The 1987 Personnel Technology Conference #HRTechConf

Imagine, if you will, that the HR Tech Conference had not held its inaugural event 20 years ago but had, instead, started up thirty years ago in 1987. 

I don’t know about y’all but I was working in an office in 1987; a recruitment agency to be exact. Our fanciest “technology” consisted of the ability to transfer our phones from our suburban branch office to the downtown Milwaukee HQ office when we were going to have a meeting or whatever. This was, to our minds, the most magical thing ever!  And, somehow, we always needed to transfer the phones every Friday about 3pm. Coincidental that this was also when we locked the doors and mixed cocktails like the gang at Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce? Maybe. 

Oh we had some other technology at our disposal; a green screen DOS database that served as our system of record for client information; candidate information was saved via paper resumes and note cards with cryptic codes and abbreviations. We had a very expensive and newfangled fax machine that churned out an endless cascade of shiny paper and necessitated a scissors be nearby to cut the pages apart.  Job orders were handwritten (triplicate; carbon paper) and stored in a filing cabinet once a candidate was placed. Invoicing after that placement was done via mail…US mail. With stamps and everything.  

So what would the Personnel Technology Conference have been like in 1987? What would the vendors have been selling? Floppy disks? Bigger and better fax machines? Mechanical pencils? 

Some of the slogans and marketing messages we hear today could just have easily been uttered to an HR Gal/Guy in 1987:

  • “this will solve all your problems”
  • “we’re changing the way you work”
  • “transformation”

Oh…and by the way? It may be incredibly unhip and tragically uncool to admit it but MY Human Resources team still sends and receives faxes every day; doctor’s offices, benefits providers, government agencies and financial institutions and lenders.  Every day.  #Flashback 1987 

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Happiness and Engagement: Can’t We All Get Along?

Are you happy at work? Do you awake refreshed each morning? Do you leap out of bed eager to take on a new day? Do you look forward to hanging out with your co-workers as you complete your spreadsheets and TPS reports? Do you find joy and camaraderie with Meghan in the next cubicle whilst doing these mind-numbing and meaningless tasks? If so….why?

On the other hand, are you engaged at work? Do you have an emotional and psychological attachment to your work and your employer? Do you go above and beyond? Use discretionary effort? Do you, as the kids like to say, “give a shit?”

And, if you are, God bless you, ‘engaged,’ must you also be happy? Do they have to co-exist? Should they? Can they?

Questions for the ages.

And we’re going to have a bit of a discussion on Wednesday (June 28th – 2 PM ET) over at TLNT when I’ll be leading a webinar with the super-long title of Happiness and Employee Engagement; Mutually Exclusive or Necessary Partners for Organizational Success? (click here to register). Here’s what I’m going to be chatting about:

Employees make a bargain with their employers upon the acceptance of a job; to complete required job duties, hit assigned goals and, ideally, contribute to the success of the organization, financial or otherwise, through committed actions and endeavors. Meanwhile, employers make a commitment to their employees to provide a safe workplace with a job that fulfills basic human needs and, ideally, allows for some level of satisfaction and professional growth.

Nestled within there however, and often unspoken until the employment relationship begins, is the goal of the employer to have “engaged’ employees and the desire of many employees to be ‘happy’ at work.

But what do these terms really mean, and how can employers and employees work together to foster the most productive environment for business success? In this webinar, our speaker will explore how we measure and promote employee engagement, how employee engagement and business success correlate, and whether “happiness” does, or should, be involved.

In particular, we’ll focus on:

  • The state of employee engagement
  • The role that employee happiness plays
  • The critical importance in defining, clarifying and understanding the differences and the interdependence for organizational success.

So come join us! Sponsored by our good friends at Cornerstone on Demand , this will be a great way to spend Hump Day because, of course, if you’re neither happy nor engaged, all you’re thinking about is how you’re on the downhill slide to Friday at 5 PM!

 

 

 

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Candor in the Workplace #WorkHuman

There’s a new (ish) concept in the arena of employee feedback – Radical Candor. In the best selling book Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity, author Kim Scott (a former Google director and consultant) explains that radical candor encourages employees to directly confront issues with colleagues in a completely honest—yet respectful and compassionate—way.

I recently weighed in on the topic for the Baton Rouge Business Report along with the Director of Operations for a local law firm that has added it to their workplace/operational mix ; you can read the article here. (just please ignore the incredibly awkwardly staged photo. ugh).

I found it to be perfect timing for this article’s published date (last Thursday) since I’m hitting the road today for the WorkHuman Conference; 3rd year of the event and my 3rd time attending. I’ll also, along with my co-presenter Bill Boorman, be speaking at a Spotlight Session on the topic “How to Hire for a “Challenging” Culture.”

In many ways the word “culture” seems to have become yet another over-used buzzword in the business and HR sphere; toss the word “culture” into an article or a speaker submittal and you’ll garner lots of interest. But, cynicism aside, it really does all come down to culture.  The amorphous, ever-evolving, squishy, and somewhat-hard-to-articulate GLUE that connects employee-to-organization and connects employee-to-employee.

Candor in the workplace? –“In order for organizations to make a switch to a radical candor environment, they first must do the hard work of ensuring their organizational culture can sustain a style of working that requires employees to directly challenge each other, while ensuring those forthright conversations emanate from a place of truth and personal caring.” (so sayeth me in that Business Report article).

Hiring for a challenging culture? – “We’re fully aware that we can’t make-up our organizational culture and we also know that being false and inauthentic, while it may garner more applicants, leads to mismatched hiring. The true differentiator in talent acquisition and retention is being real, honest and truthful with both candidates and employees in order to provide them with an honest version of the actual working experience at your organization.” (so sayeth me for WorkHuman)

Glue.

It’s sticky.

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Who Loves Ya Baby! #nextchat

  1. Do YOU love HR? I do.

Well…maybe it’s more that I “like” HR. Perhaps it’s that I “have a REALLY strong attraction” for HR? Something. I dunno.

But look…if I didn’t like lovehave a really strong attraction’ for human resources there’s no way I could have done this gig as long as I have. I would have hung it up by about year 3; which was, let’s be frank, quite a few years ago.

Now I’m as quick as anyone to call out the foolishness and foibles of misguided or ill-informed HR practitioners. My blood gets to boiling when I hear tales of HR dropping the ball. I despise the humorless bureaucrats who use an HR Policy Manual as a shield or like to regularly employ the phrase “legal makes us do it.”

But those sorts of HR practitioners are fading away; I truly believe that. We are, as a collective body, more informed, more creative, more inquisitive and extraordinarily plugged into our respective businesses.

Yet, a bitter after-taste still lingers; akin to rancid coffee on one’s tongue.  We continue to battle misconceptions, stereotypes and, well, jokes.

A long-serving assistant personnel manager shared an office with his boss for 20 years. He was always puzzled by the fact that every time the boss was about to sign a letter he would slide open the top drawer of his desk, peer in, and then slide it shut before picking up his pen and appending his signature.
Eventually his boss retired and he was elevated to personnel manager. His curiosity could be contained no longer.
He slid open the drawer and there, stuck to the bottom was a piece of paper, blank except for the line: “2 Ns and one L.”

(hat tip to Mary Faulkner for the joke)

Certainly some of us are misunderstood. Most assuredly some of us are working for a CEO or Owner who views HR as either fluff (parties! picnics! cheer camp!) or a necessary evil (terminations! lawsuits! benefit administration!).

Some of us are just plain doing it wrong.

So let’s talk about it.

Join me for today’s SHRM #nextchat (3 PM ET) for a twitter chat we’re calling HR, Be Human. Be Awesome. (click through on that link for the questions we’ll be discussing).

Let’s debunk some myths, chat about what misconceptions drives us crazy, and celebrate all there is to like love have a really strong attraction to in the human resources profession.

 

 

 

 

 

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Julia and Me (and Chaz! And Michelle!) #WorkHuman

This is year 3 (three!!) of Globoforce’s #WorkHuman conference and I have been attending since the beginning.

I’ve also been the biggest fan of this event. It’s kind of tribal…like heading to get tattoos with all your girlfriends one weekend.  Or a super bonding camping trip where everyone has to use a communal port-a-potty.

Sounds weird for an HR conference but it’s really not.

I’ve never been a devotee of the sunrise yoga at 7 AM (have not attended one single session…#shocker), nor have I been particularly enamored with the flavored water served at “refreshment break” time when all I really desired was carbonation and/or a strong cup of java, yet…I still get all ramped up by every other element.

And the attendees? Smart people who are interested in what makes human beings tick. Talent professionals who are intrigued by how to make work better and how to create organizations that allow people to do their best work.

So yeah…I planned on attending in 2017 as soon as last year’s conference ended and then, BAM, the following ‘announcements’ are made (in this approximate order):

  1. Adam Grant back as a keynote (omg.. y’all…I loved him so much! And he wrote a new book with Sheryl Sandberg)
  2. Susan Cain announced as another keynote speaker; author of “Quiet Power”
  3. Globoforce extends an invitation to me and my co-presenter Bill Boorman to lead a session on “Hiring for a ‘Challenging’ Culture.” 
  4. OMG!  Julia Louis-Dreyfus is announced as a keynote speaker (Elaine moments galore float through the recesses of my brain).
  5. Sweet Fancy Moses – we now have Chaz Bono as a keynote
  6. Michelle Obama is unveiled as the closing keynote! Michelle Obama! 

When that Michelle Obama announcement was made I swear to you that I literally died and somehow resurrected my temporal not-quite-human spirit to come back to earth and assume bodily form in order to get myself to Phoenix at the end of May.

Truly.

So…do YOU wanna join me?  There are still some tickets left but you have to move fast; the conference is almost sold out! But, if you register HERE and use code WH17INF-RSC you can save $500 off the price of registration.

See you in Phoenix! 

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