Linda’s annual 6-week world tour where she meets with customers and partners, her Small Improvements colleagues, and attends events like the HR Technology Conference and the upcoming HRevolution (of which Small Improvements is a sponsor).

Additionally, Linda shared some insights into emerging and ongoing trends in employee performance management, and the need for both software providers and organizations to keep these processes clear, easy to adopt, and valuable for employees, managers and organizations overall. Everyone seems to hate on Performance Management and one of the reasons is that the process has often been overengineered and over-complicated. Check out Small Improvements to get some insights into how you can change that in your organization, while improving (pardon the pun) both the process and the desired outcomes.

You can listen to the show on the show page here, or using the widget player below. And you can find and subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show on iTunes or on your favorite podcast playing app. Just search for ‘HR Happy Hour’.

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

 

This was a really fun show – thanks to Linda and to everyone at Small Improvements!

The Importance of Getting Someone’s Name Right

a-640-whats-in-a-nameSometimes when I write, it’s because I’m frustrated with things that happen.  Today is one of those days.  I seem to get bombarded with requests from strangers who do two things:

  1. They are asking me to do work for them for free (write, speak, etc.)
  2. They use the wrong name when they contact me.

I’m all in favor of using someone’s name when you reach out to them, especially if you don’t know the person and you’re trying to make the email or message more personal.  However, I do not have forgiveness for sales people who take the step of using my first name and then get it wrong.  This shows that I am not important enough for them to pay attention to the details in their message.  If that is the case, then I already know we would not likely make a good business partnership.

We all love to hear people use our names.  It gives the impression that we matter and that they are paying attention.  When the opposite happens and the wrong name is used, the negative effect can be far greater than had they not used the name at all.

My advice to all the sales people out there is a) only use a person’s name if you’re sure you have it correct and b) if you don’t have time to make it personal, just start your message with something like “Good Morning” or “Good Afternoon”.

Have you had this happen to you?  How have you handled those messages?  Do you reply?  Delete?  Share in the comments.

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