Monday, December 15, 2008

Seasonal reminder

Just a friendly reminder to all of you who haven't yet attended your work Christmas party...

Key word: WORK

It may seem painfully obvious if I point out the fact that you will have to face these people on Monday (or Tuesday, if you are really lame and call in sick Monday). Yet, the as the cops that run the ride programs will tell ya - not everyone gets the message.

There are always people who drink too much and become superstars. That's right, they are the BEST dancers, the are the BEST looking people there, they tell the BEST jokes ever. In essence, every teeny tiny compliment and/or positive feedback that was given to them at work suddenly becomes a law.

God help us when this is exemplified by the golden boy manager, who for reasons I do not want to speculate about, is the Main Man's (Office VP) boy. After watching him for 60 seconds my husband asked me who he was, what he did, and was he always such a smug ass. I was once again blown away by my hubby's ability to get to the heart of the matter.

He was a smug ass and for most of the evening, he was a smug ass that gyrated on the dancefloor (ever see the episode of SNL when Chris Farley tries out for ChipnDales? Yeah.) He was not flirting with his female co-workers as much as he was leering, pulling them close (and as I heard this morning), pulling one into is lap. The good news is that he wife was watching the whole time, so it's okay.

Idiot.

What possesses people to suspend their common sense and act this way? If you were in a different city, with people you didn't know and would never see again...mmmm, okay...I see this happening. However, when it's with the crowd that you do the 9-to-5 with, how can you think that this will be okay.

Idiot.

And this is why I will not likely be attending next year's do.

Righteous I am not. I have had my share of over-indulgent moments, but I can honestly say that I have never attended a Christmas party...no wait, let me specify, work Christmas party, where I was embarrassed by something I did or unable to face a coworker the next work day (unless it was because I didn't want to embarrass them by leting them know I had seen what they had done).

In the end, the work Christmas party is an outdated idea. It's an expensive way to recognize a portion of your employees by providing them with the resources to make poor decisions. This is so contrary to what we try and do Monday through Friday: examples of poor leadership and decision-making, all the wrong resources, and an infringement on the work-life balance.

just call me the HR Grinch.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Update

Okay...I feel compelled to provide that much needed closure that your are seeking.

Oh I know, you are lying awake wondering, just wondering, what the hell is going on Her world. She's just left us dangling.

In the name of Christmas and all other completely materialistic and painful holidays - here is my gift to the blog world.

#1 - Dude that I compared to my constipated geicko: we retracted our offer. As my kids will tell you, I don't tolerate lying very well. Creative truth - okay. Lying - not so much. Fortunately the hiring manager doesn't either. Gone-di. Buh-by.

#2 - Met my mentor. Very cool. It was a bit painful in that she is where I feel I should be at this point in my life, if I were her age. Oh wait, I AM her age (actually a few years older, but give me this okay...). The interesting thing is that I'm where she feels she should be in her non work-related life. I feel that this may work out as a good support system.

#3 - Just finished participating in my first round of annual salary raises. Eye-opening to say the least. In this economical situation we find ourselves in, we should be happy to be on the positive (+) of things, but the rationale of whether someone gets 1, 2, or 3% from some managers...let's just say, I would have more faith if they had used rock, paper, scissors. Or eeny-meeny-miney-mo. Or, pshhh...pay for performance.

#4 - Bad things happen to good people. We watched Any Which Way But Loose over the weekend. I like you Clint Eastwood and I feel your pain. You had to start out somewhere and were willing to "sacrifice" your ideal position for a chance to break in. I understand and draw strength from the fact that you not only survived the humiliation of working with an oraguantan, but went on to do great things. If you can spare your guardian angel for a bit, send her up north for a visit.

#5 - Upcoming Office Christmas party is this Saturday night. This will be my first with this company and I am half interested and half dreading the experience. Good news for you - I will have something else to update you on. My biggest debate is whether, as HR representation, it's okay to hooch it up at little or whether I should remain conservative. I'll wait and see what my mood is at the end of the week.

Well, that's enough for today. Enjoy your pre-holiday workdays.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

When recruiting is in the crappers...

The reality of HR is that you sometimes (oh okay, most of the time) have to deal with things that you don't want to. You may even have to do things contrary to what your natural instincts tell you to do.

Our family recently acquired a gecko. This is not what I would have picked as my ideal pet, but I've accepted it as a member of the household.

My natural instinct towards lizards and such is to interact with them as little as possible. So when recently I found myself bathing and massaging the gecko's stomach to help it deal with its constipation I thought, WTF?

This is so not how I wanted to be handling the situation.

If it wasn't for the fear of the gecko growing to unusual proportions in my septic tank and the psychological damage it would do to my kids – my instinct would be to flush the thing.

And yet, there I was. Cooing and encouraging a gecko to take a crap.

I've just gone through something similar at work.

If a candidate that you've made a job offer to responds that he needs to think about it overnight to consider it, I understand.

If this same candidate adds in that he had received another job offer the day before and he needs to consider which one is the job he wants, I still understand.

However, when he doesn't stop there, but asks whether we would consider increasing our salary offer by $8k ….for a call center agent…my instinct says, this guy is playing a game and I really don't feel like playing this game. I am not a car dealership. I don't make a habit out of low-balling offers - I think it's a better practice to be as upfront as possible. Unfortunately, the candidate isn't use to that.

I know it's normal.

I know people do it all the time, but I just don't feel like playing.

In reality, I wanted to say – stop wasting my time. I specifically asked you what your salary expectations were in the pres-screen interview to avoid this type of situation. And yet, here you are…asking for something that is beyond not only what you indicated, but also what I indicated you could reasonably expect from us.

And yet, what I did was explain that while there may be some room for discussion, however his request was out of our range for this position and then I tell him that I look forward to hearing from him the next day.

I wonder if I will be as pleased with his acceptance (should it come) as I was at discovering that my gecko made potty.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

M.I.A?

Naw, I'm still around.

Actually, I'm more of an employee pension session survivor. I had the pleasure of sitting in on four employee sessions presented by our provider. It was informative, but only the once. After that they all just blurred into one long Excel bar graph.

It was very difficult to not stand up and yell, "Your funds are in the red this year. This should not be a surprise. You were never retiring at 50 - let's just keep moving along people."

Now before anyone should accuse me of advocating complacency and ignorance, let me add that this was the session-overload speaking. I believe in informing our employees and encouraging them to be accountable for their financial decisions.

If I could convince even some of them that it is THEIR responsibility and not the company's to make sure they can afford housing and food in retirement - I would consider it a small victory.

Amazingly enough in the financial world we live in, with issues found across the globe, there are still many people who feel this is personal somehow and look toward the employer to justify why things are going so poorly. As if this is entirely the company's fault.

They think, "You convinced me to join the pension plan cult-thing - so fix it."

The absolute best thing about the pension session is that many people feel that they do not have the time to go. They are very busy and cannot afford to spare an hour to listen to a gloom and doom report. And yet...they are the first to come looking for answers when they receive their statement - what does this mean? what should I do? is this really bad?

Man, if you can invest 3% of your earnings into your future, why not an hour of time?

Maybe in this instance knowledge isn't power, the session wasn't going to suddenly provide you with financial prowess or an economic epiphany, but it can do wonders to answer a few questions and provide you with some perspective.

And these days, perspective is in high demand.

Just my $0.02, which is now currently worth less.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Trivial Pursuit

I'm all about giving advice, even when it may not be wanted. Just ask my husband.

In this case, I'm basing my suggestions on what I see from my side of the desk or in this case, the other side of the phone. You see, I'm going through my latest round of pre-screening interviews and I'm being amazed all over again.

Sometimes, a person's purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others (this thought was shamelessly taken from one of those De-motivation posters).

Read ahead and allow yourself to be enlightened by the mistakes of others.

The basics:

If you apply to a job, it is a good idea to actually remember that you have applied to our company, and to know what the job is about. If I have to spend more than 30 seconds repeating the company name to you so that it rings a bell – we are done. I don't mind refreshing someone on the posted position, but not starting from square one.

The actual call:

If you get an unexpected call from me – I am completely aware that I might be getting you at a bad time. I will ask you this and give you the opportunity to either call me back, put me on hold and pull yourself together, or spit the food out of your mouth, turn down the radio/ TV, and focus. IF you choose to just plow through – you do so at your own peril.

And if I'm interviewing you for a call centre agent job…you might want to keep that in mind. I will be evaluating you as much, if not more, on how you speak, your tone, and your friendliness than your actual answers. Does this seem unreasonable? Of course not! You are potentially going to represent our company - I need to know what that will sound like.

If you leave a cell phone number, and many of you do, be prepared to take the call or call back. And as a head's up, insisting on continuing to call while sitting at the table with your friends in a restaurant is not going to help you and it just frustrates me to have to repeat myself.

Prepping:

Here's an idea. If you live with someone else, be it family or a roommate and this person is capable of and likely to answer the phone at some point – give them a head's up that you've applied for jobs and that a potential employer may be calling. I've dealt with family members that do not want to take messages and/or have absolutely no idea when I can contact you.

Do not let this happen to you: On a recent call, the roommate/ family member that I woke up (at 11:00am), fell back asleep while on the phone after my asking to speak to the candidate and him saying, "yeah…just a sec".

I know it's not your fault, but it just doesn't motivate me to keep going with the process.

Another consideration – your answering machine message.

Again, if you are applying to jobs, you might want to consider something a little more grown-up. The gum-smacking, blasé, "I'm-too-cool-to-come-to-the-phone-right-now" may not accurately reflect your working voice, but it's my first impression of you.

The phone number you provide:

Think long and hard about this. Do you want me to call you at your current job? Is that really appropriate? Especially when you are a receptionist and putting me on hold every two minutes.

Are you providing me with someone else's number – like your mom's cell phone number? I think it's great that you have a strong enough relationship with your mother and you are confident that she will pass along your messages; however, I'm not sure how thrilled she is with this arrangement. (She certainly didn't sound like she was).

I know, I know…so many considerations and many of them seem trivial. But take it from me, anything that will make you stand out from the crowd as an organized, motivated, interested, and professional candidate is not trivial.

It's so the opposite of trivial.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Update

I'm working on a few threads for the blog, but haven't quite finished them.

Please be patient.
You know they will be earth-shattering.

Right.

Update on my "honest" candidate:

She remained honest throughout the process, which was good. I know that the supervisor was impressed with her customer service attitude, but I'm still not 100% won over. I have a concern that this type of honesty comes with a price.

Telling us that she has a strong personality and doesn't do well with face-to-face customer service, since clients tend to misread her body language shows some self-awareness, but it's also a big ole red flag. While she may give 300%, as she claims, and will be a team player. What happens when she runs up against her first obstacle or has a bad day?

Despite this, it was a good discussion. No waste of time there. Score one for me.

Unfortunately my spidey-senses were batting 0.500 that day. I participated in the most painful and ridiculous interview of my life. Or, as Homer would add, the most painful and ridiculous interview of my life SO FAR.

This candidate was prepared with a cheat sheet of who we were, but that's the only positive thing I could say for him. He did not interview well, he talked WAY, WAY too much, and at one point I thought he was going to cry. This would have only be appropriate if I had said something to cause this, but it was during his recounting his most heart-warming customer service moment (which is not what we had asked).

I have no patience for this kind of thing.

He also did irritating things like refering to the supervisor by Mrs. Smith throughout the entire interview. As in, "well, Mrs Smith, as you know customer service is a priority..." or "I assure you Mrs Smith, that my dedication would be..."

Despite being seated beside the supervisor, he never once addressed me by my name, which leads me to believe that he must of forgotten it.

This pisses me off because I generally get a good read in phone screens and this guy squeeked by.

Oh well, even Peter Parker had his off days.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

can I be honest?

I had the most refreshingly honest pre-screen interview today.

In almost any other siutation I would have completely red flagged this individual, but there was almost something appealing about how honest this candidate was.

She admitted that she was having a hard time working with her boss - she said it wasn't a good fit. She pointed out that she has a strong personality and not everyone takes to her. She figures that while she likes and is good at customer service, face-to-face just isn't working for her. She thinks that phone work (the job posted) would work better for her.

She was personable, friendly, very self-aware and completely unapologetic about it.

I had a really hard time putting her in the "No" pile. So I'm bringing her in for an interview.

Perhaps it's a waste of time.

But if I'm being honest - I think there something there. And considering the shortage of honesty in the workplace, that's worth something.

Side note - I had a long drive home...I was at disk 27 of 33 for The Outlander series and I had to return the loan to the library. I wasn't able to renew it because someone else out there has been sucked in to my world of escapism. I'm now on a waiting list so that I can listen to the last 5 disks. Sigh.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

What goes in and what comes out of your mouth

Just like those bus stop ads – I'm proving that word of mouth marketing works. I read in one blog about Jamie Oliver's campaign and more specifically, his Manifesto on food and eating.

I completely applaud anyone who makes an attempt to resolve a problem by getting to the source of the problem and not just trying to patch it. I also like anyone who believes in accountability for your own actions.

Having said that, I realize his Manifesto was being proposed for government officials and as such, it need to have a little substance and weight (no pun intended) behind it. For the average person though, this Manifesto could have been a lot shorter.

Please allow me to propose my version of a manifesto that will help with the food/eating/weight issues*.

Stop eating crap
Stop eating super-sized portions of anything
Stop being lazy and actually make your meals
Move your ass, and more than just once in awhile
Rewarding yourself with a treat for an achievement IS a good motivator; however, the act of breathing is NOT an achievement
You are responsible for what you put into your body, not the evil food chains of the world

That's it.

No fuss, no muss, ready in less than 15 minutes and low in trans fats.
Just meat and potatoes, with a side salad.

*With only some minor tweaking, this manifesto is also applicable to career development.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The view from my side of the desk…the month of October so far

1. Two threatened resignations because we had the nerve to ask them to be at work. Every day. For the full work day.

2. It's pension session time. These free of charge, held on company time sessions geared toward the employees' stage in career life should be of interest. There was a small group of employees not interested/ not willing to participate. Interestingly enough, many of these same employees have used up all their accumulated sick and annual vacation leave. A few of them are the coordinators of the office lottery pool and I'm certain that they put more time and effort into choosing numbers and purchasing tickets than planning for their financial future or how they will cope if they have to go on STD leave. Way to live in the NOW people.

3. A potential candidate that sent in their résumé, but specified that they were only looking for work that paid cash. (As opposed to livestock?!) Interestingly enough their academic background was in Accounting.

4. An employee decided to bond with her team over the past few days. Apparently her idea of sharing personal information included telling everyone, but her supervisor, that she has applied for another job and it was basically a done deal. Can someone please explain to me WHY people don't get the concept of discretion.

And there's still two more days to go.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Just call me Skywalker

In my quest to learn and further my development, I have recently signed up to be part of an HR mentorship program. Of course, I’m not the mentor. The only thing I’m qualified to mentor someone on is on how to make sarcastic remarks and if I have to explain sarcasm to you…it’s just not happening.

No, I’m am the protégé. I just like the sound of that. Protégé.

Although I haven’t met my mentor yet, I have been thinking about how this is going to unfold. I’m not too sure what to expect – I mean, I have my reasons for doing this and certainly they have their own. What if these aren’t compatible, like I’m looking to learn more about a Generalist role and networking, and they are looking for a whipping post for all the crap that have endured through all their years of experience (we are talking HR here).

Okay, maybe it won’t be that dramatic, but just that thought spun me to the idea of a mentor, which reminded me (like almost everything does) of Harry Potter and the Dementors. That very thought stopped me in my tracks.

Dementors.

A mentor is a more senior/experience person who provides their expertise to less experienced individuals in order to help them advance their careers, enhance their education, and build their networks (thanks wikipedia).

A Dementor is dark cloaked figure who can suck the happiness and soul out of a person, make them feel like they will never be happy again, feed on peoples' happy emotions, and force them to recall the most horrible memories they have had in their lives. (thanks JK Rowling)

The way I see it, there’s a fine line between the two. One wrong move from the senior person and you are heading for a dull and dreary existence.

Then I started thinking of the other similarities between the working world and Rowling’s.

Ten things that readers of the Potter series can learn about the work world:

1. No matter how nice you are, there’s always going to be someone who hates you – accept it and move on

2. Sometimes, it’s not your skill that matters, but luck

3. Don’t go it alone when others are willing to help you – especially when they know more than you

4. You will always have a teacher (boss) that you hate – and who hates you back

5. Nepotism is rampant everywhere – eventaully you will have to deal with Daddy’s precious

6. It truly is our choices that define who we are – if you take credit for someone else’s work, it will bite you…maybe not today…but some day

7. Good leaders aren’t always aware or willing to take on this role – of course, this doesn’t
minimize their influence

8. Fear of a name only increases the power it has over us – Voldemort? Organizational Change? Budgets? Performance Reviews…face your fears

9.Some times it is smoke and mirrors and not real magic – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is

10. There are places between Good and Evil – sometimes you will need to slide between the two and do “evil” things for a good reason and “good” things for a bad reason.

So back to me.

I’m trying to picture my first meeting with my Obi-wan.
How do you think that conversation will go? Here’s what I picture.

“Hi there, it’s really nice to meet you. Will you teach me in the ways of HR.”
“Yes Tree-san. First, my car is out front. Remember - wax on, wax off”

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Don't believe the hype

We all have hype in our lives. And if it doesn't occur sponteously, we tend to develop it. Oh sure, we may pretend that we don't want it there, but in reality - it's an essential part of getting us through the day.

I mean, without hype - there would be no letdown. Without letdown, well for one, there would be nothing to gripe about and for two, there would be no reason to try again. Right?

So what the hell do I mean about hype. I'm referring to the actual build up that we create for events in our lives of both the ordinary and extraordinary variety.

Example - that movie you have been dying to see is coming out soon. You read everything you can about it, without going so far as to know exactly what is going to happen. You get excited about it, you make plans to go see it with your friends, you may even arrange some cheesy movie-themed dinner before going to see it, and god forbid, you dress up like a character from the movie (unless it's a Harry Potter movie, in which case...I understand. I wouldn't do it, but I understand).

And then the day arrives. You go to the movie and.....nyah. It's okay. You know what, it's probably more than okay, but honestly, nothing will live up to the expectation that you've been driving for the last few weeks. That's the hype I'm talking about.

Example of the ordinary variety - you are running late for work and don't get a chance to make coffee before you leave. You decide to treat yourself to one at the café. It's going to be so good. It will be so worth the wait of the very long drive you have ahead. The cup will be steaming - the aroma fantastic. You won't likely spill this coffee down the front of your coat when you hit a pothole and change gears at the same time (damn the city, damn standard autobiles). It will be worth the $1.50 you pilphered from your kids change jar. And you know what...You probably won't even remember drinking it while you read your emails, answers questions, and sort your files. You may not even finish it before it gets cold (which of course you realize when you take that large mouthful in and then spit it back into the cup). Nothing short of being transported to a street-side café in France is going to live up to the expectations you've placed on this cup of coffee. (And I'm not even going to tackle the level of hype reserved for Starbucks coffee drinkers..can you say C-U-L-T)

Hype exists in all shapes and sizes, particularly in the workplace. Sitting from my side of the desk, I see it often.

There is the hype placed on the potential candidate based on a piece of paper. I've had managers start taking development and career planning and I haven't even pre-screened the candidate. They pull out org charts and start discussing how they are going to move this person here, and re-distribute case loads here, and take the opportunity to get that cross-training program started. No joke - 9 times out of 10 we never even interview the candidate because when we jokingly said, they looked too good to be true...it wasn't a joke. Enter crash.

There is the hype of the reduced hours workweek, which for some strange reason people forget means a reduced pay workweek. And doing five days work in four. And the fact that life goes on without them in the office every Friday and in fact, Friday is generally the best day to be at work since that's when all the good shit happens (gossip, treats, and bosses are away). So the plan of having that extra day off to get all your housework and laundry done before the weekend means that you are spending an entire day (generally a Friday) staying indoors and doing something that you have been avoiding all week for a reason. Cue crash.

There is the hype of moving up the ladder, becoming a supervisor for the first time, starting in a new direction...all scenarios begin with the rush of someone wanting to make a difference only to have that ultimate crash of reality when the person realizes that the expression "same pile, different day" does apply to them. Not so different anymore.

I am not a fatalist, pessimist, or even an evangelist. I am a realist and as a realist, I believe that at some point everyone needs to fall on their face or hit a wall. Aside from being into violence, it's the low points that make you realize just how tentative the high points are. They don't last forever and they certainly don't last if you don't work at them.

The hype is what gets you going, gets you motivated, creative, and pumped - and that's a good thing. But if you don't have substance to fall back onto - then you are in for a nasty thump. If you don't truly believe in what you are pushing (hyping) for, then you will get the hype-blues.

My suggestions:

Work hard.
Get excited about what you do and your ideas.
Keep working hard.
Expect obstacles, set backs, and back-stabbing co-workers (I am in HR remember).
Keep working hard.
Do a gut check - and make sure you believe in what you are working hard for.
If you don't - re-evaluate why you are doing this? Is it because you feel it's expected of you or because you expect if of yourself?
If you do - keep at it.
And most of all - don't believe the hype, use it and keep going.

Mastercard is on to something

Price of one night at hotel: more than I would normally want to pay

Price of dinner for family of four: good, but again, more than I would normally want to pay (incidentally, anything over $20 is more than I want to pay)

Price of ducking out of all family obligations this Thanksgiving: absolutely priceless

This year, I am thankful that I finally got the nerve to do what we've been saying we should do for years - get out of dodge on the next long-weekend-that-means-three-family-dinners.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Judgment Day

I have been humbled.

I have discovered someone who could be the twin that I was separated from at birth (if I had one) and who grew up in a very different environment and ended up in a very different world, but still we managed to have similar traits and personalities which would identify us as nothing short of kindred spirits. I'm sure there is a movie out there about this. Maybe two.

I was recommended a book whose title just spoke to me (Bitter is the New Black:Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass,Or, Why You Should Never Carry A Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office ) - aside from the Prada part, I thought...*gasp* this could be about me (or my mother)! And before I had a chance to get it – I checked out her blog, which apparently is where it all began (check it out).

If I were into shrines, I would make one for her and pay homage to it, with the hope that I could be as articulate and sarcastic as she is. (For the record, I am not into shrines…I’ve seen people set them up in their cubicles and they scare me)

I know, helluva ambition – articulate and sarcastic, but you must understand that I’ve been working towards these for many years now. What blows my mind is that it is her job (and she gets paid) to be the very things I do for free (be judgmental, sarcastic, and bitchy).

Oh don’t get me wrong – I am not in her league at all. Particularly the bitchy part – she says out loud and does things that I only think of (oh who am I kidding, I couldn't even think of some of the stuff she said/did), but my god – how absolutely refreshing to hear someone be so unapologetic about her thoughts, her actions, and her life.

I bought her first book yesterday. I finished it today. I neglected basically everything (housework, kids, personal hygiene) to read it. Was it a literary masterpiece – no, of course not; I didn't buy it for that reason. However, I was unable to put it down – it made me laugh out loud in some places and cringe in others. It was like sitting down with the friend that tells great stories and having them talk and talk and talk. You just want to say, “and then what happened?” or “and what did you say?” and even, “you did not!!”

The funny thing is I have about two or three different blogs I would like to put out there, but I thought…naw…it’s just me picking on other people or making more judgmental comments. I’m often saying to my husband that we are probably the most judgmental people around…no one is safe…we are equal opportunity a-holes.

Then I read Jen and I realized that I’m not alone in feeling this way. Of course, I’m not about to go write a memoir about all the people that piss me off (tempting as it is some days) because one, it would be a 10 volume series and two, I just couldn’t. But I can blog.

My blog. I was going to try to make it all HR and professional and stuff, but then realized…hello…this is me. I am one part trying-to-be-HR professional…one part family gal…and one part sarcastic bi-atch. In all fairness to me, I need to be able to be in touch with all parts of who I am.

This is me embracing me.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The real F-word (or “Why I no longer like Fridays”)

I believe there is some sort of unwritten rule that if there is going to be a crisis (I use this term loosely) that it will develop on a Friday.

If someone’s going to visit my office to vent, it’s likely Friday.

If I’m going to run out of Kleenex, it must Friday.

If someone is going to pull a real doozy and make me question either a procedure or a decision that I’ve made – it’s definitely Friday (but that’s will likely be my next blog).

That’s right, when most people are rushing the week along, anxious for Friday to come along, I’m flipping my agenda pages (yes, I actually have a paper agenda) dreading to see Friday written across the top. I’ve learned to not bother scheduling anything that I want to get done on Fridays. It just won’t happen.

I’ve even tried scheduling meetings to try and fill up my time, but these meetings tend to develop into sessions that go completely off topic or become vent sessions.

So, I try to plug away doing stuff while not looking at my To Do list which has items beckoning me. They tempt me and tease me. They call to me, “come on – it’s the perfect day to start us…” and sometimes I heed their call, take the plunge and begin the work.

Then it happens…just when I’m too far into the work to just brush it off, but not far along enough to feel like I’ve accomplished something, someone arrives at my door and says, “do you have a minute”. And you can tell by the fact that they are shutting the door before they sit that this will not be just a minute.

Fast forward.

Two minutes after getting home, I was laying on the sofa, absolutely drained. My husband walked by and noted that it must be Friday. Just to confirm this I added, “I hate Fridays.”

This simple statement caused my daughter’s head to snap up (and anything that gets her nose out of a book these days must be quite earth shattering) and she asked how I could I possible say that.

I answered her, but with my face buried in the sofa it came out, “mphgh phgmpgp djhsdfhk”, so my husband translated, “Mom deals with a lot of people problems on Fridays” (for the record, that’s NOT what I said, but his version is much more appropriate). Without missing a beat, she suggested that I make a sign that says, “Don’t wait until Friday to bring me your problems”.

This idea was so incredibly brilliant that I burst out laughing. And not because it was silly, but because it was so damn bang on to what I wanted to do.

It was a simple, easy to follow directive – exactly what any good procedure should be. It would be inclusive - applicable to employees and managers alike equally and without exception, and itwould have a positive impact on morale (well, mine at least).

I think I’m going to do it.

I can’t wait until Monday.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mission Impossible: Keeping HR Real

I’m a little leery of blogging about my work. It seems so…sneaky. This is a weird experience since I gleefully told tales of the incompetent at my last job.

Of course, I won’t name names, provide dates, or revealing details, but I suppose there is this cloak of professionalism that I am meant to wear whenever I say the words Human Resources. And I do, when I’m at work…in front of other people (alone in my office with the door closed, all bets are off).

But what about when I’m sitting around home and mulling over the day and generalizing all my experiences into HR themes: leadership, employee relations, recruiting, training, etc... Is that so wrong?

What about if I get a bit more specific and say stuff regarding leadership, like, oh…let’s say…how will I advise this particular supervisor that perhaps yelling at her employee across the department was probably not the most effective way to gain the team’s respect. Or, when talking about employee relations, the futility of the female employee who visits my office monthly to vent about the latest injustice and threaten to quit. Is that crossing the line?

You see, I am the HR person who believes in working towards a balance between employee needs and business needs. I believe in consistency among procedures and fairness in how people are treated. I believe in transparency, as much as can be achieved. I believe in accountability, responsibility, and maturity.

And yet, I may not be the person you want to go to if you need a cry on a shoulder. I will play devil’s advocate – regardless of what side of the table the devil is sitting at that day. I won’t necessarily tell you what you want to hear, but rather what you need to hear. I am sarcastic (although this has been reigned in), I do not like small talk, I support social media, and would prefer one-on-one to social gatherings. In short, not what many people expect from their HR rep.

I am relatively new to the HR game and was wondering about many aspects. Like do I have to maintain my dual personalities or better yet, can I find a way for them to co-exist peacefully. Recent browsing through HR Blogs has shown me some like-minded people and reassured me that I am not alone in saying, “I have no friends at work” (nor likely will, based on the potential problems). They shake their heads at the goings on and aren’t afraid to admit that sometimes the advice they want to give is, “suck it up”.

To call HR a mind field is absolutely appropriate on so many levels…it’s touchy, it’s feely, it has you walking on your toes some days, and others…you just march out there and say WTF…and when you manage to get to the other side with all your limbs intact, it’s a very rewarding feeling.

So for the time being, I will share my thoughts, but remain cautious. This is strange for me, but then this is a new and strange territory for me.

No longer waving at those opportunities go by

So I recently shot my mouth off that I was planning on resuming my blog. Yes, it’s true that I want to, but I’ve had to make adjustments in my life – the first being that I no longer have either the opportunity or ability to blog from work. In hindsight, I would have negotiated this into my new position.

Oh yes. That’s right boys and girls. She’s got herself a new job.

And not just a job, but a job in the right direction. That’s a way of saying that it’s not THE job, but it’s a vast improvement over what I was doing and certainly in the right direction – HR.

I won’t go into detail about my recent separation. It was difficult, painful, and required a vast amount of adjustments on my part, but like most life-altering changes, it was good for me. And I don’t regret it.

I have to say that I’m pretty damn impressed that I did it. I have a history of chickening out of opportunities at the 11th hour and I was worried that I might do the same with this. In fact, when I think about those other missed opportunities, they weren’t so much “missed” as much as they were “avoided”. There was the chance to be an au pair in England – almost entirely arranged until I lost my nerve and backed out. There was the chance to work in a school as a youth worker (at the time that I was interested in pursuing this line of work), but cancelled my interview (which was somewhat of a formality) at the last minute, and finally, there was my inexcusable tardiness in submitting my application to teacher’s college.

After some serious internal chastising, I vowed to not let any opportunity pass me by – and I haven’t. I took on jobs, projects, and responsibilities that scared the crap out of me and added to my inability to sleep properly. Then I started my HR course…four frickin years ago…and finally finished my program. And just nine short month ago, I took the big plunge and changed jobs, companies, and workplace cultures.

Sounds like I’m a bit of a masochist, huh? I don’t want to do it…DO IT…but it scares me…JUST DO IT…and dammit, I’m a better, if somewhat bruised, person for it. Now, don’t get me wrong – this doesn’t mean that I’m a gal that can’t say no. It just means that if I think I might regret not doing it later, then I won’t pass it up now.

And this brings me back to my return to blogging. I said I would do it and would like to get back into the writing groove. Hey, there’s just no sense in letting this opportunity pass me by.