Thursday, December 27, 2012

Looking Forward to 2013




Have you ever been at the last week of one year and you are feeling extremely optimistic about the next one?  Well that's how I am feeling.  It's the first time in a LONG time that I am feeling that way both personally and professionally.

I know as a blogger I am supposed to make predictions about what is going on in HR next year...well I am not going to do that this year as I believe we all know what HR will be focused on in the next 5 years...given the last 5 years!  (well maybe just one little prediction, see below)

So here is why I am excited and optimistic about my 2013:

1) I am President of SHRM-Atlanta.  That is a big deal to me and I look forward in leading our 2600+ members down a path of business leadership.  I have wanted to be in this position for a long time and it's here.

2) I am personally responsible for myself for the first time in 20 years! That feels great.  I also am working hard on "motivating" my son through college as I want him to be personally responsible at a much younger age.

3) My business partner is retiring in 2014.  That's hard for me personally, but I know she is not going away as I believe her HOME is in Atlanta.  Professionally that leaves me with some challenges about what do I WANT TO do, and what direction am I going to go.  Scary but hey, its reality.  I have learned so much being in business with Barbara Hughes, so I am armed and ready!

4) My glass is half full on the economy.  I love all the positive news that is coming out regarding housing, unemployment, and consumer optimism (depending on the status of the fiscal cliff. LOL).  Good news breeds more good news.

5) HR is uniquely positioned to be a power player.  HR understands now what business leaders need.  HR understands that people are a company's competitive advantage.  HR understands it must show and add value.  HR is getting ready to prove all of those...HR is more than administration, HR is business leadership.

6) I did some personal and professional house cleaning this year.  I used to pride myself in having a full plate.  It used to be "who I was."  I cleaned that plate off completely.  I looked at all my activities and let go of those that I needed to let go of.  I looked at people and separated myself from those that aren't positive and uplifting.  I am proud to say my plate has a few very important things and people on it and I am better for it.

7) Speaking of plates...I need to get my literal one under control.  In other words I need to put less food on my plate.  That is a challenge for me and I will make progress next year on becoming a healthier person.

8) I want to learn something new next year.  I haven't figured out what yet, but I can take courses at my local college for free because I am an adjunct.  Maybe a language, maybe something technical, maybe flower arranging...not sure yet.

I am raising my virtual glass to say cheers to all my friends, colleagues, readers and family.  I look forward to a great year with all of you!!!


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

You have B.O. not a Dress Code Problem




Every time I get together with my friends and HR Colleagues Ed Nangle and Charlette Stout, I always come away with a blog topic.

Today was no different.

We like to get together once per month in our HR Think Tank and talk about relevant HR issues, the future of HR and learning experiences from our clients.  It's so fun!

Today, we began talking about leadership and confronting employee issues head on.  We were discussing the fact that many leaders do not like confrontation and can't get the real issues out on the table.  Even worse, some leaders just ignore the issue thinking it might just go away.  HA!

It made me think of an experience I had as a young HR Manager:

I worked for a technology company outside of Atlanta and had been promoted to HR Manager.  I was being trained by the Director of HR on how to handle employee relations issues.  We were located in a large call center with about 200-300 techs.  As you can well imagine we had our fair share of employee issues.

I can remember my boss asking me to sit in on an employee/manager meeting one day that involved B.O.  Yes, you got it the dreaded body odor issue.  We had many complaints from other employees that one individual had a really bad body odor problem that was really offending other workers.  My boss, started off the discussion with the smelly employee by quoting from our Dress Code Policy regarding a neat and clean appearance, etc.  She hemmed and she hawed and was very nervous trying to deliver this information.  Afterwards, I knew that smelly didn't get it.  I asked my boss, "why didn't you just say, hey man, you have B.O. you need to fix that.  Deodorant, soap whatever it takes."  My boss didn't want to EMBARRASS the employee.  Well, guess what he probably still stinks today.  The whole interaction reminded me of the time when my ex and I were trying to tell our son about the birds and the bees.  He stammered and couldn't get the words out, and I jumped in talking about babies, condoms, and sex.

Months later, I was handling my own employee relations issues and my boss was observing.  My second issue was another employee with B.O.  The employee came in, the manager was there.  My boss was observing.  I said, "We have had complaints about your body odor and we need to find a solution."  My boss just about fell out of her chair.  The employee was uncomfortable but as soon as I said it, he knew it.  By the end of the week, his act was all cleaned up and he smelled like Irish Spring.

Be a leader....put issues on the table.

I know you have observed this behavior in your own workplaces.  We also discussed leaders that talk really BIG about telling an employee this and telling an employee that.  But, when the time comes the leader has amnesia and you would think he and that employee were BFF's.  What happens to the leadership backbone?

What can we do do help leaders with this issue?  I have used a real life kinda funny example, but some of these issues are way more serious and could wind up in litigation (harassment issues).  Can you train to improve a leader's backbone or are you just born that way?

Monday, December 3, 2012

More on HR Competencies



I had the pleasure of hosting a panel for SHRM-Atlanta last week during our Power Breakfast.  It was really a blast being able to speak with Top HR professionals and Business Leaders from Assurant, Comcast and Kimberly Clark.

Last week, I discussed the new competency model SHRM unveiled this past summer at the annual conference.

Competencies have been on my mind lately.  One of the questions I asked the panel was this:

What are the top 3 competencies you think are important for HR professionals to master in order to become a true business leader?  

Here are the collective answers from the panel:

1. Credibility
2. Great communication skills
3. Great listener
4. Understand how your business makes its money
5. Strategic thinking
6. Root cause problem solving
7. Sales mentality
8. Courage (to say no, when necessary)
9. Ability to put together a winning team
10.  Understand all facets of the business

What was so interesting to me as the moderator as not one HR professional or one business leader talked about HR Knowledge.

So, for me I think its crystal clear...to be successful today in HR you need to BE A BUSINESS PERSON FIRST AND AN HR PERSON SECOND.

I know, the next question, HOW do you get some of the competencies listed above.  I can only speak from experience for myself and other colleagues but here is a short list:

1) Get an MBA and don't specialize in HR
2) Walk around in the business and ask good questions
3) Spend time with sales
4) Make your CFO your BFF
5) Practice leadership in a volunteer role

How have you learned the business?  How have you learned to put together a winning team?  How have you acquired some of the competencies I mentioned above?