I Love to Laugh !!

How often are you around little kids?  I would have to say that I’m not around them nearly often enough !!  Little kids “get it” when it comes to life.  They see everything around them as something worth looking at, taking time for, and experiencing.  They will do this for their entire day and think that it’s normal.  When adults step in to squelch their innate sense of joy and exploration, kids respond with some of the most confused facial expressions possible.

One characteristic that I truly enjoy is hearing children laugh.  It’s infectious.  They see things that most of us consider mundane or irrelevant, and just flat lose their mind.  It’s fantastic !!  When a child loses themselves completely in laughter, anyone who is near them will be affected . . . in a good way.  They usually bust out in raucous laughter themselves.

I have to confess.  I’m a laugher.  It’s a loud, belly laugh more often than not. I make sure to laugh every day.  Every day.  It’s not like I put in a planner or on my To-Do lists. There are just too many things that happen every day that deserve laughter and joy.  You never know what it will be, but you will miss it if you’re not looking for it.

Laughter QuoteI wish more HR people would bring laughter and joy to what they do !! When I get together with my peers, and we can peel back the frustrations of the job, we have more laughs than not.  The question is – how can you incorporate more laughter in your workplace?  The first thing to do is to take on the philosophy that Charlie Chaplin followed (see the picture).

If you thought that your entire day would be wasted if you didn’t laugh, I bet you’d laugh more often !!  There are countless studies that show the healing power of laughter and how it reduces stress.  If that’s not enough of an incentive, it also clears the cobwebs and allows you to look at something with a fresh perspective.  Any feelings of angst just disappear.

Secondly, you have to take on the Mary Poppins approach where Ed Wynn proudly sings, “I love to laugh, loud and long and clear !!”  Laughing out loud is essential.  We are way too reserved as HR pros in the workplace.  We keep to ourselves and don’t feel that we can express ourselves.  That’s truly a shame because we have an opportunity to bring life and excitement to our people, our workplace and our culture.  If you chose to look at HR with this perspective, would it change your outlook as to what you do?

This week, stop the grousing and start the chuckling !!  Something so simple can be something extremely profound.  Look for the laughter.  I know I will !!

Sochi, the Media and HR !!

The 2014 Winter Olympics are in full swing, and I have to tell you that I’m a fan.  It’s a chance for the entire world to come together for a common purpose through sports.  I’m not a skier, skater, bobsledder, luger or curler.  Although, I think being on the US Curling Team would rock !!

With all of the pomp and circumstance, bright colors and international community comes an unfortunate dark side.  It is truly almost unbearable to listen to the blathering commentators.  During the opening ceremony, one of the visual special effects where snowflakes were supposed to transform into the five Olympic rings failed.  It caused a global uproar and Twitter exploded !!  In fact there’s an account on Twitter that focuses on the things in Sochi which are “wrong.”

The negativity doesn’t stop with the talking heads of NBC in their studios, during the Today Show or the Evening News.  It continues during EACH event !!  We’ve never been a country who admires that other countries actually send athletes who also compete alongside us.  The coverage is so U.S.-centric that we only get to see an extremely small portion of the actual competition even though it’s hours and hours of TV coverage.  Then, during the coverage, the analysts talk about all of the errors people make instead of focusing on how amazing it is that this athlete is representing an entire country !!

I get sick of it.  Ironically, it reminds me of how the majority of HR is focused.  Entire company cultures go to work each day to focus on “what’s wrong” with work and especially with their employees.  I know I’ve been guilty of this because it’s so much easier to be negative vs. being positive !!  It has to stop.

Happy face amongst sad faces.Just think what would happen if your culture refused to be negative !!  I understand that there are challenges in every workplace.  But those are opportunities, not obstacles.  HR should make it there mantra that ALL systems that touch, or affect, people in the organization should be intended to encourage, develop or address folks where they are.

If someone is lacking a skill, then take the time to teach them what they need.  If someone is struggling with a person/boss/management, talk to them directly without having the approach of “making a case.”  If there are differences between people or departments, be the glue who connects the dots and show how to integrate people’s strengths instead of harping on people’s differences.

I could fill an entire post on these types of if/then statements.  The key is that we need to be more like Sage Kotsenburg who won the Olympics 1st gold medal of the games and the first in his inaugural event.  He was stoked about his performance and his press conference is a great mixture of awe, excitement and “dudeness.”

He only focuses on what he was able to do and how cool it was to do it !!  If we in HR, were like this and could be positive and excited about what we did, just think of the possibilities !!  Turn off the negative and see what happens.  I think you’ll be geeked !!

Is Your HR Like Gas Prices ??

One of the most visceral emotions people experience everyday is during their commute to and from work.  It may be the pace of traffic, the volume of traffic or the urgency to get to your destination.  Driving is never without emotion !!  One item that never misses is when you drive past gas stations.  The board listing the prices of the moment glares at you every time you pass it.

High Gas PricesIf the prices are lower, you’re ecstatic – even it’s a few cents.  If they are higher in the least, you say something under your breath, or you curse the sign and the unexplained variability from the morning drive to the commute home.  It feels like you’re being held hostage.  You know you need to drive to get anywhere (at least in the States), and it never makes any sense when you see the price variation.  You can’t go to anyone to get an answer for the change.  It just happens and you’re left to “deal with it.”

Sound like HR ??

Too often we sit at our desks writing policies and procedures that address the fringes of our employees and then enact them with little rhyme or reason.  We do our best to hold people “accountable” through enforcement and inconsistency.  How’s that working for you?  Frustrated?  Emotional?

In order for HR to bring stability through the workplace and a company’s culture, we must have consistency.  That doesn’t mean being fair.  It means being consistent.  We strive to make EVERYONE fit all that we do when that just isn’t possible.

This week try something new that will really work.  Look for the inconsistencies in how HR occurs at your company.  That could be within the HR department or how things are carried out in action in the field.  Take one area and get it to have less variation.  Keep it in check and then find the next area.  Over time the lack of variation will bring a flow to what you’re doing vs. having to feel that you must react !!  Knee jerking only gives you black eyes.

I was listening to The Police this week and heard a real gem from them called Walking in Your Footsteps.It talks about the dinosaurs and how they once ruled the earth, but you can only see them in museums today.  If HR doesn’t change its ways to move from compliance to integrating itself into the flow of work, we will become extinct as well.

Try something new this week !!  Start removing the variation and you’ll see others outside of HR treating you differently.  You won’t be like the ever-changing gas prices.  You’ll be the fuel necessary to help them run better !!