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.