Social In The Smokies #TNSHRM14

On September the 17th, I will be traveling to Sevierville, TN and hanging out with the coolest, most professionally driven Human Resources practitioners this side of the Mississippi River at #TNSHRM14.

While our theme is “Life In The Fast Lane. Keeping Up With HR”, I will be doing my best to take it slow…enjoying every conversation, every connection and every learning moment as this conference is truly one of the highlights of my year.

What will I be doing? I’m glad you asked. For the second year in a row, I will be serving as a member of the Social Media Team. So I’m responsible for making sure you, yes you, are seeing all of the sites, getting all of the educational nuggets and connecting with all of the attendees via Social Media. This year we will also be hosting a Concurrent Session, so you’ll have the chance to hear the entire team break this Social thing down.

Check out my video below about the upcoming conference and I’m looking forward to seeing you at the Wilderness at the Smokies Resort in Sevierville, TN, September 17-19.

By the way, you can still register HERE!

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Unlocking Your Full Potential

I look for analogies and learning opportunities in everything. And while making sure not to miss any teachable moments with my children, I often find myself over-analyzing the shows they watch on television and pointing out the life and work lessons in them. I’m actually amazed that my son is still willing to watch his shows with me.

Saying that, one of my son’s favorite toys/shows is Lego Ninjago. Short synopsis, the four main characters are young ninjas that are charged with battling evil doers trying to take over the city of Ninjago and surrounding areas. Early in their development, their Sensei (Wu) taught that each of them had special and unique powers/abilities that they must find within themselves and tap into. This process was often referred to as “Unlocking Their Full Potential”.

Throughout the season, the four ninjas competed with one another, fought alongside one another, trained and eventually believed in their abilities enough to evolve into the Ninja masters they were born to be. But just like with any team, drama and issues arose because some evolved and unlocked potential before others. So as expected, egos were bruised, jealousies arose and self-doubt set in.

Don’t we all know someone like that? People that are so talented and driven…but never quite realize and/or unlock their full potential. Is that you? Carrying so much promise inside, only to have that potential stifled by fear and uncertainty. Do we too often put our dreams on the shelf and under-perform because we’re worried about what others will or won’t say about us or how are teammates might react.

After 13 episodes, the formula for successfully unlocking one’s full potential looked something like this:

SenseiwuteaAccept Tutelage
When someone is available to teach and mentor, take advantage of it! We miss our opportunities to grow and evolve sometimes because we fail to listen to those that have been in our shoes once before. Sometimes we have to just shut up and listen. There are no new issues, just different people having them. There is wisdom out there to be obtained, we just have to be receptive enough to apply the principles that we acquire from those that have been there before.

Patience Is Still a Virtue
In seeking to unlock full potential, one must understand that just because others around them are moving up and ahead, the time still might not be right for you. Be happy that promotion is in the neighborhood and stopping at your neighbor’s home. Being happy and celebrating others for their good fortune will make your wait better and may even bring about something even bigger and better for you! We must be careful of what we ask for because we just might get it before we are ready for it. But that wait makes receiving it just that much better.

Ninjago GroupThere Is Strength In Numbers
We shouldn’t have to go through everything alone. As strong as we are, we still occasionally need support and someone to help us fight through our development difficulties. From cheerleaders…to people to bounce ideas off of…to people to emulate, we need a good team. And don’t worry about your ideas or opportunities being taken from you, as true potential can’t be stolen from you because it’s predestined to be yours. There is no need to be guarded because those around can’t take what’s rightfully yours…and celebrating your successes are a lot more fun with a great group of supporters.

Each of us has something special on the inside that is just waiting to come out and shake the world up. The only thing holding it back is us. Once we listen and learn how to tap into it, exercise patience and surround ourselves with the right influences, there’s no telling how far we can go and how much evil we can defeat.

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When The Wheels Fall Off

Check out my latest post over at Performance I Create, where I highlight the unsung heroes of our organizations. Here is a sample:

Pit Crew…you never really pay attention to them. Names unknown, they focus on doing their job so that others can do theirs. They don’t get the credit they deserve. They are forgotten about in victory and only thought about when things go wrong…Unsung heroes that keep organizations running, on track and winning, while all of the praise goes to the high-profile employee…

Please click HERE to view the remainder of the article and please share!

Check out my post and those of my fellow contributors for relevant, in-your-face, performance altering insight at Performance I Create!

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Screw Your Pay Grade

When workplace responsibilities become “coastable”, employees often float under the radar until annual review time and ultimately retirement, all while abandoning their ability to be accountable. That lack of accountability, according to Paul Samulski, “diminishes execution and individual and team performance. It creates and reinforces a culture of blame. While everyone is busy pointing fingers, deadlines don’t get met, work remains below standard, and customers stay dissatisfied.”

When employees don’t take accountability, they complain. It’s everyone’s fault but theirs. They don’t want to do anything, but hate for others to be called upon to help. And when things go wrong and they are questioned, they give the infamous line…

It’s Above My Pay Grade
The ultimate cop out. This phrase makes me want to scream not only because it’s the worse excuse to avoid work and maintain the status quo, but because it’s always followed by a buck being passed. If this employee were denied an opportunity and told, “It’s above your paygrade”, they’d be ready to fight and then sue. But given the opportunity to slither out of working, it so easily flows from the lips.

This is why it’s common to see lower-ranking employees given more access and/or privileges by management than their higher-ranking counterparts because they:

  • Are trusted to actually do something with the access or information
  • Are willing to learn to get things done while taking chances and being resourceful
  • Are ready to take responsibility for their newly acquired skills and duties

Instead of spending so much of our attention on employees suffering from “It’s above my pay grade-itis”, spend more quality time in developing your more energetic and ambitious employees. The ones that will accept the extra assignments and go an extra mile or two or three. The ones that care about accomplishing the office or organizational goals and not just doing enough to cover their butts, collect a check and have health insurance. Either three things will occur with those “itis” stricken employees once the engaged ones begin to get the attention, praise and promotion:

  1. They will realize that it truly benefits them to buy-in and help the organization or office succeed.
  2. They will realize that there is no place for that their type of attitude and find employment elsewhere.
  3. They will continue to whisper, complain and be stagnant, only to end up working FOR the very employee that they once ridiculed and griped about. And if that employee was trained correctly, they will encourage them to come along for the ride or managed them right out of the building.

What Would Happen If…?
What would happen if…employees looked for and asked for tasks or projects that were “above their pay grades”? Our annual reviews would be full of examples and instances where we “Exceeded Expectations” instead of simply “Meeting”. We would build portfolios of skills that would make us more promotable.

What would happen if…managers stop creating and allowing a culture of blame to exist in the workplace? While they take the opportunity to identify and develop the willing talent, they must also create and foster an environment of accountability by not addressing mistakes as faults but manageable opportunities. When managers blame, employees blame. They didn’t start off disgruntled.

What would happen if…we stopped hiding our gifts and talents from our managers for fear of being asked to do more work? If we communicate and embrace our talents, we would more often find ourselves being asked to perform job duties where we operate in our gift….actually enjoying what we are doing! The fulfilling jobs can’t be offered if no one knows that those are where your strengths lie.

“Work for the pay grade you want, not for the one that you’re in.” – Justin L Harris, 2014

To Your Network and Beyond

In March of 2013, my Performance I Create colleague Steve Browne wrote a post entitled “HR Evangelism”, charging those of us in the HR profession to “Push” and “Share” the good news of our HR community. I loved his post for so many reasons:

  • Because this type of “evangelism” is how I became interested in blogging and began incorporating social media into my practice of HR.
  • Because I love sharing thoughts and ideas; and we can ALWAYS learn from one another regardless of experience, title or perceived expertise
  • It encourages HR thinkers, practitioners, bloggers, speakers, and whatever other title there is to support one another’s work, projects, websites and endeavors.

One Step Further
One message I’ve heard at churches for years is that true evangelism goes far beyond the structure of whatever your church is. Think about it like this, in a church, most of the attendees already know the “good news”, they may just need reminders, encouragement or a different perspective. But recycling the message among a group of people who already “get it” only does so much good…especially when there are those that have never been exposed to the wonderful messages we all have to share.

I love blogging and expressing my thoughts and views via this site, but what good does it really do to only share my views to the people in my immediate professional network? One thing I hear all of the time is, “Hey UnlikelyHRGuy, my manager needs to read that post!” or “My friend/coworker was just talking about that issue!” The people who may really need the help or some enlightenment are those that may not be on social media or even know I exist!

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  • It may be the middle manager that doesn’t have the best example to follow
  • It may be the overlooked supervisor that has no idea how to effectively motivate his staff
  • It may be that recently promoted leader that has been given all of the online training and compliance webinars, but doesn’t know how to practically apply all of the stuff that’s been crammed in their head
  • It may be the employee at my dry cleaners or my barber or the lady in front of me in the grocery line that’s complaining about work

If our message is so good and if we love our profession so, why are we only sharing it with each other? How good is the news if the same 30 people are the only ones seeing/hearing it?

So in the spirit of Steve’s original charge to “push the great work” of HR, I want to add that we should not only push to one another but to those that we may not normally share with or touch often. We are not writing, speaking and teaching just to prove our value to one another! We expect people to actually use this stuff and to help multiple organizations grow and succeed.

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We must share beyond HR for our message to truly take root and change our workplaces. Take this and articles like it and share them with anyone that has a manager, is a manager, anyone that is looking for a job or needs help with a resume. Share with anyone that has had a bad day at work. Share with anyone that cares about how people are treated or anyone that has been recruited for a position. That means share with just about anyone over the he age of 16! For HR to be effective and for our words to resonate and create change in the workplace, we must share beyond HR and live the life we preach about.

The Power of Words

I love this time of year!

Not only t’is the season of giving, but I feel as if it should be one of reflection and planning.  This month at Performance I Create we are posting Video Blogs discussing our favorite Holiday memories, Holiday wishes, etc.

Please click HERE to see/hear me share a special Holiday story from early in my management career!

Check out my post and those of my fellow contributors for relevant, in-your-face, performance altering insight at Performance I Create!

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Recruiters Roll Cigars

I’m always asked why I’m so fascinated with cigars. While there are several reasons to enjoy a fine hand-rolled cigar, I have a love and appreciation for things of different types, backgrounds and origins coming together to make something beautiful. I admire the thought, the process, and the detail that contributes to the cigar experience.

I guess the reason I love them so is the same reason I love being a Human Resources Practitioner. Nothing gives me more pleasure at work than being able to bring multiple people together, with varying ideas and backgrounds, and to help forge them into a cohesive, functional, successful team. When it works well, when it’s seamless, the consumer looks past the different departments, levels or ingredients and can focus on the quality of what they are getting for their money.

I’m always amazed at how skillful and point-on many of my recruiting partners in crime are at seeking out and reeling in quality talent that fit their organizations. Like Master Cigar Blenders, they are able to take the vision and mission of the organization, communicate them, and come back with people (like tobacco) that can not only do the job, but that embody what the organization is all about. Leaving lasting impressions and creating experiences that foster loyalty and has their clientele coming back for more.

It’s in the Selection
tourThere are hundreds of tobacco types in the world, but only a select few are deemed worthy enough to be included in a fine cigar. It takes someone with a trained eye, a keen sense of taste and someone who knows the industry to select a leaf:

  • that comes from trusted growers = educational background and career goals
  • that is grown and processed according to company standards = business acumen
  • that is cured and aged properly = business and industry experience, knowledge and exposure

Putting It All Together
Just because the ingredients are good individually does not mean that it will all work together. It takes hundreds of combinations and trials to get the right effect and the proper balance. Improper tobacco pairings are nasty and harmful to a brand. Have you ever had a team of extremely talented individuals that just could not seem to accomplish anything together? While it seemed like a “Dream Team” on paper it became a nightmare in the meeting room. The pieces have to compliment one another and someone has to put those pieces together.

Anyone can bring bodies into the organization, but it takes a skilled crafts-person to identify potential, evaluate current cultural strengths and recognize organization needs to recruit the best individuals for fit, balance and for “taste”.

It takes a Master Blender of People, a skilled Recruiter, to select the best:

RollingFiller – mixture of leafs that make up the middle of the cigar – the front-line employees

Binder – leaf that holds the Filler together – much like managers and supervisors

Wrapper – most visible part of the cigar, the ingredient that gives it the most flavor – the face of the organizationthe Executive Leadership

…and bring them together to create a work of art. Your successful organization.

If you know of a company that is making a difference in their industry and the community …one that offers a wonderful product and an even better consumer experience…it starts with how it was blended. It starts with the skillful Recruiter. If you see a group of employees that just seem to click…seem as if they were just made for one other…leadership that stands out for the right reasons… it was not by accident, they were selected for fit and flavor by the company’s Master Blender, the skillful Recruiter.

Theirs is a behind the scenes, sometimes thankless job, but it is necessary and critical for us to be able to consume and partake in the things we enjoy.

Be sure to check out my CigaHr blog for info, videos and cigar reviews.