I’ll staple those applications

This is a story about a time I when I had a great idea.

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The year was two thousand and seven. I was all of 21 years old and very ambitious. I had been working my first “grown up” job for a year now and had been exceeding all expectations. I had learned so much in that time, but I knew I needed to find ways to manage my time better and increase efficiency.

I was the youngest person working in the office at the time with three other ladies. Two of which were older than my parents, but not quite old enough to be my grandparents and one was probably close to my parents age. The two older ladies worked upstairs while me and the younger of the other three worked downstairs. Her and I saw a lot of people every day coming in to fill out these lengthy paper applications. Her and I were the first round of interviews, screening them to see if they were good enough candidates to send upstairs (as I type this, I realize that process was also ridiculous). We handled the drug screens, scheduling, applicant flow, filing, answering phones, etc. The other two ladies handled payroll, delivering checks, extra screening, meetings and one of them did sales. All of that to explain that they weren’t always up close witnesses to the dated process of the paper applications and how long it took.

Process at the time: take paper application, interview candidate, send candidate upstairs for further interview, make candidate an offer, drug screen candidate, on-board candidate, enter new hire information into our system. YEAH, we took their info from their application and entered it into the system so we could pay them. They wrote out all of their info and then someone would take that info and manually key it into the system. Manually. key. it. in.

YALL… one day I was playing around and found out that the software we used to enter applicant data in and administer payroll was in fact a fairly sophisticated ATS! IT COULD TAKE ONLINE APPLICATIONS… We had this product we were paying for that could take applications and here we were handing out all these dadgum paper applications like it was 1982. YALL… I started crunching some numbers, because even in my early days I knew data was the way to make your case. How much were we spending ordering these paper applications, shipping the paper applications to our office, and then stapling all of the separate sheets together? How much time did it take an applicant on average to fill this massive thing out, how much time did it take to file it, how much time did it take to enter it in once we hired them, etc.? How much would it cost to set up 4-6 computers in the office for applicants to use to fill out the online version of this application? THE. NUMBERS. SPOKE. FOR. THEMSELVES.

As you can tell from this typed out blog post about a story from over 10 years ago, I was EXCITED! I had everything I needed to make a case for why we needed to change our process immediately and I couldn’t wait to tell somebody. I remember telling the ladies who worked upstairs about this idea and how simple it would be for me to set it up for us. I talked about streamlining the process, saving time, $$, I hit all the key factors BUT those two ladies only heard “you’re inefficient, I can do it better, I’m replacing you.”

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This is my “really, that’s all you heard?” face…

I didn’t know what to do with that. I was floored because that’s not what I was saying at all. I wasn’t sure where that was coming from and I didn’t know how to dispute it. I let it go. When given the chance to run another office for the same company I eventually implemented all the upgrades I wanted to do in my office. When my office became the biggest billing office in the company, other offices were instructed to do what I was doing. It wasn’t about replacing anyone, it was about improving our efficiency and service. I didn’t know how to refine my message back then or have a conversation with peers who were afraid I viewed them as a non-factor and replaceable. I could have done a much better job of pitching my idea, my mistake was not taking the time to understand that I might need to.

Learn how to talk to people of all levels. Approach issues with the other persons perspective in mind. When all else fails, shut up and listen.

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Only 48 hours

Like most of the #SHRM18 attendees and bloggers I have a lot of thoughts to share with you all from the sessions I attended, but one has constantly been running through my mind since Wednesday.

What if you only had 48 hours to respond to the biggest opportunity of your lifetime?

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This question came from Pamela Meyer during her session Agility Shift: People Practices, Models and Metrics to Create a More Agile, Competitive Organization. I have a lot of great takeaways from this session. I’ve always been a fan of the agile approach and talk about it with candidates often. I don’t get to talk about it with professionals on the business side so this session was FANTASTIC for me, BUT I want to focus on this 48 hour thing right now.

What if you only had 48 hours to respond to the biggest opportunity of your lifetime?

Carrying on with the theme of the session you should absolutely apply this to your organization. What if your company had 48 hours to respond to a Request For Proposal (RFP) or Request For Information (RFI) or whatever is specific to your industry, and it was the biggest business opportunity your company has ever seen? Is your team ready? Do you have the right approach? Do you know your resources? How much time would you and your team waste on unnecessary steps? Do you know anything about the customer? So. Many. Questions.

I took this a step further though and applied it specifically to me. As I grow my writing and speaking opportunities, would I be ready to respond to the biggest opportunity I’ve had if I only had 48 hours? I don’t even have a clear and concise portfolio, brand, presence, etc. Would I be ready to respond to the job opportunity of a lifetime in 48 hours? My resume hasn’t been updated in years.

Am I ready to respond to anything in 48 hours? As you go through your week I want you to think about this question and really decide what you can cut out to be ready! I’ll do the same and in the mean time I’m going to order (and read) Pamela’s book so I can better prepare my organization and myself for responding to that opportunity within 48 hours. I’m smart enough for this, I just need the right approach and I’m willing to bet the same thing goes for you.

 

The first time I tweeted

Hot off the heels of #SHRM18 and I have to share that I’ve been quite sappy about it!

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First reason being because Chicago is where it all started for me. #SHRM13 was the first time I was invited to be a part of the bloggers team and I was absolutely overwhelmed with the experience. I was introduced to so many wonderful, intelligent HR professionals from different industries and backgrounds, heard speakers that I probably never would have heard otherwise, went to Chicago for the first time, played a pretty fun kickball game with complete strangers for a good cause, went to a party where DJ Jazzy Jeff was the entertainment and saw firsthand how important it is for #HR professionals to have other #HR people in their circle. I was welcomed into a group of people who were trying to do good HR and help others do the same. The other reason being how twitter changed everything for my professional development and career path. Seriously.

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The first time I tweeted was at an Alabama SHRM State conference back in 2012. The conference organizers had set up two screens in the main session room that would scroll through tweets of people using their hashtag in real-time. I sat close to the front and kept seeing the same few tweets over and over from two, maybe three people ( I have determined two were April Dowling and Pam Werstler). I was uncomfortable, I was slightly embarrassed for the conference organizers (I had empathy for conference organizers far before I ever helped organize a conference) and decided to pull my phone out and create a twitter so I could start tweeting about the session. It didn’t help much, but I was doing my part to throw some variety on the tweet screen set-up. My plan was to delete my twitter after the conference, but I didn’t. I’m so glad I didn’t.

Fast forward to today and I’m connected to thousands of #HR professionals across the globe via twitter. I interact with hundreds of them regularly, call some of them my friends, and have used them as resources when I need fresh perspectives on a challenge or some expert guidance. I’ve been inspired by #HR pros on twitter, I’ve been furious because of some of the content from #HR pros, I’ve been a voice in the conversation for our profession thanks to twitter, and I’ve listened to other voices of our profession, also thanks to twitter. I’ve found mentors through this social media tool, role models, people who are smarter than me, people who also make mistakes, people who are better writers than me, people who have experienced things I have not, people who love me, and some people who don’t. I find updates in the legal realm of HR via twitter, I get to see takeaways from events and conferences in real-time via twitter, I see people helping others solve their challenges through twitter, and one time I met Boyd Tinsley because of twitter. He’s a hugger, as you can see below. Good things happen on twitter.

 

Good things happen on twitter if you let them. All things that can be used for good can also be used for bad (or even evil). In my experience the good outweighs the bad. If you are still hesitant to get on twitter, try it for 30 days. If you are afraid that your employees will see what you are tweeting, make your account private. If you go the route of private you can control who follows you, but I recommend putting HR in your bio so other HR pros can tell they should follow you back when you follow them. You can also practice “what if my boss reads this” or “what if employees read this” and screen your own tweets. Believe it or not, there are some things I want to tweet that I actually never hit send on. If you are afraid of being yourself out there and feel the need to make an anonymous account that works for some people, but I think you’ll have a hard time building real relationships that route and you are really missing out if you can’t build real relationships.

All this to say that really I’ve experienced so much because of my first tweet. I really believe that if it weren’t for the opportunity to connect and build relationships via twitter, my career would’ve stalled out years ago. I would’ve learned far less than I have and had a much smaller network of HR friends and colleagues to cheer me on and challenge me to be better. I’ve had opportunities to speak to groups, write for other companies, travel to new cities, etc. and all of that can be traced back to my first tweet!

#SHRM18 Speaker Spotlight: Pamela Meyer, PhD

pamela meyerI took some time to chat with Pamela Meyer, Ph.D about her #SHRM18 session Agility Shift: People Practices, Models and Metrics to Create a More Agile, Competitive Organization. Her session title caught my attention because ‘Agile’ is a term that comes up often in my recruiting work and I’ve always been interested in how we can leverage that in the HR world. Pamela and I discussed so much around this session and I want to share a little bit of that discussion with you! If you’re like me and you want to know how you can apply this approach to the HR function for the business you support then you should check out her session on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m.!

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Pamela shared that she is excited to talk about the capacities of agility with a captive HR audience because it’s time to translate the agile approach from a software environment into business units to stay competitive and successful. Agile is not a new concept by any means, but the implementation of it in the business side of work still has a ways to go. Specifically considering the humanistic approach, she shared the fact that as humans we are wired to avoid uncertainty! Think about your workplace: you have policies, procedures, risk assessments, etc. to ensure you lower your organizations risks in difference scenarios. We regularly carry out practices to reduce uncertainty, but we have to consistently view challenges as opportunities and treat them accordingly.

This session is going to spark your interest and show you how to find ways to apply the transferable lessons that can be applied widely (even if the whole company doesn’t adopt an agile approach), but what is it going to take? First things first, a mindset shift. Any of us can implement the most wonderful process, but without the “why” it will be wasted. The goal is sustained business success and that requires responding to changes internally and externally, agility is central to being able to do that. The agile approach is going to help you widen your lens past the HR piece of the pie, and quite frankly we need to be challenged to do that.

If you don’t know where to start, this session is for you. If you get it, but don’t know how to get more buy in, this session is for you. If you want a preview of some of the Agility Shift concepts take this 5 minute complimentary Agility Shift Inventory (ASI) and receive a report on your current agility capacity here.

Guess what else I learned? Pamela has the scoop on Chicago for us! Here are her recommendations for something fun to do outside of conference that also happen to be a great way to see agility in action while enjoying a night out in Chicago-the home of contemporary improvisational theater:

o   iO: https://www.ioimprov.com/

o   Comedy Sportz: http://www.cszchicago.com/

o   Annoyance Theater: https://theannoyance.com/

 

If you’re looking for more on Agile for the business side look here and here.

Because Pamela is excited about meeting people at #SHRM18 and the conversations that will be had I want to encourage you to connect with her today! Here’s how you can connect with Pamela before #SHRM18:

 

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Bad Training is… bad! A #SHRM18 Interview with Patti Perez

One of the things I get excited about as a conference blogger is the chance to chat with some of the speakers ahead of the event. I pick different speakers every year to, wait for it…, expand my world! Okay, that was a cheesy set-up to spotlight the theme, let me move on!

I had the pleasure of chatting with Patti Perez, VP of Workplace Strategy for Emtrain and patti perezwe had THE. BEST. CHAT.! I picked Patti because her session title, “Top 10 Ways to Make Your Harassment Prevention Training Impactful and Consequential,” caught my eye. I think we can all agree that events playing out in the spotlight over the past year have us all in a position to evaluate our training and culture so this is the kind of session I’m looking for at #SHRM18. What I wanted to find out for all of you, and myself, is Patti’s approach to this topic and I was not disappointed.

Before I tell you what I learned about her session I should pause to tell you how excited she is to be speaking at SHRM again. This time she is most excited about connecting with attendees because the last two times she presented at the big show she didn’t take the time to do any intentional networking! I want to encourage you all to go ahead and follow her on twitter @patticperez to help her with this goal (You can also find her on LinkedIn here, and yes she is already planning on meeting Steve Browne in person this year to help him out with his goal to meet every person at #SHRM18).

For this session you can expect Patti to tell us like it is: bad training is BAD, bad training is ineffective! She’s going to call you out if you’re doing training with just your compliance blinders on because it has to be so much more! You saw that she has her JD and you thought she was going to roll in and teach us compliance didn’t you?

Patti’s approach is delivered in 3 main sections: 1) Philosophical/big picture consideration. 2) Practical Tips. 3) Delivery/design and how to engage. More of a “here’s a template, but please accommodate for your organization as needed.”

I’ve been to many a conference and one of the things that I hear often is “that’s nice, but we could never do that” so I dug a little further and chatted Patti up about that very challenge. How can we implement this in our organization? Patti believes there are basically three kinds of executives/managers when it comes to this challenge and we can divide them up in buckets, just for fun! The first bucket being “woke executives” or the executives who already understand the business case for a healthy organization. The second bucket being the kind who knows “simply complying isn’t good business” or the group who knows they don’t want to be the next Uber (or insert many a name instead of Uber). The third, and most challenging bucket, being the “paranoid, fearful, people are out to get me” group who basically lack trust and haven’t understood the benefits of treating people professionally, respectfully, and with a transparent approach. To apply what you’re hearing in this session (or any session at any conference) you have to identify which one is your audience (what bucket does your management team fall in) and build your case to that challenge. Patti wants to move everyone out of the paranoid bucket, but its probably going to take work from her and the audience to accomplish that task.

Training is one piece to the puzzle, its not a magic pill, and it has to match your overall approach to your work environment. Saying one thing in training and doing another during real life opportunities in the workplace will undoubtedly render your training useless so it is necessary for your training to be a reflection of your organizations approach to problem solving and how you value your talent. I’m really looking forward to hearing from Patti at #SHRM18 and would love to meet you at her session!

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The Most Awkward Position on Your Board

My faithful readers know that I’ve been involved in my local SHRM chapter since about 2008 and that I’ve held a lot of different volunteer roles through those years (holy cow that’s ten years, which I think makes me a chapter historian by default). Side note, if you’re still a faithful reader of my inconsistent blogging, you deserve an award and all of my appreciation! Focus Kristina.

My favorite role was Legislative Director (or Governmental Affairs) and I did that one for a few years! I’ve also been on the Community Relations Committee that later evolved to the Community Relations and Education Committee (and yeah I was on that too). I was Chapter Administrator and a workshop magician with Michelle (good story, you should keep one or two of these in your chapter). I rolled out the chapters social media (that we are STILL working on-cmon HR pros use the social media powers for good already and stop fighting it)! I’ve supported Programs and Membership via subcommittees and helped anyone who ever had more than they could handle on their plate execute their volunteer commitment in a way that ensured our members wouldn’t miss a beat. I’ve helped coordinate membership events, vendor appreciation events, updated chapter info, suffered through HOURS LONG board meetings where we all had to share 1 large pizza (It’s worth mentioning here that I can literally eat an entire large pizza by myself), supported SHRM Foundation through calling companies begging for donations, marketed everywhere I could think of, changed our sponsor strategy, partnered with many a local initiative, raised money, recruited volunteers, balanced a budget or two, stressed over menu options and I actually wore a t-shirt that said “HR for hoo-hahs” in public to support an event that a board member signed our chapter up for. She thought “hoo-hahs” were your boobs… no one calls their boobs “hoo-hahs.” I’ve been president-elect, I’ve been president, I’ve been many a presidents “get stuff done” person, I’ve asked people to stop soliciting to members, I’ve been accused of not providing enough tech support to members who were trying to figure out their gmail (turns out it wasn’t me she was looking for, Ben helped her set up her gmail-how did she even confuse me with him?).  I’ve even endured an awkward conversation with a member that suggested I should be submitted to a psychiatric study, but by far the most awkward position I’ve ever held for our chapter has been immediate Past President.

That’s the actual title, immediate Past President. I get the purpose of this role and I’m thrilled to still be on the board (and back in a support role), but this one is weird! I sort of feel like I’m in the way and that maybe a good ol clean cut changing of the guard was in order. I love our members and I enjoy serving them, but I feel like I’m in the boards way now. I knew it was time to roll off the board and make way for new members and fresh ideas on the board, believe me I’m all for me getting out of the way. We have a board filled with excitement and great ideas for the chapter, but I find myself having an internal conversation of “be seen and not heard, they will let you know when they need you.” I get the idea of a Past President, its great to have the continuation and someone to pass along a bit of history for the newer board members, but sometimes I just feel like the person in the room getting in the way of creativity. Really all I need to do is pass on what I know doesn’t work (and why it didn’t work for us) and what I know works (and why) and then get out of the way.

This is a serious leadership learning opportunity for me because I’m sure I can find a way to add value and not be in the way, I just haven’t figured it out yet. Fading out would be the easy way to deal with this, but I had other members make it a point to ask me to my face if I was going to “disappear like all of the other past presidents” on multiple occasions so I came into this role with the drive to be present, be supportive, and be a set of hands when needed but sometimes its hard. I’ve been around long enough to see almost every other president disappear (one or two actually moved away and didn’t disappear in the sense of not showing up to our events anymore) and I always wondered how to get those past presidents involved again. In my efforts to get them re-engaged through the years I did find out that some just needed to feel included, some just needed a break, but now I know at least one of us needs a safe place to say “I’m sorry for being so freaking awkward.” If you’re reading this and you’re a super awesome leader and you didn’t have this problem, good for you! I am apparently still learning leadership lessons and figuring out how to best lead from where I am without getting in the way of the actual leadership.

As a reward for your faithfulness and sticking it out to the end of this post, here’s the t-shirt proof. I tore my closet apart looking for the shirt so I could just take a picture of it for you all, but I couldn’t find it so I dug through Facebook to find the actual proof that I wore this in public… to support my fellow board member of course. Being immediate Past President is more awkward than showing you all the proof that I wore this shirt… in public.

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It was a breast cancer awareness 5k (I feel compelled to tell you that neither of the ladies I’m pictured with here had anything to do with this shirt). 

My favorite woman

There’s no better person I could write about on #InternationalWomensDay than my Grandma! I love this woman so much and she loves me just as much. Grandma has been the strongest female role model throughout my life and such an influence on me. I felt it appropriate to share some wisdom this woman has passed on to me through the years today.

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Grandma (shes the beautiful one in the middle)

I didn’t realize it at the time, but she was the first person to teach me couponing. After Minyard and I started couponing hardcore and building grocery lists around deals in the store I had a flashback to helping my grandma cut coupons and watching her make grocery lists. It sounds like a silly thing to share, but I love that I can be doing something as an adult and tie it to a childhood memory with my grandma!

I think she is responsible for how little I wash my hair. She would tell me stories about how when she was a little girl they could only wash their hair like once a month. I thought that was SO GROSS when I was a kid. I would say “Grandma, how yuck! I bet your hair was stinky!” Now, I feel ya Grandma, I feel ya…I’m just glad I have dry shampoo to have my back the 5-8 days I go without shampooing my hair.

She taught me I could be my own boss. She was a Tupperware lady and the woman had a huge team. I don’t care what your thoughts are on MLM or Direct Sales, that woman set her own schedule and did what she wanted and I think that is bad ass.

She taught me that I could be a homemaker. She never made me feel like it was “just being a homemaker” or that there was any negativity to it. She appreciated her contribution to the home and when she wanted to work she did. Again, she does what she wants. Also, side-note but relevant, Papa was an excellent cook so that was my first glimpse of breaking apart “gender roles.”

She taught me to wear dresses to church:

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I have a feeling that she didn’t think the lesson had anything to do with hiding a tramp stamp, please don’t tell her.

She taught me how to handle conflict. I’ll never forget the time I called her so mad because my stupid cousin said something rude about her on Facebook. She said she didn’t mind and if he called her she would just say “I’m sorry you feel that way.” I think that’s boss.

She taught me that you can be completely effective in your communication without cussing (don’t mind the previous cuss word in the post). Seriously, the worst word I ever heard her say was CRAP and she apologized to me for saying that-she was just really frustrated.

She taught me to stay in touch with friends and encourage other women. I remember her friend Martha Shaw moved to Florida and they would still (pre internet) talk on the phone probably once a week. Papa would make fun of them because they could talk for hours! He would make jokes about how much Martha talked, but I could tell that her friend was important to her. She had a lot of good friends in her life and she kept up with all of them and anytime they did something, she encouraged and supported them!

She taught me to pray for others. One of her most treasured task was compiling the weekly prayer list for church. When she had to give that task to someone else (she doesn’t hear as well anymore and she doesn’t spend as much time in front of the computer anymore) she was really sad about it, but she hasn’t stopped praying for others (even my rude cousin mentioned above).

She exposed me to good TV. Some of my fondest memories include our TV time together when I would spend my summers at her house. We would watch wheel of fortune together and try to solve the puzzles before the contestants. We would watch Mama’s Family & Golden Girls every night while we ate s’mores. Of course years later she told me she didn’t realize all of the “innuendos” on Golden Girls at the time and we probably shouldn’t have watched it, but too late!!

She encouraged me to read. Those summers I would stay with her we would always read for a while before going to sleep. She bought just about every single “cat who” book for me to read. Because she read them too we were able to talk about Q and his cats KoKo and Yum Yum like we knew them personally.

She taught me cheese covers a lot of sin in the kitchen. My dad was completely bewildered when I told him she taught me that. He kept squinting and then saying “my mom? My mom said that?” Its a nice reminder that I know her differently than her kids do! 🙂

She taught me about other places in the world. She and Papa had lived in a lot of places, Japan and Alaska were my favorite places to hear about. She had visited lots of places and had stories about each move they made. I also loved to hear stories about how her and Papa got together. She would tell me she was so mad when her dad made her write letters to Papa while he was in the Army and my little 7 year old brain couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t want to write my Papa letters, because he was obviously the greatest man in the world.

She taught me its okay to fuss with your husband. My Papa loved to make jokes and irritate the stew out of Grandma. They would fuss and fuss, but not in a “I can’t stand you” way more like in an “I love you, but you’re being very annoying right now” way. He would tell me (censored) stories about World War II and I can still very vividly hear her screaming “TANK!” (that was Papas name, Tanksley no middle name Hutto). She would say “that’s not appropriate,” probably because I was so young, but I promise they were very censored stories.

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When they were young! Annie Bell and Tank (Don’t even think about calling her Annie Bell, she goes by Ann)

 

She taught me that thinking something bad is just as wrong as committing that thought. That your thoughts are a reflection of who you are, or vice versa. She taught me to accept people for who they are. She taught me to help people when I can. She taught me to listen.

She showed me I could be whatever I wanted. I could be married AND the right amount of independent, I could be strong and lady like, stern and loving. She showed me I didn’t have to be anything I didn’t want to be and that no one else got to define my self worth. Some of  my best and worst traits came from lessons she taught me and I like to think I’m as strong as I am because of her.

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