Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I’m not a HR representative, but I do the work of one.

Okay, On the waves of another blog conversation, I wanted to share my thoughts on people's identity being based on their jobs/work.

Over at L’enfer, c’est les autres, HRD makes a very articulate and logical argument on why people are so associated (and fixated) on what they are, in terms of a profession. Laurie, on the hand, stands on the other side of the fence, stating “we work for money”. (And yes, for the sake of keeping this short, I'm simplifying their views.)

At some point and time I’ve felt both ways.

Pushed to make a call though, I think there is an over-emphasis on finding your “calling”. Personally, I feel that as long as you and your employer value your work, you are doing okay.

You don't have to be passionate about your job to be successful or fulfilled. What's more important is that if you aren't getting that from your work (and good for you if you are), find it elsewhere...stop expecting your employer to fill that void.

We typically ask kids what they want to be when they grow up. I would love to hear one say, “a mature adult that takes responsibility for my actions and accepts the consequences for said actions.” That's something to be.

More often the answer is something like a teacher or an astronaut.

Would it not be better to ask, what do you want to do when you are older? Then the pool of options becomes bigger and more interesting.

You like to teach people? Well you can do that through a wide range of opportunities. You like science and to explore? Again, the possibilities of where you can do this are endless. And it doesn't have to be through a paid job.

Why make the profession the focus? It's only a portion of what you will do with your life.

Investing so much in the equation of "your job = who you are" can be a dangerous and potentially self-defeating prospect.

Enjoy your work, if you can, but more importantly recognize that this is only part of your life.

Friday, May 22, 2009

(Non)Sense of entitlement

Over the past few months, our office has sent out communiqués regarding the following topics:

- Department re-organization
- Pandemic planning and concerns regarding the swine flu
- Changes to our benefits
- A number of “so-and-so is no longer employed here…we wish them the best in their future endeavours”

And what was the response from the employees? Little to nothing.
Even the crickets didn’t bother making noise.

Yesterday, I sent out a communiqué indicating that since we had a potential client (read: potential business) coming into our office on Friday, we ask that employees be more selective in their choice of casual clothing.

And what was the response from the employees? Absolute indignation. I had emails and phone calls and drop-ins. All with the same message: “How dare you?” Followed up with, “So can I wear my jeans?”

My answers to these questions became progressively more sarcastic and blunt as the afternoon wore on. I finished up with the recommendation that it would have been much, much easier to just cancel “Jean Day” this week.

So I have to ask: at what point does an employee perk transition into a right?

What is the statute of limitations? I need to know this so that we can randomly revoke these perks before they become rights. Oh sure, we will re-instate them after a brief interlude, but with an eye on that date.

As an alternative, I’m thinking of negotiating perks with the employees. Sure you can wear jeans tomorrow, but as a result, we will be removing the free coffee machine from the kitchen.

At the risk of sounding hung-up on the workplace dress code (and I’m not, I just cannot believe how much time and effort is wasting dealing with it), I feel that maybe the message of why we truly go to our jobs every day has been lost.

I know I go to work to do a job so that I can be paid for it. I also realize that by doing my job, I am helping the company achieve its goals and hopefully be profitable.

I do not do go to work so that I can have free coffee and wear jeans one day a week. If I can have theses, it’s a perk – not a requirement.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Is this thing on?!

Okay, so I am very aware that in reality that number of people that read my blog is quite limited, the potential, however, is quite mind-boggling. And because of this, when I share personal and professional stories, I make some minor modifications to protect the innocent and ignorant.

Today I witnessed a lesson in what happens when you forget this and pull a complete and utter boner. Here's the scenario:

An employee recently went off on medical leave.

The reason he told his manager - a physical ailment.

The reason he told his co-workers - he is f-king tired of doing his job and didn't want to be stuck covering during a staff shortage. The manager got wind of this and is none to pleased, but with a medical certificate on file, it's a waiting game. And hearsay.

In the last two days, the employee has been calling in to his colleagues to ask how work is going, what's new, and to subtlety rub it in that he's not there.

The kicker came today when an employee from another department approached the employee-on-leave's manager to share what's been posted on Facebook.

Apparently, the physical ailment that's preventing the employee from returning to work has not prevented him from posting as a status: "F-ck my job which eats sh-t". This employee has no less than 15 employees as FB Friends.

The colleagues aren't impressed (since they have to cover his work), the manager isn't impressed because he's being played (and is taking it personally), and I'm not impressed either because it's created a lot of drama. And I can do without the drama.

What blows my mind is the fact that this person posted this as a status.
To people he works with.

The fall-out will be interesting to say the least. The manager, despite his initial flip-out where he barged into my office advising me of all that is evil about this employee, is backing down and said that if he had known that bringing the phone calls and FB thing to me would have caused a problem - he wouldn't have mentioned it.

My response - "What did you expect me to do with this information?"

The manager replied, "I was just venting".

With a print screen of FB.

Your thoughts?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Door number one, door number two, or door number three?

This is going to be short and sweet - just like the advice I gave out today. And no, I'm not professing to be a career expert.

You always have a choice.
You just may not like your choices.

I sat with an employee that had received a written warning last week and couldn't get past the fact that it was, well, in writing. The report was properly done, this wasn't a surprise, and the meeting with the supervisor went as well as can be expected.

Still, he couldn't get past the fact that it was there, in black in white. A permanent addition to his file.

My advice, for what it was worth, was to stop fixating on a piece of paper and to make a decision to improve the situation.

Essentially, now that you've found yourself in this situation - what choice will you make? Improve, tread water, or whine & decline?

Saturday, May 02, 2009

And that concludes today's lesson

Spring is often considered a time of new beginnings, rejuvenation, and births.

Despite my previous post, this accurately describes how I am feeling about my situation. I wrote the certification exam this morning and I feel like I can now resume my regularly scheduled life.

I'm not keen on announcing that I've written it because of the obvious follow-up questions: how do you think you did...and then later, have you received your marks? It was a very, very challenging exam for me and I'm drained - partially from the actual exam, but mostly from the prepping. I truly do not know how I did (and I'm not one of those people the feign ignorance when they know they kicked ass). I really don't know.

In fact, at this very moment - it doesn't matter. I know that in both the short and long-term...it does, but for now, no.

Why? Because I can rejoin the land of the living, go outside, read for pleasure...ahhh how I've missed my books, not feel guilty because I'm not studying, not feel guilty because I'm ignoring my kids so that I can study.

Absolute blissful relief.

Of course, in a matter of weeks I will ramp up in anticipation, but I've already decided that I've learned a great deal from this exam. About the material. About me as an HR person. About the fact that it had less to do with the kind of critical incidents you find yourself in and more about how you deal with them when you're there. And about the fact that I still disagree with the idea of having to pick not only the best, but also the worst answer on how to solve a problem.

I take inspiration from HR Minion's recent good news and hope that I too can say the same. Otherwise, it's a guaranteed solid month of whining.