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Categories: Uncategorized

Hey, Long-Term Jobseekers…Humble Up!

March 5, 2010 3 comments

So how’s that job hunting advice you’re getting from every corner of the world working out for you? There are so many “experts” out there telling you how to find a job it must make you sick.  And I bet most of the advice you’ve been given you already knew…’cause you’re smart, because you’ve looked for jobs before, and because you’re used to being employed.  So check it out: Your challenge finding a job has very little to do with your qualifications and experiences; it most likely has nothing to do with how you’re interviewing or how your resume looks;  and it’s certainly not because you’re not trying; in fact, you’ve been hustling your ass off.  So WTF? Well I think it really just comes down to one thing: The odds are against you, my unemployed friend. And you unfortunately have very little control over those odds.  Sure, you can increase your chances…and you should definitely keep working it.  But there are just too many people out there looking for work right now.  So here’s what I have to say – and I know I’m going to catch some heat for this one:

Suck it up, tighten your chin strap, and pray for some humility.  You may not ever get back the job you once had…the job you really want.  So do something else…anything…just do it, though.    Ever wanted to learn a trade? Become an electrician, become a plumber…they make coin.  Always wanted to travel? Get your truck hauler’s license and jump the big rig.  Do you support a cause, have passion for a not-for-profit? Offer your services to them at a rate that doesn’t even come close to “market.”  Were you a Director? Apply for Senior Manager roles, or even Manager roles.  Worried about degradation?  There is no such thing right now.  If it were me, I’d go work at Starbucks, or Boarders, or Home Depot.  Shit, I’d flip burgers or wash dishes at Denny’s if I had to.  And don’t tell me that’s “easy for you to say because you have a job.” Bullshit!  I’ve washed dishes before and it’s good honest work.  It doesn’t pay diddly, but it pays a hell of a lot more than what ever you’re making sitting at home watching Ellen.

What’s the worst that can happen?  You make some money, you get out the house, you get some benefits.  I’m sure you realize this, but the longer you’re unemployed the more your social and mental health will deteriorate (see recent article, “How a New Jobless Era Will Transform America”, in The Atlantic).  Your pride is also getting in the way of the economy’s recovery.  Your continued dip into savings doesn’t help anything – any wage you earn, irrespective of how small, stimulates the very fabric of our economic engine.  Hell, you might even learn something about yourself in your new endeavor that’s powerful in ways you never imagined.  But above all else, you will have something to show for your time away – your time “in transition.” You’ll show your determination, your spirit, and your humility.  And those are all great competencies for a prospective job candidate in my book.

Pick Me…Ohh Ohh Pick Me!

March 3, 2010 4 comments

I was not one of those kids who was picked first on the playground nor was I the one who was picked last.  Average performer…story of my life.  I can distinctly recall, though, feeling a pit in my stomach watching those last two kids waiting to be picked – each hoping they wouldn’t be the last.  And then the look of disappointment, rejection, and confidence drain from that last kid.  Tough times on the playground.  But I suppose it’s a good lesson for later in life.  One can’t always be first, and sometimes you’ll be last. 

Opportunities to invite, include, or exclude abound in the workplace.  Whether it’s a conference call, a meeting, a business trip, a lunch, a dinner, or a boondoggle.  Someone is always going to feel left out.  Still happens to me – there’s a meeting going on right now with my executive peers in another city and I wasn’t invited.  That’s cool, though.  I understand why I’m not there and don’t expect someone to justify my absence.  Yes, I’m a big boy now.  None the less, I have some thoughts on inclusion in the workplace.

  • You can’t include every one all the time.  And it is nearly impossible to avoid bruised feelings.
  • Too many cooks in the kitchen can spoil the pot and the same applies to too many business people at the conference table.
  • HOWEVER…when in doubt, over-include.
  • If someone is excluded, take the time to debrief them off-line after it’s all over.  That way they won’t feel like the “secret society” continues.
  • If you’re the one excluded, let it go.  If it eventually becomes a habit, talk with your boss (not your peers.) If it continues, start looking for another job.
  • If you’re one of those included and you go out of your way to rub it someone else’s face and flaunt your attendance like you’re something special, get a grip…you’re nothing but an asshole. (My Mom taught me never to talk with other people about parties you were invited to unless those people tell you specifically that they were invited too).

The more I think about it, there are a lot of things we could learn from our days on the playground that would help us in the workplace.  As it relates to inclusion, just try to be a bit more thoughtful about it.

Time to Share the Love (Better)

March 1, 2010 6 comments

I’ve really enjoyed the last four months of blogging.  I love to write and it’s been a real catharsis for me during what has been a challenging time.  As most of you know, I actually have a full-time job as an executive with a mid-sized public company.  We’re in the midst of Chapter 11, but have worked very hard to restructure our balance sheet and are very close to emerging from all of this in much better shape than we’ve ever been.  It has been an exhausting year, but I am more excited about our future and my role with the organization than I’ve ever been.  And I’m really excited about dedicating much more attention to our future…

HR Fishbowl was starting to “get legs.”  With hits and subscribers increasing consistently and some pretty good external validation (F.O.T. Top 25), the momentum was exciting…and the prospect of bigger things was enticing.  But I’m kind of an all-or-nothing guy; my alliances have started to blur and I’m beginning to feel a bit torn about my ability to truly focus on everything my day (and night) job demands.

I’m going to keep blogging.  I will continue to dedicate myself to 1) the simplification of Human Resources, 2) the promotion of #TrenchHR (hearing more in the blogosphere from people who actually practice HR in a corporate environment) and 3) good ole’ fashioned debate about the caring and feeding of people in the workplace.  But I will do all of these things a bit more intermittently.  So…

Don’t give up on me, keep coming back, and subscribe.  Just be patient with me because we have 1,000 employees who need love too!

Performance Records Go To Hanger-51

February 12, 2010 7 comments

President Obama wants to computerize and standardize all medical records within the next 5 years.  An ambition some call audacious and others call imperative.  Proponents suggest that Electronic Medical Records (EMR) technologies would, among other things,  ultimately facilitate a higher standard of care to patients.  Essentially, an integrated system would allow a patient to accumulate a comprehensive medical history that could be accessed at a moment’s notice by healthcare professionals wherever and whenever.  Change your primary care physician? Doesn’t matter.  Out of town with a medical emergency? No worries.  Want to give your neurologist a peek at your cardiologist’s notes? Consider it done.  Are there privacy issues? Yep…and others.  But doesn’t it make sense that the people being paid top dollar to manage your health have the complete picture of what works, what doesn’t, what’s strong, what’s not? Sure does to me.

So what if we could do the same thing with employee performance records?  What if we could standardize at least a piece of those records so the data could be transferrable to new employers? Shouldn’t your development continue where it left off at the old employer?  Seems to me that your new boss would like the opportunity to really understand your weaknesses (as opposed to whatever canned answer you gave him/her during your interview.)  Seems that might actually give him/her a chance to address them head-on before they creep up somewhere down the road and hinder everybody’s progress.  It would also give him/her a chance to quickly highlight and truly leverage your strengths.  Tim Sackett and Fistful of Talent had an interesting post the other day about carrying the “hickeys” of workplace transgressions around with you from job to job.  I’m not sure any one has to see your hickey until you’re actually on the job.  And as long as there was some understanding that they couldn’t kick you out for having a hickey (after all, we’ve all had them) then why not just get them out in the open? 

I think about the many years of performance reviews I had with my former employers.  It kind of bums me out that those are just sitting in a box somewhere in a storage room…worthless to anything I’m doing today.  Electronic Performance Records (EPR)…hmmmmmmmm.

Photo Credit: peteterranova.blogspot.com/

Trust? Screw that.

February 10, 2010 4 comments

Most organizational experts list Trust as an important element of optimally performing teams.  Steven Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, suggests, “Trust is the highest form of human motivation. It brings out the very best in people.”   In Trust Rules: How to Tell the Good Guys from the Bad Guys in Work and Life, Linda Stroh acknowledges that “betrayal is bad for everyone” and “without organizational trust, the focus of every transaction revolves around issues of determining who has control and ensuring no one gets more than that to which they’re entitled.”  Pick your favorite leadership guru, “trust” is all over their work.  It’s important, I get it.  But I say it’s also idealistic. 

I told my wife last night that, “I would absolutely love my job if it weren’t for this one person.”  That one person happens to be some one who has betrayed and abused my trust one time too many.  But here’s the problem: 1) He/she has an important role in the organization so he/she isn’t going anywhere any time soon, 2) I’ve tried to address the trust issue head on with him/her to no avail, 3) It’s really hard to play the role of unbiased HR professional when the issues you’re addressing relate to a peer who shares a boss with you.  It’s that third issue that brings me to my first recommendation to HR leaders out there: Have an explicit agreement with your boss on who your HR representative is in the event you need one.  It may be another HR leader, it may be corporate counsel, it may even be an HR representative who reports to you.  Either way, it should be agreed in advance that by using said representative you deliberately separate yourself from your role as HR advisor and take on the role of employee.  With that understanding you should feel more comfortable getting the same kind of support on your issues that you are dedicated to providing the rest of the company.  Here’s my next recommendation: Screw Trust!  Trust is for people you love, for people who love you.  Trust is for people your livelihood depends upon.  Trust is for people who actually matter.  But trust in the workplace is fleeting.  Yes, you should strive to be trustworthy; but unless you are a firefighter, a soldier, or a trapeze artist it’s naive to count on others to be trustworthy.  Sorry, it just is.  Try to give the benefit of the doubt, stay optimistic, have faith, have respect, strive to understand, build strong working relationships.  But keep a healthy sense of skepticism about any one and every one.  Don’t become paralyzed by paranoia, but watch out for wolves in sheep’s clothing.  I’m here to tell you: workplaces are not designed for trustworthiness…trust me on this.

Tuesday in the Trenches: Integrate vs. Adminstrate

February 9, 2010 5 comments

This week’s Tuesday in the Trenches guest post is from Steve Browne, Executive Director of Human Resources for LaRosa’s Pizzeria. In business for over 50 years, LaRosa’s has grown to 63 locations in the Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana region.  Steve has the daunting task of building and maintaining an environment and career experience that keeps LaRosa’s employees engaged in this highly competitive multi-location business.  Steve is also the editor-in-chief for a weekly HR Email, HR Net, that has 5,500 global subscribers.  If you want to join the distribution, let him know. You can follow Steve on Twitter or catch his guest blog posts which crop up from time to time (e.g. a recent post on Rehaul). 

Recently Charlie asked for posts from the “HR Trench” and this intrigued me.  There are literally thousands of HR people who may take this term literally everyday unfortunately.  I know too many HR folks who are miserable in what they do as a profession.

In looking at this, I had to ask myself the question – “Why are they miserable and I’m not ??”

The answer was pretty clear only because of how I have been encouraged and “allowed” to perform at my Company.  About a year ago, my boss, the COO, asked me to draw a picture of what HR should be at our company.  I honestly was a little baffled because he literally wanted a picture of what I’d like HR to be.  After some deep reflection, and many cups of coffee, I came up with a picture and went back to present it to him.

I followed the “before and after” model that you see in those weight loss commercials because I wanted to express how HR was being utilized now and what it should be.  The “before” model showed every department as silos – including HR.  HR was only used if, and when, people needed it primarily for administrative tasks or employee relations problems that were now teetering on legal action.  In contrast, the “after” model took HR and spread it in a row that spanned all of the departments.  I explained that HR should be integrated throughout all departments and levels of the company because all of them have humans !!

Seems simple, but it worked.  He agreed that HR should be integrated vs. administrative.  Strategic on a regular basis vs. processing paperwork.

This frees me every day knowing that HR is expected to be integrated to move the Company forward.  I wish HR professionals everywhere would follow an “integrated” approach !!  If they did, they would see that the “trench” that we’re in is actually very cool and exciting !!

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