Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It's crunch time!

As predicted, I'm down to the final few months of the year and I'm starting to look at how I can eliminate the remainder of my To Do List - 2010.

I have knocked another 14 off the list, which leaves me with 26 of the original 52. Crap - some I have no control over, others are completely and utterly in my control - I just need to get the lead out.

1. Use stairs instead of elevator at work for an entire week (well kind of, since the stairs only go to the 5th floor and I have to take the elevator from the 5th to 7th)- must do this daily at my new work, not as many stairs, but no elevator.

8. Clean-up and organize my home filing system. Did it!

14. Submit at least one pay input without it coming back needing revision (you have to know our system to realize that this is a huge thorn in my side) Did it and no longer have to do it!

18. Create my Exit Plan for my next job (see Punk Rock HR for inspiration)Done and it worked pretty well!

20. Have a Harry Potter movie marathon pre-Deathly Hallows release (I know…geeky, but come on, it’s so worth it) Booked for the weekend of November 6th.

23. Stay in town and attend family function for at least one holiday function other than Christmas. Attended my Grandmother's b-day party, which I am very grateful for considering her recent passing.

27. Replace and/or get rid of all my ill-fitting or unworn clothing. Check

30. Re-paint the entire main floor of the house (okay…pick out the paint colour and have hubby paint the entire main floor of the house)Almost there (picking the colours)

31. Shift the focus of my job from Administration with HR functions to HR with Administrative functions (either here or elsewhere)New job, new focus.

32. Land me a couple of interviews for opportunities that will get me closer to where I want to be (home)Okay on the interviews, but not closer to home...yet

34. Get another tattoo…this time not so plain-Jane Decided to x-nay this one.

37. Get over my bum knee and ageing hip and get out skiing this winter. I am ready for ski season - thank you yoga.

44. Add some annual plants to the gardens and not just rely on the perennials to make me look like an accomplished gardener. I did this and forgot that it was even on my list.

51. Learn my grandma’s recipe for butter-sugar pie. Sigh, this one will never happen.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


A not so stellar day at my work:
- Interviews
- An Admin asst (not mine) who feels it is absolutely necessary to punch holes in paper. All day. At her desk. Which is across from mine
- Ambiguous directives from my boss
- A disillusioned colleague that I'm trying to encourage to hang in there

My husband's not so stellar work day:
- 12-hour night shift that becomes 14 with OT
- No down time
- No break from same colleague for entire shift

Yeah, okay.

Perspective slap.
I needed that.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wastoids of my time

Generally speaking, recruiting hasn't been my favourite aspect of HR, but I still try to do a good job at it. And every once in awhile, I start to get into a groove and I really don't mind it.

Then something like this arrives in my email box.

(from actual cover letter, which was wittily called "Not a cover letter")

I'm not really a cover letter kind of guy, I've read many in my day and to my experience, they're usually quite narcissistic. My resume speaks for itself. If you find by my skills and experience that I'd be a fit for your company, I'd be more than happy to tell you how wonderful I am over the phone or in person.


Now some people might think - hey this is different, it will make him stand out, and it will probably get him an interview since they will just want to meet the guy.


If I had nothing else to do in my day than to meet people for the sake of it. Quite honestly this was stupid. Yes it got my attention. Hell, I'm even blogging about it, but I am certainly not calling him.

Why? Because this person wasn't applying for some hip, creative, "out-of-the-box" position. He applied to a technical job that we need to fill; a job that we need to fill with a professional that will "fit our company".

My analysis: He sent me a cover letter (that isn't a cover letter)that reads like his dad told him to apply for the job, but he didn't really want to and is hoping like hell that his piss poor attempt at an application with be rejected.

Mission accomplished.

And this is what bugs me about recruiting.
The wastoids of my time.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Eyes wide shut

As an experiment, I have left one of my daughter's shirts on the floor outside of her room. I wanted to see how long it would take before she realized it was there and picked it up. There was no way she could leave her room without either stepping on or over it.

Hours later and countless trips in and out of her room and it was still there. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore and asked when she planned on picking up her shirt.

Her response, "What shirt?"

Although it was blatantly obvious and unavoidably there, she just didn't see it.

The frustration and disbelief I felt was so similar to what I deal with at work when talking to mangers about employee retention that I felt the need to go find a coffee machine and caffeinate my sorrows.

There are some really obvious things we can do to improve retention. So easy, that even the employees are coming to us and telling us what they need and want - Never mind reading their minds or assuming.

And yet, what I hear is, "what retention problem?"


Admin?! You can't handle the admin!

Okay, here is today’s recruiting beef:
Unlike being a One-Hit-Wonder/ Top 40 singer, not everyone can be an Administrative Assistant.
Just because you know how to use Word, answered a phone, and can make copies without jamming the machine – you are not automatically qualified for this job.  
In fact, if you have innocently equated a receptionist with an administrative assistant, I would argue you have absolutely no idea of the value and worth of this job.
A good admin assistant will make it look easy.  They will organize and coordinate the hell out of things so that even you look good.
So people, stop insulting me by assuming that since you are in between professional jobs that you can swing it as an admin assistant – I don’t want your résumés.  You are wasting both of our time since you are missing vital qualifications - the “istant part…the “ass” part, you seem to have covered.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mid-way to where?

Please tell me – is there some sort of unofficial handbook for men that reach middle age?

Is there a chapter on mode of transportation, that goes a little like this…

“Congratulations – you’ve made it. Upon achieving middle age, one must purchase a convertible car (preferably Miata) in an eye-catching colour (preferably red).

To attain this, you may be required to dispense of more practical and economical vehicles. However, remember to save enough to purchase a ball cap, which must be worn at all times when driving your car.”

Oh sure, I’m generalizing, but there are enough examples out there to support this idea.

Interestingly enough I don’t see people my age (those damned Gen-Xers) going through this. And why, well I was trying to explain it to a colleague the other day, but something I read yesterday summed it up perfectly.

…how can you have a mid-life crisis when you’re still waiting to grow up?

I’m not a big on generalizing behaviour based solely on what year you were born in (except for a certain group waiting in line at their Mazda dealership), but there is no doubt that there is some truth to the “generations”.

As X-ers, not all of us decided Ethan Hawke was a role model. Many of us chose to walk the more traditional route – get a job, buy a house, get married, have kids…damn the divorce rates and boomers.

And yet, how we approached this and how we lived through them has been different. We’ve been completely naïve in some respects and completely jaded in others.

I work hard, plug away, and get frustrated with people that whine about ridiculous things like not having access to Facebook at work. I still believe in progression based on merit (I’m a hopeless optimist) and cringe at the policies in place in schools (unlimited re-takes on a test, one warning (per assignment!) for plagiarism…WTF??).

I’m always shocked when I remember how old I am (not that a quick glance in the mirror or constant reminders from my kids doesn’t confirm it), but because I just don’t feel that weighted, wizened, and experienced person I expected to become.

It’s true – I don’t feel like I want to relieve my youth…I’m still waiting to move out of the first one.

Friday, October 08, 2010

I weep for the future of this person's kids

Consider this as proof that we are not out of the woods with regards to economic issues.
A brainiac we know was explaining, smugly I might add, that he had reconsidered moving houses as it was going to be too expensive. He then bragged that he had chosen instead to pay off his car and boat loans. Impressive only until he explained that yes, he put the expenses on his mortgage. Ah yes, paid off in full since he no longer gets a monthly statement from Visa.


Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The one where I become open to new concepts

I haven't been a big believer in “personal brands” – it smacks of the latest and greatest marketing ploy. I know, I’m cynical that way.

And speaking of cynical people (nice segue, huh?), I was visiting Laurie’s blog and was struck by her latest post. i encourage you to read all about it here.

I would like to share some of it though - here are the signs that she feels may be an indication that your personal brand is on the downslide.

There are no easy ways to figure out if your personal brand is in the toilet, but here are some signs.

1. You reply to people on Twitter and no one responds back. (Yup.)

2. You post really awesome stuff on Facebook and it’s met with crickets. (Not FB, but blogger, yes)

3. Calls go unreturned.

4. People keep telling you that they never got your email messages and/or your messages went to the spam folder.

5. You’re pushing out great content — in conversations, on LinkedIN groups, on various social networks — and it doesn’t get picked up. Hmmm...

Shit. I’m in big trouble.

I test positive on many of these – particularly the last one. Which is exactly why I’m sharing Laurie’s thoughts…she says it best, as she generally does.

And now I’m starting to think this personal branding might have something to it.

Perhaps I am just failing in my personal brand. And up until now, I’ve just chalked it up to me being a bitch.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Running a home-based business

I would like to put a question out there and it may be more directed towards those that have children, but I will extend it to those that do not have children, since typically they have an opinion on child-rearing and while it’s not as valid (just kidding…sort of), it might be interesting to hear another perspective.

Do you (or would you) pay your children to do specific chores at home?

Before you answer, allow me to elaborate.

My son asked me last night if I would pay him to make his lunch for school the next day. I didn’t hesitate with my answer – “No.”

We give our kids a monthly allowance with which they can do what they will – save or spend, (although we do offer subtle suggestions towards the saving). How do they earn it – well, it’s based on a set of expectations– nothing complicated, but to sum it up – doing their part to contribute to the running of the household – whether it’s keeping their room tidy, doing laundry, or setting the table.

We do not assign a monetary value for a specific task because I don’t need my kid determining whether it’s worth a dollar for him to empty the trash bins. They need to be emptied and he needs to do it.

I know from personal experience that this is how they might look at the situation. My parents did opt to do the fee per service route and whether I did something would depend more on whether I needed the cash then whether the task needed to be done. A quick check in my wallet revealed I had five dollars…yeah, I’m not cleaning any stinking toilets this week.

I work with people that may have grown up with this mentality – the person who does A-L (because M-Z are not part of their job). The person who submits 15 minutes of OT, but has no issues taking multiple smoke breaks. The person who complains that they were passed over for personal advancement, but does nothing to demonstrate that they are willing to contribute to the overall team/department.

So, my kids get a monthly amount for doing their job – being part of the household. By not getting bogged down in specific tasks, I have eliminated the “it’s not my job” and have allowed for progression – as they develop, so do their roles. It also provides me with the ability to change their role at my discretion.

Sound like I can’t leave HR at home? Possibly, but consider that I offer constant and immediate feedback, frequent monitoring, regular progress reviews, and their allowance is reviewed annually.

I’m not suggesting you should work 60 hours/ week when you are only paid for 40. I believe that work is work and that you are entitled to a life outside it. However, I also believe that there are times when you should do something without asking what’s in it for.

So, back to my son’s request to be paid for making his lunch…I did say no, but I also provided him a rationale. I explained very nicely that I wasn’t going to pay him since I didn’t hire him to do that job and quite frankly he has little to no experience in food preparation.

I consider him more of an unpaid intern learning many lessons.