Fatigue

I’ve lived in the same house since 1991. It was the first house my wife and I bought on our own. Hard to believe that 31 years have passed !! One of the attractive features of where I live is that we have a half-acre lot. There are some massively mature trees scattered throughout, but the majority of the lot is the lawn.

As you know, you can’t keep up with growing grass. We live in the Midwest and we’re fortunate to have fairly consistent rain. I’m grateful for that because I love seeing a green lawn out my picture window . . . until it’s time to mow it once again. I’ve always had a push mower because I enjoy the exercise (seriously) and the time in the yard. I put some headphones on, pick a playlist from Spotify and start down the first row.

When I was younger and had just purchased the house, I could mow the entire yard in 1 1/2 hours and on one tank of gasoline. Now, I do the front yard one day and the back yard the next. I may even sneak in a break during each cut if the grass is overly long. I was 27 when we moved into our house. You can do the math . . . Time is winning as it always does.

Recently, we’ve had an abundance of rain. Inches of it !! I can usually get by with cutting the lawn once a week, but not at this time. A few weeks ago though, I didn’t have any time to cut after work. I am going into the office and am usually spent after a “normal” day. So, a full week went by and my grass must have been trying to overachieve because it was well over six inches when I finally was able to attack it.

This go-around was draining at a level I hadn’t experienced. I ended up splitting the days for the front and back lawn but needed to cut each one twice just to get it back to a manageable height. The usual one and half hour cut turned into five hours !! I was completely spent after both days. When I get finished with a cut, I fall into a chair on my front porch to rehydrate and catch my breath. After tackling the entire lawn for over two days, I could barely move.

As I was trying to regenerate on the front porch, I understood complete fatigue. There was nothing I could do to recover. It was concerning. I took some deep breaths and calmed myself down. I chose to sit and relax for as long as I needed. My wife brought me a giant cup of ice water and some small snacks. It gave me some time to think.

I feel people at work are experiencing this same level of fatigue more often than not. Still, they go to their jobs dutifully as they struggle. They make it through days barely, but they make it. I’ve seen it trickle down to interactions between people throughout their days as well. They can’t escape it.

If you try to capture the cause(s) of the fatigue people are experiencing, you fall short. There is no one circumstance that is consistently facing every person. Everyone is looking at the landscape of ever-increasing costs for day-to-day items such as food and gasoline, the global turmoil happening on various stages, the endless ripping and tearing of political diatribes from all angles, and that doesn’t include the situations in each person’s home/family structure. Throw on top of this the often unclear expectations and communication pressing people in the workplace. It’s overwhelming to determine all that could possibly be overwhelming those we work with.

Is there anything we can do? Do we just succumb to the crushing weariness and shuffle our feet while mumbling complaint after complaint? I don’t think so. There are ways to assess where we are and how we can move forward in a healthy manner.

First of all, we need to acknowledge it’s all around us and affecting people at all levels of an organization. We need to affirm what people tell us and not dismiss it as someone slacking off. The next step is to assess each person’s situation for what it entails. No broad stroke movements. No overarching declarations. Possibly no easy solutions. Just listen and assess.

The next step is critical and runs contrary to all we do in companies. Allow people to have a personalized path to fight their fatigue. One by one. You need to stick to this individualized approach because no one is experiencing fatigue in the same manner or for the same reasons.

Finally, be patient, empathetic and genuine. This sounds simple, and it can be if we allow HR and employees to work their way through their own path for their personal wellbeing. Step into this my friends. You can be there for each other.

Time for a change . . .

I’ve been in an HR role for my entire career – on purpose. I didn’t fall into the field or find it accidentally. I know several of my peers who have done that, and I love that they found the field. If you’ve been in the profession for any amount of time, you’re sure to hear or see, the perception that others have of HR. We hope that we’re viewed in a positive light. Honestly, everyone is regardless of their profession.

This past week, my friend Erich Kurschat posted the first eight emojis when he typed in “HR.” This is what came up . . .

Interesting set of emojis aren’t they? When I saw them, I replied to Erich and asked, “Is that how others feel when they work with HR, or is it how HR feels about working with others?” He stated he thought the same thing.

I wasn’t kidding. The range of emotions pictured above is merely eight of the thousands we encounter on a daily basis. Heck, you may run through all of them in one interaction alone !! It concerns me that the ones that came up during the search are all negative or ambivalent. It doesn’t bode well for what we do and how others view their interactions with us in an HR capacity. It’s also disappointing that many of you reading this who work in HR would say, “Yep, that’s how it is.”

Who wants to work in a field where the descriptive imagery is negative? I can’t think of one person who would willingly run to join it. Let’s state what people are experiencing. Chances are people work with HR when there’s some situation that is already tenuous. That’s because we’ve allowed ourselves to take on that mantle. Organizations and senior leadership put us in the “call when there’s a people emergency” box and we dutifully stay there. We feel we dare not push back or rewrite the narrative because at least we have a role to fulfill.

I’m tired of the self-defeatist mantra of HR. It’s old, worn out, and outdated. Sure, there are bad HR pros . . . just as there are in EVERY other profession !! We continue to wallow in the muck because we are the only profession that is intricately intertwined with humans all the time. Our actions affect the work life and personal life of others.

That is a great thing !! In fact, it is the best facet of working in HR. Without people, HR can’t exist – and it shouldn’t. The same truth is foundational for companies and it’s time we own, lead, shape and make this a reality and not an aspiration.

If we want the emojis to change when someone searches them in the future, then HR needs to be intentional in turning the perspective around. This has to occur one encounter at a time. We need to be cognizant that we are involved when things get sideways or ooky at work. Isn’t it great that we’re called in to assess, address and resolve situations? Each situation is a chance to build in a good outcome. You can show how empathy, consistency and a positive approach can work through anything constructively.

Let’s not allow the negative images to continue. Let’s step up and show through our behavior, our words, and our presence the value of human resources. It’s imperative. It’s overdue. And . . . it’s attainable. Yes, we may stumble and fail at times. Yes, we may be frustrated or frustrate others. However, it remains an incredible profession that makes a tangible impact on the lives of others.

It’s time for a change. I’m going to do all I can to change the images and I hope you’ll join in.

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 !!

One Note

This past Friday, my wife and I were fortunate to take in the season finale of the phenomenal Cincinnati Pops Orchestra !! Not only was it the 10th anniversary of their acclaimed conductor, John Morris Russell, but a favorite group of mine was a featured guest – Over the Rhine. If you’re ever in Cincinnati, I highly recommend seeing the Pops perform while enjoying the majesty of Music Hall.

As a self-avowed music freak, I couldn’t contain myself. I was going to get to see live music once again, and it was a night out with my wife. The program was full of current hits, older standards, and great accompaniment with the guest musicians. It was easy to get lost in each piece as the orchestra played. You could fully take in all of the moving melodies and harmonies as the music wafted out over the audience. It was challenging to see which section would take the lead and the conductor led each section with ease. It was both enthralling and surprising at the same time.

You may not know this about me, but I’m easily moved by most things. I can be brought to tears at the drop of a heartfelt story or a well-played musical piece. Heck, I’ve even welled up during a TV commercial !! I am cool with this emotional response and feel it’s something that defines me.

Well, during the night at the Pops, I was teary several times. It was glorious !! I wasn’t thinking about those seated around me or embarrassed in the least. My wife knows what’s coming any time we’re out. The first song of the second half of the concert was the debut of a piece written by the conductor’s friend who had been working on it for 10 years. It was his interpretation of the well-known Prelude in C Major by Bach.

The hall was silent when the harpist started plucking out the familiar arpeggio and I could feel my chest start to swell. It was as if I was witnessing this on my own with no one else around me. When the full orchestra came in, the violins played one prolonged note for several measures, and the tears started rolling down my cheeks.

One note. Just one and my emotions burst forth.

After the amazing night, I reflected on that moment. How incredible was it that one note could bring so many joyous emotions to the surface? Seriously. One. Note.

When we look at the privilege of working with other people we tend to focus on what isn’t accomplished or how someone approached us in a way that frustrated us. If you listen to the conversations happening in the halls, or online, you get barraged with negative comments about others. They dominate how we talk about the people we allegedly value. The “talent” of our organizations must be full of more shortcomings than real skills.

I know this isn’t the case. We rely on others, and we should. So, instead of talking about what people “don’t do,” what if we helped find their one note? What if we found the one thing that unlocked their passion and helped their emotions flow out of them freely and positively? I think our workplaces would be overflowing with employees who couldn’t wait to contribute and excel if we found their one note.

This week, change your approach and your conversations. Don’t allow people to keep talking about others through a negative lens. Take up your instrument and start playing. Soon you’ll see people connect and respond. Trust me. It will bring tears to your eyes.

To give you a nudge, here’s some Bach . . .

Tell Me Something Good !!

I took a few weeks off from writing a blog for some much needed PTO and a chance to get away to be with HR peers and also family. A few weeks ago my wife and I got to explore the wonderful city of Houston, Texas. I was invited to speak to a company’s HR team as part of their off-site team-building gathering.

Our travel was uneventful and I was geeked to get to the venue to meet the Perry Homes folks. We were unsure of where to go because we had never visited this sprawling metropolis before. I was a bit anxious because we were getting uncomfortably close to the time I was supposed to speak. I hadn’t set up yet. I didn’t know what the room looked like. How would the AV work? And, how many people would be present?

My wife was patient and reassuring as she usually is. She said to skip checking into our hotel and just get to the retreat. She’d stay with me and we could check-in after I was done. This was just what I needed to hear. She provided the first good thing to happen on our adventure. We soon met the second good thing and that was Angela.

Angela was the contact from Perry Homes who was eagerly awaiting our arrival on the first floor of the converted industrial building. I approached her because I felt we were lost and she calmly said, “I’m waiting for our speaker and his wife.” I let out an audible sigh of relief and said, “That would be us.”

“Fantastic !!” she exclaimed. “We’ve been very eager to meet you and look forward to what you have to share.” Then she showed us up to the theater room (a legit one with big, comfy recliners) and I was able to get things ready to go. My wife was going to wait outside and Angela went out and invited her in. “You should join us.”

The room had 20+ members of the HR team and I was fortunate enough to hear the business at hand. The leaders were positive, encouraging and upbeat. They shared current success stories and news of good things to come. This was a phenomenal environment to jump in and give my presentation. We laughed, learned and shared a good hour together. As the team got ready for a volleyball game, food and drinks, Angela handed my wife a list of things to do and places to eat while we were in town. I also received recommendations by email from some of the HR team. They wanted us to have a great weekend together in their city. Good thing number 3 !!

After sharing in the Tex-Mex lunch buffet, we headed just a few miles away to check in to our hotel. Standing behind the desk was good thing number 4 – Yolanda. “Welcome !!” she exuberantly greeted us while we were a good five feet from her station. “I’ll bet you’re here to spend some time at our great hotel. I’m so glad you chose us. Now, let’s get you settled.” She continued to gleefully talk to us throughout the process. She let us know that she’d be available for anything we needed throughout our stay.

You may be skeptical and think that Yolanda just had great training and she was reciting a script for exceptional customer service. You’d be wrong !! We saw her over the next few days and she remembered us and asked how our stay was going. I watched her treat every person with interest, engagement and grace. It oozed out of her. She and I had a chat and she said, “I’ve been doing this for 20 years at this hotel and I just love it !! I’m going to be 60 soon, and I know that I won’t be doing this forever, but I’m going to enjoy it while I can.”

My wife and I had an incredible time in Houston. We went to the restaurants the Perry Homes folks recommended. We took some of the sites in town including the NASA Johnson Space Center and the traditional game of miniature golf we play on every vacation. Yes, we had a few snags during our trip like traffic and a few bumps in our plans. However, the majority of our time was exceptional.

Too often we walk through our daily lives burdened by fret, concern and the perceived anticipation of what will go wrong. Our focus is based more on obstacles, problems and potential pitfalls than it is on anything good. What a difference it makes when you intentionally refuse to get swallowed by those negative influences. There is so much in front of us that is good.

I’d love to say “great”, but I’m a realistic optimist. Good works. Good is available and sitting right in front of us. This week take a deep breath and clear your mind. Then, as you step into what’s ahead of you, look for the good things. They’re waiting for you !!

To get you in the mood with a dash of funk and soul, here’s some Rufus and Chaka Khan !!

Just My Imagination . . .

Last week my wife and I were able to do one of our favorite things – go to the theater !! We saw the incredible show – Ain’t Too Proud – which chronicles the remarkable career of The Temptations. The moment you see the marquee lit on the stage you can feel tingly anticipation. We were pretty familiar with many of their songs and when the first note hits you were instantly transported back to 1960’s Motown.

The show is a mix of hit after hit sung beautifully by the cast while also being craftily narrated by the character playing Otis Williams. He is the founder of The Temptations and the only living original member at 80 years young. The group’s story is filled with a series of amazing highs as they reached the heights of fame over several decades. They broke barriers and crossed over from being seen only as a black R&B group to becoming one of the all-time best-selling and recognized groups around the world. Their music is timeless and has outlived their heyday.

As magnificent as their success was, they were also plagued and marred by dramatic lows including struggles with egos, infighting, drugs, alcohol and untimely death. The show candidly covers these lows just as much as they did the aspects of success. The destructive behavior of some of the original members led to the difficult decision to ask them to leave the group. When group members were replaced, they experienced the magic of being a Temptation until their humanity crept in and the same set of harmful behaviors started showing in new members as well.

Towards the end of the show, Otis shares that there have been 26 members that have been Temptations over their 60+ years of existence. It’s a factual, sobering statement. It’s not one of pride and joy. It’s more an observation of survival.

Like most things, I see a parallel that applies to HR in my life experiences. When it comes to talent in our organizations, we will often overlook behavior that pulls teams apart if someone is talented “enough.” We will suffer through whatever shenanigans they do because they produce results. We need to be honest about this. Leaders will turn the other way and say things like “that’s just the way __________(insert name here) is.” We excuse detrimental actions without so much as a peep.

Otis Williams did just the opposite. David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks were once in a lifetime talents as musicians and performers. However, when Ruffin’s drug addiction and Kendricks’ dissension about the group’s direction tried to alter the trajectory, Williams asked them to leave. Think of the courage that took. It was very possible they wouldn’t survive the loss of these two originals. Thankfully they did.

It’s very challenging when talented team members become “bigger” than the organization. There is no doubting their skill level and contribution, but there is more value in having a collaborative and cohesive culture. ALL people are talented, not only a few. Make sure that you keep consistency in your culture and value the contribution from every person. That has far more longevity than focusing predominantly on the bright shiny stars.

One of The Temptations most stirring hits was “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)” As I close, take a listen and see the power and beauty of a group that performs as one. Let’s make sure we do the same in our companies !!

On Loan

Do you have neighbors? I’m fortunate to have some great ones all around me. With Spring just starting to burst forth, it’s time to get out in the yard. I know that if I need a hand or to borrow a tool (or two) from one of my neighbors, they’d be very willing. I am the same. It’s great to be in a position where we’re willing to help each other out.

The key to any tool borrowing is the understanding that they’re returned in good shape after they were used. It’s wonderful to have the right implement to complete the tasks at hand, but there’s never an expectation you get to keep the borrowed tool(s). In fact, if you did keep your neighbor’s tools, they’d be less likely to let you borrow any more in the future.

This past week I was enjoying an episode of the HR Social Hour Half Hour Podcast featuring a friend from Scotland – Scott Leiper. He shared a wonderful perspective he heard from the incredible Kirsty Mac who reminded him to look at employees who work at our company as being “on loan.” I loved this the moment Scott shared it. He went on to frame that he loved this as well and it helped him view people in a much healthier way.

You see, we don’t view people as being with us for a period of time. We think of them in permanent terms very quickly after they join our companies. In fact, we’re quite put off when someone decides to leave our organization. We may even become indignant because we just don’t understand why someone would “turn” on us. If we were honest, we may miss someone if they change jobs, but we’re more likely upset because we worry about how this transition will impact us !! It’s true. We continue to talk in terms of job requisitions to be filled instead of humans bringing talent to our teams.

Add on top of this the sentiment expressed by most employees that they’re rarely engaged or recognized if they stay with a company. The mantra we continue to perpetuate is about work, tasks, procedures, strategies, and goals regardless of who is accomplishing those things. It’s astonishing that we keep people at our companies at all !!

Let’s turn the narrative around. Let’s embrace the reality that we have our people for a period of time. Let’s encourage them to stay awhile and value them every day for all they do. Let’s get excited for the entire time we have “borrowed” them to allow them to perform, thrive and drive our organizations forward. How would your culture and workplace look if you understood you only have a finite amount of time to work with those around you? I’d bet it would matter and you’d make sure everyone was anchored, involved and valued. You would make sure their talent was used to do the good work you had in front of you each day.

Let’s quit talking about, and focusing on, people changing jobs as part of some Great Whatever !! We have to quit following the next big trend to just mimic and bemoan our circumstances. Let’s celebrate the time we get to have with our people instead. We should use the full term of our loan so when it’s completely paid we get excited for the next step of their career.

From now on remember that our people are on loan. They’re going to be given back to our “neighbor” throughout their career. Trust me. When you do this you will start making the first foundational step of truly being a people-first organization !!

Pulling Threads

I’m a proud child of the 70’s !! I grew up in the time of bell-bottom jeans, paisley shirts and long hair. Clothes covered in multiple patterns were the norm. It didn’t seem out of place at all because that’s what you saw most people wearing. One of our favorite things to do was to let our jeans and shorts (because they were denim too) fray. The more loose threads the better. You didn’t want to be seen wearing anything that looked prim and proper.

You never cut the loose threads or tears in your pants to add more. You just let them naturally unfurl and give more “style” to your wardrobe. Ironically, some 50 years later people pay to purchase jeans and shorts that looked just like I wore, but the price is much higher to be stylish today.

I enjoyed the loose threads of my youth, but I’m a bit concerned about the ones I come across now in the workplace. This isn’t about clothing. It’s about people pulling on any loose thread they can throughout the workday. It seems that conversations that are occurring consist more as a bundle of individual threads which have no consistency. Each interaction seems to stand on its own with seemingly no logical connection . . . except for one.

The connection belongs to the person(s) who pulled the thread in the first place. If they feel that resolution is made on their singular item, then all is good for them and with everyone else. That just isn’t the case. It’s good that they were able to bring some closure to their item, but that singularity lacks context. It would be amazing if the singular encounters lead to some level of continuity. However, most of the threads remain threads.

Trying to be productive and get work accomplished through an endless ball of loose threads is exhausting. You can’t keep up with one situation before someone comes to you with another one that is completely unrelated. Another factor that compounds this approach is that people have little tolerance for situations if the thread is not theirs. They seek only to have the item which is in front of them addressed.

When this approach is prevalent in organizations, the workplace, and the culture slowly unravel. It’s unfortunately what we spend the majority of our time on during each day. Thread after thread slowly pulled creating more snags and obstacles. People don’t see it either. They’re trying to do their jobs. They aren’t trying to be malicious or difficult. With this reality we find ourselves wandering down a series of paths that may cross every once in a while but not often enough.

As leaders in HR, we need to be those who listen to the separate threads and pull out our needles to sew them back together. Instead of allowing disparate and disconnected conversations to continue to build, we need to show how together they make an incredible fabric. A fabric that soon turns into a stylish piece of clothing that can be worn and exhibited to one and all. Someone needs to step in to be the tailor.

You see, tailors don’t see threads. They see what can become of the threads. They know when everything gets pulled together over time an amazing garment appears. We all want to be in a workplace that is effective, connected and moving in generally the same direction. Without tailors, you will only have a bundle of separate threads.

This week refuse to keep chasing the fraying actions that have been consuming so much of your time. Instead, pull out your needle, grab some threads and start sewing. You’ll soon see how effective this approach is for you, your leadership and your employees.

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.

HR Improv !!

A few weeks ago, my wife and I were able to get out on the town and catch a live show. It was magnificent !! To be able to get to see live entertainment would have been wonderful enough, but on top of that we were able to laugh for almost two straight hours. We went to see a comedy improv show featuring two of the regular cast members of the show Whose Line is it Anyway? – Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood.

If you’re not familiar with the TV show, it’s all improv comedy. They come to the stage with some general ideas of the scenes they are going to play, but they rely on the audience for suggestions and clues to character and direction. They have incredible skill because even the most outrageous suggestions are easily woven into their work without missing a beat. It’s a wonderful art form. I sat in the audience completely captured by every moment, shift and adaptation with what seemed to be absolutely incongruent fragments of ideas as they all came together.

Of course, it reminded me of HR !! I don’t know if we get to have nearly as much laughter as I did at the show, but every day we’re faced with the unknown. To me, this is what makes the profession so wonderful and attractive. Not knowing what will come next is invigorating. It really is. In fact, because we get the privilege of working with people, our days can’t be predictable. That’s because each person is unique and sees things through a lens that is linked specifically to them.

Ironically, we complain about this. We want to have everyone be the same. We long for the same behaviors, the same reactions and that everyone would just “stay in line.” We believe the myth that if this is how working with people was, then HR would be much easier. However, it would also be dull and lifeless.

We were meant to be improv artists in HR !! Think of it. Each day you’re given just a few snippets of a situation and then you have to assess, create and act to make everything “come together.” Isn’t that fantastic ??!! When you do this, you’ll see that you have an innate ability to work with each person for who they are instead of trying to make them conform to a listless script.

So, this week instead of trying to make everything fit into a predictable pattern that can’t truly exist, step into your reality and get ready to improvise. It’s far more natural and even – entertaining !!