A Window into HR !!

This past week you may have heard me laughing so loud from the great thing that happened at our offices. Seriously. I couldn’t control myself and it was fantastic.

You see, working for a restaurant company, our Team Members have been present and essential throughout the entire pandemic. We took every safety precaution we could and they pulled through in a magnificent way. We honestly wouldn’t be where we are today without them. (That’s not a new reality by the way. Our team members are the reason we succeed all the time.)

Our corporate office went through the cycle of fully remote, partially remote, hybrid and then in person. We have always had a flexible approach to work so we don’t have a policy. Instead, we have an expectation – Wherever you are, do your work. As things have changed over time and vaccinations have been available, we’ve seen more people choose to be back in person.

An adjoining department to HR is our operations, communications, and training group. Two of my co-workers had put up a plexiglass barrier to make sure they were safe in the office during all that had been going on. With things getting back to “normal”, I stopped by to visit (as I do every day) and made a quick side comment that it was okay to move the barrier if they wanted to. This week they moved it and put it up on top of a file cabinet. It took me by surprise and I commented how I loved where they put it.

Without blinking an eye or missing a beat, they stated, “It’s our window into HR.” I thought that was spectacular and told them how much I loved it. I happened to step out for a late lunch and got a text from them asking if I was coming back. If I was, could I come back and visit again. I was intrigued and hurried back.

When I turned the corner into their department, I lost it and the laughter ensued. Here’s the evidence . . .

They decorated the window into HR and I was touched. It was so personal and showed that we had a great relationship. I’m grateful for that. My team and their team work together often and it’s a joy to work with them. I asked them to keep it up and they reassured me they would.

Their fun office addition did make me think. Do people in your company have a window into HR? When I hear stories from employees I would question whether most truly do. I don’t think that should be the case.

We should have learned over this past 15+ months that everything at work is people-related. It always has been, but now people have acknowledged this truth. I have a feeling that most people’s “window” into our world is when an issue arises. Unfortunately, that may be the only time they interact with us. We should stop complaining that this is how we’re viewed and change what they see and experience.

I would love the window into HR to become where people look forward to interacting with us and that we intentionally reach out to everyone on a regular basis. We have the ability to foster and build our company’s cultures, elevate the performance of people and be the connector to pull together departments and levels of the organization so there is more cohesiveness. I don’t think this is out of reach or Utopian. I think it’s a choice.

This week get some cleaner out and see what your window looks like. Make sure that people not only have a view into who you are and what you do, but that they get to know you and work with you on purpose. Let people in. Remove the blinds and include them in the great work you do in making your company a people-first environment !!

Thread People

Did you know that my wife is amazing ?? It’s true. Not only because she’s been my better half for nearly 32 years (in October of this year), but she balances me in a way few others do. She always nudges me every Saturday to make sure I write a blog post on Sunday. How freaking cool is that ??!! Then, she coyly says, “Do you need me to give you an idea again this week?” She giggles and continues. “You know, you rely on me for these ideas EVERY week.” I roll my eyes and we laugh. She’s the best.

This week SHE is the theme behind my post. Debbie is unique in today’s workforce. She’s held two jobs during her career. Two. Her first role lasted 15 years and has been at her “current” employer for 21 years. What’s even more astonishing is that we were talking about her boss who is retiring after . . . 45 years !! (I’ll wait until you get back up off the floor from shock.) So, to help you with some HR math, Debbie’s boss Gilda was at their employer for 24 years before Debbie joined. Astounding !!

During their time they have seen turnover in leadership and coworkers. People have come and gone. Some moved up into greater roles and others were at the company for a relatively short period of time. There were those who moved voluntarily for new opportunities at other companies or locations by moving out of the area. Some were asked to leave. This occurs at every company. The regular movement and mobility in companies aren’t unique.

However, Gilda and Debbie represent something that is too often overlooked and taken for granted in organizations. They’re thread people. They’re the employees who provide stability, continuity, and reassurance which is vital to a healthy culture. Please note, I’m not talking about tenure on its own. That is valuable, but it doesn’t automatically translate that long-term employees are performing/productive employees. It does in many cases, but being a reliable thread that is woven throughout a company is far different.

The reality of those who provide consistency is that they are such an integral part of a company’s fabric. You need to make sure you have those who fill roles that are threads. People in these roles should be valued in a way that is celebrated. If you can go to someone who is a fountain of knowledge, is approachable, willing and capable of helping you, you should be grateful. They make work seem seamless and they make sure you don’t have nearly as many obstacles in your way to perform your job.

So often, we focus on those we deem high potentials (don’t get me started on this myth) or senior leadership. We get enamored with people who are the most visible, vocal and charismatic. They are bright, shiny objects who demand our attention. They are the subject of interoffice conversations. We feel they’re going to represent our companies future. We’re just sure of it !!

Then we see that this hi-po, or that one, finds a new role in a different company. We question whether they were loyal or not and the sparkle seems to dim quite a bit. Or, someone gets chosen to go into a larger role without support and infrastructure to help them thrive. They were “anointed” and . . . it fails. We aren’t taking the time to develop people to move into roles. That takes too much time and effort. (Can you feel the sarcasm ??)

During these various shifts and staff movements, threads quietly keep being added to the company. These wonderful folks roll with every change and new face they work with and keep doing the work that sits behind the curtain. They aren’t the subject of interoffice conversations, and yet they remain constant.

It’s time for us to get our head out of the clouds watching and paying attention to the employees who may/may not grow and advance. We should have a consistent development program that tests the capability, willingness, approachability, and capacity of EVERY employee !! See how everyone contributes and performs. Make sure that each person is included, valued, and given credit for how they move the company forward.

This week thank those incredible thread people who keep your company afloat and functioning. They deserve it every day.

A Better Way

This past weekend my wife and I traveled to see our daughter and help her through a monumental life event. She is preparing to buy her first car on her own. I don’t know about you, but fewer things bring me dread than the car buying process. She had done her research, knew the types of cars she wanted to test drive, and the locations of the dealerships near her. She had her personal information all accounted for and was prepared to make a purchase if everything fell into place. We planned to all pile into her tiny car she had been driving for 11 years so we had it available as a trade-in. Everything was ready and we were confident that nothing could dismantle our day.

Then we left her apartment.

The first dealership we went to was the brand our family traditionally had purchased. We love the brand and this was sure to be the leader. The people who met us were friendly and welcoming. They passed the first test by making sure they worked directly with my daughter and not me as the Dad. It was odd that we weren’t allowed to test drive on our own and we had to stay in the parking lot with one model and were allowed to go one city block with the other. We were a bit perplexed by that but were still positive. That didn’t last long. We got the obligatory question, “Is there anything you didn’t like?” My daughter said no but expressed that this was the first dealership we had visited and we wanted to see other cars.

The salesperson left to get another salesperson and then offered to evaluate our possible trade-in and give us some comparative data sheets to see why their car couldn’t be beaten. We had been there an hour by this time. The rest of the debacle took another 1 1/2 hours with various moves and distractions trying to get us financed, explore lease options, and hollow promise after hollow promise. My wife and I stepped in after staying on the sidelines to ask for our daughter’s key so we could leave. There was more stalling and then the dealership manager came out to fake plead with us about our poor decision to not make an instant (multi-thousand dollar) purchase.

My daughter was almost in tears and felt sick to her stomach when we finally extricated ourselves from the dealership. She didn’t even want to continue. We did. The second experience was incredible and positive !! The salesperson took time to show every facet of the car and asked what my daughter wanted. She was exhausted and said she didn’t really know. He was patient, thorough and treated her like an adult. The time we spent at the dealership from start to finish was less than an hour and he was in the mix with a brand she wasn’t planning on fully considering.

Let’s just say the third salesperson should find another job. He was apathetic and relied on us to read the tags on the cars to learn about the options available. He did let us drive on our own, but didn’t really care we weren’t interested. The fourth dealership has a salesperson who passed by us and shouted he’d get us keys if we saw a car we like and then proceeded to turn to his “bros” and shout some inane greeting which was far more important than a potential sale.

The day that had started so promising had fallen apart. We convinced our daughter to trust us and try a different dealership from our favorite brand even though it would require us to drive to the other side of the city. We looked things up to see if the model she wanted was even available and it didn’t look like it was. We went anyway, and we’re glad we did !!

At this dealership, salespeople didn’t rush like they were desperate for their commission. The person at the front desk asked us to take a seat and she’d make sure someone helped us. It was systematic, measured and intentional. After a few minutes, we met Chris. He invited us to his desk and spoke solely with our daughter. He was helpful, engaged and patient. He looked to see if the model she wanted was available and one had literally been unloaded into the lot minutes before we arrived. Even though all of the systems weren’t yet activated, he slowly explained everything, answered every question and let us take the car out on our own.

Oh, and we had arrived at the time the dealership was closing for the day. Chris didn’t care. He waited for us to return and then took more time to answer Melanie’s questions and gave her every piece of information she asked for. He didn’t ask for the sale. He just let her know he was available and would welcome any further questions whenever she had them. Then, we left. No car purchased, and he was completely at ease.

Guess who my daughter is going to work with ??

The reason for this story is that I see the same continuum of approaches from vendors and salespeople daily. The focus is primarily on the product or service they offer. Rarely, if ever, does someone ask anything about what I am/am not looking for. Linked In has become more and more a system for cold calling and pressure to accept invitations so people can make their sales pitch. If someone gets your email address, the approach is a mix of shaming, degrading and wondering if they’ve found the “right” person. And, if they hadn’t, would we please forward them on?

Sadly, I don’t feel this is how the best salespeople in our space do business. Fortunately, I am connected to more of them than the ones who keep trying to hammer me with approaches I just don’t see working. They are more like Chris and I believe they are more effective when it comes to selling to HR.

I know that HR owns part of this broken relationship as well with vendors. We don’t return calls, won’t make time to meet people and ostracize people who could be a real resource. We need to be more open as well.

We need to change because we are both important to each other in what we do. I’d love to see us take the steps to do this. Let’s quit the traditional/old school approaches and have some faith in each other. Let’s make better connections with the knowledge that sales will happen when they should and with whom they should. It’s needed now for our industry. Let’s do this a better way !!

Respond Instead

If I asked you how your day was going, how would you answer? I’m 99.9% sure you’d easily say “Good” or “Fine” because it’s polite and expected. The person being asked is hoping with all that’s in them that these one-word retorts will placate the inquisitor enough that they’ll move on. We say these responses because it is the norm of a shallow acknowledgment as humans. We may care how the other person is when we greet them, but chances are we care “ish.”

You see, far more daunting and important battles lay ahead of us. We are sure of it because why else would we venture to work if it wasn’t to slay the dragons that no one else is capable of handling? We tell ourselves we are indispensable due to a mix of self-assuredness and a need to feel valued as a contributor. So, now that the obligatory greetings of our co-workers are complete we can get to the day ahead which is sure to be far more fulfilling. As we open our “to do” list, the inevitable happens . . . something arises that catches us completely off guard. We didn’t want to be interrupted and we can feel our faces start to get hot because we want to stick to the list that we had so carefully crafted sometime before.

Then it happens. The instant it occurs we grasp the air trying to get the words that just spouted out back inside because the tone they carried was sure to sting. We snap. We react. We’re bothered that our idea of a perfect, lined out, step-by-step existence was thwarted because someone had the audacity to break the pattern !! Our reaction is swift, emotional and contrite. We blurt it out because, again, we want to return to what is more important to US. Don’t they understand that by asking for our input they’ve created an imbalance? Don’t they understand that this is so unsettling that I won’t be able to get back into my rhythm?

The answer is – No, they don’t. Nor, do they really care. They’re coming to you for a valid reason . . . they feel you are the one who can help them get things done too !!

I know it’s radical, but we weren’t meant to be isolationists in this world. That is especially true in the workplace. I also don’t think it’s feasible for you to constantly be surrounded by people all day because it would be exhausting and ineffective. (This is coming from one of the biggest self-avowed extroverts you’ll ever meet.)

Since we’re meant to interact, we would be better off by seeking a balance of being prepared and structured while allowing for interruptions and interactions weaved throughout our days. The way to find, and keep, this balance is to choose to respond vs. react. Doing this requires us to resist the environment we all currently find ourselves in.

In today’s rapid mad dash, reactions have become the norm. People expect you to snap back an answer on the fly and without context. We have bought into the myth that if answers aren’t given instantaneously, then they don’t have merit. The pace of social media, snippets, and partial scenarios drives this expectation. Then, if you do react, a multitude of similar reactions come flying back requiring us to react once again – or so we think. We have to break this incessant volley.

You have time. You have time in almost every, single situation of your regular day. I understand that some things may have more urgency, but even in those rushed circumstances you have time to breathe, pause, contemplate, consider, gather context . . . and then respond. You really do.

If we keep in mind that all humans are one giant ball of emotions, reacting is our natural tendency. We can’t help ourselves. That’s why responding takes practice and discipline. You need to take my word for it that this disciplined approach is far more effective and sustainable than being reactionary. Also, it’s not an either/or type of approach. Life never has fallen into two distinct camps where you can pull an answer from a set playbook with certainty to ensure the outcome you’re seeking. This is because people are involved and we just muck it up . . . because we’re human.

This week try to respond more and react less. It will take time and you won’t do it well every time. If you choose to follow this more constructive approach you will see better interactions, more collaboration, in-depth and contextual discussions and you’ll start developing relationships. Also, you’ll make more well-rounded decisions when that interruption hits you.

From now on . . . respond instead.

When We Fail . . .

Failure. No one likes to do it. We are encouraged to not be afraid to fail, and I concur with that. I’m not talking about stumbling if you’re trying to stretch, take a risk or be creative. In fact, tons have been written and shared about the power of learning from failure which is spot on. This was different because it was a personal failure.

For years, I’ve had a heart for helping others who are in transition between jobs. This came to mind when a peer asked me why the HR Roundtable I facilitate didn’t have resumes displayed to help out others. It was convicting and made me mindful of how easy it is to overlook those who don’t have a job when you do. It’s far too easy.

We should be grateful for the jobs we have and reach out to help others at the same time. As I mentioned, I do this on a regular basis. Last week, I failed.

I made a commitment to help someone and connect with them to help network, review their resume and see if I knew some avenues that could open doors to help them land. We shared a few initial emails and then life got in the way. That’s not an excuse. It’s reality. I experienced several significant personal challenges at work and at home within a short period of time. I understand that each one of us has “life” going on, but my focus slipped and my good intentions turned into forgetfulness.

When this person reached back out to me, they were hurt – as they should be. I wasn’t accountable for the help I said I would give. I apologized and shared that I didn’t have an excuse. I mentioned the challenges I had been going through which caused me to forget. He wished me the best in those circumstances but told me to stop helping him. I was crushed. Still am.

If you haven’t been in transition, you don’t empathize. It’s hard to put into words the ups and downs you experience. You can feel great optimism and overwhelming dread within the same day. You yearn for assistance from others and hope that someone will be the connector that lands you in your next role. The challenge in this rollercoaster of emotions is that all you want to do is land. Once you do, you unfortunately fall into the same comfort level as every other employed person. You’re safe. You soon forget what it was like to be in transition.

That’s why this is so raw for me. I’ve been in transition. I strive to be a resource for others. And yet, I am still human. I will fail others. I hope that when I do fail that I’ll get some grace to try and correct the situation. That won’t always occur, but I’m not discouraged.

In contrast, another situation happened this past week. A friend of mine actually landed after an extensive search. I was fortunate to be one of many who reached out to talk to her and encourage her. Please note, we’ve never met in person only through social media. She’s in the Seattle, Washington area while I’m in Greater Cincinnati, Ohio. She was appropriately geeked to share her good news and I can’t wait to see how she will continue to grow and thrive now that she’s landed. I also know she is going to share her journey to help others which will be wonderful to follow.

Both stories are examples of the gamut job seekers face. I encourage you to be someone who steps in and lends a hand. Even if you stumble in your efforts, it’s worth it. We all fail. We also move forward.

Lower Seeds !!

This weekend one of my favorite events began – the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament. I’ve always enjoyed watching all of the games because I played basketball all through high school and even had a few offers to play at the collegiate level. So, when the tournament comes on, I’m hooked. I make sure to fill out brackets and love that people get excited to participate as well.

I don’t usually have connections with the teams who participate, but that doesn’t lessen the interest. This year, however, my alma mater Ohio University, made the tournament !! This isn’t new. They have been to the tournament several times and have done well. However, it’s a smaller university so they will rarely have the opportunity to come in as one of the higher (favored) seeds. That’s okay with me though. Getting to participate is the first hurdle in this tournament.

This Saturday, they were the #13 seed and they played the #4 seed the University of Virginia who also was the team that won the last National Championship. The odds were not in our favor. That was amplified by listening to the announcers who rarely talked positively about Ohio’s efforts. It was more about what Virginia wasn’t doing. This isn’t different in other games either. I’m sure the network tells the announcers to talk up the higher seeds because they are typically bigger schools, larger brand names and . . . potential revenue because more people will watch teams they know vs. a bunch of underdogs.

Photo by Midge Mazur @midgemazur on Twitter – from Ohio University Twitter page @ohiou

I’m geeked to say that OU beat Virginia and I was screaming and jumping up and down as if I was in person. As the game was coming to a close, the announcers were forced to acknowledge that the lower seed had won. It gave me great joy both as an alum and because I LOVE seeing the lower seeds win !! It’s a great facet of the NCAA tournament because any team can win and advance. The big-name programs do win more often than not, but it’s not a guarantee.

I find that we give far too much attention to the big names and brands when it comes to the world of work as well. When giant, global conglomerates make a move, it gets national press online immediately. If a smaller company made the same moves, just on a smaller scale, you wouldn’t even know it. We are enamored with those that are biggest, most visible and generate the most revenue. That’s ironic to me because the vast majority of people work for companies that would be considered “lower seeds.”

You see, I think talent exists in all companies. The brand name and notoriety of an organization is admirable, but it shouldn’t infer that they have better internal talent. I’m sure they are full of talented people as well as those that can grow with development . . . Just like every other company !! We shouldn’t get enamored and blinded by size alone.

I don’t think there’s a singular answer or approach that works to address this lack of exposure and participation. We can’t help but focus on the Fortune “x” companies because of their scale and resources. It’s true they may have more leverage to move the needle in some areas, but it’s not an accurate assessment that they influence the majority of work. Great work is happening everywhere.

What would our profession look like if we made sure to listen to HR voices from all types of industry and from companies of various sizes? How much more would we influence, shape, and transform our own organizations if we took a look at the whole field instead of just the top seeds? What if senior HR pros from small, midsize, and large companies filled Board seats and were able to participate in larger arenas?

Let me encourage you if you work in HR for a “lower seed.” I have for the majority of my career and it’s been amazing. It’s outstanding if your efforts move your company forward because that should be your goal on a regular basis. You can also make an impact on the profession as a whole. It can happen locally, nationally and globally. Go into each game with confidence. You’re in the tournament for a reason. Go out, play hard and see what happens !!

Dear Sir or Madam, Would You Read My Book?

The world has changed. It’s too early to tell if that’s for the better or not, but there’s no denying it has changed. So too has the world of work. As with most shifts we experience in the business world, people are speculating, posturing, and predicting in order to give our new working environment definition and structure. Most of it is trying to reflect the obvious with words like “dealing with”, “managing” or “measuring” the remote workforce. You’ll also see pieces on “managing the effort to return to work” and “what policies do we need now?”

You see, work has changed . . . but we haven’t.

At a time when HR stepped forward to lead through all that landed on us throughout 2020, we are quickly falling back into the patterns which have limited us for decades. We were quick to be agile and adaptable, but now that we’ve been in a continuous crisis response mode for over a year, we want to return to limiting and restricting work in order for it to fit into various compartments of control. We need to move forward. We need to step out, and we need to lead !!

Last year, right in the middle of everything hitting the fan, I released my second book; HR Rising !! From Ownership to Leadership. I wrote it as a call for our profession to step out of the shadows we have so willingly stayed in for far too long. Ironically, the book was complete and sent to publishing before the world turned upside down.

It was reassuring to me to see HR step up and lead last year and show organizations that ALL issues in companies are people issues. To be relevant and sustainable in the present, and the future, companies need to become people-centric in order to perform and not only in response to a series of global crises. There were countless examples of how Human Resources pros showed the value of empathy, consistency, equity, social responsibility, and genuine focus for the care of employees.

This should be a springboard for us and not just a moment in time. When I wrote HR Rising it was a call for the profession to embrace change and move forward. It was a challenge to no longer settle for a traditional approach to culture, employee relations, and the overall practice of HR. There is no reason why we shouldn’t be a vital, integrated business function ALL the time. It is not a stretch for us to lead from the positions we currently hold, and I feel we are called to do so.

Just think what our companies will look like and how meaningful work would be if we switched to a focus on development, encouragement, and equipping staff. How exciting would it be for you to drive strategy, organizational change and see an engaged workforce because HR leads the way? Not just now, but all. the. time.

We can’t think that we can continue to practice HR the way we have. It’s outdated, and if we don’t move now, we will be as well. I wrote this book to change the profession that I love. The profession that I intentionally plan to grow with for the rest of my career. I ask you to check it out and see how you can evolve in how you practice HR. I ask you to choose to lead. Let’s reshape the profession and the world of work so people-centric cultures focused on performance, resilience, and vitality become our norm !!

The title of the post came from four lads whom I have always found to be revolutionary. And now, it’s our time !!

Others Needed

This past week I joined a conversation with friends on Clubhouse. Now, I know it’s all the new rage, and it’s fun to see people get excited about gathering.

(Quick obligatory disclaimer – This post isn’t about the new platform, and I understand it works with iPhone users and not Android users at this time. It isn’t about jumping on a bandwagon either. Read the rest of the post and you’ll see why . . .)

I was asked to join four friends and we were going to talk about leading remote workers. What was amazing is that the five of us were located in New York City, New York; Granada, Spain; Manchester, England; Concord, New Hampshire and Cincinnati, Ohio. As others joined in the chat, there were others from all corners of the planet. It fascinates me that peers chose to show up for a conversation !! And, then it hit me . . .

Our topic was timely and is something facing the new definition of work and the workspace. Noted. It also had people with different perspectives and experiences with this new environment. Noted again. What was most intriguing to me though was the engagement, energy, respect, laughter and encouragement !! Then it sank in . . .

We need others in our lives.

I think this simple notion is overlooked and misconstrued in far too many ways. We come up with ways to discredit, distance or overanalyze this human reality. We want to say that there’s “more to it” because it can’t be that basic. We are far too intelligent, complex and knowledgeable. We can’t just “need” each other.

It is that simple.

If you know me at all, I thrive on connecting people. It drives me and fills my bucket. I want to make sure that anyone I encounter is not only connected to me, but to others who may anchor them more to reaffirm that they are needed. I’m not kidding. I would think that a significant portion of every day is made up of various quick check-ins and barometer checks with friends around the globe. This is on top of having the same approach with the people I’m fortunate enough to work with. As humans, we are wired with a desire to be connected and needed by others.

I’m concerned that people are walking in and around us feeling lonely, isolated and not wanted. There is a myriad of reasons why that is their reality. I’m not going to be bold enough to try to give a litany of reasons for this disconnectedness. I don’t have to have a “reason” to connect with others. If you’re a fellow human, you’ve passed the only criteria I find necessary. People don’t need to jump through hoops in order to know they’re needed with me. Nor do I fault someone else who feels they need to make sure it’s safe and valuable for them to connect with me.

While we were having our chat, I also took the time to tweet and share some of the insights that people were giving. You could feel the energy of our time together grow even more !! People who weren’t able to join could now learn and comment. You see, I feel we get into a trap of getting excited about events and our focus is purely on those that participate at the time. That is incredible, but the way we make sure others are aware, informed, interested and even geeked is if we have a mixture of an internal and external mechanism with interactions. This isn’t for notoriety. It’s to make sure no one is left out.

This week look around. You’re going to have a multitude of conversations and interactions in person, virtually and online. Keep your head up and make sure the others you’re talking to know they’re needed . . . on purpose. Don’t assume that just because they’re in the conversation that they’re connected. You can be a person who becomes THE anchor for someone and not even know it. You may unlock the talent of someone because they were intentionally acknowledged.

Remember you’re needed. Others need you and you need others. It’s that simple.

Connecting

I’m a fan of Twitter. I know that may run contrary to the majority of people out there. I’ve been active for 13 years on the platform and I still enjoy it every day. I don’t enjoy it for news, celebrity gossip or politics. I’m not naive to think that this platform, along with many others, can be used for dissension, negativity and anger. That is honestly true with any form/method of communication. Any forum can be used in a myriad of ways. I choose to be positive.

I participate because I love the people. Seriously. I see Twitter as a way to connect with people around the globe in a matter of seconds. How cool is that? For me, it’s a quick way to see the good work of others and share it to make sure that many voices are heard. I can go on and on about the attributes I find attractive, but I want to share about one in particular.

When Twitter first began, people used Fridays as a day to put the hashtag #FF (Follow Friday) out there to recommend and encourage others to connect more. You have to remember that back in 2008, people weren’t connected nearly as much as they are now. It was fun to find HR peers and get everyone to know each other. It eliminated the boundaries of geography and time zones and started to pull the profession together more intentionally.

Like most efforts, you can tire of things. What once brought energy and excitement turned into seeing many of the same faces and names over and over again. It even became negative among some people and it, unfortunately, became comparative because you’d see some people often and new people rarely. So, people stopped doing #FF or they took potshots at it. That was sad because its intent never changed. The way people viewed it did.

I didn’t get dragged down or discouraged by people no longer participating though. I saw value because I looked at it as a way to truly connect and not be a popularity contest. Now, I did stop doing it weekly because that level of repetition was ineffective. Fast forward to 2021 . . .

This past Friday, I took the time to launch an extensive set of tweets for #FF. Believe it or not, this is now a bit risky because I was put in Twitter “jail” awhile back because they thought that I pre-programmed my tweets and they didn’t understand why I listed so many names in a short burst of time. They may have thought my account was a bot or that I was spamming and phishing others because this approach isn’t the “norm” of how people connect. I reached out to Twitter, as much as they’ll allow, to explain that I was not a bot, but they just kept me in detention for a bit.

This past Friday, a friend from the UK asked how I listed all of the names and I shared the truth. I type in each person’s name. Every. Time. I always have. There’s a reason for this.

I list each person by “name” because I want those with whom I’m connected to know that they matter. It’s important that we’re connected because I consider them part of my community. I don’t see this as a who’s who list. I want people to know that I see them and value who they are and what they contribute.

We don’t take the time to remind people about this nearly enough. I do my best to have some form of a relationship with anyone who is kind enough to want to be connected to me. I don’t take it for granted. Too many people aren’t encouraged or given affirmation. It’s something I can’t see overlooked. Please note that this is true for me with my family, my friends and my co-workers.

I heard a quote recently that hit me. “Community isn’t built on convenience. Community is built on time, effort and energy.” That’s the truth. My hope in listing people is that someone connects with someone else and that leads them to build a community. How you do it is up to you. The key is that you have one based on how you truly connect. It’s also important to stay true to your capacity. If you’re someone who is good with giving your time and effort to many people, then have a large community or several communities. If you would feel more comfortable with a smaller community, then make that happen as well. There is no one way to do this.

This week, I encourage you to connect with someone. Check to make sure they aren’t alone or isolated. Let others around you know they matter. You may be the one person who connected with them at the perfect time. Remind others they matter as well. In doing this, we’ll come together in ways that are meaningful and lasting.

Capture Your Thoughts !!

As we jump into 2021, we’re already being bombarded by more and more circumstances and situations. I’ll be honest, it’s hard to try and clear your head with all that is happening. I didn’t expect a magical switch to flip after we hit January 1st. That’s not realistic.

On top of the constant waves of activity, there are distractions that are all clamoring for our attention. There are those that deserve our focus such as our family, friends and work. However, we need to be self-aware that even these important areas of our lives may not get the time they need. Add on top of all of these factors, that we want everyone to organize our lives according to their methods and/or systems.

My wife is the best person in my life. That has nothing to specifically do with organization, but I never miss a chance to recognize how fortunate I am to have her as my partner. The bonus is that she is incredibly organized !! She has a distinct advantage over me because she is a rational, linear thinker. It makes sense for her to compile lists and then knock things out as they’re completed. She has lists for each day, week, and even some looking far out into the future. I admire that this approach works for her because it keeps her life, and our lives together, in order.

I am about as far from a rational, linear thinker as one can be. The slightest piece of activity going around me gets at least a glance. This is not new. I’ve always wanted to take in everything that occurs as it happens. This allows me to be more observant and open to various perspectives, but it also means that I can bounce back and forth between a multitude of things without landing on many. I find this freeing, but it also can be limiting and even frustrating when working with others.

I don’t know one person who doesn’t have a full plate in their role at work. Not one. Our plates may not be filled with the “right” things, but they are overflowing nonetheless. In order to make sure the plates I had didn’t only get a small snapshot of my attention, I had to come up with something that reflected how my brain works to capture my thoughts.

Just a few . . .

I use notebooks. Many notebooks. Each one contains some aspect of my job. A few contain thoughts and projects outside of work. If you picked one up and started to thumb through the pages, it would not make much sense to you. It’s not supposed to though because it’s my personal approach. It makes as much sense to me to use multiple notebooks as it does for my wife to utilize lists.

The key to making progress during these uncertain days is to have a method which works for you. Where I’d encourage you to change though is for you to understand that your system won’t work for others. People are unique and will put their own twist on how they feel most comfortable to capture all that is happening so they know how best to reference the information when and where they need it.

So, instead of letting this world overwhelm you come up with the best technique that will allow you to remain calm, clear headed and “organized.” Then, follow your process and make sure it becomes your fabric. Value that others do things differently and see how you’ll have a way to move forward.

I better write this down. Time to find a new notebook . . .