Destination Nashville #HRTN17

The 2017 Tennessee SHRM Conference will most definitely be the destination for up-to-date and relevant HR industry news, best practices and networking. But in the mean time and in between time, HR folks like to have a good time…and there’s no better place to do this than in Nashville, TN, the host city.

The conference itself is located at the Opryland Hotel, which is located on a major parkway that is conveniently located within 15 minutes of everything in town. When pulling into the hotel, attendees will immediately be impressed with the grounds themselves, but walking in is like walking into a city all in itself. Complete with retail shops, restaurants, canal rides and beautiful botanical conservatories, there really is no reason to ever leave the property!

But if you must venture outside, one does not have to travel far…actually, just across the parking lot…to the Opry Mills Mall, which is on the site of the former Opryland Amusement Park. After spending all of your extra money on the awesome shopping, one can skip across the street to the Grand Ole Opry to catch a concert from any number of internationally renowned country music superstars. If all else fails and you’ve exhausted all of your energy during the day at the conference, just catch a movie at the Stadium 20 IMAX theater or grab a snack and a drink at Dave & Busters!

If you’re feeling adventurous, Downtown Nashville, considered one of the country’s go-to destinations, has a little bit of everything for a little bit of everyone. Looking to see some art, try the Frist Center for Visual Arts. Looking to people-watch and listen to live music, take a walk down to Lower Broadway and chill on a restaurant’s rooftop. You can take a tour on the top of a double-decker bus, Segway, pedal tavern (yes, a pedal tavern) or by foot to see the parts of The Music City that you can read about online!

Nashville has and always will be the perfect destination for the Tennessee SHRM Conference and Expo. With plenty to do, see and hear before and after dark, it’s a guaranteed good time and opportunity to learn from peers and Nashville local industry leaders. We think you’ll enjoy our city so much that you might not want to leave! And we’re cool with that…and actually getting used to it, as Nashville boasts to becoming the home to more than 100 new residents per day. So come on in to town, enjoy yourself and enrich your Human Resources career in the process.

Don’t Argue With Fools

Offices are being taken over. Not by members of a specific generation, not by social media, not by unskilled workers, but by negativity.

stop-negativity-300x199Negativity and lack of cohesiveness is hurting our productivity even more than skill gaps and generational work habits. Negativity is universal and affects our offices no matter the stage of one’s career. And while dirty politics, snide remarks and insults are being treated more like personal issues than personnel issues, the lack of employee professionalism speaks more to a lack of management and leadership in that space.

We have all done it, snickered about a fellow employee, and then compliment them when they walk by. Participated in a session where management or a process is being bashed without helping to keep things appropriate for sake that we’ll be talked about next. And while no one can keep people from talking negatively, there are ways to harness the negative energy and to use it to build up your office.

Listen to Jay-Z
In a song entitled, The Takeover, the great philosopher Jay-Z stated “A wise man told me don’t argue with fools; Cause people from a distance can’t tell who is who…”

take_a_good_look_at_yourselfParticipating (sounding just as unreasonable or negative) in these conversations without attempting to provide solution makes us just as bad as the negative employee. From a distance, it looks like total participation. When you are the bigger person, those that constantly stir the pot will either acknowledge your positive suggestions or not speak that way when you are around.

If people are always using you as that type of sounding board and telling you unflattering things about coworkers, management or the organization, you must ask yourself, “Why do they feel so comfortable telling me this?” Are you encouraging it? If you didn’t stop them and their negativity at the door, in essence you are saying, “Ok, come on in and stir up trouble!”

Acknowledge and Learn
While the delivery method of complaints can be a cause for concern, what is just as or more important is what the employee is saying and/or feeling. Why is the staff lashing out? We know that our employees clam up when asked straight forwardly, “Tell me how we can improve our office?” or “How can things be better?” So if employees have plenty to say outside of that meeting space, we need to pay attention to it, admit that there may be validity to the issues that are being raised and use them to improve self or how things are managed in the office.

When leaders catch wind of concerns or problems, management malpractice occurs when the manager does not professionally and authoritatively approach the source and root of the issue. Ignoring it or relying on someone else to eventually say something furthers the notion that management does not care, so we’ll just keep griping amongst ourselves.

Act Expeditiously
An important quality for a leader to have is the ability to respond to an issue or crisis quickly…or better yet, proactively before it becomes a crisis. Managers loose more credibility and respect when they avoid the tough conversations and sit on their hands in the midst of negativity. If not a part of the solution, this manager is a part of the problem…and that lack of action is probably what the employees are talking about in the first place.

“Take focused and decisive action. They will follow you.” – Justin Harris, 2014

New rules and procedures alone will not a change make. Management has to step up, show commitment and be firm in what will and will not be accepted in the office. There must be leadership by example and demonstrative respect of people, ideas and the organization. This change requires those with power to come out from behind their desk and to interact with their people, so their knowledge of what is being said is no longer 3rd and 4th hand info, but a first-hand glimpse into the disconnect…so that it can be attacked first-hand.

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

Talk Is Still Cheap

Check me out over at Performance I Create today where we are discussing the importance of Action!  Here is a sample…

TalkSupply“So the goal is to move from talker to doer. It’s a critical shift because opinions without plans turn into noise. Noise that amounts to nothing but water-cooler fodder and disregarded complaints…even if the opinions are good ones. And what good is your idea if it falls on deaf ears….”

Please click HERE to read the remainder of the article!

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

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.