Thursday, September 30, 2010

Regularly inconsistent

Okay, confession time.

I’m willing to put two things on the table: one personal and one professional.

#1 – I don’t floss every day.

I know. Don't judge me. Not only do I know that it is important not from an oral hygiene point of view, but apparently also from a heart-healthly point of view. Oh and then there’s the whole role model thing I’m suppose to be doing for my kids.

Hey, there have even been times when I’ve even skipped brushing. Tiredness, laziness, illness, whatever the reason – sometimes it just isn’t going to happen. Don’t say it - I know.

But here’s the thing. I went to the dentist’s this morning and she said things look fine. No issues – keep up the good work. I admitted that I don’t floss every day (I did not mention the occasional skipping of brushing) and she said that it happens.

Overall though, things look fine. Keep up the good work. I and my teeth have survived for another 6 months and I did it without stressing out that I did not floss twice a day every day.

#2 – I don’t use standardized questions in interviews

I know. Again, no judgment please.

I do plan out questions to ask and go into an interview with a list, but then I may get creative. I add sub-questions to dig more, I skip questions that are applicable to that person, and I re-word questions depending on the candidate.

Many out there will tell me that this is not an accurate way to compare candidates – how can you compare apples to apples if the meeting room, seating arrangement, questions, and weather are not the same for each and every interview.

Well, quite simply you can’t…because people are not apples. The amount of variance that exists among people ensures this. I’m doomed to fail even before I begin.

Oh sure there are basics that I am going to cover with each person – certain answers that I need to get, but really it’s about having a discussion between you and the candidate – what are they looking for, what can the offer, what are we looking for and what can we offer them.

And I’m not talking complete free-form interviewing – I’m just pointing out that interviewing is not a science. I have worked in a R&D environment and I am very familiar with the concept of control testing – one sneeze and a week’s worth of work can be ruined by a little mucus. This is not the way to handle people.

Being consistent is a good thing, but being a slave to it is not.

So to all those suppliers trying to push their products and systems on me - go sell crazy somewhere else.

Monday, September 27, 2010

My job description in Twitterspeak (140-words or less)

I don't enjoy small talk, I like conversations to have a point, and I like simplying things. This is one reason I'm good at my job - I look at ways to increase efficiency without adding layers and window dressing.

I have been struggling of late with what are the expectations are for my job (it's a new position). I was reviewing my job description and realized it is way too wordy, which may have led me down this path of confusion.

I've taken the liberty of re-writing it:

Whatever my boss doesn't feel like doing that day

I am much more comfortable knowing that I am not expected to know what I will be doing on any given day.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Working on the follow through

I recently observed possibly the stupidest piece of HR-ing that I’ve seen in some time.

An HR Manager decided that her Admin Assistant just wasn’t cutting it (and she truly wasn’t). The Manager made the decision to let her go. Yeah – a decisive, timely, and professional move!

The HR Manager then told her management group that she was letting the Admin Assistant go. She told another Admin Assistant, who could possibly help out, that she was letting her Admin assistant go. But, and I think you might be able to guess where this is going, she did not tell the actual admin assistant in question.

Now, the Admin Assistant may not having been performing well, but she wasn’t completely unobservant and sensed something was going down. She went to the manager and initiated a conversation about feedback, needing more time to prove herself, a second chance etc…The manager was caught of guard by this (as she had not prepared any kind of package) and admitted there were issues, but granted an extension on the probation period.

So, the way I see it, we are now have two issues:

1 – We are paying the Admin Assistant to look for another job. She knows her time here is limited, but she bought herself some time.

2 - The repercussions of the Manager not following through with something she had openly committed to.

Between the two issues, I believe that the second has the biggest immediate and future impact on the company.

The reality is that when you don’t follow through – not only does the job not get done, not only does your credibility take a hit, but people that had a vested interested in what you were suppose to do will never forget.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Giving HR a bad name

Today at an industry seminar I met the HR Director of my husband's employer. This was unintentional and I would say serendipitous; however, that would imply some level of whimsy and coolness.

And this most certainly was not.

This person was an ass. Actually, worse than that, he was a smug and smarmy ass.

The sad thing is that my husband has been telling me this for some time. I was hesitant to believe him since he doesn't have an appreciation for HR and all the convoluted and deep thought-processes that those of us in it must go through. I believe my exact words were, "You just don't understand HR."

Turns out he was right about this one.

This Dick-rector was an idiot who, even after I mentioned that my husband works for his employer (and yes I was tempted to not say anything, but felt it was only "fair" to give the guy a chance to zip it), went on to make marginalizing and disparaging remarks about the work setting and the employees.

First of all: Know and respect your audience.

Second of all: This is your employer as well. Your employees. Your credibility. Shut the fuck up.

I'm nothing if I'm not passive-aggressive, so I didn't say much at the time - I need time to process and simmer, but before leaving the session, when we were saying our good-byes, I pointedly said:

"It was enlightening to meet you - it explains so much about what I've heard."

At least he had the decency to look a bit taken back by this. Either that, or he didn't get it.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Crushed realities

I have recently accepted the fact that the unrequited crushes that I have developed over are just not going to happen:

• Edward Cullen (fictional character)
• Jake Ryan (fictional character)
• Neil Patrick Harris (apparently I’m not his type)

So it is with this realization that I have come to see that there are similar situations in my work life:

• Employee engagement (urban myth)
• Management that accepts full responsibility and accountability (another bed-time story)
• Universally accepted and applied employee development plans

It saddens me to think that I would have to resort to living a fantasy life for these things to come true.

And yet, a girl can dream.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Why I'm signing up for sensitivity training.

The English language is a wonderfully complex and convoluted thing. With only a few syllables you can encourage, compliment, insult or isolate a person.

As an example, let’s talk about the r-word.

Yes, that word that gets tossed around innocuously in day-to-day conversation. Some people feel it’s no big deal, others get completely and utterly up-in-arms over its use. I suppose it depends on your background and your current status.

Personally, I think people take it much too seriously.

Honestly, it’s a just a word, people and I’m not ashamed to put it out there….


There, I’ve written it.
Let the comments and backlash begin.

There was a time when people yearned for the days when they could stop going to their job and enjoy the next stage of their life. A time, when not only were they proud of their non-working status, but reveled in it.

Not so now. There is so much identity tied to work and work status, that the thought of no longer being connected to an organization or job title is absolutely scary and unthinkable. And while water-cooler talk may have employees imagining what they would do if they won the lottery – few are able to articulate what their plans are for retirement.

I’ve witnessed various people make the transition and some take to it so well that they often claim, “I don’t know how I had time to work before…” Others, struggle with the change. Although I’m not in their shoes, I can imagine that lack of preparation (and I’m not talking financial) is the key. If you have nothing else in your life other than your job, what ARE you going to do in retirement?

We’ve often heard the recommendation to find what you’re passionate about and then make it your career. For those of us that don’t luck in to this as a job, you can make it your retirement. But like the on-going investment of funds you need to take care of – you need to start developing this portfolio now.

I recently made the mistake of implying to a new retiree that she was “no longer working”…apparently this was the wrong thing to say. Boy, was it the wrong thing to say. Calling her a retiree was tantamount to calling her Granny (which, incidentally she is, and generates a similar reaction).

Like I said, using the r-word can produce some strong reactions.

First day jitters

Today is the first day of school for kids in my area.

To make it doubly-fun, it’s the first day of high school for my daughter. I am young enough at heart to remember high school – some events are in such clear techno-colour detail that it makes me shudder. Like most people, you could not pay me to re-do this time in my life, even with what I now know.

It is with these thoughts in my head that I worry for my daughter. She will make her own mistakes, social faux-pas, and discoveries. She is not doomed to repeat mine – I realize that.

My first day of high school, I was late for homeroom (couldn’t find it) and pretty much late for every subsequent class that day as I didn’t know the floor plan. I wouldn’t dare ask anyone that wasn’t in my grade as you were labeled a “minor niner” and I believe there was an unofficial punishment for speaking to someone in a grade lower to you. Sure, it was exciting, but more than that it was intimidating and ridiculously stressful.

The glimmer of hope I see for her is that her school has done a tremendous job on on-boarding the grade 9. Sure there were the presentations, the parent-night, and the BBQ. But they’ve have taken the extra step of creating groups and having students in older grades help them out, not only the first, not only the first week, but the first few months. They will help them find their classes, encourage them to join groups, touch base with them, and generally – make them feel part of the school.

This is brilliant. This is so easy and yet, has so much impact.

Interestingly enough, I have a new hire starting today…it is my plan to encourage a similar on-boarding for him.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Pro-Am circuit of HR

There is such a push to prove that HR is a legitimate business operation, that this “push” has become a business in itself. The amount of designations, categorizations, silos, and so forth have made HR Associations worldwide a pretty penny in their personal development and training sessions.

Along with this need to prove, is the need to justify. I recently attended an HR training session (to earn recertification points, of course) and I was struck with level of defensiveness in the room. The entire crew of participants consisted of HR folk and yet, the amount of one-upping was incredible.

There was such a large amount of shouting out that they were not “Personnel”; that they were not soft, kind-hearted, motherly figures; that they were hard-nosed, business-speaking, HR professionals. And yet, I fear that they couldn’t walk the talk.

With this much energy and passion spent on promoting yourself and your profession, I wonder what you have left to give to your job. And make no mistake, it is a job – hopefully one you enjoy and are good at, but a job nonetheless.

And then I have to ask, at what point do you become a professional? After you take a degree and/or a few courses? After a few years of experiences? A combination of both?

I myself fall into this category – I have a designation, which if I breakdown the acronym, ends with Professional. I do not believe I have earned this title, nor do I see myself yet worthy of it. I am not trying to being modest; I am being realistic. I understand HR, I work in HR, but I am not yet a professional. I have many years of work ahead of me, many experiences to go through, before I would be able to confidently represent myself as a professional. And even then…

When someone asks you where you work or what you do for a living – do you answer: I am a HR Generalist for Company X or do you answer, I work in HR as a Generalist for Company X.

Semantics perhaps, but there is a significant difference – one is a lifestyle, the other is your job/career. Is HR your life or your work?

Heaven help you if HR is your life.