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.

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:

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.

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.



Go to Human Resources…if you dare!

Go to Human Resources.

In a time when sexual harassment victims are speaking up in a variety of industries I’m seeing more and more people ask, “Where was HR?” … “Did anyone go to HR?” I’ve just scrolled past these comments and kept my mouth shut as people have argued one way or the other whether employees should or should not go to HR. Ironic right? That I would choose to keep my mouth shut (and not just because I have a big mouth).

As an HR professional, I think you should go to HR when you have a sexual harassment complaint. In fact, I can very vividly remember the first time I ever conducted a sexual harassment investigation. I was 24 and had less than 5 years of HR experience. I was running an office for a temp service and one of my employees came forward to tell me that an employee of the customer site had been sexually harassing her. I hadn’t had the client for very long, but I had already established a great relationship with their HR person and was able to work with him to conduct a thorough (and gut wrenching) investigation. Between the two of us, I had more HR experience and it felt like the blind leading the blind.

The thing that sticks out to me the most is that I can remember how scared my employee was to come forward. When she finally came forward she told me that the talk in the plant was she would lose her job, because she was “only a temp.” Everyone knew that if a temp complained about a full-time employee, the temps fate was sealed. She was a single mother and working as much as she could to support her and her child, but couldn’t ignore the harassment any longer. She overcame her fear and came forward. She was lucky enough to have an HR person that would see the investigation through.

not speaking

I didn’t always hire for the most glamorous positions and I didn’t always have the most glamorous employees, but I know this: I will always advocate for employees when they need it, whether in-house or on a customer site. The things that we uncovered in that investigation still haunt me. The things said to employees, the things shown or done to employees, the many years it went on-far before mine and the HR manager at the times role in the company. The outcome of the investigation was termination for the accused. The temp employee who came forward became a hero to other women in the plant and things were normal for a bit. I was amazed to learn that these women had come to “accept” this type of behavior because it was a manufacturing plant and “boys will be boys” and they were outnumbered.

Fast forward several years in my career and I was working in a much more professional environment, supporting another male dominated field. A place that I thought couldn’t possibly have those kind of issues and if they did come up, we had a full team of well-educated HR professionals that would handle it. Only I was wrong.

I’ll never forget the day that I found out a female employee (who I advocated for the organization to hire) reported sexual harassment to the HR manager during her exit interview. This employee had text message proof on her phone of inappropriate conduct from a male manager and the HR manager did nothing. I often wonder if it’s because the HR manager was friends with the accused male manager, or was it because the HR manager didn’t like the way this female employee dressed? Maybe it was because the HR manager had learned to keep her mouth shut in order to survive the boys club she worked for. I’ll never know, because I’ll never ask her, but no matter the reason her lack of response tells me she doesn’t represent the HR that I advocate for. Whatever her reason it reminds me that my profession needs a lot of work. Whatever her reason for not acting on proof right in front of her face tells me that she represents why employees won’t dare go to HR for help in a situation that could be detrimental to their own working environment and career. That HR manager represents everything wrong with our profession and all the reasons why people can get away with sexual harassment and cover it with intimidation tactics-male or female.

That HR manager isn’t the only problem. There are many in the field and my plea to all of them is either get out of HR or use your network to support your spine and stand up to do the right thing. Stop feeding the notion that employees shouldn’t come to HR because we won’t do anything about it. Do something, do the right thing. If you don’t know what to do, find someone who does. Bring someone else in to conduct the investigation if you have to (an option I now prefer over doing the investigation myself, helps to keep the outcome free from existing bias). Participate in HR training’s, round-tables, webinars, whatever it takes for you to learn how to do this very tough part of your job!

You have an entire network of HR professionals out here who want you to do the right thing and will help you when you stumble!

3 ways Technology has made me a better HR Pro

If you thought this was a blog post about the many HRIS options out there you can just close this page now. For those of you that want to know what I’m talking about that’s not an HRIS here it is:

  1. Google. Y’all…. I can google anything! It’s so nice to be a Millennial in HR and know that I’ve always had google. Legal question? google. What’s the local unemployment rate? google. Local event that has content relevant to my career path? google. Webinars for an issue I’m trying to solve? google. Seriously… google is my number one. So much so that I probably owe it a Christmas gift.
  2. Social media. This one isn’t just because I love a good buzzfeed list of all the strangest interview questions or a “Whine about it Wednesday video” (those don’t even happen anymore). Social media makes the list because it helps me stay connected to a ton of HR pros that are smarter than I am and can answer some of my questions because they are experts and they are my friends. Staying in touch with people year round is so much easier with social media. Mentors via social media? YES PLEASE!
  3. Just kidding, those are the only two reasons I wanted to share.


Participation Trophies at Work

Found this post while cleaning up my drafts and decided to publish it. I wrote this almost two years ago, yet didn’t need to change a thing.  

I have yet to meet a millennial that enjoys being called a millennial. I often hear from my fellow generation that they are often called out in meetings for probably being too young to understand a reference, or too young to remember such and such event or some other ridiculous comment. When there’s only one or two young folks in the meeting room out of twenty, this can be very uncomfortable and slightly embarrassing. We are often talked to like we are responsible for an entire generation of people, for example “your generation is lazy because you all received participation ribbons.” or “you have never lived without technology and that’s ruining you all.” I usually listen with a nice warming smile, but I’m screaming at you in my head. I don’t want to take responsibility for how my generation turned out (mostly because your generation raised us)!

I don’t understand the uproar over the participation ribbon phenomenon because we didn’t give them to ourselves. This particular topic is one that will send any boomer or gen xer into an uproar even though it can be linked directly back to them. Going back to the time we were all running around a soccer field as tots to now. Why up until now? Because they are still handing out participation ribbons. That problem employee that you wish had a better attitude, you aren’t correcting it and you’re still signing a paycheck for that person every week. That entitled employee that thinks he knows everything isn’t being counseled by you because you don’t feel like dealing with him, but you’ll sign his paycheck every week. That employee that’s late every single day isn’t getting written up because you don’t have the time to sit down with her, but you still sign her paycheck every week. That employee who is only grasping half of her job isn’t receiving any further training because you can’t deal with her millennial attitude, but you can still sign her paycheck every week.

We don’t live in a perfect world so the stereotypes will always exist. The next generation to enter the workforce will endure their hazing that every previous generation has endured in years before them. They will listen to the snarky comments and smile when being called out for being to young (or incompetent) to understand what every one is talking about. We can’t get rid of the stereotypes overnight, but what we can do is try to fix the problem instead of contribute to it. If you don’t like what your “millennials” are doing, then talk to them about it. Stop going to seminars (led by people who are not millennials) about how to work with millennials and how to talk to them and just treat them like human beings. I can tell you right now how to talk to millennials:

Step 1) Find a millennial

Step 2) Open mouth

Step 3) Say words

Bam! Easy enough? And you saved a couple hundred bucks. We are not super secret, hard to understand human beings. We are employees who come to work just like you do and need guidance and feedback sometimes. We are the future of your organization and we will be responsible for the generations after us, just like you should feel responsible for us. We will carry on the legacy of our chosen fields and the organizations that we work for. You will one day pass the torch on to our generation and we hope you can do so with words of wisdom and encouragement instead of crappy remarks about how we conduct ourselves. We aren’t all the same and we know that everyone in your generation isn’t the same.

Here’s what I really want to know: What are you doing at work to address your “millennial problems?” Are you still complaining about participation trophies, but letting your workforce go rewarded for poor performance?

Stay in touch #SHRM17

It never feels like enough time at national conference. Every one is back home by now and getting in their usual work routine again (after a 12 and a half hour crash to recharge our introverted batteries-just me?). We are all catching up on what we missed while we were in NOLA and cranking out our “final thoughts” on #SHRM17 while asking ourselves how did it come and go so quickly? This was my fifth annual conference and it may have been the best one yet.

Every year the Smart Stage line up has gotten better and better (Rue has been killing it from the start), the crew responsible for the social media team finds more creative ways to use our experience as an advantage for conference attendees, and the concurrent sessions cover a wide array of interests and experience levels. This year I really started to notice more people connecting at the conference! Of course a lot of factors are at work for this to happen, but social media has a hand in all that connecting! I was so lucky to witness, and be a part of, so many IRL meet ups this year from people who have been chatting together and sharing their thoughts via twitter, Facebook, instagram, blogs, etc. and it made my little HR heart SO HAPPY!!!

Connecting with new people is not easy for every one. I know this because it takes a lot of effort for me to connect with a new person (and following Heather Bussings lead, I’m currently looking for a designated extrovert for myself to maybe make this a little easier). Regardless, these connections are vital to the growth of our field of Human Resources. Our profession is made up of all kinds of folks with different backgrounds, different interests, different education, etc. and that allows us all to see things slightly different. The cool thing about that is now you have other professionals you can bounce ideas off of, discuss challenges, and share best practices while crossing geographical boundaries. I don’t mean we should set out to copy each other in any area of our job, but to build on each others strengths and learn from each other we have to be connected.

To move our profession forward and break the stereotypes that we don’t like we must work together as a whole to, dare I say, do HR on Purpose!! The process of moving forward will happen much quicker if we are intentional about continuing the conversation long after conference. (One way you can do that is joining the #Nextchat discussions on Wednesdays at 3pm ET!!!).

Having a strong network of HR professionals to help you grow and push you to represent us all well makes the challenges of HR less overwhelming. So I want to challenge you to reach out to someone you met at #SHRM17 within the next week and just follow-up with them. Send them an email, LinkedIn message, tweet whatever you like & see how they were doing and tell them you enjoyed connecting with them! Keeping the conversation going can be that simple.

If you’re an introvert like me, having those social media connections is way less exhausting than having to constantly meet with people in person by the way.


Leading the witness

Often times we are eager to interview candidates to join our organization and some times we get so excited or have so much information to cover that we make this common interview mistake – we lead the witness.

leading the witness

With an estimated 5-6 million jobs open in the U.S. right now it makes sense that we would get eager to fill our jobs and excited to sell the candidate on our work, before letting the candidate do some talking. I’ve seen interviewers make this mistake so many times, and I always cringe when they do because it will directly impact the outcome of the interview/hiring decision.

I recently conducted a recruiting training with an HR team and I spent a lot of time on leading the witness, so much so that I had the team role play some cold calls and interviews to show them when they do this. Leading the witness can start as early as the first call (which I think is a result of so many people beating into the heads of recruiters that candidates don’t really want to talk to us – so in turn they blab everything about the job in 35 seconds because they are afraid they will never get that person on the phone again). Their HR director spoke up at one point in the training and said “If you ever get to sit in on an interview with Kristina, watch her…she does very little talking.” This is mostly because I want to hear what the candidate has to say (listen to learn), but it’s partially so I don’t do any leading. Of course to do this, you must be able to power through awkward silence. A lot of interviewers will jump to fill the silence when things get awkward and then babble down a path of telling the candidate exactly what the organization is looking for.

Now don’t get me wrong, the candidate should know what your organization is looking for and your culture shouldn’t be a secret. When you’ve done all the talking upfront and over shared what your company is looking for, you’re setting the candidate up to form their answers around what you want to hear. This makes it harder to screen for a culture fit since you’ve given away all of your culture buzzwords before you’ve heard what the candidate has in mind for their next position.

Here’s an example:

Interviewer: Here at XYZ company we are looking for candidates who believe in bringing their A game every day, we have no “off days” here. Employees give 110%. We believe in working late hours when we have a project deadline approaching, and expect project deadlines to be more important than anything else. We want some one who likes to play hard when it’s time to celebrate… etc. What are you looking for in your next job?

Interviewee: (thinking to themselves: an 8-5 where I can get my job done and go home and spend time with my kids every night, but gee, right now I really need a job) Well, I’m looking for a group of people who believe in hard work and put project deadlines above everything else.

Kind of a crummy example, but as I thought up example after example they all were descriptive of either my current or former employers and I don’t want to show all of their cards or call anyone out. The mistake here is telling them so much about your environment and THEN asking them what they want. In some cases the candidate is going to be perfectly honest with you and then you can have an honest discussion whether this is the right fit for them and the organization. In other cases people are going to say whatever you want to hear to get hired-at least until they can find the right job for themselves. In some cases people aren’t setting out to lie to you, they just haven’t put any thought into that question so they parrot back everything they just heard you say.

This mistake is most important to avoid in a company where you are screening for culture fit. If you believe culture is driving the success of your business, why widen the risk of bringing in someone who is just trying to fake it? Before you say it, remember we’ve talked about “there’s a place for everyone” i.e. “there’s a culture for everyone.”Also, this isn’t permission to disqualify people for the wrong reason. You CAN define culture so don’t rely on a vague “not a culture fit” reason for not extending an offer.

A quick search for some stats estimate that 80% of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions and one of the reasons this happens is the candidate isn’t really a culture fit and it wasn’t discovered in the interview process (even though it can be). There’s all kinds of stats that pop up when looking to identify how much a bad hire costs our organizations – one source said 1/3 of the employee pay, one source says 50-60% of the pay, and another says 2.5 times their salary. There are a lot of variables to consider when calculating this number, but know this: you can actually identify how much it costs your organization. So, calculate it for your organization and use that number. Data outside of your organization should mostly be taken with a grain of salt in my opinion. Especially considering there is no one size fits all solution to any of our issues, right?

Super easy solutions to this “leading the witness” mistake in general. Ask your questions first. Then expand on the job and organization after your questions have been answered and give the interviewee a chance to ask you questions. Too much to remember? Try this, if Jack McCoy would get scolded for it in the courtroom, steer clear in the interview. Awkward silence is okay, let the interviewee think and you listen.

Three Interview Rule

I’ve always suffered a bit of a professional identity crisis. Am I recruiting or am I HR? Am I both? Are they one in the same? I’ve gone back and forth, but one thing I can say without a doubt that fits with both HR and Recruiting is solid relationships with your hiring managers. I’ve had a lot of opportunities to learn how to manage this relationship and the most challenging was when recruiting for a highly technical engineering company. One thing that drove me crazy was the constant need for “more candidates” for one position. If you’re experiencing the same challenge, let me share my three interview rule with you (it’s really simple).

Me to hiring manager: Here are three candidates that fit what you are looking for based on the extensive discussions we’ve had around your current hiring need.

Hiring manager to me: Great, let’s interview all three of them.

*Interviews all of them*

Hiring manager to me: I want to interview more candidates.

Me to hiring manager: What did you not like about these three?

Hiring manager to me: I don’t know.

Me to hiring manager: Then we are starting over.


Why would I tell them we are starting over? Because if you have found three candidates that fit the criteria you’ve discussed with the hiring manager and they still can’t make a decision, then they do not know what they are looking for. When I talk to a hiring manager we discuss every aspect of the position I can with them- minimum skills required, type of work, who the customer is, who they will report to, personalities of the team members they need to work with, day to day environment, education requirements, length of contract, hours of the schedule, peak seasons, when they might be required to work extra, what materials will they be working with…you get the picture. ANYTHING that is relevant that can help me find the perfect candidate for my customer, the hiring manager.

The three interview rule won’t work when you’ve given them candidates who do not match the job req so you should only pull this out when you’re candidates are a match for what you and the hiring manager discussed. This rule can be applied to any position, not just technical ones. Having the discussion about no more than three interviews the right way will help you build credibility with your hiring managers. Approach it as a way to revisit the job you are working on and what might need to be revisited as a requirement, not as a power move. Use it as a way to show you support the hiring manager and respect their time so you want to make sure you have the right information to get it right and help them make an informed decision. Continuing to give them candidates when they cannot tell you what they didn’t like about the qualified candidates already submitted will only drag out the hiring process.

Give it a shot and let me know how it works! As always, if you have questions, I’d be happy to answer them!