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 all but disintegrated in the sun.  Yeah, it was lame.

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