• That’s the Program -Got It?

    The family visiting GM World Headquarters

    Today’s workplace is a multi-generational place. We have folks interacting all the way up and down the age spectrum. This was the subject of  discussion between Laura Schroeder, and I this week.  You can see what she has to say on the matter here. Now this gerneraltional matter is something that HR folks feel compelled to want to manage this. Sometimes this is a good idea, while other times it might be best just to leave the folks to figure it out for themselves. This perhaps is one leadership tactic on addressing the issues, and some times it will work.

    One of my sons was doing a college internship, working for the General Motors Corporation (pre-bankruptcy). As a college engineering student, he was brought into the plant and nearly immediately put into a supervisory capacity. He told me he found this to be a little overwhelming, but he felt he was being tested by his superiors. Naturally he wanted to do well.

    Understand that this was at an auto plant in the Metro Detroit area. There were seven unions at the facility. My son told me he had one fellow that would not do what he asked him to do. He challenged seemingly everything he was trying to do. My son said this guy was undermining me and everything I was trying to do.

    After about a week one day the veteran challenged the intern again, only this time the intern had enough. My son said he told the fellow, “come with me.” This was one of the first request that he complied with. My son took into one of the deep dark recesses of the plant and proceeded to tell him.. “Look you no good son of a b&$*#. I know you have a problem with a 21 year-old punk ass college kid being your boss. Well get over it! I am here and you are here too. If you don’t show me some respect and comply with my wishes I am going to make it my job, to make your life a living hell the whole time I am here. OK ? And that’s the program, got it?”

    I am not sure the diatribe is verbatim but it is pretty close. This is how my son figured out how to deal with some generational differences that he was forced to address. I am not suggesting that his approach was a text book supervisory approach, but I too have encountered those folks in the hourly world who only understand management and leadership in this form.

    For the record the plant worker and my son did not cross paths again for the duration of the intership.

  • HR – The Dark Arts?

    After meeting someone for the first time, they often ask, “What do you do?” A normal question, as people often identify their job, their career, their profession with who they are. Well I have been in Human Resources for a long time and I know that it continues to encompass more activities. To date though, I have never thought of myself as one who practices witchcraft or the dark arts.

    Humor me for 0:56 and check out this video.

    While our friend Bruce Cameron in the video is talking somewhat  “tounge in cheek” – we hope; there are a number of disturbing things he says in the video.

    For example, if an employee relates something to you, and insists they don’t want to be called out on what they have shared with you, often times, you must betray that trust and deal with the issue.  Simply by virtue of knowing about the matter, as a moral ethical professional you ultimately end up violating that employees trust.  Day in and day out I feel like I sometimes have to switch from magician to hangman, funny but true. My Project Social Partner Laura Schroeder and I discused this and both felt this way. You can read what she has to say on the matter here.

    HR is called upon to deal with some of the ugliest pieces of business an employer must face.  We must talk to employees about thier divorces; life insurance claims and the death of a loved one, lay-offs.

    So whether you call it HR or the Dark Arts,  the best advise is to be honest and up front with everyone.  I am reminded of what a lawyer friend once told me,  always tell the truth and it’s hard to go wrong. – Good advise for any profession!

  • Employee Retention – Working at it Everyday

    Employee Retention, it is supposed to be a good thing.  When I hear the word retention, it makes me think of attorneys and – retainers.  If an attorney is retained, you either pay to use their services, or you pay to keep them available so you can use them. So now back to employee retention; we do pay them and hopefully they stick around.   That is the premise, you want to keep them around – or do you?  This was a subject me an my Project Social partner Laura Schroeder discussed last week  You can read her take on the matter here.

    Now regarding  employee retention, Jack Welch, former CEO of G.E. felt that, at a minimum, 10% of workforce needed to leave every year. Now, this theory did get Jack and his company in a little hot water. Even so, SHRM must have tacitly endorsed this, as they had Jack as an opening speaker in 2009 in New Orleans. So some turnover can’t be all bad, and there is going to be a certain amount of turnover no matter what.  Employees will move, leave, graduate, quit to care for loved ones, die and/or whatever else you can imagine.

    So with all of that out of the way it boils down to what are you doing to keep most of your better employees from jumping ship?  For the last several years, the economy has been in the doldrums and very few people have left any job because there were so few to move to. But now some of the soothsayers are prognosticating that when, the economy turns around, and it will, Katy bar the door.  The theory is that all of the best talent will be stolen. It will be courted away from your business with more pay, better benefits, on-site daycare and employee massages.

    Now there are some of us employers who really have not been able to land the top tier talent.  For example: my son who graduated last year with a B.S. in M.E. told me that Microsoft visited his campus and was only interested in talking to the top 10 in the class.  (That may be factually inaccurate, but suffice it to say they set the bar pretty high.) I have never had a swing at those kids, or employees of that caliber.  Our organization has had to settle for the kids with a 3.0 who have a well rounded balanced life and are not expecting the world’s treasure’s at their feet.

    Ever since these folks, the 3.0 ers, just like all of our employees, have come to work for our Company we have tried to treat them with respect and provide them with the best pay and benefits our Company can afford.  That’s all we can do.  We will continue to do so. If this doesn’t keep our “B” level talent then I guess we will have to move down to “B-“or “C+” talent.  We can’t give the store away and will never have the resources of Microsoft of Exxon.

    We will hire the people who wish to work at our Company and keep them as long as they want to stay.  I hope this is for a long time.  I am sure that any employer who treats their staff fairly, pays them a fair market based wage and offers reasonable benefits, will in-turn keep most of their best folks.

    Here is the takeaway Focus on what you do control TODAYand how you and your Company treat people EVERYDAY. Too much time spend worrying about what could be is simply wasted effort.

  • All The Good People Are Working – Really?

    All of the good people are working – that’s a phrase most of us in H.R. have heard before.  Do you believe it?  I don’t, not for a minute.  My Project Social partner Laura Schroeder and I were discussing this recently and both shared the same position. You can read what she had to say about the matter here.  However, there are those folks who do not share our view. 

    Somehow the folks who subscribe to this theory think that this, no matter what, the good people always land on their feet, and in a job – without fail. Taken to a wild extrapolation, the other side of this equation would go like this; all of the people who are unemployed, if hired would be or become bad employees, 

    As I think about the axiom of this post, all of good people are working, it seems more ludicrous in light our current economic situation.  In my state IL, statistics tell us that unemployment runs from about 7.5% to 13%.

    I understand how organization, want and need to get rid of the dead weight in their organizations, and like it or not an economic down turn does give a company a chance to shed some of those folks.  There is also no doubt they are not going to get rid of their key or top performers,  short of the nuclear option (bankruptcy, sale of the business, etc.),

    But what about that nuclear option – that does happen.  So if the theory is valid it would seem that the displaced employee, who is must not be or can not become unemployed, must have had a couple of things in the works.  Theory one says that the perfect employee is so good that they are always being hunted, courted or followed by recruiters or other employers, and once they became available the other employers would be pouncing on this person lavishing them with job offers.   Theory 2 finds the perfect employee always in the job market, perhaps unbeknown to their current employer.  Theory 2 though makes this person less than perfect, because the perfect employee is not on the hunt.

    Assume once again that I have figured this out, and the best do stayed employed – are there not any good ones left in the ranks of the unemployed?

    Those who would answer no – there are no good ones, are part of our consumable, disposable society.  Today there are so many things

    We don't fix or re-use these keyboards, we just throw them away. Are we doing that with the unemployed?

     that we do not repair, we just toss ‘em and get a new one.  Micro-waves, DVD players, computers, and televisions we don’t fix them, when they break we get a new one, a better one.  This is what they want to do with our unemployed folks, they’re broken – unemployed. They have lost their job and subsequently have now lost their employability.   So we’ll throw them away never to be hired again, at least as an “A” player.

    I don’t have a huge volume of jobs to offer, but I will not exclude looking through the ranks of the unemployed to find some good ones.  I know that they are out there and I will find some of them, I haven’t given up on them.

  • Under the H.R. Umbrella

    Recently I had the opportunity to post over at Michael Carty’s XpertHR site.   Michael had asked folks to answer this question in their post. If you could, what is the one thing you would change about HR. My take on the matter had me looking at the HR certification process and looking at broadening the types of certifications.

    On Monday of this week when I was visiting with my Project Social partner Laura Schroeder, we were discussing this and Laura was sure there was more to say about the subject than I had said. We agreed that HR has changed and continue to broaden as profession and there are several disciplines that have now moved under the umbrella of HR.  Let’s refer to them like we do in the job descriptions …. and other duties as assigned.  In a recent post Laura has likened it to HR housework.

    We continue to be bombarded about engagement.  Engagement as best as I can tell, falls somewhere between Organizational Development and Industrial Psychology.    To a guy like me with a pedestrian undergraduate degree in Communication from a largely liberal arts university it looks like I really should be some sort of clinician to have this job.

    So as I move from the clinician improving employee engagement back to a compensation initiative, I am nearly knee deep in the accounting world.  That is a tough transition.   Charley Judy is the only guy I know who sports CPA/SPHR behind his name.

    In the same day I might be called upon to render an opinion/directive on how we as a Company, given a certain set of circumstances will  comply with OSHA standard 1910.147 (and if you know what that is without looking it up you are a geek too).

    And before the end of the day someone has come to me with a question why our HRIS is not interfacing properly with our ATS, and I am expected to know the answer immediately.

    So if you are going to be in HR these days you had better be able to wear a lot of hats, because it seems like the CEO types continue to push things under our umbrealla.

  • 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!

  • Corporate Sustainability – Do the Simple Stuff

    The responsibility for employee safety is mine.  I take this very seriously. When I began in Personnel it was one of the first things I was charged with improving.   Since back around 1990 (AD) I have been dealing with employee safety and risk management.

    One of the main reasons my Company became concerned with employee safety had to do with Workmen’s Compensation Insurance costs.  Due to a number of claims the cost had become outrageously expensive and I was tasked with doing something about it.  With the help of a couple of other committed folks in our organization we were able to improve our safety record.  As our safety record improved, we found the cost of insurance began to diminish.  Not really an ah-hah moment but the savings were sizable, and thus showed up on the Company radar.

    It was a lesson well learned.  I have kept my eye on safety over the years for two reasons.  I don’t want to be the guy from the employer knocking on a door or calling late at night telling a loved one about an incident.  Reason number two, it helps keep our Company profitable.  There are other reasons but those are the biggys.  I haven’t blown my horn about it much recently; in fact, it is just the way we do business, cultural if you will.

    Having been involved with Project Social and my partner Laura Schroeder I am learning new things from her all the time (and I am supposed to be the mentor).  Laura is broadening my horizons to understand things like Corporate Sustainability, and Corporate Sustainability Reporting.  After a little tutoring I more or less got it. This is something you and your Company need to have on the horizon, whether you think you need to – or not! It is becoming more vital information about your organization and how you do business.   For me, there was in interesting twist to this experience, in between Corporate Sustainability and effective risk management within an organization.

    Given the environment that Laura is working in, I have become somewhat (not completely) a star pupil for corporate sustainability.  You see this employee safety stuff is given a rather lofty status when outsiders review organizations. In looking at Laura’s post on this, you can see that safety and risk management are directly tied to points 7, 8 & 9 and indirectly to 10& 11. I am helping position my Company to be a respectable global corporate citizen and not even really aware of it.

    We find that safety is only part of a great production operation.  The organization must be equally concerned about Quality and Productivity as well.  These things all point to a healthy bottom line; which after all is why we are in business.

    In the end, safety is good business.  It helps a Company to make money.  Oh and one more thing, our Company re-cycles too – why because it makes money.

    If your Company is not eminently concerned about safety and/or recycling, you are leaving lots of low hanging fruit on the vine my friend.

  • Project Social Green HR Making Money

    Project Social continues to turns green and rolls on.  This week Laura and I discussed greening of HR and how to interest people in making HR more accountable for Green issues.   For those of us in the private sector we find profit margin most rewarding.  How can green make money for our Company? Another way to look at that is ([Current Cost] – [Improved Process}=> 0) = PROFIT. Profit, this is the main reason American business recycle is because there is economic gain to be had.  We are Capitalists. 

    Having said that let me carve out exclusion, some businesses recycle because it is the right thing to do.  Not for Profits may recycle because it is the right thing to do, but they too should be or are looking for economic gain out of recycling.  How can an HR department get something like this going? Well paper is a pretty easy target for the gain formula, while some of the other landfill destined items are a little more challenging.   Paper may require some handling or storage but it usually work easily if you are looking for the old ROI.

    This compactor creates 1000 lb bales of used paper.

    And remember if it is cheaper to dispose of via an alternate means than sending it off to the old dump, it is still a winner and a green alternative. This is another winner for the HR leader looking to do a little green HR.

    Through our discussion on the issues Laura has enlightened me as to how in most European countries there are significant regulations mandating Green Initiatives as well as tax incentives to reward those compliant businesses. While I am not a tax expert it would seem to me that if the U.S. government would make more Green initiatives more financially rewarding, businesses would  rapidly move in that direction.

    Over the years we have seen how tax law drives investment in and out of different areas.  Europe has already figured this formula out [New Tax incentive] + [New investment] = Innovation.

    So Congress needs to come up with the tax rewards for business – or the mandates to bring  green change to business!

  • Project Social – Green Jobs

    Project Social and Green Jobs… That’s my assignment.  Laura, my project social partner and I are working on learning more about green jobs and how HR is dealing with this.  Since Laura is obviously the brighter of the two of us (I let people shoot hockey pucks at me) she kind of took the high road on this.  Laura is looking renewable energy credits and jobs in green tech. I on the other hand, with a background in manufacturing and distribution, am let’s say may be a bit earthier wanted to look more to the trenches of recycling. 

    I wanted to see where this whole process of Green/recycling begins. For more than three years I have been doing my part and taking my paper, metal and most plastic out of my waste stream and putting in my blue recycling bin.   For a nominal fee, I set this container at the end of my driveway every week and poof there you have it, I am recycling. This seems pretty simple to me.  Have you ever wonder what happens next? Mind you all of my stuff goes in one bin and then into one truck.  So when the truck gets full they take it to the center dump it into the giant recycling machine and it comes out the other end, not quite.

     This is what happens.


    I  was originally going to shoot my own video of this, but later found out the material in my town is shipped elsewhere for sorting; so thanks to my Youtube friend pipmossop for the use of this video. 

    Those of us in manufacturing would like to automate everything, because we know that you only have employment issues – if you have employees.  But some tasks are better left to the human hands, eyes and brain. So, there are going to have to be a lot of jobs like the sorters to continue to make recycling viable.  It is going to be Human Resources’ challenge to turn these into good jobs. Let’s be honest, the sorting of garbage is a likely candidate for Mike Rowe’s Dirty Jobs.

    We need to view all of the folks who are working in the recycling stream as ecological soldiers, saving the planet from all of the people who live here. It is through these types of practice we can reduce the number of Garbage Mountains that are dotting our landscape all over the country.   I will be visiting my nearest sorting center and find out just what it is that they do, in  order to motivate thier workforce and keep good people in a job that might be viewed as undesireable by many – perhaps a challenge that many of us face daily!

  • Project Social – On Holiday

    Project Social isn’t taking a holiday, although maybe the people involved in it will.  While Laura and I are working on our Green HR initiative, we both had plans to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with our families and friends.  So long story short I did not get a chance to work on my PS assignment, however I did want to talk about the program itself.

    There are only a few pairs of us working on this to see how this thing was going to work. So I thought I would talk about the program as a whole.  To a degree it is 21st pen pal program.  The difference is that we are working with the social media tools of the trade.  We are skyping, blogging and tweeting. Our sphere of on-line friends is melting into one.  Many of my tweeps are following @workgal and some of her tweeps are following me back. Our on-line friends are helping us socialize.

    We chat about how we are going to use video, with vimeo and youtube, as well as using linked in.  The program is giving us a purpose, a reason to do these things.  Laura is no novice when it comes to SM, so she is challenging me and pushing me to do new and different things via SM. I think this is what Ben and Voctorio had in mind when they hatched this idea. While I have used most of these tools, I do not consider myself close to being an expert, but the more I use them the better I get.  I think the point is this, just do it, get involved, get waist deep – after all – necessity it the mother of invention.

    The program got a shot in the arm last week at the SHRM Annual Leadership Conference.  Both Ben and I were asked to participate in a panel discussion on Social Media,  SHRM Social Media director Curtis Midkiff (@shrmsomedguy) gave Ben an opportunity to talk about the program and how people might participate in it.  While the session had no more than 100 participants, interest in Project Social and social media in general seem to be high.

    So next week I will be back on track with our Green HR Project and moving Project Social forward.

  • Project Social Seeing Green

    Another week has gone by and Laura and I are striving to be the best Project Social students- yeah we’re both overachievers.  While we have made reference to our super secret project, we have to be honest.  It has changed a couple of times because we got beat on the draw. 

    One of the things that the two of wanted to do as a pair is create some body of work that would be interesting and useful to those in the hr blogosphere.   We have kicked around several ideas during our various conversations. One topic that seems to return is what we call green HR.  This would include jobs that directly or indirectly relate to environmental sensitive matters, and practices that are designed to reduce waste and improve recycling. 

    In our dialogue I was pontificating to Laura how we are scarring the landscape here in the Mid-West.  My brother-in-law, who is an Arizona native disparagingly refers to me as a flat-lander, well we are changing that.  In my travels over the summer I have seen three what I will call Garbage Mountains.  They are all within about 100 miles of Chicago.  There are literally mountains of garbage that are from the waste hauled of ht urban area.  The one pictured  here is near Pontiac, IL, just to the west of I-55.  If you have driven this stretch of road you have no doubt seen this and hopefully wondered – what in the hell is that? 

    Garbage Mountain - Near Pontiac, IL (I-55 mile post 200)

    I shared this story with Laura and she began to tell me how most European countries are much more forth right about dealing with environmental matters.  In Europe there is much more regulation around the matter than in the states. I told Laura it was interesting to met because at my employer we are diligent about recycling – but only because it makes good business sense – it cheaper to recycle than dump!  We segregate paper, metal, wood and food products and push them to the approriate recycling stream. While we don’t actually make money doing this, it does cost less than sending it to a dump, therefore we have ROI! 

    We both thought Green HR is good direction for our contibutions to Project Social.  At lease in this country, it has to make good business sense ($$$) to get American businesses to be on-board.  We seem to lack the social responsibility held by our European partners.

    So the on-going conversation got us to thinking we need to begin to create a body of resources for HR on  green issues.  We need to learn about green jobs –  jobs that specifically helping address environmental matters. We want to learn about Companies that genuinely care about their carbon foot print, why they care and what they are doing about it.  We are going to  be looking for help and assistance from our fellow bloggers and tweeps as well.  We are going use the simple formula exspoused by fellow Project Social betaite Lisa Rosendahl– tweet out an idea, build on it, look for feedback and blog about it. 

    My Project Social partner Laura Schroeder feels the same way and has posted similarly on this topic over at Working Girl and we want to do our part to encourage the growing movement toward corporate social responsibility. So if you have some knowledge about Green HR that you could share please contact Laura or me.

  • Project Social – Getting to know You

     One of the goals for the LD (Laura & Dave) Project Social team was to post weekly about our activity. We certainly want to meet our goals and objective and not evoke the ire of Program Coordinators Victorio and the Ruthless Ben Eubanks, so we will stick to our guns.  This week we have hatched out a plan that is rather large in scope, and thus will require several weeks of behind the scenes work before we can divulge the nature of our Project Social Project.  So in the mean time, we thought we would do kind of an eharmony like profile of ourselves, well sort of. 

     There were some things I found very interesting about Laura and her life style, living internationally and such.  So I asked her some questions about it. Both the questions and answers are posted below.  And while my lifestyle is little less cosmopolitan, and a lot more mid—western,  sadly the only two thing I really had much to comment about was Human Resources and Ice Hockey.  So Laura was kind enough to fashion some question about me and my mundane life as an HR guy and an Ice Hockey Official. 

    So if you dare… skate on over to Laura’s Blog Site Working Girl and have a look… 

    DAVE: As an American Citizen and working outside the country how do you al with the disconnect, that you feel with family and friends who are state-side?

    LAURA: As an LA girl I feel like a bit of a hothouse flower, especially during the cold months.  On the other hand, my immediate family’s quite small – I’m an only child with no first cousins – and I spent 7 years at boarding school before going away to college so my best friends are as ‘global’ as I am.  I don’t keep in touch as well as I’d like to but I like knowing they’re out there.  I read a lot and blogging also helps me feel connected.  And of course I visit the US on business and personal trips, which is always great for re-charging. 


    DAVE: Working outside of the country has career challenges/advantages –What is the biggest challenge or advantage that working outside the country has presented to you?

    LAURA: The biggest challenge is not being there.  Work at a software company is fast-paced and things can change hourly around the water cooler.  Plus you miss the small celebrations and interpersonal connections.  As the workforce inevitably becomes more virtual my situation will become more common but today it’s still a challenge.  I think of myself as a pioneer.  My situation isn’t always easy but if I can make it work, it may help people in the same situation down the road.

    But you asked about career challenges in particular.  From a career point of view most of the ‘action’ in my chosen profession happens in the US.   For example, you don’t find a lot of product management or strategy for global products happening outside the US.  Before I had kids I managed software development teams and managed global projects but as a remote working mom I don’t have the same options I would have living in the US.   

    The biggest advantage is I have a lot of freedom to structure my work load, which as a working mom is a huge benefit.  I don’t have to reschedule meetings if I have a doctor appointment or a child stays home sick because everyone on my team’s asleep during my work day anyway.  As long as my work gets done no one cares what hours I work or whether I answer email in torn PJs and bunny slippers – not that I would ever do that, in fact I’m wearing a 3-piece suit right now and having a fabulous hair day!  So, sometimes I feel very lucky, other times I miss being in the center of the action.


    DAVE: How do you use social media help stay connected with issues or matters going on state-side?

    LAURA: Blogs are a great source of information about market trends and also a wonderful tool for shaping opinion – it’s neat when you write about a topic from a new perspective and find that same opinion cropping up elsewhere.  And I’ve found Twitter to be a great resource as well.  Often while I’m pondering my next blog post someone will Tweet an article that has exactly the information I need. 


    DAVE: Describe some of the major difference that you see in the average German employee compared to the average American employee.

    LAURA: I find Germans more pragmatic about work than Americans. They spend less time on social niceties and have a ‘let’s get this done’ attitude.  Americans (by German standards) like to discuss things and change their minds a bunch of times while the process ‘evolves.’  This sometimes bemuses the Germans, who think you should analyze the problem, figure out and communicate what you’re going to do and then DO it.  They don’t rush or over-commit but they do what they say they will do.  Of course, getting an email from them can be a bit of a shock because they use so many capitals you think they’re yelling at you until you get used to it.   And they can be a bit rigid to work with, or less open to change or new ideas.  However, I don’t want to generalize because I’ve worked with lots of creative, flexible Germans. 


    DAVE: What advise would you give a recent college graduate who is considering an offer of employment that would have them living outside of the country?

    LAURA: Easy: Do it!  If all you know is your own country your horizons will be smaller.  And it’s harder to follow your dreams later with kids, mortgage, etc., so the best time to be footloose is right after college.  Why wouldn’t you live abroad for a year or two if you had the chance?  Oh, and if you want to be an au pair in Munich, Tweet me.

    Ok well there you have it from the LD Project Social team for the week.  We are really and truly working on something big and will roll it out later.  In the meantime follow the both of us to see what mischief we can get into before the big roll out!