HR doesn’t make the rules

This one deserves more attention than I’m giving the short 33 career lessons, but this one is important so don’t let the brief summary fool you.

HR friends, you don’t make the rules. You may get to make some decisions, but you don’t make the rules.

If HR is sitting in their office making rules from afar that impact managers and employees we are doing business wrong. Our primary business service to the organization is to help facilitate solutions. Yes, we have to take into consideration all the data that helps us do a reasonable risk analysis, present solutions, and partner with folks for the right answer-but we don’t make the rules.

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We may offer guidance on what the safest solution is, but we don’t make the rules. We may even recite case-law and updated state and federal  laws, but we do not make the rules…

If you get defensive when a manager has an idea or suggestion and have to flex on them so they know you are in control, you are in the wrong field my friend. You’ll be miserable at work and you’ll hold your organization back.

If you hold up a process so you can remind people HR is an important function for getting work done, they are going to think less and less of HR and start working around you.

Don’t flex on folks and embarrass HR in 2019. Be useful, collaborate, build solutions and take your organization to the next level. Otherwise, you may be building the case for your company to not value HR at all.

 

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What’s really going on here?

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I’ve had this blog for many years now, but every year I write less and less on it. I still write for other people (some under my name and some ghost writing), but I’ve neglected little ol’ hrpockets.

I’ve been thinking about ways to reunite with my blog and get back to putting out regular content. So many times I think of this great idea for a post, start my notes, say I’m going to finish it (lets not talk about how many draft posts I have) and push it further and further down my to-do list.

The truth is I enjoy putting out the occasional blog. I find it helpful to connect with readers and engage via email or social media to learn other folks perspectives, I just haven’t made myself sacrifice other things to focus on writing here.

I remember Sarah Morgan talking about how she was advised to find a 30 day writing challenge to reconnect with her writing and I finally decided maybe I could do that to re-engage here. FYI, Sarah created the #BlackBlogsMatter movement from her writing challenge and its about to start for 2019 so please bookmark her page and follow the hashtag and twitter account, she (and many others) are going to be bringing the content!

My writing challenge is just for me, it’s sort of a new years resolution, I guess? A stab at building a habit of showing some attention to where my writing started. 33 days of career lessons in honor of turning 33 (today).

Today makes lesson 10. We will all find out together if I make it through all 33. No writing ahead, no set time to post by, no word count, or ultimate goal other than the 33 lessons I made a list of back in December.

Lesson 10 is do what you want to do. Sure you have to get some experience, but don’t do something you don’t want to do for too long-you may get stuck there.

You have to figure out for yourself what you want and you have to learn to articulate that to your managers and mentors. If you can’t articulate it, you’re losing out on resources you need. Being able to articulate your goals and what you really enjoy working on will help you facilitate conversations where you get the most useful feedback from others and have the opportunity to ask valuable questions. Rarely do things just fall in your lap and work out exactly the way you had hoped, you have to use your voice.

This also means you are allowed to leave good opportunities without guilt. You can have a great job and enjoy your co-workers, but need to leave for your own career path and professional development. That is OKAY! You shouldn’t feel bad for leaving a good company if the new opportunity is right.

The easiest way to navigate how to get to where you want to be is honesty and transparency. If you’re working for someone who doesn’t value your honesty and transparency, you’re probably not where you ultimately want to be anyway.

In 2019 I hope you find yourself doing what you want to do.

Why are you doing that?

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’.

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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 can be great all by myself

You can have great ideas all by yourself, but you can’t always be great all by yourself.

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Everyone needs a mentor. I need a mentor because I’m the blunt friend/co-worker/employee and I’ve found that it’s very hard to find someone to be blunt with you when you’re the blunt friend/co-worker/employee. Its’ fine, it’s just the way the world works.

What you can get instead is a mentor. I find that mentors are more willing to give it to you straight and set you back on the right path.

Find you a mentor.

Don’t wait for a company to assign you one as a new hire, find your own. Your mentor should be someone you aspire to be like or value. They should be someone who is an example of what/who you would like to be like. Strong mentor/mentee relationships are the ones that are grown organically, not the ones paired up through a program.

Be honest with your mentors.

Don’t paint stories of work challenges in a way that make you look more favorable than you actually were. Mentors can’t help you correct if you don’t tell the whole truth. The reason you have a mentor is to be better, so don’t cover up the ugly.

Listen to your mentors.

Didn’t you choose your mentor for a reason? You don’t have to do everything they say, but listen to what they share. You can’t take your professional development to the next level without perspective.

Mentors aren’t always forever.

Like many other relationships sometimes mentors are only for a season. Don’t ignore the signs to move on.

In 2019, find you two mentors. Find people who will be excited to help you be great.

You can’t do everything

One of the hardest lessons of my life, let alone my career, has been that I can’t do everything.

I’m that employee who is always willing to do whatever needs to be done. You tell me where you need me and I’m there. Recruit for these other positions? Sure! Order lunch for a meeting? I can give it a go! Clean the toilets? No problem!

Sometimes I should say no when I say yes.

Recently I had scheduled at least a day to handle a task for work and a teammate kept telling me she could do it. I was like no way, I’ll figure it out. She said it was no big deal. I said my poor planning shouldn’t cause more work for her. She said, really its no big deal. I handed over the project and what was going to take me at least a day took her a couple of hours.

I was floored. I’m also excited to get some pointers from her because if I was going to make that task last a minimum of a whole day I was looking at it all wrong.

I could have given her this part of the project a couple of weeks ago, but I kept telling myself I would get to it. I sure wish I would’ve given it to her then instead of trying to fit it into my schedule.

The thing is, I was holding up progress. I was hanging onto something to keep from creating more work for someone else, but someone else was better suited for this task (obviously). I should have used my resources better.

As you navigate 2019 just know that not every ‘Yes’ is necessary. Sometimes you aren’t the best person for the task. Sometimes you need to let someone else take the opportunity to be great. Sometimes the task won’t be worth your time. Make wise decisions this year. Own your time and be a great teammate.

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Because you are one

Since it’s my husbands birthday today I’ll tell y’all one of his favorite work stories of mine.

When I was a young-know-it-all-staffing-manager I acted like it. If I knew I was right about something, I didn’t back down. If I knew someone on my team (errr corporate didn’t really feel like they were on my team though) was not going to be as nice as they could be to one of my customers I refused to let them talk to my customers. I prefer to handle it myself than have to clean up a mess after someone who knows nothing about, or even laid eyes on, my customer has been rude.

I had gotten in a situation where I did not want the person over AR talking to my customers anymore. I wanted her to tell me what she needed and I would go and chase it down. Any of my customers who talked to her complained about how rude and disrespectful she was, even if it turned out to be an error on our part and not the customers. I even remember the owner of the company saying she was “his bulldog.” I always shudder when I think about that because he said it like it was a good thing, some sort of twisted compliment.

On one of the visits from the owner he asked me why I didn’t like the person over AR. I didn’t answer him right away because I wasn’t prepared to give a business reason over a purely emotional opinion. I tried really hard to think about all the business reasons I could provide to why I didn’t want to talk to her, or let her talk to my customers but it really boiled down to the fact that she was a jerk. So I sent an email answer to the question (I had to send the email to the VP because the owner didn’t have an email address). In the email I answered his question and I flat-out typed that it’s because she’s an asshole. Plain as day, I used those words in black and white.

Now, I got a phone call and was asked why I would do that and specifically why I would do that in an email. Well, because I believed I was right. I knew for a fact that it was a correct label for her and that was that.

Here’s the kicker. The owner would use GD and other swear words on a regular basis when we would have meetings. Just pepper them allllll through the conversation. I had no reason to believe that I would get in trouble for using that word. I also thought it was perfectly fine to put it in an email because I stood by what I said.

What I can tell you I eventually realized is, you can’t always emulate the behavior you see. The owner and I were not judged by the same standards so we could not behave in the same way.

I think that’s pretty much true of the hierarchy right? You’re held to different standards depending on where you are in that. It could be as simple as how well you abide by the dress code to how you can get away with talking in meetings. I’m not saying its right, what I’m saying is be aware of it. When you can, you should step back from a situation and try to map out the possible consequences to your behavior and determine what you’re comfortable with. In that example, I would probably send the email again. I still believe it was an environment where the impression was it would be accepted and it’s not like I got in real trouble over it. BUT 33-year-old me is pretty much ashamed of that behavior because I know there are better alternatives to how I handled it.

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Worst case, when in doubt call your mentor. Or just remember Justin Minyard’s advice that he gives me any time he thinks I’m leaving for work frustrated “Just don’t call anyone an asshole in an email today.”

 

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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