• HR Rockstars – Really

    I was talking with my Project Social partner Laura Schroeder and the conversation continued to come back around to Rock Star Employees.  I explained to Laura that I don’t want them, I probably don’t need them, and couldn’t keep them if I landed them as employees in my mundane world. For the most part I sense that Laura shares my opinion – you can read her’s here.

    In trying to justify this position I thought long and hard about the matter.  As I did, this song came to my mind.

    Now thanks to Chad Kroeger and Nickelback, a great group in my opinion I have a pretty good idea of what a Rock Star is…

    I’m through with standing in line
    To clubs we’ll never get in
    It’s like the bottom of the ninth
    And I’m never gonna win
    This life hasn’t turned out
    Quite the way I want it to be

    (Tell me what you want)

    I want a brand new house
    On an episode of Cribs
    And a bathroom I can play baseball in
    And a king size tub big enough
    For ten plus me

    (So what you need?)

    I’ll need a credit card that’s got no limit
    And a big black jet with a bedroom in it
    Gonna join the mile high club
    At thirty-seven thousand feet

    (Been there, done that)

    I want a new tour bus full of old guitars
    My own star on Hollywood Boulevard
    Somewhere between Cher and
    James Dean is fine for me

    (So how you gonna do it?)

    I’m gonna trade this life for fortune and fame
    I’d even cut my hair and change my name

    ‘Cause we all just wanna be big rockstars
    And live in hilltop houses driving fifteen cars
    The girls come easy and the drugs come cheap
    We’ll all stay skinny ’cause we just won’t eat
    And we’ll hang out in the coolest bars
    In the VIP with the movie stars
    Every good gold digger’s
    Gonna wind up there
    Every Playboy bunny
    With her bleach blond hair

    Hey hey I wanna be a rockstar
    Hey hey I wanna be a rockstar

    I wanna be great like Elvis without the tassels
    Hire eight body guards that love to beat up assholes
    Sign a couple autographs
    So I can eat my meals for free
    (I’ll have the quesadilla on the house)
    I’m gonna dress my ass
    With the latest fashion
    Get a front door key to the Playboy mansion
    Gonna date a centerfold that loves to
    Blow my money for me
    (So how you gonna do it?)
    I’m gonna trade this life for fortune and fame
    I’d even cut my hair and change my name


    And we’ll hide out in the private rooms
    With the latest dictionary and today’s who’s who
    They’ll get you anything with that evil smile
    Everybody’s got a drug dealer on speed dial, well

    Hey hey I wanna be a rockstar

    I’m gonna sing those songs
    That offend the censors
    Gonna pop my pills from a pez dispenser

    I’ll get washed-up singers writing all my songs
    lip sync ’em every night so I don’t get ’em wrong


    And we’ll hide out in the private rooms
    With the latest dictionary and today’s who’s who
    They’ll get you anything with that evil smile
    Everybody’s got a drug dealer on speed dial

    Hey hey I wanna be a rockstar
    Hey hey I wanna be a rockstar

    So there’s your rock star. Is that what you are looking for in a top employee?  Not this HR Guy, I will be happy with the person that shows up most everyday and does a good job most everyday – and someone who doesn’t make too many waves or cause me too many headaches – I have enough already thank you very much!

    Rock stars not welcome here!

  • My 3 Favs from HR Fishbowl, The Human Race Horses and Fistful of Talent

    How many blog posts do you think you have read?  I thought about this for a while and came up with a number 2500.  I maybe under or over but it doesn’t really matter.

    I first started reading HR Blogs in 2007.  Some of the first ones I started to read were  The Evil HR Lady , Three Star Leadership – Wally Bock and Gautam Ghosh.  In my world these bloggers were some of the pioneers.

    Now there are HR bloggers on every virtual corner.  My project social partners and I were discussing this – as we now each how our  own virtual corner as well.  Accordingly,  I suggest that we  write  a post about the three favorite blog posts ever.  Lyn’s  aka @designtwit post is here and Laura’s  @workgal is here.

    As for mine, here they are … in no particular order.

    The first post is from Charley Judy aka hrfishbowl. The post is titled “Even Security Guards get it.”   This is classic.  If you are in HR read  this, it takes 3 minutes.

    The next fav is from Mike VanDervort  and his site The Human Race Horses. The post is title How many HR Managers does it take to change a light bulb.   Mike describes some positions he has held in HR, and this really hit home with me. That’s why I love this post.

    My last fav is from Tim Sackett at this post which first showed up on the Fistful of Talent site.  It is simply  titled HRVille.  This is a hoot! If you work in HR and you don’t get a chuckle out of this QUIT!

    These are not related and don’t have anything special to them other  than I REMEMBER them and each of them moved me.  By the way I do think each of these guys are great writers and have a lot of important things to share.  So  a big thanks to  Charlie, Mike and Tim for somewhat hijacking their material.

  • Turnover and Teams A Temporary Prospective

    As our project Social team was discussing turnover and its impact on teams, I began to think about the subject from my usual prospective.  Turnover is bad! In her post over at the Bacon Hut Lyn agrees with the concept that turnover is not a good thing, my other partner Laura is not necessarily in agreement. Laura’s post on the subject is on her blog Working Girl

    While we have all the usual reason for thinking turnover is bad… loss of experience, moral, re-training, recruiting, state unemployment effects – you know the list.  Then I though about it from the other prospective,  could turnover be a good thing?  As I contemplated this concept in my mind I was served a drink by a flight attendant.  I was mulling this over on a recent trip.

    Meanwhile, as I thought about teams, it dawned on me that the flight attendant who just  served me a drink was on a team of people. In fact, there were

    Flight attendants working as a team

    four people on her team on this flight. This team however will disband at the end of the day, with part of the team to re-assemble again to make a different team.  Those teams go on and function day in and day out.

    I thought about myself, as an ice hockey official.  I come together with one or two other officials to call a game.  Some of the other officials, I work with routinely and some of them once only, again then the team disbands.  There are probably thousands of other teams that come together for an hour a day, a week or some other predefined period of time (e.g. a construction crew, or movie crew).  Then it is over, the team is disbanded and it’s is on to the next team.

    How is it that these teams work – and usually work well?  Could it be that the turnover, the disbanding of the unit is good?  When I come to a rink to officiate a game, I am there for the task at hand.  Even if I have shortcomings, my partners will cover for me or vice-versa. The flight attendance invariably seem to know what their jobs are and they execute them well.

    I look at these types of teams and wonder what is unique about them that makes them work well? Is it training?  Is the job so well defined there is no question about what has to be done?  I wish I could figure this out.

    If I could, I could take what works from the temporary teams and hopefully project that on the static teams.  The teams I am speaking of are the teams of work groups that assemble day in and day out together. The teams that seem to fret over seemingly silly details of the day or they stew over one and others behavior for many different reasons.

    I am going to continue to ponder the seeming success of the temporary teams verses the omni-present of the highly visible trouble team – we all have on of them and could name them at a moments notice.




  • You Can’t Fire Everyone

    Last week I was not quite home, as it was  go time for HR Happy Hour.  So I thought no problem I will just call in on my cell phone and catch the start of the show that way.  Shortly thereafter, I found myself speaking to the show’s host Steve Boese.  Steve was missing his guest, and checking the phone lines for him.  A few moments later, I found myself along with Dawn Hrdlica-Burke (on twitter @DawnHRRocks ) as what Steve referred to as conscripted guests.

    So in true live broadcaster fashion Steve charged ahead with the show and tossed a few question at Dawn and me, that he was going to ask his guest Hank Gilman.   Hank has authored a book called You Can’t Fire Everyone.  You can catch the show here if you like.

    Now during the course of our conversation Steve asked Dawn and me both about “top talent”

    Photo from PresentationProcess.com

    and how we treat them.  I kind of downplayed top performers saying  that I didn’t want to rock the boat too much.  Dawn on the other hand said she wanted a whole organization full of rock stars.  Dawn is in the software business and I am in manufacturing.  After reflecting on our comments and where they came from, I had somewhat of an epiphany about this. Compared to Dawn I am practicing defensive HR  (not unlike defensive medicine).  Dawn is seeking all the rock stars she can get, me not so much.

    Dawn is more than willing to deal with the difficulties that the rock star may bring her, in return for their rock star performance and talent.  Me, I am trying to keep peace in the house.  As I thought about this, it became clear to me that what I am doing is maintaining the status quo.

    Rather than leading with bold innovation and pushing the envelope, I don’t stray too far from the known path. I don’t take outlandish risk.  However it is with outlandish risk come outrageous gains.   The great equalizer here is this, if one goes too far out on a limb and things don’t work out, you may find yourself in a very precarious employment situation, depending upon how your superiors views your actions.  Said another ways does your boss think you are being reckless or innovative?  In many instance this will speak to who is willing to take risk and who is not.

    As I look at the industry comparison, those of us in manufacturing are into replication, while those in software are always looking for innovation.

    I am not sure what all of this means.  I am going to look real hard and my prospective here and see if I can force myself to live a little closer to the edge.  So I owe Steve and Dawn a big thanks for helping me to see this.