Why Do I Love HR?

HR can be a thankless job, but I love it. So many people will tell me, “Oh, I could never do what you do!” I’d like to say, they’re right. Not because they don’t have the patience or character, but because they have no idea what I really do.

HR Gets a Bad Rap

These same people think that I just fire employees all day. I’m the “hatchet lady.” If I fired people all day, the office would be empty.

So what is it that I do differently? Maybe it is not different, but it is me. I like to keep it real.

I work very hard to establish relationships with all of my employees. Yes, I call them mine. I want to know about them. I want to hear what their dreams are, career goals, and of course, what they need from me.

Never Promise What You Can’t Deliver

I try to follow through on my promises to them. I never promise something that I can’t deliver. You don’t build trust that way.

If they come and knock on my door, I know they want to talk. Before I let them start, I make sure they know that how I react is dependent on what they say to me. I always let them know that I have three virtual filing cabinets in my brain. The first one is for verbal vomiting that is mainly a place I put the information that they are giving me and it doesn’t need further inquiry. I may offer tools and suggestions to help them through their crisis, but it is usually a safe place for them to come and let off some steam. The second virtual filing cabinet is for those issues that involve a co-worker or supervisor that need coaching or mediation. I make sure that I tell the employee that I will help them as much as possible. Most of the time they don’t want me to do anything. The third and final virtual filing cabinet is reserved for when the employee says keywords or phrases that would lead me to open an investigation. Things like feeling as though they are in a hostile work environment, or they are being bullied, or that person sexually assaulted me. These issues are immediately dealt with. This is the hard part. The employee usually tells me they don’t want to get anyone fired. I have to explain that I would start an investigation before that happened. I also remind them that we have policies and procedures that we need to abide by. I remind them that at this point, I don’t have a choice and I must move forward. In the end, they are appreciative that I have done my job to protect them.

Yes, I Have to Discipline Sometimes

I do have to follow the disciplinary action processes that are set up in each organization. I prefer to train employees on what they should and shouldn’t be doing and monitor their progress. You also have to train the managers and supervisors to document. We try to live in a world where there are fewer disciplinary actions and more education, but there are times when we have to drop the hammer. I want all employees to be set up for success. Have we given them the tools to do their jobs correctly in the first place? Have we explained the behaviors and norms we expect to see at your offices? If, not then we haven’t done our jobs yet.

Benefits and PTO and 401(k)’s Oh My!

Yes, an HR team is responsible for making sure that each employee is also enrolled in all of the eligible benefits. If you are in an organization that has high turnover, this can be challenging for the HR team. Give them a break. Timing on benefits is everything. Making sure people are signed up and/or removed from coverage based on their start/stop dates is not always easy. We have to make sure the invoices from these vendors are correct at all times on top of taking care of the employee’s needs.

Sounds Like a Lot, Right?

I haven’t really scratched the surface of what an HR team really does, but you can catch a glimpse of the complexity. Give your HR Director the budget to staff the team they need so you don’t lose them from being overworked. Make sure you pay them what they are worth too. Don’t always look at the industry you are in, look at their skills, abilities, and experience. Ask them what they believe they should be making and negotiate. All in all, I love my job. I enjoy the people and I enjoy the challenge.

What Does “Being a Team Player” Really Mean?

To some, it could be as simple as showing up for work when scheduled, on-time, and with little to no mistakes.

For others, it means taking extra shifts, always being that extra pair of hands, and staying late.

How do our expectations as employers differ from our staff when it comes to this? Are we expecting too much? After all, we are paying them to show up every day, on-time, and do a good job for us.

Should we expect more? If we do expect more, are we being fair? Is that expectation causing overall stress to the team, and will that added stress end up hurting the morale and decrease productivity?

I believe there is a balance to find when evaluating who a team player is. If everyone is present and completing their tasks in an efficient manner without extra supervision and mistakes, then we have a solid team. A “working machine”, if you will. For most companies, this is the ideal model. It is when we begin to get greedy with our staff and start adding duties without adding compensation or additional team members, that we see a disruption in that working machine we had earlier.

We tell our people to suck it up and “be a team player”, when really that’s what they were doing in the first place.

We are so used to fixing things that we don’t stop to take a good look when things are running smoothly.

My challenge to you is to:

  • Thank your team members now rather than apologizing to them when you have to ask them to cover for staff you have lost
  • Re-evaluate your criteria for what a “team player” means to you and your organization
  • Give out verbal accolades to the team and individuals. Be fair, consistent, and inclusive to all
  • Re-train any outliers, so they learn what your new criteria is for the team to succeed

Enjoy it when you have that moment to breathe and not worry. It does happen, you just have to see it.

Why I Don’t Burn Bridges

There have been plenty of reasons for me to totally bad-mouth a manager or organization publicly in my career. I have had managers that have completely lied to me about my career growth. I have had executives flat out ask me to perform illegal activities. I have also had an owner of a company make sexual advances toward me. Thank goodness nothing happened.

Human Resources is a small community. A lot of us know each other and we use each other as sound boards. Sometimes we use each other as therapists. We are the only type of people we can trust. Even then, there are a few bad apples in the HR world. Not many though.

The Reasons I Keep My Mouth Shut

In times of financial crisis, human resources is usually on the chopping block by companies that want to save money during a recession or downturn in the economy. I don’t recommend this because you always have employees and you need someone to guide them. However, when looking for a new job, us HR folks need to use our past employers as references and we don’t want anything and or anyone to jeopardize our future employment.

I have “used” one employer several times due to the industry this company was in. It was and is very helpful in my employment searches even though the CEO lied to me about my future with them and the role I would play. I even found out that the person that replaced me was giving out blatantly false and slanderous references about me. This person is retired now and the CEO has since given me his personal cell number for references going forward. He was a jerk to me and now is one of my biggest cheerleaders.

Try Not to Take it Personal

I know this sounds completely ridiculous and very difficult to pull off but once you have gotten over the “pissed as hell” phase of your separation, use this resource to your advantage. Don’t blast your disdain for the manager on social media, don’t trash talk the organization, and don’t put anything out there that would cause them to sue you. Once you get over the fact that you are not with that company anymore and you see how much happier you are, you will be able to turn that employer into a great resource for your next adventure.

It happens to all of us at least once in our lifetime. Whether or not we were in a bad mental space at the time or it came out of the blue, we have all been terminated. Be the adult. Don’t have an outward temper tantrum. Take the opportunity to try something new or work on a project you didn’t have time for. Visit family out of state. Visit family in state. Take the time to enjoy the town you live in and see something or do something that you always wanted to.

Pivot and Shift

This is one of my closest friends favorite sayings. When you pivot and shift your thinking, you change your attitude and make room for something new in your life. When you dwell on the past and the negative, you never really move through it or move forward. The shift in your behavior and emotions will put you in a new head space. One that will open your eyes to new opportunities. One that will clear the bad clutter and let you come out on top.

Use Your Best Cheerleaders

If you have a go to friend or mentor that helps get you through the tough times. Got to them. Tell them you need help. Tell them you will be there for them when they need it but right now you are suffering and need the boost of confidence only they can give you. They are your unconditional friend. They know you are talented, smart, capable, and worthy of greatness. Let them in and forget the past.

Company Leaders Partnering with HR…It’s About Damn Time.

Partners in Strategic Planning

The most important issue I see now when companies are looking for an HR leader is the ability to be a strategic partner to the executives. We are already strategic by nature so put us at the table and let us help you move the company forward.

How do you feel when you have to wait for something you really, really want? A great culture; engaged, motivated, and enthusiastic employees; and exponential organizational growth.

Who is Responsible?

This type of growth is not just the responsibility of the HR team but a business partnership between the C-Suite, HR Leaders, and Department Heads.

Today I’d like to talk to you about First, the need for HR leaders to be at “the table” alongside the C-Suite during strategic planning, Second, the roles and responsibilities of each team member, and Finally, how the organization and employees benefit from this strategic business partnership.

Innovation

Start-up businesses along with small to mid-size companies need to be fresh and innovative to attract and retain the type of employees that will propel your organization forward to reach the goals you have set. The problem is that most leadership teams only engage their HR leaders when they have hit a snag or need to clean up a mess that has been made.

Human Resource professionals are more than just “benefit enrollers” and “overhead”. The Director and the other team members in human resources are the strategic partners and revenue generators you are looking for. We already think strategically. We are already processing each decision we make to see the trickle-down effects. We do this when writing policies and procedures; visualizing new benefit options; brainstorming recruiting and retention programs; and creating training, development, and succession plans. We hire the employees that are producing or providing the services that create revenue to propel your organization to reach its strategic goals.

This is Important

Human Resource strategic partnership is very important. Do you have a five to ten-year strategic plan for your company? What better way to get moving toward the goals of those plans with the subject matter experts that can help establish the necessary programs and team members to get you there.

  • HR Leaders are tuned into Federal, State, and Local laws that can and will affect your organization.
  • HR Leaders can realistically assist in the budgeting for people, processes and programs. This is especially helpful in a brand new organization as well as businesses that are not so new but need a collective refresh. If the organization wants significant growth, the investment towards technological advances to keep up with that growth will need to be factored in the beginning of the process so the company doesn’t outgrow the technology they currently have. HR will facilitate the needs as the expansion happens with the technology that adapts and upgrades in tandem with the organization.
  • HR Leaders bring to the table, metrics on time-to-hire, cost of recruiting, and turnover to name a few.
  • HR Leaders provide professional development for all employees and leadership training for supervisors, managers, and executives as a tool for retention.

Now Do You See It?

I’m sure you can now see the need for this strategic business partnership with human resources. You might be asking yourself, how can I make sure my HR team can get us to the strategic finish line? Let me tell you.

Best Practices

Here are some best practices for partnering with HR Leadership:

  • Communicate with your executive team about the goals and expansion you are looking for and the type of culture it will take to get you there.
  • Solidify HR as a member of your regular executive strategy meetings.
  • Give HR leadership the resources they will need to build a team to support the success of the organization.
  • Brainstorm ideas of culture, benefits, total rewards packages, and trust that your HR leader knows what they are doing. This is why you hired them in the first place.

Budget resources tactically with the anticipation and expectation that pre-planning and extensive research will catapult your strategy into reality.

It’s Not Rocket Science

You can see that it isn’t difficult to partner with your HR leadership. Let’s look at what may happen if you choose to bring HR into your strategic planning sessions and what may happen if you choose not to.

  • If you do invite your HR leaders to be strategic partners, your organization will be the beneficiary. The culture, processes, policies, and procedures will create the momentum to compliment and expedite the forward progress you are planning on.
  • The problem you face when you don’t have this type of partnership is the lack of additional resources and innovation needed at the forefront of your planning to be the type of organization that stands out and leads the pack rather than be lost in the masses.

Your Most Important Decision

Adding HR leaders to your strategic team will contribute to the success of your company and is the most important decision you will make.

Imagine the workload you might face had you not made this decision to include the HR team in your strategic planning. Think of the satisfaction and benefits this alliance can have for your organization.

Remember that HR leaders are strategic by nature. Your organization should benefit from the innovative leadership created by this new and everlasting partnership.

Is Your Workplace Fabulous or a Flop?

How to Fab up Your Workplace

We want to take a look today at a workplace makeover. Where are some small things you can do to switch things up a bit?

We’re going to take a lesson from these amazing guys on TV that consistently change people’s lives for the better. Secretly, I am in love with all of them!

We’ll go through five distinct areas to see if we can zhoosh up the work environment for your team members. it doesn’t have to be huge, it doesn’t have to be expensive, but should be selfless. Something you do just for them.

Decor

Some businesses were decorated years before your current employees came on board. Are you still rockin’ the Beige walls? Is your carpet stained? Is the art reminiscent of 70’s landscapes? Please say it ain’t so!

If you can paint all the walls, do it. bright it up! There are ideas on the internet for chic work spaces for days!

A chic office space can make your employees feel like they work in an important place. Not that is wasn’t important before, but this shows the team that you are invested in the company appearance and a safe, fun place for the team.

If not all the wall, how about the employee lounge to start? Slap that colorful paint on the walls, purchase a nice throw rug, some plants (fake or real) and comfortable seating for rest and break periods.

Wardrobe

Depending on the type of business you have, you might require uniforms. What about a bright new color or style of shirt? A new uniform that is crisp and sharp or what about a fun t-shirt given at a company barbecue. A free gift for working so hard for the organization.

Psychological

Instead of a quarterly all-staff meeting, turn one of them into an employee appreciation event and require all of the executives and directors attend (without their cell phones). Their job is to mingle with all levels of the staff.

Work with your HR team to make sure that your total rewards package and benefits are in check and reflect the needs of the team. Ask your team what they would like to have and see if it fits within your budget. Including the team’s ideas shows them that you call about their needs which in turn, will make them more productive.

Self-Care

This can be added in the total rewards package by making their space comfortable and brightening up the decor.

It also can be that you provide:

* A meal or healthy snacks at work in the break room;

* Gym use (if you have one) or a gym membership in your total rewards package;

* Hairspray, mouthwash, or hand lotion in the lavatories

These are only a few things that you could provide at a minimal cost.

Food

Back to the healthy snack conversation. Instead of donuts every Friday, put out apples, oranges, and mixed nuts (be careful for those with nut allergies). Have potlucks with themes, minding different people’s food styles such as vegan, Vegetarian, Keto, and Gluten free. Veggies and dip is always a hit!

Respecting cultural food styles is also important. Ask your employees what foods are culturally appropriate and those that are not.

These “fabulous” five things can make a world of difference in your organization. Show your team how much they mean to you.

Are You Ghosting Your Applicants?

Ghosting in HR

I’m finding that job candidates are getting ghosted by employers. To me this is unacceptable. At the minimum employers should send the standard email explaining that due to the high volume of applicants not all candidates will be contacted. We thank you for your interest in our company.

This is an appropriate email after someone has chosen to work for you.

Phone Interview Etiquette

If you have done a phone screen on the applicant and you know from their responses, they won’t be moving on to the next round of interviews. At the minimum, human resources should send a rejection email thanking them for their time. You don’t want to explain in too much detail why a candidate didn’t make it to the next round but you should give them the courtesy of a response.

In-Person Interview Etiquette

If you have performed a phone screen and brought the candidate in for an interview with the team, and you aren’t going to be moving the applicant further, call them and let them know in person. If they don’t answer the phone leave a voice mail and be sure to thank them for applying and wish them luck in their search.

The most important thing to contact them. We, as employers, should not be so arrogant to think that this employee is desperate to work for us but they have a choice. We should be grateful they wanted to apply. Ultimately without applicants and candidates who want to work at our organizations, we would be out of business.

Reference Checks

Do me a favor and don’t check references until you have your final two candidates. It is disrespectful to the candidate and to their friends, colleagues, and former supervisors taking the time to perform said references for your organization on behalf of your candidate.

Please don’t waste their precious time doing references on everyone. Save it for the two finalists.

Final Thoughts

Please be respectful of job seekers. They have looked at your posted job description and feel they qualify for it.

They have looked at your company website and feel your organization would be a good fit for them.

They have possibly received a referral from a current employee. Show them why this person would say it’s a good place to work.

Give them the respect they deserve and show them their first great impression of your company.

An Employee Coaching Story

I’ve recently been coaching an employee that has had to endure a plethora of manager changes in a very short period of time.

His first manager who was with the organization for many years started going through a change in his behavior. There was a change in his home life which spilled over into the workplace. This happens to managers as well as employees but when it’s a manager it may be even more disruptive than we think.

This particular manager became disengaged and unfocused putting great pressure on this employee that has long term tenure on the team. It added responsibilities that he normally wasn’t required of him and he found mistakes that he had to figure out how to deal with.

My advice to him was to document the mistakes and behavior and turn that information in to his human resources team member. He was hesitant but ultimately did take my advice.

At this same time, the assistant manager at his store transferred to a different location. The reason: this same manager.

This went on for several months until the organization decided to redistribute the management team to different locations. When this happened a new fresh exciting leader became this employees temporary manager. Of course it was short-lived but in that limited time this leader motivated this particular employee to seek a promotion that was well deserved and long overdue. His friends also encouraged him and as his coach I spent time working with him on his interviewing skills and question responses.

This new found confidence and secure feeling he received from this new manager he aced the interview and earned the promotion. The change in this employees confidence was exponential.

The organization decided to make another change and sent this new manager back to his previous location. Once again the morale of this employee and the rest of the team instantly dropped. My client, having gained this new position really stepped up and took control and responsibility for his team.

More Changes from the Business

The company decided to bring in a new assistant manager. This one only lasted two months, again more upheaval. During this two month period, the company brought in another interim manager, a new second assistant manager and a full time replacement for the initial manager that was moved to a new location. Then the first manager suddenly decided to quit.

Are You Confused Yet?

I write this out in such detail because more than likely a situation like this is happening at other organizations and maybe even yours. What do you think the impact of this is on the morale of the tam? Not only the morale but the feeling of safety and security that all employees require for a work/life balance.

From an outside perspective there were several points of breakdown.

  1. The Regional Manager did not step in and take the concerns of the middle managers seriously. The first manager was not held accountable.
  2. The HR Director was not involved and able to help the regional manager.
  3. The second assistant manager was not held accountable and moved to another location like being swept under the rug.

The only stable person in the scenario is the employee that I coached. A person that has no real authority but is left keeping the location up and running.

What is your organization doing?

Is your company dealing with a communication breakdown like this? If this story made you cringe, I ask you to do a deep dive and make sure your managers are happy, trained and supported. We don’t want to burden our top performers with responsibilities that will lead them to resigning from your company. We want to nurture these team members so they stick around and become the next generation of leaders in your company.