Man, some days just stink. You can have a great job and have a crappy day. Maybe you had it out with a co-worker, a boss made you mad, fire after fire popped up for you to put out, and you just head home defeated and with your head down.
A bad day doesn’t have to derail you. You can get back up.
The best way for me to refocus and move forward is to revisit my ‘why’.
If you don’t know ‘your why’ then what are you even doing?
Your why should help you solve problems. For example, when we get into a group to collaborate on a problem, it can get away from us with lots of opinions and ideas. Taking the opportunity to define the ‘why’ behind the project helps determine what solutions make sense and what solutions aren’t a good fit.
Your why can motivate you on the days you don’t feel motivated.
Your why can define your personal goals.
Your why will drive your actions.
Your why should help you look past those bad days.
If you don’t know your why where you are right now, I want you to think about it until you do. Once you have it, put it front and center in your mind as you carry out your work. If you can’t define your why, maybe it’s time to find a new gig.
I was taken aback when a very seasoned HR professional shared this phrase with me recently. Not so much because its a true or false statement, but because SHE works in HR and she said it… out loud. She 100% meant that statement too. I’ve been pretty busy so I pushed that statement to the side of my brain and I’ve carried on through a lot of work and a whole SHRM conference since, but it came back up this week during a couple of conversations.
I had a C-suite level person explaining to me an issue that they’ve seen time and time again. He summed it up like this “managers have work to do-maybe a product to deliver or a service to provide & they don’t care about HR. HR doesn’t care about the work managers have to get done, they just care about the HR side of things.” Yep. That’s how some people are viewing the HR function, which explains why if it’s only an HR initiative, it will die.
Another C-suite level executive told me (while discussing recruiting goals) that it had to be a collaborative effort. There’s no way HR could do it alone and no way the departments can do it without HR. Reinforcing yet again that if it’s only an HR initiative, it will die.
What do you think? Can an initiative be successful if it’s only an HR initiative?
So this year (all 7 days of it) have brought a new challenge for me, which I knew was coming for years, but didn’t quite know how to prepare for. I’m about to turn 30 and that is like the end of the world for me. In fact I’ve prayed and prayed that I wouldn’t make it to 30 so I wouldn’t have to figure out how to handle this age, but I’m almost there so I better figure it out!
So I asked myself “Why do you hate 30?”. I know 30 isn’t old, but I will admit that spending so much time doing college recruiting and making offers to kids that were born in 1994 has me feeling older than I am. 30 is fine I guess. It’s weird to think after Sunday I can’t say I’m in my twenties anymore…. But 30 hasn’t DONE anything to me. I mean, I don’t look different (yet). I’m alright. What could it be?
As I sit here in my betty boop pajamas, listening to the spice girls channel on my Pandora radio, I’m thinking back to those tween years where I listened to open house party every weekend and my biggest concern was whether or not I had the right Skechers and JNCO jeans. I try to remember what I wanted to do with my life at that age. I wanted to do something, right? I did. I wanted to be an independent, grown up and have my own place and an important job.
I was getting lost in remembering all of my other terrible fashion decisions when Christina Aguilera popped up on the Pandora. That takes me back to the teenage years when TRL was part of my daily schedule and I knew every dance to every pop video played. What did I want to do with
my life then? Move out. Work hard. Make money. Pay bills. Go to college. Be a cool mature college kid. Ha!
Do you know what happened? I did work hard. I held down two jobs in high school and took college courses at night. I paid some of my own bills, spent the rest of my money on other junk. Went to college, but didn’t go to class (remember how I’m in college again now?). Not only did I move out, but I moved around. When I landed in Alabama I thought I’d finish college and go ahead and get my career rolling. Then my 22nd birthday rolled around and I remember crying at work when my friend came upstairs to my office to bring me a birthday gift (because I didn’t want to acknowledge my birthday that year). She’s older than me so she thought I was crazy, but I told her I thought I would be doing so much more at 22 than what I was doing. I wanted to do something big, I just never made a plan. Funny though, I buckled down after that birthday and worked my tail off to do something that no one else in the company had done at my age.
That seemed to satisfy me for a while, but here I sit a few days before 30 wondering where my life has gone and why I’m only doing what I’m doing. I’ve been fairly dramatic about how far behind I am right now compared to where I think I should be, but the cold hard truth is I didn’t plan for it. I had goals, in my head, or so I thought. I have this bad habit of not sitting down and thinking about how to get to the finish line. Too often I put my head down and push through, I just keep working until it’s done and then I come up for air. Even when I run I tell myself over and over “run through the finish line, not to the finish line.” While that’s appropriate for running, it’s not always appropriate for my day job, or the rest of my life. Sometimes I have to stop and make a plan. I have to stop and make sure my expectations are realistic. I need to really ask myself “where do you want to be, and what is it going to take to get there?”
A while back I text one of my former employees, the one I knew would be 1000% honest and not worry about hurting my feelings, and asked her for 1 thing I did really well as a manager. Her answer was awesome (I’ll cover it in another post)! I was thrilled about it, but I knew I had to ask the next question. What was I really bad at as a manager? She told me acceptance. I wasn’t exactly sure what she meant by that, but thanked her anyway. Today I know. I have to accept that I didn’t do what I thought I was going to do by now, but I can’t go back and change that. I can only move forward, sometimes failing and sometimes not. I have to remember failing is moving forward if I allow it to be. I have to accept that some people are always going to work the way they work or respond the way they do. I have to accept that not everyone’s best work is as good as my best work. I have to accept that sometimes my co-workers won’t have the same goals I have. I have to accept that some employees can’t be helped. I have to accept some things as fact and not let them derail me from everything else.
So what does this have to do with an HR blog? Well, it doesn’t HAVE to have anything to do with an HR blog because I’m an independent, almost 30 year old, awesome business person that can write whatever she wants! BUT I’ll give you what you came here for: What are you doing to help your folks plan to reach their goals? I see a lot of stuff about goal setting, metrics, performance appraisals, etc. and not enough substance about how your employee is going to get there. Just because your employee knows what their goal is doesn’t mean they know how to get there. How about we make sure they know what it’s going to take to get there. How about making sure that the meeting about goals and appraisals is more than a meeting to check off our yearly task list. What if we used that meeting to make a plan to reach the goal, a plan to satisfy the metrics? I think we also need to make sure everyone is being realistic, without crushing anyone’s ambition. That can be a fine line, but I think it’s important.
Meeting the ex-girlfriend is full of awkwardness right? It’s sometimes a competition of who chose the better path. The ex-girlfriend is all “I got rid of that loser” and the new girlfriend is all like “he’s not a loser, you were the problem” or something like that. Here’s the deal though, being a grown-up affords you the opportunity to be polite, civil, and to skip the judgement on both sides, so here it is.
Yes, I know who you are. Yes, I have it on good authority that you know who I am.
Yes, I used to do the job that you are doing now (quite well in many ways). No, I do not wish you failure or hardships in any way. Contrary to popular belief I wish you lots of success and for you to exceed my biggest goals that I met there.
I’m not the ex-girlfriend of the place, I’m part of the history of the place. Let’s be the professionals that we are and skip awkward.
I had an opportunity this past weekend to participate in the Decatur Morgan Hospital Foundation Dragon Boat Race and Festival…. and y’all, I had a TON OF FUN!! What’s a Dragon Boat Race you might ask? My one word answer is AWESOME! You basically load up in this 46 foot boat with a nice little dragon head and tail on it and you row your heart out for around a minute! You have a drummer at the front and someone steering at the back. There’s this company that you can get to come to your city and help you put on a Dragon Boat Race and it’s a fantastic idea for a fundraiser (especially for a big project). This is the third year that Decatur has had a Dragon Boat Race and it gets bigger every year. This year there were a total of 69 teams! How did I get the chance to participate? Basically, my former co-workers miss me and they still invite me to things like this 🙂 (of course current employees get priority so if there was a current employee that wanted to participate in my place I would be out of luck). The other reason is because I have a big mouth and I’m very loud! See, each team has a drummer. The drummer is responsible for helping keep cadence and giving commands to the rowers from the person steering at the back of the boat and the team captain thought my loud mouth was perfect for that job. Sounds simple enough.
All good teams need practice so we scheduled our practice for Thursday (race was Saturday) and it’s a hot mess. I show up late (sorry guys-I drove the furthest to get there) and the instructor isn’t happy with me. This makes him completely ignore me the whole time we have practice and that makes me less than a happy camper. Let me tell you, sitting my wide ass at the front of the boat on that tiny seat where the drummer is supposed to sit was a little scary! I’m pretty sure I was hanging on for dear life the whole time I was up there, but our instructor gives the commands the whole time so I don’t even get to practice that with the group. After an hour everyone at least has an idea of what we need to do, but our instructor has no problem telling us we aren’t up to race speed. Now here I am thinking this is a charity event and we are here to have fun and this little mean guy is trying to rain on our parade. We wrap up practice and everyone heads their separate ways. We don’t even all know each other at this point, but its late and we all have other things to do. All I could think on my way home is “I weigh far too much to be sitting at the front of our boat.” So, maybe not the best practice ever, but hey at least we got in the boat together once, right?
Race day gets here and it’s like we have a whole new team. Several people show up that were not at practice (turns out you can practice with any team so these guys had been practicing with other teams). And some people were last-minute fill ins (my poor husband, he loves it when I drag him to an event and then need him to participate at the last-minute. He’s such a good sport!) for no shows or late comers. Oh and did I mention that I talked a smaller girl into being the drummer so now I’m rowing? You know, that other thing that I didn’t practice. All this to say we thought we had a plan, but now we had new people and no time to fill them in. Then we load the boat and the back of the boat starts to sink, I mean we were like the bad news bears out there! We get off the boat and re-load the way the person steering wants, only he puts too much weight on one side of the boat and the boat is tilted the whole time we are on the water! We paddle like crap. We clank and hit each other, water is going everywhere and we come in 5th place in our heat. While we all pretended this was okay because it’s for charity we couldn’t fight the urge to get off to a corner and get to work on a strategy for the next race. This event is in all day event so we had different people coming at different times since everyone couldn’t stay all day and this made coming up with a strategy a tad more difficult. We get off to the side we decide to line up, write down everyone’s weight, evenly distribute that weight across the boat, yell together when we row and just have a good time. We remind everyone that it’s not about moving fast it’s about moving together and we try again! The fun thing was once we had a goal and everyone was on the same page everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE had great input. It was like magic. We had a common goal and we started cooperating with each other, what a crazy thought right? Second race comes around and we place second. Man, are we fired up! We remind everyone what our goal is again and evaluate the last run on the boat to identify improvement. Third and final race comes around… first place baby! This somehow or another leads us to win in our division (there were so many teams that they divided us up into divisions and gave out awards to the winner in each division plus a championship for overall winner. We didn’t make the cut for the championship).
It was very cool that not only did we see immediate results by giving each team member some value and using their ideas, we had a freaking blast!! It had me thinking though, how often do we get frustrated at work because we don’t get to the end goal as fast as we want? Is it because we aren’t communicating the end goal and making sure everyone understands? Is it because we forget to give the team some buy-in so they don’t care about the end result? Is it because we aren’t constantly communicating our goal? Maybe it’s because we changed our strategy and forgot to tell the whole team? How much does a lack of cooperation have to do with failing? We can have a team without cooperation, but does cooperation make a team? What are your thoughts?