Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay

                                  Robert Frost

Do you know when my first post was...some time back in 2006. 

Yeah, almost seven years ago.

Back when I wasn't even in HR yet and I was writing witty (okay, snarky) observations about the world around me. 

Well, seven years, one change in career path and three jobs later and I'm still pretty much making snarky observations about the world around me.  Only now I'm doing it with a much more professional and diplomatic lense.

The truth is I have been struggling to find meaning in this blog.  I know I've been at a similar point  before, but then it was more about feeling like I was compromising other things to write the blog - that I wasn't focusing on what I needed to. 

I never tried to compete with others in the blogger community, particularly the HR blogger community.  There are way more comptent, well-spoken, well-informed HR folk to refer to.  This blog was a place for me to talk smack about things that bugged me, which often was HR-related.  The blog was my gold.

And I enjoyed the feedback that I sometimes received, but clearly my thoughts were for my benefit and others took it as such.

This feeling has been brewing for a bit, but today it finally hit me with absolute clarity.  I'm done with Corporate Daycare / Bent but not broken.

So, no big deal, but only a brief note to say thank you for reading and aurevoir.

Stay gold, Pony-boy.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

My life as a speed bump

I recently joked in a tweet that my job in HR is to slow down managers who are moving too fast and to push who that are moving too slowly.
Okay, I wasn’t joking, but I also do not feel that playing traffic cop is my sole role or raison d’être. I do spend a lot of time in this mode.
Like this week.  I was brought on-board to focus on recruiting and to improve the processes, efficiencies, and ROI on staffing.  If you’ve read some past blogs, like this one, or even this one, you will know what an ironic situation this is.
Truthfully I don’t hate recruiting – it’s just not my favourite thing to do.  But what I do like is trying to improve processes and bringing the logical into the illogical.  To-date, I’ve been successful and have been given positive feedback.  Well, they haven't let me go, so that’s another vote of confidence.
There is one VP however who threatens to derail me.  At any and every curve she is trying to avoid doing what needs to be done…like interview candidates, or verify whether the candidate is a good fit for the job.
She recently sent me her timeline and task (to be done in this particular order) for a new position she was creating:
·         Draft key tasks for job
·         Meet candidate that was recommended to her by colleague
·         Have job evaluated so we know the pay, oh and qualifications
·         Post job
·         Offer position to candidate
·         Ensure no other qualified applicants have applied
·         Have employee start
The total time frame from the first bullet to the last…7 days
Now I’m flexible and willing to switch things up if it means meeting a qualified candidate outside of a job being posted. I’m completely willing to work with the VP to get this moving asap, and I’m not about to moan about HR steps and procedures, but I do feel strongly about making the right choice in candidate and doing it right the first time. 
And not in six months.
Which is what I foresee happening when we re-post the job because we rushed it.
So this is why I dig my heals in and say shit like, “you realize that the candidate may not actually sign on the spot and will actually need time to mull over/ negotiate the offer” or “have you considered that we should do our homework and verify his references & credentials” and then the eye-roll inducing “are you comfortable that this is the right person for the job considering you’ve only talked to him for 15 minutes and have not even considered anyone else?”.
Stupid HR.  Always bogging the system down.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Life interrupted

Maybe it's a carryover from school but I've always finished reading a book that I start, no matter how much I am not enjoying it. It just seemed like a matter of principle to me.

And I would only read one book at a time and refused to start a new one until I was finished the old one (which,as I just pointed out, I would finish, no matter what).

So it's rather a mystery to me how and why I have 7 books on my night table, all at various levels of completion. One them is actually one chapter from being completed and yet there it sits.

I've typically stayed away from non-fiction, but now I'm actively seeking good reads in this genre - particularly topics that I feel might help me in HR. At the same time, I'm trying to remain loyal to the authors that I have always enjoyed.  It's as if I feel like I'm at risk of missing something

So I decided to finish all my books in progress, one at a time. Last night, I picked up the one on the top of the pile and started reading and quickly realized that I can barely remember what happened in the first few chapters.

And that pretty much sums up my life these days.

I have my fingers in everything, I start one thing, only to jump to another. I don't profess to be multi-tasking...it feels more like juggling. My focus is fragmented at best...and I find myself signing on for more and more...volunteering, projects, etc...

While it's a bit of a rush to feel more involved, there is also a nagging feeling in the back of mind that I'm dangerously close to letting something slip.

And the problem is that life is not like reading a book.  I can't just go back and re-read a few chapters or even start from the beginning again.  It's something that I need to pay attention to as it's happening.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Undivided Attention

I woke up at 4 am this morning and lay in bed trying to figure out what is wrong with me.

Now that’s a pretty big issue to tackle at that early an hour, and quite honestly the possibilities are endless. But what I was really trying to figure out is why, for the past few week’s I’ve been struggling to feel so distant, distracted and just an observer in my own life – someone just going through the motions.

There really is not anything wrong, or so I thought. Work is fine; the family is great, the weather has been awesome…what is there to be down about.

So back to this morning at 4:00 am.

I start to go through the list of possibilities – I’ve been pretty solitary the past few days, just wanting to think, to do my own thing. And Nature’s rule is that if you want to be alone, people (re: kids) will want to be with you. I’m there, but not there.

Presenteism at it’s best.

The only thing that I could think of that’s been going on is my on-going battle with my foot problems. Over the past six month’s I’ve been dealing with common foot ailments that have left me frustrated and bouncing between physio, acupuncture, and orthotics.

It will get better, but in the meantime, I’ve immersed myself in trying to find stretches, exercises, postures, treatments, anything that could help me. One positive result is that I am now much more aware of what’s going on.

And at 5:00am, I realized that this is the problem.

I am hyper-aware of what’s going on ALL the time: I’m cognizant of how I step, my pace, my stride, my footwear, my muscles at rest, my muscles when I’m stretching, how I’m sitting, how I’m standing, how the discomfort shifts from my heel to my knee to my hip, how there are seemingly unrelated tendons and nerves firing up when I over-do it

I am constantly thinking about it. Constantly. It is always there in the background of my brain.

So unless I manage to distract myself completely, I have this topic running in the back of my head. And the minute I’m not doing anything or not talking to someone, it jumps to the forefront. This means that I’m rarely giving anyone or anything my undivided attention.

I have let one issue take over the prime real estate in my brain…something that we often do with work (when we are at home) or home (when we are work). It’s like that stupid annoying news ticker on CNN (or Twitter for that matter)…constantly running messages …insisting that you pay attention to it, and not to whatever is actually happening.

It was like a slap that I needed to say “Hellooo…obsessing over here”. It was a physical and mental relief to realize that I was not shutting down, which is what it felt like, but just over-processing was enough for me to let go.

So while I'm not struggling with financial strains, a marital breakdown, kids gone wild, or a job loss...I can appreciate how having an ever present issue can absolutely wreak havoc on your peace of mind and compromise your ability to give someone your undivided attention.

With this in mind (no pun intended), it's given me a new perspective on people who seem distant or unable to focus.  They may not be the social misfits that I was ready to assume they were. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Warning: non-HR related vent

So I warned you, no HR-content or even a  remote tie-in.  I wrote this for me. 

There are few things that people universally agree is okay to do like the right (and need) to judge other people’s parenting skills.

I, of course, am no exception. However, I try to reserve my judgement for those parents that participate in things like Toddlers & Tiaras, because, well…come one. Do I need to explain that one?

And while I feel comfortable in my parenting style (the results have been pretty damn good so far), it does irk me when I hear people make back-handed comments like:

“I would never let me my son/daughter skateboard on a ramp…it’s way too dangerous”

“I can’t believe that some parents let their kids play with BB guns”

“Really?! They are making fireworks in the garage…but they could get hurt.”

So let me tell you something. The child in question (mine) has been hurt – he’s had to get stitches, he’s burned himself, and he nearly hit someone (me) with a BB.

He has also developed an incredible thirst for learning new things, a knack for coming up with unique ways of solving problems, pretty good grasp of chemical reactions, an understanding of consequences, and wicked hand-eye coordination.

In essence, he’s learning about life by actually living it, not by being a by-stander.

So while my kid may have a few more bumps and bruises – I’m going to be less worried about him when he’s out on his own compared to a child who has not experienced fear, frustration, pain, and success on his own terms.

I’m not saying that my way is better.
I’m just saying let me be the judge of whether it’s working for us.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

House of Cards

Sometimes rainy days make me think of being a kid stuck in the house with NOTHING to do.  Actually, this isn’t true – I relished the idea of being able to sit around and read or play board games.  But sometimes even that would get old, so I would pull out a deck of cards and endeavour to make the tallest house of cards that I could.
Handling cards and arranging them into a tower is an art.  You had to ensure that the base wasn’t too slippery (carpet worked well) and you had to use really worn cards…preferably sticky from overuse (yeah…gross, I know).
Then you started building layer by layer until you got to the point where you literally had to hold your breath as you placed each card.  And heaven help the idiot that inadvertently created air movement within a 2 metre radius of the structure.
At some point a card would give in the middle layer and I would try to reposition it or remove it without affecting the overall structure.  And you could get away with this with one or two cards, but beyond that the house of cards became too unstable and collapsed, leaving you with a pile of cards to clean up.
Good times.
So yesterday I found myself across the desk from a colleague staring at a new proposed org chart and it hit me that this org chart had a striking resemblance to a house of cards.  And it struck me that the management team was playing a similar game…adding layers and forbidding anyone from coming near the table.
Now, I may only be in HR; however,  I understand operational needs, but more importantly I understand consequences.  And the reality is that you can only re-position, remove, and restrict so much before you weaken the structure.
 Because despite being really worn (and potentially sticky) these are people, not cards.  And 52 pick-up is not the same game when you have to consider legal, termination, and severance.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Whose experience is it anyways?

We all think we know what a new employee wants, after all – we’ve all been there.  And we’ve all had bad experiences…you know, your manager takes vacation your first week in the new job, your colleagues stay in their cubicles, your computer isn’t ready, you can’t access what you need to, and they’ve left you binders to read and  “get up to speed”. 
Yes, we all know what we should do – there are clearly identified steps on how to make someone’s new employment absolutely brilliant.  But even the best intentions and practices can fall short if they don’t suit your new hire. 
My daughter recently went on a trip with family members.  This is a gal who is a homebody – who likes to eat healthy (and not very much), who needs time to herself to decompress, and doesn’t like to be rushed. 
This was a huge trip for her as she has never gone away without one of her parents and certainly not to somewhere that is about as different from our Canadian rural home as it gets (think desert in a south-western State).
So, if anyone needed some easing into a new situation, it was definitely her.  Alas, her hosts were more concerned with running through a pre-arranged agenda of all that you can do in 10-days.  This included eating out most evenings, a go-go-go itinerary, and minimal input from her.
A few nights ago I received a text from her at midnight…she was upset, frustrated and wanted to come home.  She had finally worked up the nerve to say what she wanted (and didn't want) to do, and it was pushed aside…because plans had already been made. 
The lack of flexibility, lack of input from her, and failure to see whether things were going well may potentially have ruined what could have been a fantastic trip. 
And so the same could be said about bringing a new employee on-board.  If you are so set on following a prescribed Orientation plan, it will truly work for maybe 10% of your new hires.  The rest are going to feel like you don’t consider them individuals.
So, are you willing to ruin a potentially good start, just because you aren’t willing to bend from the plan?  I think not - because I'm sure you don't want to get the equivalent of the middle of the night text from an upset employee.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Venn will they learn?

What this clever Venn diagram demonstrates (other than the fact that I can't draw a proper circle) is the challenge of recruiting for a role when everyone has a different idea.

I had an existing job posting which is tweaked based on feedback that I had received from the manager about the role.  I sat down with the manager, with the the job posting sitting on the desk between us, and asked, "yes, but what are you REALLY looking for in a candidate.  Then I met with other members of the team to get their thoughts on what would make a successful candidate.

Note the blank space right in the centre.

Note the blank shared space between the Manager and the Team Member circle.

Notice how some of the characteristics listed only in the Manager's circle are somewhat opposed to those listed in the Team Member's circle.


Never mind the myth of "war on talent" and a lack of qualified candidates out there.  To me the battle is on the home front and trying to get the three circles to overlap a bit more. 

You can see what the challenge of recruiting for this position would be if I relied solely on one perspective.

If I listened only to the manager, there is a possibility that there would be issues with team dynamics and, let's be real, the actual day-to-day working.  However, if I listened only to the team members, then we would likely hire someone who plays nicely, but may not add the value and depth that we need to the organization.  And then, if I went solely on the job posting...well, that would just be a big fail.

So to me the bigger challenge isn't finding a candidate that fits everyone's expectations - it's about getting everyone to agree on some of the expectations, not just for this one role, but for the team and the business.  If everyone is working with completely different agendas, it doesn't matter how qualified or "perfect fit" the candidate is - they are going to encounter resistance and push-back at every turn.

And then I'm back to square one....or is it circle one?

Wednesday, August 01, 2012


BUI:  Blogging under the influence.

Don't do it. 

I reviewed a draft (thank gawd it was a draft) that I recently typed after a few glasses of wine.  I remember thinking it was witty and that maybe I was getting my groove back.

However, upon inspection in that harsh glare of daylight...um...it all but disintegrated in the sun.  Yeah, it was lame.

And fortunately I get to keep my dignity for yet another day.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Drawing lines in the sand

Over time I have changed my tactics for defining my personal space. 
When I was younger I distinctly remember identifying the border between my brother and I in the backseat of our parent's car.  The double-stitched piping.  That was it.  He was not to cross into my space or risk death by tattling. 

I've since matured, having realized that writing my name on personal objects and drawing lines in the sand were effective measures for delineating "my space", but lack a certain finesse needed for today's world.

So while my need for personal space has not changed, I find that my ways of dealing with this have had to because apparently taping lines on the office floor is not viewed as acceptable "team-player" behaviour.  Truthfully I have never been that bad.  No honestly, I haven't. 

Despite what people who actually know me will tell you - I'm cool.  I just need a bit of space.  Okay, I need about a 1.5m circle of space.  But that's all about the physical - that's easier to work with.  You get too close, I take a step back. 

So what about the non-physical?  As in, you text/ email/ call me incessantly....uh, I mean too frequently for my liking.

I have a colleague who I enjoy working with, but she's much more "connected" than I.  And by "connected" I mean she is virtually attached to her BB and texting non-work people while at work and work people while not at work.  And I was on that list until recently.  I would receive texts from her minutes after leaving the office asking me if I had left...and then we would chat about things.  Which, I actually didn't mind.  Until she started texting me when I was at home....to talk about work-related, but not work, things.  She needed to vent, needed a sounding  board...I get it, but at the same time I was thinking that this was getting dangerously close to my space. Then came the phone calls to me at work when she was home sick or on vacation...yeah.

So a few weeks back I went on vacation and when I go on vacation, I disconnect.  I do not check my work emails, I do not check my voice messages, I do not call in to see how things are going.  I realize that I am fortunate enough to have a job and work culture that allows this.  I also realize that my choice to do so may limit me in my career.  I am okay with that, because truthfully what I envision as my legacy has absolutely nothing to do with being a diligent employee who always responded to her emails/texts within 20 minutes or working 60 hours/week.

While I was off I received one text during my vacation asking me if I was having a good time.  I responded that yes I was and thank you for asking.  Stop. End.

That's rightr people, keep moving, there's nothing to apologize for here.

So even though there were no issues during my absence and I had left everything in order, I noticed that my colleague was distant when I came back.  (Sigh).  Not one to leave shit alone I spoke to my colleague and made a point of mentioning that while we h(ave  very different approaches to work, I believe we are a good team and I hoped she had not taken it personally that I did not contact her during my vacation (honestly, I did say this and I cringe at the fact that I actually did...gawd!). 

As expected she said everything was fine and she completely understands. 

I'm not sure that she did, but she does now.

And that was my goal...to point out the line in the sand.  I may  not be able to stop people from crossing it, but at least I can give them fair warning. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Postcards from my hammock

I’m quiet and laying low these days.

I’m in my summer reading mode which means that I am all about absorbing and not big on sharing.
I'm reading everything - fiction (of course), non-fiction (really), and HR blogs (a fine balance of fiction & non-fiction).

Once I hit my saturation point I will wring out the pearls of wisdom that are expected from this blog.

Until then, I’m ruminating about how to deal with a colleague with balance and boundary issues, how I feel about HR metrics, and how to successfully handle shit that you don’t feel like you should be handling.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Puzzles, my day so far and apparently I’m human

There are days that are a challenge because you don’t have enough hours to complete the amount of work that you need to do. There are days that are challenging because you don’t have enough to do in your day. And then there are days that are challenging because you’re just not in the right mindset to deal with reality.

That’s where I am today.

I really like puzzles – all kinds of puzzles. I can spend a ridiculous amount of time focusing on trying to solve something that really has no value other than a sense of accomplishment. The difficulties with some types of puzzles, let’s use Sudoku as an example, is that if you make one wrong selection it may not prevent you from continuing, but it certainly fucks everything up. You get to the end and realize that things are just not going to work out.

At this point I typically just scribble all over the page and start a new one.

And so my day began along this track. A decision to sleep a bit later, subsequently skip breakfast, and just float into work has resulted in me not being able to focus and reacting to things that I really shouldn’t be reacting to (an uncharacteristic minor, very, very minor…*cough, cough* melt down *cough*).

Oh, and to make it interesting, it would appear that everyone in the office who has noticed an error or mistake I’ve made in the last month has decided to bring it to my attention today. (I actually checked our Corporate Calendar to make sure I hadn’t noticed a “HR Screw-up Recognition Day” posting.)

Yes I will be able to function and get through the day, but by all standards, it seems pretty fucked up. So, I’ve decided to mentally scribble over my morning thus far and start a new one.

I’ve apologized to the colleague that I reacted badly to (although she now knows I’m actually human…there was a rumour to the contrary), I’ve eaten breakfast, had a couple of cups of coffee, and re-focused on what needs to be done.

Already I notice a difference – the pieces just seem to be fitting together.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Twitter: the ultimate static noise

I was going to go off on a rant last week about Twitter, but someone else beat me to the punch (and in true form he said what I was thinking, but in a much more persuasive and intelligent way). So I figured I would just let it go.


Not that I think there’s anything wrong with Twitter per se, it’s more about some of the users. It’s not unlike how I feel about dogs. On the surface it may appear like I don’t like dogs, when in fact I have nothing against dogs, it is just certain dog owners that drive me nuts.

So back to Twitter.

Twitter is the social media equivalent of small talk - something that I’m not overly fond of. You could argue that perhaps this is because I’m not very good at it and you would probably be correct in your assessment.

Do I do it, yes – small talk has a purpose – it allows you to test the waters with a person without revealing too much, it establishes rapport, it allows you to share ideas at a high level, and it fills the voids.

It’s the “fill the voids” part that I find hard. I’m okay with silence. I’m okay with not talking all the time, and I’m not overly fond of talking for the sake of talking.

So, again back to Twitter.

Twitter is a great place to get tidbits of information, to see the headlines, and to get that 10,000 foot view of what might be happening in someone else’s world. I follow a few people/ organization who do this well. Of course they sometimes share offbeat things or random points…but that’s cool, they are people and it can’t be relevant, all the time.

What I don’t have time or patience for are the tweets for the sake of tweeting. The constant barrage of quotes, the minute running commentary of whatever the hell you are doing at every given moment, or the “inside jokes” (seriously, that’s what email/texting is for). It's like static noise on the radio.

I don’t follow a lot of people on Twitter. This isn’t because I don’t make an effort to go out and find interesting people…I do, and I follow them and then if they manage to take over the airwaves with blah, blah, blah…I un-follow them. No harm, no foul.

Nor would I be offended if someone did the same to me.

When it comes to Twitter, I’m inconsistent at best. I don’t share much in terms of industry knowledge, I typically share/ comment on others tweets, sometimes throwing in a cheer/jeer about whatever hockey game I’m watching, the weather or the day of the week it happens to be. (Yeah, did I mention I’m Canadian?)

So really, who am I to judge others?

I judge because I am the person who is not going tell you what I’m eating for lunch on a daily basis, where I am (à la four-square) at any given freakin’ moment, or provide inspirational quotes by Ghandi, Steve Jobs, or Katy Perry.

I will judge because there are always people that take things to the extreme and assume that if the ideal is 5 tweets per day then 50 must be even better.

I will judge because people either forget or chose to ignore the fact that Twitter is a public forum and decide to have on-going, 140-character limited, private conversations with another Twit, oblivious to the fact that the rest of us are reading. (Now if only there was a way for two people to communicate to each other without everyone else listening in….Now that would be cool!).

I will judge because it’s in my nature and it gives me something to blog about.

And for those that don’t agree, I am okay with that – you don’t have to read or comment on my tweets or blog posts.

I’m comfortable with silence.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Patriotic musings

It's a beautiful sunny and soon to be hot Friday.

 It's the Friday before a long weekend. 

It's the Friday before the big celebration of our great nation's "birthday" - a time when I should be reflecting on what it means to be a Canadian and how truly fortunate I am to live here and to be a member of a pretty cool country. And not be stereotypically apologetic about it.

However, the office is practically empty and all I can think is : why the fuck didn't I take the day off too?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Little things that matter

There are times in both my professional and not-so-professional life when some small thing has happened or been said that absolutely means the world to me.

Of course, being in HR I'm ALL about recognition and rewards.  Yeah, hand me my pack of gold stars and I'll add one beside your name.

Seriously - I may not be a fan of the formal employee of the month type program, but the spontaneous, informal and unsolicited type of recognition is absolutely invaluable.

But it's not just the pat on the backs at work that mean the most. 

I was recently given very positive feedback from a few members of the executive team about my performance, my approach, and my professionalism.  It was really appreciated and made my day, but it was absolutely nothing compared to what I was told this morning.

This morning, my husband told me about a discussion he had with our 12-year son who is struggling at the crossroads of child & teenager. 

Some of his friends are dropping the "play with the guys" aspect and focusing a bit more on the "socializing with the girls" - he wants to remain friends with them, but isn't interested in crossing over to the dark side.  As a result, he hasn't been invited to any end of the year parties being held by some of the girls in his class. Although not entirely disappointed, he does feel the snub of not being one of the popular boys.

My husband reassured him that it's okay - to stay himself and hang with the friends that share similar interests. He reminded him that he's a smart, funny kid and that when he's 16-17 years old girls will appreciate him more.  My husband's words: "Girls like guys that are funny."

Of all the things that my smart, sarcastic, funny kid could have come back with, he asked my husband this: "Does mom like funny guys?"

My husband said "yes".

My son then said, "oh, okay then."

My. heart. ached.

There are not enough gold stickers in the world to match that one.

[Incidentally, I do like funny guys. And on many an occasion that has been my husband's only saving grace]

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Summer of Learning

As the kids are finishing (or have finished)up the last, completely useless and unproductive, days of school – they are dreaming of the months of reprieve from mandatory reading, homework, schedules, assignments, tests, projects, and well…formal learning.

This time of year, depending on your job and industry, can be a bit slower. People start taking vacation and don’t want to start anything big. It’s a time when water-cooler talks and lunches get a bit longer and people leave on-time, if not sooner.

So it’s could be hard to resist falling into that drone mode when you just go through your day counting the minutes until you can be back out in the sunshine.

I was on the brink of this. My workload isn’t lighter, but the deadlines are – there just isn’t that urgency that surrounds work in the Fall or Winter months. However, given the availability of decent (and free) webinars that are out there, and the plethora of HR-related blogs/articles…I decided to fill my quieter time with “catching up” on all the information that I’ve bookmarked and designated as “to read when I have time”.

An interesting thing has happened: learning begets learning. I am now looking deeper and seeking out books and resources that I normally would have by-passed. I’ve put aside my usual preference for fiction for non-fiction. I’m being drawn to topics that I didn’t realize I had an interest in.

When you think about it – summer is the perfect time to take advantage of learning new things…you are generally more relaxed, there are fewer meetings, and you might find yourself in a reclined position more often (beach, pool, dock).

So while I’m not going to forgo my summer guilty pleasure of stretching out on the desk with a book - I am going to go out a bit further and stretch my brain while I’m at it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Mid-week confession

As much as I know that there is more to life and all that - sometimes I'm just here for the pay only.

This is one of those days.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Welcome to our sandbox

One of my favourite clips from The Simpsons involves the kids heading out on a field trip. The teacher pairs up the children using the “buddy system”, with the idea that if something happens to one student, then the other will raise the alarm.

In theory, this works until both Bart and Lisa, who were assigned as each other’s buddy, fall into a ravine and away from the rest of the group. When it’s time to leave, the teacher asks the students, “Is anyone’s buddy missing?” When no one answers, she sighs in relief, “Ah the buddy system – it never fails.”

Yeah, the buddy system. It never fails.

I’m working on improving our on-boarding of new hires and have come across a number of gem references to the “buddy system”. For the record, I think the concept is good, but the term absolutely sucks.

When I think of a buddy – I think nap time, milk and cookies, and gold stickers.

So I’ve opted for peer support instead. Because that’s what it is supposed to be.

We are not playing match-maker here, I’m not setting up play dates – this person will not be your “buddy”. They are your colleagues – the people who you will hopefully turn to when you have questions, the people that will guide you with respect to the organization’s who’s who and what not to wear.

We are trying to make the new employee’s integration as smooth as possible and provide them with the support and resources needed to do their job. I really don’t think that introducing them to their new “buddy” on day one is setting the tone that we have in mind.

Semantics? Perhaps.

But think of the difference between saying “Personnel” and “Human Resources”.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Tone deaf

I'm a big believer that tone is as important, if not more important, than the actual message.  I'm frequently saying, "It's not what you said, but how you said it..."  I've extolled this advice to many people both at work and at home. 

So, given that I'm confident enough to be sharing this wonderful insight with all those around me, you would think that I would be a pro at this. Ha.  Ha ha.

Yeah, not so much.

Last week I went on training course that I had hoped would give me more insight into why others do what they do and how better to communicate with them.  However, the big takeaway ended up being what I do when I'm communicating with others. 

We had to do a role-playing exercise (for the record, I HATE role-playing exercises) and because of class numbers I was paired with the instructor for this one activity.  I was happy, because I thought I can get some genuine feedback on my approach and  feedback I did get.  However, I wasn't too keen about what I heard. 

Following the exercise, the instructor asked me if I always talk to people that way.  I was a bit confused? What did she mean that way?  I thought about it for a moment and acknowledged that in those type of circumstances I probably do...after all, I thought it was okay...rationale, professional, calm...

She then challenged me by asking what I thought I sounded like.  Well, I knew what I wanted to sound like but obviously that wasn't was she was hearing, so I listened back to what I said in my head and tried to hear it...and it came to me.  My answer was "patronizing". The instructor nodded.

That made me wince.  That is so NOT what I was trying to convey.

As I am apt to do - I spent the remainder of the day berating myself.  How could I have not noticed this before, why hadn't anyone called me on it before, is this what my daughter refers to me using my "HR voice" at home.  Ugh, ugh, ugh.

Fast-forward to today.  I've cleaned up the balloons and streamers from my pity party and moved on.  I'm still on a mission to help people convey messages in a way that will help and not hinder the situation, but now I'm going to be much more aware of how I'm delivering this message.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Dedicated to the one I am sure of

Often times we focus on those people that provide us with support at work or complain about those that make our lives difficult. I’m no exception - I’ve been happy to dish on both accounts, but today I wanted to mention someone who has not only supported me in my work, but in pretty much every facet of my life.

Today is my wedding anniversary and I can honestly say, without any pretense of sucking up, that marrying my husband was the best decision I have ever made.Truthfully it started well before we got married, but that was the official start line, I suppose.

That was the starting point for all that we have now - our home, our kids, and our future.

He has been with me through my late teenage years, young adulthood, and now approaching (ahem) mid-life. He has seen me and stuck by me through all my phases, moods, highs and lows. He has been my biggest supporter and sometimes my harshest critic. And I his.

I have often been asked how could I have possibly known at twenty-two (or even seventeen for that matter) that this was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. That’s tough to answer because it was one of the few things in my life that I didn’t over-analyze so I didn’t have rationale beyond that I just knew.

I did try to explain it once by saying that I was sure about him because we had gone a number of road trips and when that inevitable silence fell, we were both comfortable and content with just driving. There was no need to force a conversation, to entertain the other person, or worry whether there was something wrong. We enjoyed each other’s company throughout the trip - not just when we got to our destination.

I realize that this sounds counterintuitive coming from someone whose job it is to discourage people from relying solely on their gut. Someone who encourages analysis, supporting documentation, and asking questions.

Thankfully I don’t always live my life the way I work.

So now, eighteen years later at at the ripe old age of forty, how can I say that this is still the person that I was to spend the rest of my life with...I still don’t have an eloquent answer, but I can say that I still just know and we are still enjoying the road trip, whatever the destination.
Happy anniversary.

Friday, June 08, 2012

And now for someone else's re-runs

I'm a bit slow on the draw and just came across this post from Kris Dunn at The HR Capitalist blog.

I am a sucker for the movie Office Space, which makes The Bootstrapper's Guide to Employee Engagement (Office Space Edition) pretty much too cool.

Enjoy. I did.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Summer Re-run: The Episode where I define my HR style

So, here's another gem.  I am not sure what happened with Days 1-3, but on Day 4 - well apparently I hit nirvana.

Again, pre-HR, but perhaps you can see the trend that was destined to repeat itself over the past six years of my career: I cannot keep my opinions to myself.

This of course is fortunate for all those around me who get to benefit from my wisdom.

Yeah, I was cynical before it was cool.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Day 4 - The transfer of brilliance

Here we go. I approached my Manager yesterday and suggested something really strange. I explained that our little team is no longer a team, but a group of people who are fending for themselves. I supported this point with evidence that we are failing miserably to accomplish what we are suppose to and then made my suggestion. He listened patiently, praised me for thinking of the group, and then said that he thought it was a good idea.

So what was my brilliant revelation? To put it simply, I told him he should manage the group. I explained that he may want to make it clear what is expected of everyone, set measurable targets, monitor (not micro-manage) these targets, and then act upon them. He agreed and thought these were very good suggestions.

You know, I wasn't too sure why he was recently transferred into this leadership position, but now I know why. It's because he is able to recognize a good idea when he hears one. A manager actually managing. It's a fantastic idea. I'm sure he's proud of himself for thinking of it.

Fortunately for me he is unaware that I used an old Jedi mind trick on him - make a recommendation and hope that he thinks it was his - then he can take credit for it. God knows I don't want people to think I know what I'm doing. If word gets out then I may be expected to think and not just perform mindless routines. In fact, I might be called upon to make more suggestions and truthfully, I couldn't possibly handle that kind of responsibility.

No - better to continue with the subliminal message tactics and smile knowingly when my manager gets that pat on the back. I'll sleep better at night.

Eventually I'll get off this topic - for this week it's stuck in my mind. I'm off to NYC this weekend - surely that will give me something else to talk about.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Start of summer re-runs

Sometimes I like to reflect back on why I decided to make the career switch into Human Resources.  It was a "later" in life decision, and I know I was encouraged by others, but clearly there was something in it that drew me to HR.

So I went hunting through past blog posts from my pre-HR days and found this one.  It made me laugh because for some reason - I thought that this was only a non-HR perspective...

I also now realize that those who encouraged me to go into HR probably didn't like me very much.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Tales from the other side of the table

I have to say that aside from the obvious benefits (experience) that I am getting form participating in interviews, I find it incredibly enlightening.

Recently I was one half of an interviewing powerhouse (the other half being my starfish of a boss). We interviewed all eight people that applied. That was mistake number one. One that I would like to say for the record, I had no say in the matter.

Previously I could only imagine the diversity of the people that are out there. I’ve now been witness to some of the most interesting interview tactics and answers. If you are in doubt of how to proceed at your next interview, may I suggest the following:

1 – Pretend that you don’t want the job. State that you know you make more than the position will pay and that you will not take a pay cut. Make sure that you emphasize that you will not be able to start until September. As a parting thought, leave the interviews with this gem – “I don’t want to brag, but I probably know the most about the business in the building”. (That’s a seller when you are applying for an entry-level position)

2 – Play the sympathy card. Tell us you want the job so that you don’t have to move out of the city (because you have another job lined up). You want to stay with your girlfriend so that you can start a family.

3 – Tell us nothing. Hem and haw about the answers and admit that you don’t know how your experience relates the to position that you are applying for.

4 – Admit you know nothing about the job, but that you are sure you can do it.

5- Your only motive for applying: to get off shift work (honest, I know, but perhaps not the BEST thing to say in an interview)

6- Why should we hire you? Everyone likes me. (They won’t if we give you this job)

7- How do you resolve conflicts? I don’t have any. (I beg to differ…)

In this day of self-promotion, I find it incredibly humbling that many people can be so open and honest. To a fault.

I know I’m picking on the interviewees – those that are under the glare of the spotlight and are nervous. Truly, if I were to pick on my interview partner, this blog entry would be MUCH longer. I suppose I’m just fascinated at the range of the human behaviour.

And so continues my covert study of the average person in average conditions. Don’t tell anyone though. If word gets out that I’m not really working for the company, but in spite of it, then all hell could break loose.

Of course, that would also be interesting to watch…

Friday, June 01, 2012

Hypocritical Me

Today is my day off.  I have no plans, the kids are at school, and I'm hanging out.

So why is that one of the first things I did post-coffee is check my work email?

I willing to admit that I'm not so important that one day away from the office is going to be a problem.  I am well aware of this.

So, go ahead and spout your work-life balance and shutting off (which I will do once I post this), but I wanted to know and because I can check, I did. 

Yeah in my world, the"H" in HR stands for hypocritical.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

HR is HR

At a recent family get-together someone asked me how my new job was going.  I said it was going really well.

I was asked whether I had more responsibility, more influence, more scope (blech)...what was it that made it better.

Truthfully, HR is HR. 

The fundamentals of what an organization needs from its HR group/ person are essentially the same.  The fundamentals of what an organization will try to get their HR group/person to do are also about the same.  It's really how well an organization recognizes what you are doing and accepts your push back when you don't do something that makes all the difference.

And where I am, they get it. 

Sure I'm doing stupid administrative tasks that doesn't really add value to my day.  But guess what? So is every other person here.  That's the world today, baby.  Print your own reports, do your own copies, and while you're at it, get yourself your own damn coffee (dark with two creams, no sugar). 

A real difference is in the fact that when I'm not processing new hire paperwork, I'm researching, I'm developing, and I'm proposing ideas that people are listening to.  They are not just nodding either, they are challenging me, forcing me to dig deeper, and then stepping out of the way to let me do it.

But the big thing for me is that when I say, "yeah, I don't see that happening", there is a discussion about it.  I can push back and say that I don't see that as HR's role (but I'll help), or that's not really a good direction for us to be heading (and provide sound rationale why).  And most of the time it works.

So, while HR is HR, not matter where you are...how it's actually going to play out is always a variable.
And that variable is there difference between me being okay with my job and me actually liking my job.

Monday, May 28, 2012

50 Shades of Embarassed

Yes, I'm a sucker.

I'm a coffee snob, a chocolate snob, and until recently a book snob. 

I've recently allowed myself to indulge in e-reading which is much easier on the bus and, I hate to admit it, more economical when I want to read a new release.  I know. 

I still like to buy actual books, but they are now investment pieces - only those that I know that I'm going to want to see on my shelf, re-read, or by my favourite authors.

That's another bonus of the e-reader.  It's like the brown bag of booze and dirty mags.  I can read whatever I want and no one is the wiser.  And right now I'm eternally grateful for that.

I fell into the insidious and deprave world of really shitty writing on the basis of curiosity. And now, well, it's just plain ole addiction.  I like many, many other have been reading the 50 Shades of Grey series.  It's awful.  It's terrible. And I actually paid for it. 

I know, I know.  I'm embarrassed just writing it.

My hope is that by publicly admitting that I have a problem, it will help me from falling further. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Reality Check

This morning I attended an off-site conference and it went well.  As the weather was so nice, I decided to walk back to the office.

As I walked back, feeling good about the morning - I had seen former colleagues and other HR pros that I like and admire - I got the impression that maybe some other pedestrians, and yes by this I mean men, were giving me a second look.

I don't generally do the "I-see-you-looking-at-me" kind of thing.  I'm usually too distracted to notice.  But I could swear that the passing looks were a bit longer.  I did a subtle glance to make sure no buttons or zippers were open...no..wow, maybe people were picking up on the vibe I was radianting.

I felt pretty frickin' fine.  And I was starting to think others might agree.

As a passed a building with a large window, I took a quick glance over to confirm that I was indeed excuding something....

And I was a bit surprised by what I saw.  A blonde 20-something year old in the hot pink sundress walking about 2 metres behind me.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dealing with change like an adult (or why you need to eat all the vegetables on your plate)

There are times in every job, but particularly HR, when you have to sell shit that people don't want to hear. And you know they don't want to hear it. But everyone agrees - we need to do it.  After all, communication is key, right?

Advising employees that previously enjoyed perqs are being modified, changed, or eliminated is not fun, but it can be a necessary part of the role.  I think you need to present it in an open, transparent (but not too transparent), concise way - no bullshit, no jazzy brochures, no HD PowerPoint presentations. 

Respect your audience's intelligence.

Most will just grumble and take it, others will ask questions, and even fewer will openly challenge.

But for those that just push too far,  a big part of my HR brain wants to scream out: Really?! There are thousands of public servants just across the street who have been notified that they are or will be out of work and you want to bitch about a perq.  Are. You. Serious?

I know that sounds like the starving-kids-in-Africa line that parents gave their kids when they didn't eat their dinner. And because of that,  I can also understand that if you've enjoyed something for many years and now you 've been told that you will no longer have it - it is not unreasonable for you to be disappointed.  It is not unreasonable for you to ask questions.  It is not unreasonable to even have you contemplate whether you want to stay here (although, for the record, if the ONLY thing that kept you here was this perq...I bid you a fond adieu)

What is unreasonable, in my view, is not getting over it.  Not moving on.  Not having a little perspective on what it is that you've "lost" compared to what you have retained.  If your true colours show you to be a petulant little child who is stamping their foot on the ground, well then you are going to be treated as such.

I've always hated when people said this, but it's true: if you don't want to work here, there are a lot of people who do.

And trust me, I have the résumés to prove it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Long Weekend Hangover

It was great to have a three day weekend.  I was even better to have a three day weekend when there was sun and warmth the entire three days.

It made sitting on the deck and reading so much better.
It made weeding the garden enjoyable.
It made pulling a back muscle (from said weeding) tolerable.
It made listening to the little shit who lives up the hill's crappy rap music each afternoon ok.
It even made a Saturday night family dinner less painful.

My goal for this shortened work week is to look for the "sun and warmth" here at work (no seriously, don't laugh) - anything to make this week's challenges that much easier to take.

Friday, May 18, 2012

What does fairness have to do with hiring someone

I am not going to blather one about best practices when it comes to recruiting - there are plenty of others who already do that.  Some of them actually know what they are talking about.

Besides, my recruiting "strategy" generally boils down to a 12 second scan of a CV and an opinion formed within 3 minutes of the interview solely on gut-feeling.  Or at least that's the general impression of how HR proceeds.

The truth is that we are making a judgement based on what we are presented.  Sure we can do some evaluation, but again that is in a test environment and not normally ideal conditions.  It doesn't factor in that some people need to warm up before they hit their stride. 

Interestingly enough we went through this same concept with my son.  Next year he starts instrumental music and all students need to be evaluated on different instruments to establish if they have a porficiency for any.

The evaluating process consisted of a 2 minute explanation on how to generate a sound from the instrument and then the kids were allowed a few attempts before they were scored.  For those students who have previously taken music lessons - this was probably a bit easier.  For those that haven't - it was much harder. 

I can't imagine that many (with no prior experience) showed actual skill.  I would think that most would need a bit more time to become comfortable not only with the instrument, but also the concept of what they are doing.  And then there's the whole aspect of performance anxiety.  Nothing brings out talent like having a line up of kids and parents behind you while you perform.

It hardly seems like a good way of determining skill and fit.  Dare I say it, it seems like it may not be fair.

But then I know about lack of resources, time constraints, and the need to eliminate many to get to the few.  And while we do our best to ensure that our methods are sound and defensible - they don't always seem that fair.

But then, what does fairness have to do with hiring someone?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Shit storm brewing

As a parent, I have an opinion about just about everything to do with my kids.  As an HR professional, I have an opinion about just about everything to do with my work, HR, and society at large.  Can you spot the theme.

A part of both of those roles that I like is trouble-shooting and providing guidance, which is essentially cleverly disguised opinions.  I really do try to stay away from telling someone exactly what to do (unless there are legal repercussions or potential of blood). 

My daughter is fast approaching the time when she will need to decide what she wants to do after high school - college, university, or time-off.  We are trying to be supportive of her ideas, as most of them are very good; however, every once in awhile she tosses something into the mix that makes my eyebrows go up.

I should know better. 

She is exploring ideas and what she says today won't be the same tomorrow.  However, a part of me starts to present all the logical and practical reasons why that might not be a good decision...and then I catch myself....stop...and say, but it's up to you...sort of...with our input...and guidance...(and money).

She is torn between the idea of what she wants to do, where she wants to go, and which is better: university versus college.  She is fortunate in that her parents have experienced both realms and are open to either possibility, as long as what she is pursuing makes sense.  As much as I would love to see her go to university, I'm not going to be too keen on her studying Russian literature. 

So the storm is brewing. She is sensing that as much as we are being supportive and understanding parents - this might be conditional on her choices being in line with our vision.  And I hate to say this, but she might be right.

It's hard to turn off what you know - hard to not say, I know that it seems like a lot of work and/or not the coolest things, but you are going to hate going back to school to take another program later one.  And then in the same breath - you know you can always change your mind.

Many of her friends have limited options - their parents have told them flat out what they can/ cannot do.  I'm really not prepared to do that, but perhaps there is something to be said about having too many options...

We have just under two years before she needs to make her choices.  It's going to be challenging for her to look at the options, decide what she's interested in doing, what she sees herself doing, what she's prepared to do to get there, whether she wants to stay local or go away...and for us, it's going to be a challenge to watch this happen and offer guidance, not opinions.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

When priorities collide

I was eating lunch in my office when a colleague came up and said, "I know your eating lunch right now, but can I ask you a couple of questions?"

I said I would come by and see her when I was done. She pressed that it wouldn't take long and started to launch into her questions. I cut her off, and said, "No seriously. When I'm done."

Me. Food. Do not get in between.

She stood there with a blank look on her face for a few seconds, turned, and left.

To many of you (including this colleague), I was being completely inflexible and unreasonable. After all, I was still at my work area. And really - business should come first. Right?

Would it be acceptable to interrupt if I was on the phone? Or if I was talking to someone else? Or if I was mesmerized by a spreadsheet...No. In all of those instances, people would accept that I was busy and wait.

But for some reason, taking a few minutes to refuel and digest, well that's just selfish of me.

You know what else is selfish - assuming that your priorities are more important than mine.

Let me eat in peace and no one gets hurt.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

One of those days

I woke up to rain,which by natural meteorological extension means a lack of sunshine.
Not a good start to my morning.

I did get a seat on the bus, which is a bonus, but I soon offered it to a woman who needed much more than I did and she seemed very appreciative. I felt like my morning got a bit better.

Then I arrive at work to find my closet..I mean temporary office loaded to the tits with AV equipment. Definitely not a good start to the work day.

Now I'm a calm person. I'm flexible. I have no issue relocating AGAIN if the need requires it, but for Pete and my sake - couldn't someone have given me a head's up last night. Really, it's not like I would fall under the "FYI" category in this situation. A quick note saying..."just so you know, you will not be able to get to your desk without risking injury" would have been good.

And in the old days (approximately 3 months ago), I would have walked away and found somewhere else to sit. And stewed.

But not today. Today, in my nicest HR voice, I asked "is there a reason why all that fuckin' stuff is in my office?" (exact words). And to my surprise, they said.."No, it was a mistake, let us move that for you..."

Now as I sit in my temporary office, my day just got a bit better.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Nothing to see people, move along.

God I suck at consistency.

Except, perhaps... at being inconsistent....

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Tread lightly: asking questions that will help, not make it worse

I turned forty last year which apparently means that my body is now scheduled to start falling apart. As such, things ache and hurt, but I'm taking it in stride. Literally.

One of the issues I've developed is a problem with my foot, which likely stems from an issue that I had with my knee which was the result of an injury to my hip. Yeah - take me out to the back forty and just shoot me already.

Anyhow, after much resistance I called the doctor's to make an appointment. When I called, I told the receptionist/nurse that I wanted to see my doctor about concerns with my foot.

She asked me "what's wrong with your foot?"

This really irritated me. If I KNEW what was wrong with my foot I wouldn't likely be going to the doctor. It wasn't as simple as saying, well, I dropped an anvil on it - so I believe it may be broken.

What I wanted to say was: "well I did some research of my symptoms on WebMD and I either have a tumour or its Football toe.

What I actually said, "Uhhh...it hurts when I walk". Wow. Could I have sounded more like an idiot.

And this made me thing of how we respond to HR issues - I know we like to throw the ball back in a manager/employee's court by asking them what they think the issue might be, but there needs to be some guidance within these questions.

Asking more pointed questions can get to the real issue and it can also alleviate making the person feel like an idiot...because sometimes you just don't know how to go about explaining what the issue is or where to start.

All you know is that something is wrong.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

I see dead people

Wow - all those tongue-in-cheek books and articles about the impending zombie apocalypse...yeah, well they may be onto something.


I took a good look at the people riding this bus yesterday morning and I swear that most of them were dead. I know it was Monday morning, but I honestly spent the ride contemplating my fight or flight options should things go bad.

Top of my priority list for today: Google how to survive a zombie attack on bus.

I also find it interesting that despite the public safety campaigns reminding people to wear sit belts and the amount of time, money, and effort you have to go to when strapping your child into the back of your car (rivaled only by NASA) ...people (myself included) are still willing to pay money to hurtle down a highway while standing in the aisle of a bus, with only a pole to hold on to and a few passengers to potentially break my fall.

I'm starting to doubt that these two ideas area unrelated.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Friday Playlist

So I think I might have mentioned that I'm taking the bus to work now.

I use to take it all the time in high school and university, but after that my commute was either too short or busing not an option. But here I am, back on the system again.

Overall it's been good. It's nice to read or listen to music instead of dealing with the stop/ start of driving, but I do miss the lack of control in my schedule. And I do like driving.

However, this is for the best and I'm trying to determine what the best music to listen to on a bus is...something that I didn't really put too much thought into when I was in the car. So I find myself flipping until I hit one that I can listen to the whole album (and yes, I still call them albums even when they are on my ipod).

So this past week, these are what I settled on :

Fleetwood Mac - Rumours
Paramore - Brand New Eyes
Kings of Leon - Only By the Night
Adele - 21
The B-52s - The B-52s

I would be really interested and/or happy to receive any recommendations. I will listen to pretty much anything. Except country.

Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Conference confidential

Can can I be honest about something - I am really sick of hearing about HR Conferences.

I never really "got" the appeal of conferences - they just seem so..so..like watching an episode of Glee, without anyone breaking out in song (well, at least not pre-cocktail hour). Dramatic life lessons crammed into small sessions, multiple people vying to be the lead singer, and lots of innuendo and sarcasm filler.

If the many Twitter feeds I've followed are any indication, it's pretty much a clique-y drink-fest.

But, I'm fully willing to admit that perhaps I haven't gone to the right conference, or gone with the right people, and quite possibly not gone with the right attitude. Any of these or a combination of any of these may be true.

However, when I sit back and think about what I would be getting out of a conference (and unless you are a presenter), it is about what you will get out of it...I'm not sure whether the value is there.

And yes I know there's the networking angle, but quite honestly, the idea of meeting like minded people...well, that scares the shit out of me.

Monday, February 27, 2012

HR Re-born

So it's been four weeks since I began my new adventure in HR and things are going really well. I've been meaning to write about it, but one - I've been so busy/tired and two - I was kind of waiting for the shine to wear off.

I'm not going to wax poetic about how this is the best thing I've ever done or that it was "meant to be", but the truth is that I really, truly have not felt this good and positive about a job move. In all respects, this has been a positive experience - the people, the organization, and the job itself. I realize it will have it's challenges and there are a few things that make my eye brow raise a little, but overall - I see so much potential.

I feel good about my decision. And it shows - people have commented on how excited I seem about my work. Excited may seem like an over-statement, but it's not far off from the mark.

I can admit now that I was seriously questioning whether I wanted to remain in HR. I was having a difficult time determining whether this is what I envisioned myself being a part of for the next few years.

Where I was...the answer was no.

Where I am now...absolutely.

I have often been on the other side of the desk of a new employee who is clearly happy with their new role and has the energy to put in not only what needs to be done, but wants to go beyond this and more. I never knew whether to envy them or question their sanity.

I get it know.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Not my usual Sunday thoughts about work

At exactly 4:41 pm this afternoon it hit me.

Holy shit - I start a new job tomorrow. Let the nerves, hives, and gastric upset begin.

Sure I'm excited, but I'm nervous too.

You know what I'm most worried about - the on-boarding. I mean, will it be good or will I be left on my own.

Because you know what? HR deserves good service too.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Last dance people

The day is finally here. Friday.

But not just any Friday - my last Friday with my current employer.

I had a flash back to highschool dances when the opening chords of "Stairway to Heaven" started playing and teens scrambled to find their partner for that last dance. If you were fortunate enough to have gone with someone or had secured a partner earlier in the evening, you were calm and just shuffling it out. If you came alone, didn't do any propecting or were in the girls' bathroom putting on lip gloss and dashed out as soon as you knew it was last call only the arrive minutes after a perky little thing a year younger asked your "intended" to dance ...well then you might have been panicking or seriously pissed off (that bitch).

Regardless, when the song stopped...the dance was over.

So cue the Zepplin. I just fixed my lip gloss and I am ready to dance my way out of here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

'tis the season

In theory I understand the purpose and the benefits of a performance evaluation program.

In practice, it rarely lives up to both the purpose or benefits.

Managers hate doing them (those that actually participate).

Employees think it's all smoke and mirrors.

HR, well we push the hell out of it but we too realize the futility of the process.

You know who some of the worst offenders are when it comes to following through on performance evaluation best practices.

Human Resources.

Something about cobbler's children having no shoes...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Exit Strategy

The countdown is on and I'm in slightly manic mode because for some strange reason I have this feeling like I need to (and will be able) to complete everything that is on my plate before I leave.

As if I could.
As if I should try to.

Is it because I'm such a dedicated employe? Not really.

I believe it's similar to the complusion that makes me "do" my hair before I go to the hair stylists...I mean, I want a hair cut, but I don't want to look like I need a hair cut. It's also related to the same compulsion that makes me have a snack before going out for dinner - I want to eat, but I don't want to look like I need to eat.

So I suppose it's because I want to leave , but I don't want it to seem like I had to leave or that I couldn't do the work.

Talk about managing an exit strategy.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Stepping out

So, I few days back I made some changes - I had actually planned to go a bit further than I did, but hey...baby steps.

I dropped the Corporate Daycare in favour of something a bit more whimsical and reflective of how I'm feeling these days. Besides, after over 5 years as CD...it was time.

I had started to think about dropping the whole anonymous things, but really I do not have the stomach to handle the amount of discomfort that thought caused, but...at the same time I needed to feel more "real".

So, I made a switch both here and on Twitter; however, it just didn't feel like enough.

And then inspiration hit - in the form of new acquaintances and a re-connection of an old one. I am trying to establish some sort of connection, so seeing my silly "BBNB" among all the real people just felt flat.

I mean, BBNB? Seriously, who am I - an American rapper?

So, I went for it and put out my name. Really only my first name, but still...work with me here. I know, the odds of another person who works in HR having the same first name are slim to none, but I'm willing to take the chance.

I'm starting to call it the, "I don't give a fuck 40s" period of my life.

So, there. I have yet another thing in common with Madonna. In addition to putting out a coffee table sex book, we both go by our first names and have a connection with the UK.

I realize that this all sounds like I'm just jumping on a bandwagon, and I suppose I am, but really...what is the point of Twitter?

To follow.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I'll believe in you, or I'll be leaving you tonight..

Did you know that it's just as important to off-board your employees properly as it is to on-board them. Oh yes it is.

And I'm not just saying that because I'm currently in that position. Well, okay, I'm not just saying that because I'm currently in that position. Which I am.

There have been a lot of studies, blogs, and articles about the subject of on-boarding new employees into your company. There is a whack load of information. Google it. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Now, what about when your employee is leaving? I don't mean those that we are escorting out the door. Those we take care of - we draft up properly worded and legally sound releases and packages to ensure that these people will not be returning with either a gun or a lawyer.

I'm talking about those employees that willingly chose to leave your organization, for whatever reason. Sure, sure you do an exit interview and check off the administrative to-do list, but how do you treat an exiting employee.

Do you slowly withdraw from them, ignore them as you pass their desk, by-pass them in communications ('cause what's the point in including them).

Do you make snide comments about how they are "bailing" or are "traitors"...but in a joking voice? So it's all good.

Do you suddenly realize how much they take care of and try to squeeze years of knowledge and experience out of them onto the first available sponge?

Or do you simply congratulate them and wish them well?

I've experienced all these reactions before, as detailed here

And I'm going through it again. I'm a big girl and in HR, which pretty much means I'm invincible. I can take it, but I can also step outside myself and see the situation for what it is. It's a shitty way to end what was a good relationship.

I suppose I shouldn't ask for more...it's kind of like asking if we could still be friends, when I'm the one doing the breaking up. It's too raw, too soon. Give them time and they will come to remember all the good times we had.

However, you have to remember that these departing people, people like me, will talk about your organization when they leave and the impression you give them at the end will be the strongest and most recent one in their mind.

You need to show grace and tact to the end - no matter how irritated and frustrated you might be that you will have to pick up the slack. Ultimately you should want them to remember why they joined your organization in the first place and believe in your organization enough that they would be willing to recommend it to someone else.

And consider this final thought: most complainers are not anonymous bloggers.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fine. I'll go play where I'm wanted.

My week so far:
- Formally accept new job
- Resign from current job
- Manage to be stunned by my manager, once again

I am ego-centric enough to think that my boss would be somewhat disappointed that I announced that I’m leaving. And for the record, I don’t mean beg me to stay, or pull out her hair and sob “what will I do without you” kind of reactions. However, some kind of recognition that I had made a difference would have been appreciated.

What I certainly didn’t want is to have my manager cut me off during my opening sentence to tell me that she knows I’m handing in my resignation. She admitted that she had even bragged to people that she knew I was going to resign before our meeting. She almost seemed to delight in knowing that she had picked up on signs over the past week that this might be coming.

Yes she congratulated me on my new job. Yes she made it easy for me to tell her the news, but seriously – you are telling me that you knew I was quitting and the standout point was that you get to go around and say “I told you so” to your colleagues.

Is it me or is she missing something here?

Unless she wanted to me to leave (which very well may be the case), why would a manager admit that they knew an employee was planning on leaving and didn’t do or say anything?

For the record, I am leaving on good terms, with a good performance record, having successfully completed a number of projects recently. What became clear is that I was seen as a short-term employee who was never expected to stay, who was told repeatedly that there was no room for her to go, and that she was fully expected to move along...any day now.

All I can say is that that brief conversation only confirmed that I made the right decision.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


I took a deep breath a few weeks back and changed my blog name. And the world kept turning.

Monday morning I will hand in my resignation. This is something I have been day-dreaming about for a quite awhile, but truth be told, in my dreams there was a bit of drama, flair and involved me saying something like "fuck this, I'm out of here."

I'm going to go for low-key and humble. And while I will likely hold me breath for a brief second waiting the see the reaction, my prediction is that the world will continue to keep on spinning.

2012 is shaping up to be very interesting.

Hope to chat again soon.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Tolerance (or the lack thereof)

One of my favourite movie lines of all time is from Austin Powers:

“There's only two things I hate in this world. People who are intolerant of other people's cultures and the Dutch.”

This cracks me up every time I hear it. Why? Because I have a stupid sense of humour and because it’s so typical of what people actually think.

Here is my version of this:

Two things that really frustrate me: organizations that aren’t more flexible and tolerant of their employees’ family obligations and organization’s that don’t say anything when employees bring their kids into work.

I’m a family woman. I have kids. I have responsibilities, challenges, and obligations both at work and at home. But damned if I want to work beside someone’s 4-year old who is amusing himself by eating a constant supply of candy and playing maracas with the staplers because you have no sitter/ there’s no school/ they are sick/ they are suspended.

If you are someone who does bring their kids to the office, let me share a few tidbits with you:

- You are not being productive, and in fact, you are distracting everyone else with your constant “shushes” and “mommy/daddy said not to touch that”

- This is a professional environment – a child slumped half off the chair, spinning it around and around while playing his DS is not professional

- You child is not as cute/ funny/ sweet/ precocious as you think they are

- Your child is not being as quiet as you think they are being

- Almost everyone around you, even though they are smiling and not saying anything, is pissed off that you brought your kid in to work. You know who is the most pissed off? Those that have kids.

I believe that companies need to help and support their employees so that they can deal with situations that require them to take care of their families, but should that extend to bringing your child in to hang out for the day? I don’t think so. That’s where family care days, personal leave days, or working from home can comes in.

Companies need to be flexible, not foolish.

Thursday, January 05, 2012


I tend to think about making changes for quite some time before I actually do it.

I have changed my blog name after all of 30 seconds reflection.

Damn, that felt good.

I have come to realize that the Corporate Daycare moniker, while still true in some circles, is a bit condescending. I am sarcastic, but not condescending.

HR is an important strategic business unit that contributes to the overall operation and development of an organization.

So I'm told.

It's also a job. A sometimes interesting, often times frustrating job.

When people ask me what I do - I tell them I work in HR...I am not HR. I do not embody it, I do not lie awake thinking about it, I do not see myself dedicating my life to it.

So, the truth be told, I wanted to change the blog up to reflect that fact that I'm not all about HR. And that I don't want to diminish it's place in a company by implying it's a babysitting service. Although it sometimes is.

And so, I am facing challenges every day, in all aspects of my life, and yes I am bent, but not broken.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012


So it's a new year and to commemorate this, I am making a guest appearance on my own blog. How passé, I know.

Truth be told, I think about blogging a lot, but have become phenomenally good at justifying my laziness. Chalk that one up for my skills set.

This is going to be short and sweet, because I really don't know where I'm going with this. I have spent the last week and a half at home for the holidays, and while that is has been a good thing, it was also a bit disappointing.

- At some point everyone in my immediate family was sick
- I saw no one outside of my in-laws (and that was twice)
- I didn't go anywhere aside from the grocery store and a movie
- I didn't call anyone nor did anyone call me
- I ate more than I normally do
- I moved less that I normally do

...yeah, I've got come some serious First World problems.

No, I don't have problems - I'm not even going to pretend that I have problems. What I do have is this small fear that I'm wasting prime time.

I don't do resolutions, I don't do predictions, and I'm not looking to change my life or HR. I am hoping to get some perspective and enjoy the days. And I just don't want to be sitting here this time next year thinking, fuck - that was a big waste.

Cheers to 2012 and all that it has the potential to be.