• Being a Good Boss is Easy

    I have figured out the first step to being a good boss.  Don’t be a bad boss and you will be much closer to the target.  Wally Bock had a great short post the matter (how not to be a bad boss).

    My Project Social partner Laura Schroeder posted on the subject as well. Laura talks about one of her first chain-smoking bosses and some of the good boss tricks she employed.

    To the best of my knowledge, I have never been accused of being a good boss so I can only talk about things I have seen other people do that seemed to work wellFood is always good.  I think if it is something that has your fingerprints on it, then it means more.  I have had supervisor’s fix up a crock pot of soup, stew or bar-b-que and bring it to work for their troops.  There is the boss buys pizza day, or one of my personal favorites, the boss brings donuts.

    Another little trick in certain parts of the country, is to warm up cars or scrape windshields for your staff on cold winter days. I guess the inverse would work also, in a warmer place by starting employees cars to cool them off.

    The next trick is only for very secure bosses who are not faint of heart.  Have you attend Shoe Shine day where the boss is the one doing the shining – very humbling.

    Another little event is the at work treasure hunt.  By hiding things and giving clues you can create a day or week long event, awarding small prizes or tokens for the sleuths on your team who find the booty.

    One last idea is the employee showcase, where you let employees show off their work skills in front of their peers, family members or just in public.  A couple examples of this are things like a fork lift rodeo where operators are challenged to move a load, from place to place, without error and the tasked is time.  Another showcase example might be to have money handlers see who could count a given pile of cash and be accurate in the shortest amount of time.

    None of these thing cost much, if anything and if you are worth your salt as a leader you should want to do things periodically to motivate your folks.  And if in doing so you can bring yourself down off of any perceived pedestal you will relate much better to your staff.

  • Recruiters I hate them, but I love them

    In my daily HR routine I do what Charlie Judy likes to call Trench HR.  Between me and another person we take care of all of the HR matters for our organization and a lot of other things too, I might add.  So this 2 person HR shop has to do all of the recruiting and hiring for the place as well.  Over the years on some really tough finds we have engaged a (now I am going to use the “H” word) Headhunter to help us fill a position.

     After having used the H person, I feel dirty and I feel like a failure. In addition to the failure aspect as a HR Generalist, my employer is usually out a sizable amount of money. The best rate I have ever negotiated was 20% of first year salary.  You can do the math…

    Let me say that not all HR folks share this opinion.  By way of example   my Project Social partner Laura Schroeder has a healthier and more balanced look at recruiters. You can  see what she has to say on her blog post on recruiters and filling positions.

    Meanwhile,  I want to talk more about my own insecuirities and how it is that  recruiters have often made me feel like a  failure.   Well as the HR Superhero for our organization I am supposed to be able to do it all: Labor Law,

    The HR Superhero

    Compensation and Benefits, Organizational Development, Health and Safety stuff – oh and recruiting too.  Alas, try as I may I drop the ball now and then and seem to have trouble getting her done, the recruiting that is. Then we engage one of these hot shop perky recruiters and they find this person that I have been seeking for three months in a day and one half, damn.  So see you guys make us generalist look bad.  We are generalist not HR Superheroes.

     I have joked with a recruiter, telling him this is what I need… “A seven foot tall Korean guy, who is left handed, speaks Portuguese and has a B.A. in the Studies of Western Civilizations.”   Then the recruiter calls me back in an hour and one half and says, “Hey I got your guy.”  That’s how I feel.  Then to add insult to injury the boss says we paid how much to find this guy, and asks me what do I pay you for?  That is a bad day. This is what I hate about recruiters.

     The love part is this. I have met very few Recruiters, Placement Counselors, Talent-Acquisition Specialist what ever they may call themseves who are not genuinely nice, good decent people.  So I want to dislike you all, but I can’t because you are all nice people. Add to that,  you are so damn good; you source these candidates in the time it takes me to fill out a new requisition, which makes me look bad.  For these two things I have to love you folks in the recruiting business.

  • Making Friends on Line

    Today I had a wonderful experience.  I met a family member of a fairly new friend of mine.  I met Jonas Schroeder. He didn’t have much to say to me as he was eating/drinking most of the time we were engaged.  Jonas is the son of my Project Social partner/mentee Laura Schroeder.

    Laura and I met through this on-line project put together by Ben Eubanks and Victorio Milian. We have been working together to teach one and other and to compliment each other’s social media acumen. The fact that Laura and I even met is somewhat fortuitous but it has been a wonderful thing.  We have talked and become friends via Skype, despite the 7 hour and thousands of miles between us.

    All the while we have been chatting and working on blog posts back and forth, we have come to learn more and more about each other in ten to twenty minute conversations.   While I knew Laura was pregnant, it was only about two weeks after she brought this new little guy into the world and then I see him on the camera. He is a handsome little guy.

    Laura and I are both normal people with jobs and spouses, and I think I have come to know her well enough to say happily married.   We enjoy each other company and passion because of our common interests in HR and social media.  This is now a way to meet people and make new friends.  My hope is that we will someday get the chance to meet in real life (IRL).  

    Given my level of involvement in social media I think I will continue to meet people in this fashion. While this is not the only way I meet people these days, it seems to be happening more and more frequently.

    In my last post I talked about a trip to Minnesota.  On that trip I connected with three of the people I via LinkedIn before meeting them IRL.  While this may be a scary thing to some people I feel it is just another way to meet new people and make new friends.  After all I am in Human Resources and I like people!

  • Employee Engagement – Small Business Style

    I am the Director of Human Resources in a 100 employee operation. This affords me the opportunity that might not be available to folks

    My rental car tells me it is a "cold" Minnesota morning.

     in larger organizations. One of those things is  that I get to do is go out “on the road”: and spend time with our sales representatives.  We have a handful of off-site/remote employees.  They deal with our customers directly.  I feel that it is important that they get some attention from Headquarters, other than just the sales department, or the accounting department banging on them for expense reports. 

    Fortunately our Company President agrees with this concept, so periodically I get out of the office to work shows, visit customers or just ride along with our sales folks. Just this week I went on one of these little adventures.   I was in Minneapolis, in February – my timing is not all that great.  On this particular trip there were a number of us who went with our sales rep to visit customers.

    While the concept of the so called HR guy getting out in front of customers is nearly alarming to some folks, I usually get a very positive response.  I recall what one Company President said after I met him at a show. After meeting me he replied “An HR guy, what in the heck are you doing here?”  I simply told him, supporting our sales staff and seeing what our customers need.  He thought about that a moment and said, “hmm sounds like a good idea, maybe I should have my HR people get out and meet with our customers.”

     Ok so the point of this post is not to blow my own horn, but rather to discuss some HR practices I have established that are going on at larger organizations.  My Project Social Partner Laura @workgal is also a remote employee. She works in a large organization, and is faced with many of those remote employee challenges. You can read her take on the subject here.  Now Laura tells me some of my practices are called employee engagement. (Actually I already knew that.). 

     The point is this, My Company’s sales staff do live a long way from corporate headquarters, they do not interact with company employees everyday and what they do for our Company is huge.   Effective employee engagement can run the gambit from being very formal and structured as Laura has discussed in her post, or fairly informal and not too structured, by simply spending some face time with remote employees, talking to them making sure their needs are being met.   Either way can work, but you have to remember them and pay attention to them.  Because if you just assume they are doing their job and everything is ok, – well let’s just say we all know what happens when you ass-u-me!

  • Social Media – Outside Human Resources – Are you doing it?

    Here in the HR blogosphere it seems like a small, and dare I call it, an incestuous group of folks.  For those of us active in social media “the cool kids” we all seem to know who one and other are.  I must say though, that I don’t think it is a cliquish group at all, in fact I would even refer to the group as welcoming.

    This is all well and fine.  We talk, blog and tweet about employee engagement, talent management, strategic planning verses tactical activities, with an occasional rant about this or that.  If you are reading this you know the subjects.  Now though – I want to branch out, connect with people in my industry write and talk about the products and services my employer sells and services.

    As I said, those of us in HR, hang with other HR folks. There are lots of answers as to why, and we could comment for days on this, but I won’t.  But now I want to move past this. Most of us who are in this space actually work in some other industry that HR.  As I think about my friends in this space here is what comes to my mind:  retail, health care, not-for-profits, banking, food and beverage and education just to name a few.  I want to be a part of and promote social media in my “other world.”

    My question would be are you doing this.  Are you active in social media outside of the HR space, whatever that may be?  I am not, although I am trying.  Further, I have found that people in my industry are not early adopters and are slow to see value, or practical applications in social media.  So this is part of my challenge.

    So I am trying to formulate a plan to push social media through my industry segment and to position “the HR Official” to be a leader in this space.

    If you have moved your industry segment forward on SM or have posted on this before, share this with me, let me know and help me to build on this concept.

  • Sitting on the Fence about HREvolution?

    I enjoy traveling, going new places, or revisiting old favorite haunts.  Probably the most exciting thing to me about traveling is the anticipation.  The thoughts of what the trip will be, the memories, the new people the new experiences.  Well here in the last couple of days an upcoming trip of mine has now come up on my radar.  It is my upcoming trip to Atlanta on April 29th, when I will be traveling there to attend the HREvolution.

    Version 2.0 o f HREvolution was close to me, about 200 miles and took place in Chicago.  At that time I did not know so many of the folks who make up the HR space on twitter and in the blogosphere.  The conference fee was $100 –very affordable.  So I figured what the heck this could be exciting, fun, and informative and just a chance to meet some new people.

    At the event I met many of the celebrities (although they don’t see themselves as such) and they were all really nice, friendly and interesting folks.  I met the organizers.  The day of the conference great stuff was put forth.  Lots of food for thought, contacts and resources were presented.  It was a great experience.

    In short deciding to attend the conference was one of the best decisions I made last year.  Since that time I have met up with many of the same folks at other events.  We tweet back and forth; I read their blogs knowing who these people really are.  Just the other day, I read post from my friend Steve Browne, and in this post Steve talks about meeting all of his social media frend in real life.

    So if you are sitting on the fence and trying to decide if you should buy a ticket and attend HRevolution 2011, you should.  If you think it is up your alley, it will be.  See you there!