Repeat After Me: Just Don’t Be a Richard

I’ve had numerous conversations over the last several months that have given me pause as an HR professional.  Wait, let me amend that. Conversations that have given me pause as a business professional.

These conversations were with employees, managers and leaders who work in fly-over country for salt-of-the-earth, middle America, un-sexy companies in non-glamorous industries.  Insurance companies, manufacturing plants, and hospitals. Restaurants, transportation providers, call-centers and governmental entities.

You know…real jobs with real people; not the “world of work” we’re fed via the glossy pages of Fast Company magazine and its brethren.

This, my friends, is the world where punitive attendance polices still exist (as opposed to flexible work/life integration practices) and performance management programs cozily snuggle up next to forced rankings. A place where business owners and/or organizational leaders still feel it’s A-OK to suggest that a female candidate can be paid less because “she’s probably not the primary bread-winner for the family.”  A reality where not everyone has access to Slack or Dropbox or, believe it or not, even a mobile device with WIFI capability. This, of course, means that work schedules are posted on a bulletin board and employees take a bus across town to physically visit the workplace to check their schedule for the next week. And, in a perverted distortion of humanity, if they can’t physically view their schedule (or get hold of anyone via telephone) and thus miss a scheduled shift, they are then penalized via that draconian attendance policy. Full circle in a Kafkaesque world.

These are the workplaces that are veritable orgies of old-school management practices overlaid with a slick (and false) veneer of culture, values, and sexy branding. The sort of places that win a “Best Places to Work” award conferred by the Chamber of Commerce, local media conglomerate, or a third-party Rewards and Recognition vendor that paid big bucks to ‘sponsor’ the awards.

Workplaces where, sometimes, the managers/leaders still operate as if they’re running a Dickensian workhouse. Why? Sometimes it’s due to… 

  • Narcissistic love of power – “I’m in charge and I make the rules” (Waah ha ha!!)
  • Managers who developed their personal style of management at the knee of a mentor (raised up in the 70’s) and are too afraid or too lazy to adjust at this stage of the game
  • The ingrained belief that “everyone is out to screw us” (most often evidenced in business owners as opposed to leaders in an enterprise organization or governmental entity)
  • Stereotypes
  • Prejudices
  • Privilege

When will the day arrive when more workers can reap the benefits of our “new way of working?” Will we ever bridge the digital divide and find a way for everyone to benefit from the use of technology? What about workplace flexibility and the ability to take sick leave and not be ostracized for giving birth or having surgery or spending time with an ill family member? I think we can look back to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire (106 years ago) and see vast improvements…but there are still locks on the doors.  Those barricades, placed on the doors by owners and managers, are now preventing people from opportunity and freedom of another kind.

Workplace freedom.

Note: this post, and its title, was inspired by a recent conversation with a business owner who said that her company’s policy around unlimited vacation for employees is “take off whatever time you need, just don’t be a dick about it.”  

Simple. Easy. Common sense.  

 

image: via tshirt hub

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The #tru Community – Louisiana Style

truNewOrleanssquare300x300I’m looking forward to a fun day! It’s #truNOLA time and we’ll be learning, sharing, collaborating and furthering relationships within our HR and Recruiting community.

I love everything about these events.

This is the third #tru I’ve hosted in Louisiana; we held #truNOLA in 2012, #truBatonRouge last year, and now we’re set for the 2016 iteration.

So what do we have in store? We’ve got tracks about Branding the Entire Employee Lifecycle and Applying the Candidate Experience to an Individual Applicant. We’ll be talking about the Recruiting of Veterans and How to Recruit Industrial Labor (from an ever-narrowing pool of interested candidates).

Oh – and we’re gonna dive into a debate about In-House vs. 3rd Party Recruiters as we ask the question “Can’t We All Get Along?”

A BUNCH of good stuff – check it out here.

Huge thanks to our sponsors (without whom this would NOT be happening!) – HROnboard and Clinch. Seriously – go check them out if you haven’t already.

You can follow along today using the hashtag #truNOLA. Oh, and here’s a fun story….there’s a New Orleans rapper on twitter named @JSLUGG500 who uses the same hashtag; I’m sure he can’t quite figure out what-in-the-hell is going on…..

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I Still Like Cover Letters

mailboxI belong to numerous Facebook groups filled with members who are sourcers, recruiters, HR folks, techies, and assorted “talent” pundits. At least once per month, I swear to you, a lengthy thread emerges when someone posts something along the line of “do you still want to receive cover letters from candidates?”

People get riled up! It’s almost as hot a debate as the other old conversational standby in these groups about “Agency vs. Corporate Recruiters.” (That one, by the way, is also a crowd-pleaser; routinely getting 72+ comments within 24 hours.)

 

The “no cover letter” crowd is adamant:

  • not needed because I can find everything I want about a candidate online
  • I don’t read them anyway
  • I haven’t looked at a cover letter in 10 years!

Those who like cover letters point out that:

  • a cover letter can tell a story
  • if no one else submits a cover letter, the candidate can stand out
  • for positions that require writing skills, a cover letter is a must

I sit firmly in the “yes” camp.

I recently sat down with the folks at the Louisiana Job Connection and discussed “How to Spot a Leader Just from Reading a Cover Letter.” Really. In the article I talk about how I look for “The Four I’s” when perusing a cover letter:

  • Impact
  • Innovation
  • Improvements
  • Inspiration

As I opined, whether you’re a hiring manger, recruiter or HR gal sifting through the inbox, when you receive not only the resume/CV but also a cover letter “you can weed through all the job-search buzzwords and spot candidates with genuine leadership skills or leadership potential.”

Does that make me a dinosaur?

 

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It’s Not a Party ’til the HR Lady is Slathered in Butter

NCI_butterA few months ago I made a move that was, let’s face it, the opposite of what every-other-HR-professional in the world seems to have on their career-to-do-list. I left my life as an HR consultant and went back in house to lead an HR department once again.

I missed being an HR lady.

I missed being part of a team. I missed setting long term goals and objectives and having the internal influence and resources to get things done. I missed being affiliated with an organization. Confession time; I found it challenging to talk about “me” (which, let’s face it is what one is selling as a consultant) because I always felt I sounded like a braggadocious egotist. Even though I had the credentials, credibility, and achievements to back up the “me” talk, it felt awkward and uncomfortable. Does that make sense?

But I also missed heading into the office every day. Really. Even though here in Baton Rouge it means a daily craptfest of traffic woes I missed hopping in my car each morning. I missed chatting with people at the coffee pot, grabbing a quick conversational moment in the ladies room, and being physically together with coworkers. Really. While every other person in the world seems focused on finding ways they can get their work done from home or the local coffee shop, I have to admit I enjoy being all together in one environment. I totally got Marissa Mayer.

This new job of mine is in the entertainment/hospitality industry. A casino as a matter of fact (which any google search of my name will let you know). We are, obviously, in the business of providing fun. We’re busiest when everyone else is not busy and looking for stuff to do; nights, weekends, holidays. 10 PM. Midnight. 2 AM. Holidays.

Naturally, as one might imagine, New Year’s Eve is one of the most frantic days of the year; there are special events, dinners, parties, music, and champagne toasts. Thousands of people stop in for a spot of fun and festivities.

It was all hands on deck of course so I worked that evening. I bussed tables and rolled silverware. I helped a few lost patrons find their way back to the Valet office. I hustled around the dining room to pass out utensils so our diners could crack open their lobsters.

I served a few drinks (non-alcoholic only; I don’t yet have the liquor license that allows me to pass out the good stuff) and wiped down some bathroom counters. I took a stroll through the gaming floor to say “hello” but also to pick up stray papers and pieces of refuse.

By the end of the night I was exhausted. I also had an absolute blast.

Teamwork at its finest. Exactly what I wanted when I went back to join an organization; a place where we all work together to make sure the biggest night of the year is a roaring success.

Those lobsters though. Thousands of lobsters served as part of the New Year’s Eve dinner. Lobsters which, naturally, require melted butter.

At one stage during the evening, as I was moving through a back hallway near the kitchen I heard Chef A yelling across the kitchen to Chef B: “hey…someone get a mop out here and clean this floor. The HR Lady almost fell on this butter.”

It’s good to be back.

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thanks to my friend Kelly Blokdijk for the blog post title

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Collaboration: Working Smarter, Not Harder

macbook on tableObviously the use of technology can support organizational collaboration. But hey… even if you don’t think that’s the case there are loads of technology vendors willing to offer you a solution for a problem you didn’t even know you had.

The reality, of course, is that we’re hyper connected with the opportunity to not only build robust social networks but also to interact across industries, time zones and geographies.  Many of us have grown accustomed to casting a wide net outside our organizations (hello Facebook friends!) but we need to enable the same sort of relationship building and connecting inside our organizations.

Social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. etc.) have brought about a deeper understanding in the underlying approach to democratized sharing. Here in 2015 we all create and refine content as equals. Of course, as people expanded their use of these technologies at home or in their personal lives they began to not only expect them but also demand them at work.

And that’s a good thing.

But tools and technologies, used in the name of “collaboration,” should only be leveraged as such (invoking the C word) when they’ll support the creation of value.  Will you dissolve the constraints of time and distance by using a new tool?  Will use of a specific technology make work better? Will it be easier for people to partner and ideate together? Will you further the attainment of goals? Will you get more sh*t done?

It’s not as simple as flipping the switch and handing out logins and passwords though. You need to plan for the best method of implementation which includes being aware, once again, of both the motivational and ability barriers that exist in your workplace.  If technologies, no matter how helpful, are rolled out from ‘the top down’ some employees may resist what they see as yet another imposition.  “Why is the CEO telling us we have to use this?” “She has no concept how we work day to day.” 

Rather, leaders should consider letting technology adoption float from the ‘bottom up’ if its championed by actual users. Bob in IT likes a new online whiteboard, widget or sharing app? His team uses it? Let Bob roll it up and out to the rest of the organization.

The leader still has a role in this scenario as s/he needs to create the context and framework (and ensuring tools and resources are available) while allowing the actual demand and integration to be developed by employees…the users. The doers.

Smarter. Not harder.

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Thoughtful planning and preparation is critical to ensure effective collaboration in your organization.

Collaboration should be approached not because it’s a word on the company mission statement but rather because there are organizational goals and business strategies.

As we covered in this series it’s important to understand:

  • The types of collaboration and how collaborative groups form
  • The dynamics of organizational culture
  • The barriers that may exist due to people being either unwilling or unable to collaborate
  • The role of the leader
  • The smart use of tools and technologies

I believe you can maximize the return from talented employees and drive business success through successful, meaningful and purposeful collaboration.

I hope you believe that too.

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