Not in Charge

I was listening this weekend to the Top 40 songs of 1985 on Sirius XM’s 80s on 8 channel. It’s definitely one of my go-to stations because it covered the transitions of life from high school to college to starting my career in HR to marriage. It was a big decade !! A staple song of the 80’s and especially 1985 was the phenomenal “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears.

Quick aside – they have a new album that just came out in 2022 entitled The Tipping Point and it’s epic !! Now back to the post . . .

Listening to this tune for the millionth time made me reflect on how accurate the title and the lyrics are even today. When you look around society and in the workplace, people want to “rule.” It is rarely overt and clearly obvious, but there’s an underlying tone of ruling. You see it all the time in the workplace. People use titles and levels to make sure others know that they are supposedly “in charge.”

There is a real draw for people to feel in charge. I guess that’s okay if it makes sure work and communication have clarity and removes uncertainty. However, when people yearn to be in charge they tend to want to be over people in an unhealthy manner. There’s an expectation that when those in charge bark, people automatically jump without question. I’ve seen this throughout my career and it’s never been good.

There’s a modicum of assumed power that people enjoy yielding over others. It gives people a false sense of worth, influence, and attention. They feel that they are the “go-to” people when it couldn’t be farther from the truth. It can be crippling in organizations because the self-centered nature of ruling tends to lead others to work around and circumvent interactions. There is far more effort in avoiding those who try to wield their scepter in order to work with others who effectively lead.

There’s a massive misconception about leadership in that this infers being in charge. Effective leaders may get things accomplished, but the focus is rarely directly on them. You’ll find true leaders direct, shepherd, encourage and approach others willingly and naturally. Their role may afford the chance to finalize decisions, but it’s not the primary driver for them.

As HR professionals, we need to jump into the midst of breaking up the ruler complex. Instead of grousing about the behavior of people who regularly hold themselves above others, jump in and address it. Make sure people know that this approach is ineffective, limiting, and unnecessary. We need to start in our own backyard as well. Too many HR pros wield assumed power because we’ll throw out the fear and “you might get sued” excuse. This isn’t effective and never has been.

There are many ways to make sure you foster a culture of leadership versus allowing those in people management roles to rule over others. Here are three I have found most effective. They work regardless of industry type.

Model the behavior you expect in others – People respond more to what they see than what is said. You can set the standard by your example of how you work with others before you give one word of coaching or advice. Your behavior is what people respond to. Be mindful and intentional. It works.

Be aware of how you approach others – There may be no greater attribute to work on in human interactions than this. How you approach others sets the stage for productive or destructive outcomes. A collaborative, willing approach will go so much farther than ever telling/demanding people listen and respond just because you said so.

Show grace – People may not be aware of their behavior and approach. You don’t know how they’ve learned from others or what has been modeled to them. So, instead of correcting them, give them grace and meet them where they are. Shaping people into leaders takes time, effort and patience. Failure will occur and it’s hard to break from old patterns. People need to know you’re going to come alongside them in a safe way. Then, over time, they’ll respond and evolve.

This week, cue up some Tears for Fears on your Spotify and keep it playing as a reminder of what we’re facing. It’s time to transform rulers into leaders. Trust me, your organization will be better for it !!

Let’s Explore !!

A highlight of our trip to Houston was the NASA Johnson Space Center. It was a pleasant surprise because we didn’t expect it to be so rich and full. We thought we’d spend a few hours milling around and then we’d head to another site. However, we ended up spending our entire day there and we didn’t get to fully experience all the Space Center has to offer.

As we looked at the various displays, we’d get lost reading the intricate details which described each item. We saw space suits, moon rocks, different pieces of equipment used on missions and so much more. Even though it was a vast collection, I’m sure that it doesn’t even scratch the surface of all that it has taken to accomplish the many milestones and new boundaries throughout the history of the space program.

There was a common thread woven through the museum. The men and women of the space program all had a sense of adventure, a willingness to take risks, and the faith that success was sure to occur. It’s hard to grasp the depth of all that went into making space exploration a reality. The hours of math. The countless experiments. The innovative new materials that were developed. You can’t possibly name all of the different things that came to life prior to any semblance of the level of technology we have today.

They were, and are, explorers. They have a perspective of always looking ahead to what could possibly happen. It evolved from rockets, to space flight, to Skylab to the International Space Station, and possibly flying to Mars. The telescopes and satellites keep reaching farther and farther to the ends of our galaxy trying to capture visuals of the universe itself !! It’s fascinating and ever-changing.

Of course, it made me think of Human Resources. I thought to myself – What would HR look like if we reached for the next horizon?

You have to know we’re the ONLY profession that is far too self-reflective while also being self-destructive. We aren’t looking for what’s ahead. Instead, we bemoan all that is “wrong” and our endless shortcomings. If you spend any time at all reading about HR or taking in webinars and conference presentations, you hear the message of endless fixing and patchwork attempts to repair a never functioning industry.

Yuck. Seriously. Does that type of approach make ANYONE excited about being in our field? We’re having ongoing, in-depth arguments about how to “rename” what we do thinking that will position us to finally take on a tangible, relevant leadership mantle. It needs to stop. Now.

I think we need to be explorers !! We need to look out into the abyss of our profession and the approach of our organizations and see how we can venture out to reshape, redefine and renew it all. If we were more like astronauts, we’d eagerly work toward seeing what’s next. We’d have the passion and anticipation of making a discovery that would alter how work is done and how people are treated.

We need to take all of the good work that has been done in HR and treat it as a solid foundation from which to launch. We need to cease retreading one program and initiative after another hoping to uncover a hidden gem. They may exist, but not in what we’ve done so far.

It’s time for us to explore. I’m tired of listening to the message that tears our profession down. I believe in what we do. I believe in humans and that most of them are good. I know that companies can be people-first AND perform !! We can reach heights never before seen or thought of.

Will you join me as we tackle the immense, complex and inviting HR universe which lies before us? I hope you will !!

Intersections

As much as we’d like our lives to play out in a straight line, they just don’t. We’d love to live in such a manner that we have only positive experiences and little to no conflict. It sounds perfect, but we know this isn’t the case. We can go through ups, downs and quick moves sideways within the same hour !!

Since this is our reality, we have a choice to try to maneuver through this erratic pattern alone or with others to come alongside us. Honestly, too many people are trying their best to just slog through whatever is facing them primarily on their own. I don’t think they’re trying to be defiant or elusive. I just think it’s just the messaging we believe or hear from others. We don’t want to put someone out because of what we’re facing. We’re sure we’d be a burden and it’s not that big of a deal really.

I don’t buy it. We weren’t created to go through life alone. We’re wired to be connected and available for those that pass through our lives. We all have intersections we go through over time. They may be life events like school graduations, marriages, getting a job or death. Those types of intersections get the most attention, but they are few and far between over the course of our lifetime. There are a multitude of other times when our paths cross with other people.

Photo by Kaique Rocha from Pexels

At the crack of dawn this past Friday, I was buying some donut holes at our local Meijer to take to my men’s group when I encountered Jane at the self-checkout. I was the only patron in the store and her eyes lit up when I walked up to scan my items. She asked if I was ready for the Spring snowstorm which was predicted for Saturday morning. I said I was, and then she told me it would be “nothing” compared to what she was used to.

One thing to note – Jane is most likely in her mid to late 70’s. She is a treat and she seems to be working at Meijer 24/7. Back to the story . . .

She went on to tell me about growing up on a 500-acre farm that had livestock and crops. She shared details about monumental snowfall, endless chores, hard work, and how she loved every moment. I also learned about the family restaurant her parents started after her father sold the farm so her mother could continue to work. She was tickled that it was one of the few restaurants on the way from Cleveland to Pittsburgh so everyone who passed by would inevitably stop in to try her mom’s famous cooking.

I was just checking out to buy some donut holes.

However, Jane wanted to connect and talk. She felt the need to share her life and be a welcoming start to my day. I had a feeling that she’d have these impromptu conversations with anyone who was willing to stop and give her a few minutes. I met her at an intersection. Those few minutes were rich, meaningful and worthwhile. It was a great way to start the day !!

Yesterday, as I was reading through Twitter, I saw a tweet from an HR peer who shared about his current job search. He was being vulnerable and shared his frustration. He was questioning whether he should stay in HR or not. This caught my attention because someone tagged me and a handful of other practitioners as examples of people who believe in HR. They noted that we do our best to encourage, elevate and move the field forward.

I didn’t take this as a pat on the back. I saw it as another intersection. I sent a direct message to the young man working to land his next great HR role and offered to help him in any way I can. We don’t live in the same city and I don’t yet know what he is/isn’t looking for or what his journey has been. However, I know that I can do something with my network to try and open a door for him. We’re talking on Tuesday and I can’t wait to get to know him more and see where it leads.

I don’t believe these encounters are random or coincidental. I look for people intentionally all the time. I make myself available in the event an intersection presents itself. Also, I’m open and looking for others when I’m crossing intersections in my life. I welcome those who take the time to stop and listen.

This week make sure you’re looking for intersections with those who cross your path. Or, if you need someone to meet you at your intersection, be open to whoever shows up. The key to either way is to not just walk past. Stop and see what happens !!

Let Love Rule

I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m a self-avowed HR Hippie. I dig the vibe, approach and general sentiment of seeking balance in all areas of life. That includes physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Before you read further, please know this isn’t a New Age post. I’m just sharing a viewpoint from my perspective that I’ve seen work over and over.

Just when we think that the world is coming to its senses, we find it pulling itself apart once again. Like most, I’m very concerned with all that is unfolding on the world stage. It’s a bit daunting because I’m sitting on my laptop thousands of miles away while others are wondering about their basic safety. To try and position anything of note during this time seems incongruent and frivolous. However, life continues to move in and around us while the conflict advances.

I feel that we’re in a time when we could reach out to each other intentionally instead of following the feeling that the fabric of society continues to unravel. It may seem like we’re in a loop of self-destruction everywhere we turn. I don’t want to succumb to that myself, and I don’t want to see those around me breaking down either. In the end, we can take action in a measured and effective way.

We can choose to love others regardless of how they treat us. You may feel that’s naive and Utopian, but as I mentioned before, it works. The difference is that I’ve seen it work when you stop to notice the individual in front of you. Mass efforts may bring a swell of great intentions, but they’re not sustainable. Most people also don’t have the capacity to effectively continue with a large number of relationships. This shouldn’t dissuade you though from approaching others from a loving vantage point.

I can hear the detractors screaming that we can’t say, or show, that we love our employees at work. It’s out-of-bounds or unwanted. People only desire a professional, arms-length relationship with their employer. It’s bad HR and bad practice in general to express love for others in the workplace.

I disagree.

Today, more than any time that I can recall, people are looking for ways to anchor and belong. That is true personally and professionally. This is much deeper than “engagement.” Every day in my role, I spend the vast majority of my time intentionally one-on-one with people. I know firsthand that this matters to their wellbeing, their balance, and how they will most likely approach others. It doesn’t matter if I’m spending time with fellow executives or people on the front line. They want to be seen, heard, valued and understood. They want to share their thoughts, opinions, joys and concerns.

Therefore, I choose to love them so that all of those actions can happen openly and without any sense of fear or hesitation. Please don’t misconstrue this as something that is flowery and squishy. Just the opposite. It is very intentional, respectful and direct. When people know that you are seeking them out and paying attention to them, you are going to be more successful than not in helping them feel safe, perform and thrive.

I may not be able to change the world stage, and I ache for those who are facing situations and an environment that is potentially life-threatening. I can, however, chip away and show a different way one person at a time. I can choose to let love rule.

A Blogging Quandry

I have a wandering mind. At times, I’ll sit and ponder things just to work through different thoughts, ideas, or explore several angles to consider things. It’s not easy for me to hear something that is shared by someone else and instantly take it just as it was stated. It’s like looking at a painting in a museum. If you stand in front of it long enough, you’ll discover more and more that you initially didn’t even notice. If you listen to others as they pass by the same painting, you’ll hear how they take in the art and it may not include anything you witnessed or felt.

I love that about humans !! We were intentionally created differently. No one person is the same. As much as we’d like more conformity in the hope that we’d have less variety and variability, it’s folly. All of these meanderings have been creeping into my thoughts pushing me to grapple with this urge to respond.

Blogging is an outlet for me. It has been since I started writing on this site 11 years ago. What started as a Christmas gift from my sister-in-law has become a blank canvas that allows me to empty my mind of the constant flow of movement and gathering of thoughts and observations. I enjoy sitting down once a week on Sunday afternoons to stare at the white screen and start typing. It refreshes and fulfills me.

You see, I was a post-early adopter of blogging. I knew of several folks I am fortunate to also call friends who had started sharing content in 2007 and 2008. I loved learning from them and allowing them to expand my horizon and viewpoints not only on HR, but on business, music, and life in general. Back then, you couldn’t keep up with the multitude of authors. It seemed like people had found a platform where they could share and reach audiences around the world. The conversations that had been taking place inside the four walls of offices now had an endless landscape that was no longer bound by geography, language or time zones.

When I joined in, it was exciting and the array of blogs grew, expanded and flourished. Unfortunately, that energy and focus has waned. I should have guessed this would be the case because every format of communication has a season. Blogs turned into podcasts, webinars and conference sessions. Some even became books trying to capture a compilation of posts like the old “greatest hits” albums you could get from your favorite musical artist.

I’m not trying to be overly sentimental or critical. As time passes, things change. I do have one concern though that I want to point out so we don’t revert to times before blogging.

Image from Editorial Cartoonists – Cox & Forkum

You see, prior to blogging and social media, the HR profession was barely connected. There were pockets of professionals that may have met in person in their city or town, but they didn’t have access to much new information. The profession was predominantly about compliance and tactics. You never heard about anyone who tried to break through and change this approach. It was like an endless cul-de-sac which looped and looped eternally waiting for the next legal update to be issued.

When blogging began, it was similar to explorers pushing past the existing boundaries and refusing to stay in the loop. I get the feeling now that a new loop is starting to form because the dawn of exploration has diminished. People are settling back into the pockets of their sphere of relationships and are starting to make smaller and smaller cohorts.

Within their group, they are still effective and engaged. What’s missing are the voices who are still curious, uncomfortable and disruptive. People willing to challenge the norm and seek new ways to evolve and create. People eager to keep the flame of exploration alive so that the “next” great horizon can be uncovered and developed.

This isn’t a call to return to the golden days of blogging. However, it is a gauntlet to throw down and not let our profession settle and step back. There is so much that is yet unknown. There is so much that is yet to exist. There is so much room to encourage, push forward and elevate humanity. We can’t fall back. We can’t dissipate. It may be daunting, tiresome and overwhelming to maintain the call to move ahead. But we must.

And, so I blog . . .

Time to Develop

We live in a world of “instants.” We desire instant affirmation, adoration and adulation. We are impatient during our commutes, the delivery of goods that we order or any time we are required to wait in any line of people more than one. We truncate our communication and make broad decisions based on snippets of words without seeking, or asking for, context.

We binge our entertainment and get frustrated when the next season may, or may not come out. For those who can’t even sit through an entire show, we consume TikTok and YouTube videos in larger volumes which ironically take the same amount of time. We have even bought into the thought that these behaviors help us “relax” when they seem to make us more entrenched in taking in more and more.

Put on top of this environment that we have raised at least two generations of humans who know no other reality. Every moment of their lives has happened at an exponential pace. Every. Moment. They only know immediacy and wonder why those who are older fight against what they see as normal. Add to this the rapid expectation of work, reward and advancement are pressing its way into the workplace and culture of every company.

Don’t think that I’m positioning this as a complaint. I personally am someone who has realized the climate I live in even though I’m old enough to remember when you couldn’t get access to almost anything you wanted instantly. In fact, the majority of my life has been lived before the age of instancy. It’s something that is starting to reemerge in the workplace. People want to know how to slow down, how to breathe, and how to develop.

I fondly remember the days when we had cameras that required actual film. It seemed nearly impossible to load the camera correctly with the roll of film the first time. You then had to advance the film until you saw the indicator on the back of your camera show the number “1” just to get ready to take a picture. After all of that effort, you had to hope that the scene you wanted to capture held still enough for the click of the button for the mechanism to close and open to imprint the negative image on the film tucked away inside the camera. You couldn’t even enjoy the picture you took until the entire roll of film had been used AND after you dropped it off to get developed.

Ironically, I don’t ever remember anyone complaining that this process took so much time. You had actual anticipation when you went to the drug store to pick up the prints to see if the pictures even turned out well. The issue of time was built into the art of photography whether you were an amateur or a professional. You couldn’t make it go faster. You were at the mercy of taking your time in order to enjoy the outcome.

This is what is reemerging in the workforce even today. People yearn to be developed more than being measured. They want the time and attention of their managers, their peers and senior leadership. Employees understand that this desire exists even in the middle of the mad rush of the day. Many are now choosing to make the decision to change jobs and/or companies. I think this is happening in part because companies are choosing to not take the time to develop people.

This is a giant blind spot. We keep fostering the myth that pace and production are far more important than people equipped to perform. HR would be an even more strategic leader if they’d be willing to step up and fight the myth. I have made a conscious effort to put development as a priority this coming year and going forward. It’s something that I hope to assess, define and create on a person-by-person basis from executive leadership throughout the organization.

I’m not quite sure what it will look like, but I know that it’s needed and that people are longing for it. Time is our best ally if we choose to use it intentionally as we continue to move rapidly. Development can happen in every company naturally as long as there is someone willing to stem the tide.

You see, I love that I can now take a picture whenever I want with the “camera” on my phone. I’m grateful for the advancements in technology that have improved this process because now I have more time to develop those I work with. Reallocate your time. Adjust who gets your attention. Take time to develop others. You’ll love the pictures that come from doing it well !!

Clear the Fog !!

Last week I was getting ready for work like I normally do. After having breakfast, I loaded up my laptop and jumped into my car to head to my office. I’ve been working in person (safely) for the majority of the pandemic.

(Quick aside – I am fortunate to work for a regional pizzeria company and I made the decision to be in person because our amazing Team Members have been in person every day. I wanted to make sure to support them. Now back to the post . . .)

I turned on my favorite morning radio show and 45 minutes later I pulled into the parking lot. There was nothing notable about my commute. But, that was the problem. I didn’t recall a single moment of the commute. No recollection of whether the traffic was heavy or not. No idea if someone cut me off or if I drove too close to someone myself. I don’t recall the weather or what was playing on the morning show. The only thing I remember is parking my car and heading into my office.

That’s not good. It was as if I was in some fog that clouded every facet of my morning. When I arrived at work, I couldn’t say I was “prepared” for the day at all. I was unconsciously going through the same pattern I had become accustomed to. Later that day, I felt like I was lost and the fog kept infringing on all that was going on.

Sound familiar? I don’t think I’m alone in this at all. I understand that people head to their jobs because they’re used to the patterns that define how they face their day. This is true whether you’re working in person or remotely. What are you missing when you’re mind is covered in fog? The truth is, you’re not sure.

The whole experience was unnerving and I was shaken about it when I headed out to lunch. I don’t want to be a person who goes through the motions of work, has convenient conversations, plods through project work, and then heads back home feeling I’ve had a “day.” Not a full day. Not a day that seemed to slip away, but a “day.”

I was determined to clear the fog that had so easily encapsulated my mind the very next day. I’m sure there are a myriad of methods and approaches that people postulate to clear one’s head. I’m also sure that following prescriptive steps works for some. I’m not that person. I knew I needed to break my pattern and I kept it simple. Before jumping into my car in the garage, I walked outside and looked around. I slowed down to take some deep breaths and listened to the birds chirping in the trees. The brisk winter breeze slapped at my cheeks and even brought some tears to my eyes.

I felt more centered and aware of my surroundings. I then committed to stay aware of all that I saw and heard. When I did this, it seemed like color entered my line of sight once again. I saw things that had been there for some time as if they were brand new. I enjoyed everything as I took them in. The fog dissipated right away. I felt more energized and eager to take on the day. I no longer felt trapped in a haze. The day was enjoyable right off the bat.

I was able to consider the items and situations I was going to face. I looked forward to interacting with everyone once again and I felt renewed. I know that I need to be intentional in taking steps like this so that brain fog doesn’t creep back in and fill my head. I’m sure that I could fall back into the mists very easily if I don’t stay on top of this.

I wanted to share this story because I have a feeling that there may be others around you who struggle with brain fog themselves. You may be the nudge that breaks through for someone else. They may not realize they are meandering themselves.

There is too much to life to be covered in layers of fog. Take the steps that work for you to make sure your mind stays clear and sharp, and be alert that you may be able to help others as well. Let’s clear a path so we can take in all that is ahead !!

Practice Gratitude Daily

We just celebrated Thanksgiving this past week and it was wonderful. We had a small gathering of my wife and daughter. Our son just started a new job, so he couldn’t get away to travel home. We enjoyed a traditional feast of turkey and a multitude of sides including a batch of old-fashioned ambrosia salad !!

We took time to turn off all of our devices and screens so we could just focus on each other. It was perfect . . . as a moment in time. In the midst of all of the ongoing turmoil and challenges facing society and each person in some form or another, we gave thanks. It’s intriguing that we set aside one day in 365 to give thanks. One. Day. I’m not blind to the fact that some feel they can’t even enjoy this one day because of all that may be facing them.

It takes an effort to express gratitude. It seems to come naturally for some, but for most of us, there needs to be a defined focus to break through the muck and darkness that we continue to swim through. This is a shame because there is so much to be grateful for personally. We have a chance to be the light that breaks through the shadows people walk in, but it will cost you something. It’s the one thing that we feel is already scarce and fleeting each day. Our time.

It’s been proven that something becomes a habit if you practice it daily for at least 21 days. As small of a hurdle as this is, we perceive it to be an insurmountable mountain. There is no mountain. The obstacle is only the small voice in our head that says that we should be shackled to other things that “matter.” What if the action that “mattered” to you was expressing gratitude to others around you?

How would someone else’s day go if you said “Hello” and then actually stayed put to see how they’re doing? What would their day be like if you celebrated with them about an accomplishment in their family’s life? Would you see different outcomes in your interactions if you complimented and encouraged someone for their work and effort?

I think you know the answer to these questions because when someone else did this for you, it made your day brighter. How much “time” do questions and conversations like this take? We don’t even know because we either think doing this is daunting or a waste of our precious time. We couldn’t be more wrong.

Trust me on this. The time you spend investing in the lives of others is the most productive use of your time possible. It’s time to turn the tide of how people interact in our homes, our neighborhoods, and our workplaces. Instead of falling into the muck of negativity, pause, breathe and express gratitude about something, anything. Fight the urge to follow the surge of uncertainty and be an anchor of positivity as an alternative. It may give those you encounter the brief respite they needed and you didn’t even know it.

Daily gratitude isn’t about you. It’s about others. This week start a new habit that will be fulfilling in ways you can’t even yet fathom. Switch from setting aside one day per year to be thankful for everything, to practicing daily gratitude so that every day is filled with at least one grateful occurrence. See what happens . . .

You Gotta Minute ??

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind because I was able to speak to my HR peers at both the SHRM Annual Conference and the Georgia SHRM State Conference in person and the Pennsylvania SHRM State Conference virtually. It’s been a long time since I’ve had these opportunities and I relish them. Any chance I get to be with others who practice HR, I’m geeked !! Seriously. Very few things fill my bucket as much as this.

I was able to spend more time in person at the SHRM Annual Conference and I was humbled to be able to speak at two Mega sessions. When I walked into the room, my jaw dropped. As I stood on the stage, I couldn’t see the back of the room. I couldn’t believe that I’d have the chance to ever speak in such a vast space. It’s hard to not be anxious wondering if the room will fill or not. I don’t take that for granted because I know that I’m usually one of many great options. So, when people choose to attend I appreciate them more than they probably know.

The room was filled each time with the second session having even more folks than the first. We laughed, learned, and even made it through loud thunderclaps as a torrential thunderstorm came up right when I started to speak. It was a wonderful time !!

After I finish a presentation, the most humbling thing occurs. People are kind enough to come up to chat and share their thoughts about what they heard. They also share their experiences which I always like to hear. Some ask questions and some even want to take a selfie. The biggest thing they are looking for is my time and attention. I never take this for granted and give them as much time as they’d like.

Throughout the week, I made sure to walk through the conference, hang out at the SHRM store, and just hang with the attendees. More than a few times, people came up to me and asked, “You gotta minute?” I always said, “Yes.” I have to admit that these conversations were so meaningful and touching because the folks who stopped me wanted to share what they were facing personally in their current HR role. Most of them were very emotional and there were several tears shed. I’m not ashamed of that. If you know me at all, I’ll cry at any time. I love it when people exhibit their emotions.

You see, I think that the work of HR is hard. It’s hard because we intentionally work with people, and people can be exhausting. That includes us as HR pros too by the way . . . because we’re people too. Too often we don’t have a strong network of peers that we can reach out to, rely on, or dump our bucket with. We try to slog through our circumstances on our own and don’t realize the power of having HR peers you can reach out to.

The peers I spoke with wanted to be heard, listened to and valued. They wanted to be reassured that the work they did mattered – just like everyone in our workplaces. I don’t want you to think this is a “woe is me” type of situation. We’re far too busy doing work that we completely ignore the people. As HR pros, we propagate this and it slowly sucks out our souls.

This needs to change. And, it needs to change now. You see the ONLY thing that every person has to give is time. AND people are worth our time !! The best thing about the conferences I participated in was the interactions I had with the attendees – not that they got to listen to me. I wouldn’t exchange those chats for anything else. Let’s make our profession stronger by intentionally giving each other our time and attention.

If someone asks, “You gotta minute?” – I hope you say, “Yes” as well. You’ll be glad you did !!

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 !!