• Avatars are like Ponytails

    Just a couple of days ago my buddy Chris Fields @new_resource updated his twitter avatar.  I picked up on this and noticed

    Random Shot of Tweet Deck

    that it had changed again, probably the third time in last few months.  This really got me to thinking about my twitter avatar,  my facebook pic, Linkedin and so on.  Chris’s  move got me somewhat introspective and thinking my twitter avatar is no longer represntative of how I look.  I have since lost the goatee.  My facebook avatar is from a 2007 trip to SHRM headquarters, so it is tired too.  Thanks to Chris I am updated, and resigned to pay a little more attention to that, going forward.  There are some folks, who are excellent about changing up their avatars, while the other  group that I am in, tend to upload a picture when we create a profile and seldom, if ever update it.

    This got me to thinking a little more about the avatar.  I think most folks are modest and almost uncomfortable showcasing themselves via pictures or video.  In fact I know for me, I have to work hard to find a picture that I like and want to share with the world.  After all with this avatar you say  this is who I am and this is what I look like – this is me. I hope you like me based on the way I look.

    What is it that drives some folks to be diligent and update these things routinely?  Why are some people so shy about putting their picture out there on any profile?  Some people do not even put a picture  of themselves – why.   I do think the avatar says a lot about someone.  It is what you want to show the world everyday. For me the avatar is like guys over 30 with pony tails.  This person is sending a message.  I am not sure I can decode that message – but there is a message and often time a powerful message.

    So my new self-imposed rule  is this,  I should update my avatars at least annually and more often if there is  a dramatic change to my appearance.  Check back to see if post my green mow-hawk come St. Patrick’s Day.

  • First Break All the Rules Review

    My blogging buddy and I were talking recently about the books that we were reading and decided we should write about them. Laura was reading Rise by Patty Azzarello,  while I was reading FIRST Break all the Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Corrman.  I have not written a book review for a long time. I am actually excited about doing this. You can read Laura’s review hereif you like.

    Now onto First Break All the Rules.  You might wonder why would I even be reading a book with a 1999 copyright. It is a good question with a fairly simple answer.  I had been working on a presentation on employee engagement and performance management.  It seemed like everywhere I went quotes from the same book First Break All the Rules kept coming up.  Without much further research I could not help but notice that it was co-authored by non-other than Marcus Buckingham.  At the time it was published I have to think that he was living in utter obscurity compare to his life today, as he is now getting big bucks for speaking engagements.  Regardless I was still curious as I had a chance to hear him speak at a 2010 SHRM Conference.

    The book was a good quick read and it is still hugely relevant today when it comes to understanding employee engagement. Unbeknownst to me Buckingham worked for the Gallup Organization early in his career.  The book is the result of a study conducted where the authors interviewed 80,000 managers, of some of the countries top companies (at the time).   They were trying to distill down to the essences of what made a great organization and keeps employees at the highest level of engagement.  After the interviews were completed they distilled the matter down to these 12 questions.  (taken directly from the book)

    • Do I know what is expected of me at work?
    • Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
    • At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
    • In the last seven days, have I received recognition for praise for doing good work? 
    • Does my Supervisor of someone at work , seem to care about me as a person?
    • Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
    • At work, do my opinions count>
    • Does the mission/purpose of my Company make me feel my job is important?
    • Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
    • Do I have a best freind at work?
    • In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
    • This last year I have had opportunities to work, to learn and grow?


    If the employee could respond STRONGLY AGREE (5)  on a scale of 1 to 5 for each of the 12 questions then there is no doubt that thier workplace if filled with highly engaged employees, according to the authors.

    The rest of the book goes to support this12-question hypothesis. And as I had said earlier there is a wealth of information supporting this theory as well on great ways to move your organization in this direction.

    There was one particular line in the book which was ironic, if not even false based upon what we know today.  The authors were discussing sucess stories and they talked about how MicroSoft had beat out Steve Jobs and Apple, essentially saying that  Apple was no longer relevant.  Oh well, things change.

    It is still a great book and if you can pick it up like I did for about $5 it is well worth it.  Someday when I get a Kindle or an Ipad I will be able to read that way, but in the meantime the old yellowed pages still work just fine.

  • Guest Posting is Good Stuff

    Within the last few months I have had the opportunity to write several guest posts for various bloggers out her in the HR space. Some of the sites are a more high profile than others but they have all been a great experiences for me. I have written for Jessica at  www.bloggingforjobs.com ,  Dan at http://incblot.org/incblog/, for Chris Fields at http://costofwork.com/ and    Michael at Xpert HR  http://www.xperthr.co.uk/blogs/employment-intelligence/. I have also had the pleaure of sharing a bunch of content for my friend Ben at  www.upstarthr.com I am thankful for all of these opportunities.  

    While at the same time, I have had several folks guest post here on the HR Official.  I would like to thank. Chris Fields for his contribution of Don’t be a Lurker.,  Erin Palmer for You are in HR so you should kill them with Kindness., and Kyle Lagunus for Tools For Talent.

    A number of things have come out of this for me, and all of these other folks.  One of the best thing is that we trade groups of followers, readers and supporters.  With each guest post I have run I have had increased traffic on the site and brought new readership to the site. I have gained new friends and followers on twitter, as well.  Most of the those new those folks are part of the core supporters of my guests inner circle. 

    So guest-posting really is a great way to meet like-minded people via social networking. It is also a way for someone who is interested in blogging, but does not have their own site to test the waters and see if they wish to pursue this more..I myself, actually got into blogging with an invitation to guest post from Jessica Miller-Merrel at her site www.blogging4jobs.com.  Recently, I found out that my new friend Erin Palmer who recently guest posted on this site, has done a number of guest posts out here in the HR space.  I have encouraged her to think about starting her own site. 

    I have another opportunity coming up soon via an invitation from my friend Buzz Rooney and her site The Buzz on HR.  And I have also promised Jessica a post on how it was that she got me started in blogging. 

    So here is my point with all of this.  If you have a blog site, you should be actively seeking out others to guest post on your site.  If you are a blogger you should actively seek out other sites for guest posts.  Lastly, if you do not have a site and you read this stuff, give it a try.  Contact your favorite blogger, and ask them if they would entertain a guest post from you. If they won’t, contact me I will!

  • You are in HR So You Should Kill Them With Kindness

    This guest post is by Erin Palmer. Erin works with the online programs from Villanova University, such as their masters degree in human resources and human resources certificationprograms. Follow her on Twitter @Erin_E_Palmer.

    I once had a grocery store clerk accidently ring up some cereal that belonged to the person in line behind me. By the time I noticed it, I had already finished paying. I handed the cereal to the other customer and turned to leave. The customer, the cashier and the bagger all looked at me like I was crazy. They told me I could go to customer service and get a refund, but I said that it was no big deal. Apparently, it was. As I walked away, they were staring at me as if I had opened the cereal and dumped it all over the floor.  Was it really that odd that I paid for a stranger’s cereal?

    This experience made me realize how small acts of kindness aren’t seen as often as they should be. I think that kindness is a quality that can never be overused, particularly in human resources. HR sees people at their most vulnerable moments. When employees are expecting their first child, forced to take a medical leave of absence or dealing with a death in the family, they turn to HR. Sensitive times require sensitive people.

    HR also represents the company as a whole. Every interaction that an HR professional has at work is a reflection of the company and the brand. No one wants to support a company full of nasty people. It only takes one negative experience for a bad reputation to begin. Basic manners and friendliness can go a long way towards making a good impression.

    When I was interviewing for my current job, HR was the first department that I interacted with. Everyone was incredibly nice and went out of their way to be helpful. Before I even met with the hiring manager, I already felt really good about the company. The pleasantness of the HR department didn’t stop after I was hired. If I ever need anything, I know that HR will do whatever they can to help.

    It is not hard to be nice, in your personal or professional life. We are human, so there will be days when we are angry or tired or frustrated because our favorite sports team keeps losing. No one is happy every moment of every day, but it never hurts to smile through the bad moments. I know that if a stranger ever buys me a box of cereal, it will make my day. I will smile and say “thank you.” The next morning when I’m in a pre-coffee funk, that act of kindness will remind me to be a better person. I can’t imagine a sweeter start to the day!


  • I Have been out of the Office

    I have been in and out of the office a bunch this year.  Every time I get back into

    Photo Credit Eric Chaump at Professional Diversification

    the office I am consumed with the feeling of being overwhelmed.  I think  you know what I am talking about.  I feel compelled to get to the accumulated pile of stuff that built up while I was out.  But then here come the events of the day.

    People and pending matters are pulling you in 14 different direction and since you have been gone, a number of folks want your ear.

    When you step back, you see that you have 42 Voice Mails, a four inch pile of U.S. Mail and probably a bazillion email messages, right?  Well I have formulated a plan to deal with all of this efficiently and quickly.

    Voice Mail – DELETE ALL

    Email – DELETE ALL

    U.S. Mail – the whole pile right into the trash


    Now in the aftermath of the purging there will be a few calls like this.  Dave – did you get that email I sent you about our proposal?    Most people make the assumption that if they sent it you got it. This is not always the case.  That is your cover.

    Your response is like this.  Well Bob they were having some sever problems while I was out of the office ; could you re-send it?  The same thing applies to any VMail or U.S. Mail.  You may have sent it but I didn’t get it.  Could you re-send?

    See this allows you to get to the really important stuff without wading thought the piles.

    Now I know very few responsible adults who would do this. In fact I have only thought about doing it – but it does sound tempting, doesn’t it?

    Oh well I need to get back to my out of the office mess!

  • Data What do you Have What do you Want

    If you work in Human Resources, everyday you have data driving decisions that you make.  Hopefully, the data that you have is good since you are basing significant decisions on what this data is telling you.   But out of all of the data that you sift through what is the most important information?  I have discussed this subject with my ProjectSocial partners Laura Schroeder and Lyn Hoyt and they have also posted about the subject.  Check them out.

    Meanwhile, as I undertook to answer that question, in my mind I thought a lot about what is

    Photc Credit to Pike Research

    measured, what is used and what is left unused.  Those of us in HR talk about Human Capital, engaged employees and work life balance.  But for those of who work in manufacturing the most important data we look at is PRODUCTION data. It is measurements like, how many did we make, what was the cost of goods manufactured,  what was the throughput,  what was our up-time ratio, what was our unit labor cost, how much waste was created.  Where I work,  those numbers take precedence over all other data items.

    While there efforts made to measure more esoteric things like employee engagement,  job satisfaction and how family friendly our organization is, those things do not drive the business in manufacturing.  Now, this might be wrong but that’s how it is.  This may also be why so much of our manufacturing is leaving our country, because we honestly and simply do not put people first.   

    I think the needle is moving and continues to move in that direction placing more importance on the people.  However, HR must do more to get the money and operations types to see the benefit to these factors and measurements. And it truly is a struggle because the corporate types  are always looking for immediate gratification.  Things like what were our profits – this period; this quarter. Most corporations, public or private are unable to look past the end of the quarter.

    So I have established what data is used the most where I come from, but on the flip side what data would I like to be looking at that I don’t have?

    I would like to have some true and legitimate form of an Employee Satisfaction Metric. Again I use  the word – sadly I do not have what I feel is a real measurement of how happy the employees of my Company truly are.   Having said that, if I did have it I am not sure that I could act on it.  It could be that if I reacted in the ways the employees wanted me to, I would skew the other metrics, the PRODUCTION Data (the most important metric).

    So it seems like a viscous circle.  I guess I have to look to the wisdom of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards to understand that You Can’t Always get what you want.