• My Next Stop in the Blogospher

    The thing that I like most about blogging is this. There is no wrong way to do it. That works well for me, because that means it is almost impossible to screw it up.  Really.  My path in the blogospher will soon be taking a new/addition path.  I am going to being posting on Performance I Create (#PICHR)  This is collaborative site started by Chris Ponder.  Recently I received an invite to join the team of bloggers he is assembling to create a revamped/larger multi-contributor blog site.   The Performance I Create team also includes

    Chris Fields | Jay Kuhns | Buzz Rooney | Steve Browne 

     Tiffiany Kuehl | Justin Harris  | Melissa Fairman

    Click on over and see what it’s all about

    I really do feel like I have a bond we these folks as I have been fortunate enough to meet five of the seven in person, and the other two are on my short list.

    This opportunity is really intriguing to me, how I have come to be in the company of some pretty bright and articulate folks. I will liken this association to golf. I am not a very good golfer, although I enjoy it immensely   If I break 100 on the course it is a good day.  But once last year I played with  three other guys that were really good and I shot a 91.  This speaks to the theory that if you hang around with, associate with or do things with folks that are better than you, they make you better.  I subscribe to this concept. So I can’t wait to get to work with these folks.

    But I still have other commitments out here in the space.  I have committed to posting at least once a month on the   Saner Camp Site. I was graciously invited,  by Alicia to contribute on this her site which speaks to small business and entrepreneurship. My topic that I write about there is firing people.  I guess you could call me the Donald Trump of the site,   I really do share my insights on terminating employment   Over the years I have gotten pretty good at it, so I am sharing some of the things about it that I have picked up.  Many small business people fortunately don’t have to let a lot of folks go, so they are inexpedient at this aspect of business.  You can find my posts over there once a month.

    Another thing I do, which by the way does not pay a dime, is this.  I am the Director of Social Media for the Illinois State Council of SHRM.  What does that mean? In a larger sense it give me a opportunity for me to hang around with a bunch of folks that are way smarter than I am, and allows me to learn from them.  The price I pay for this is being the chief blogger at the Council’s Blog Site.  We have nearly 200 posts on the site which I started back in July of 2010.  I perform a number of other functions for the council but as it relates to blogging, that is the thrust of my responsibility there.

    Then on to the HROfficial, (here) which is my site, where I post when I can, or where I post things that I think my be incendiary and could be inappropriate on other sites.   At one time I had a commitment here to publish weekly.  At the time I was blogging in tandem with my friend Laura Schroeder and her blog Working Girl.  As part of Project Social,  an initiative put together by Ben Eubanks and Victorio Milan. As of late Laura and I have not been blogging together, although we both say we would like to. She claims work, kids and her husband  are all getting in the way, and then she also blogs over at the Compensation Cafe.   I guess I can believe her life does get complicated.

    And as long as I put together Dave’s history of blogging I have to mention three folks who really got me going . The first is Jessica Miller-Merrell who first offered me the opportunity to guest post on her site Blogging4Job, ever heard of it?   The second person who has really shown me the ropes of blogging and is still out there doing it is Mike Vandervort.  Mike’s site is The Human Race Horses. And lastly my young friend Ben Eubanks has also been a great help to me with blogging for all of  his technical knowledge. Without Jessica, Mike and Ben’s  guidance,encouragement and wisdom I would not have an opportunity like I have today to be a new addition to the Performance I Create  stable of bloggers.

    I am excited about this. I will continue to honor all of my committments, so if the postings diminish it will most likely be here.  But, you can still find me out her blogging at several other sites.

    Thanks to all of you who do look at what I write, I appreciate that very much.

     
  • Mercenary One Rung down from Rock Star

    We all have them  or at lease we want them, whether it is an employee, a contractor or any other type of service provider.   These days the buzz is all about the superstars, the rock stars and how everybody in HR is looking for them. We have to source them, find them where ever they are and get them into our organizations.
    Well there is another type of employee who falls short of the superstar status,  it is the employee who can get a phenominal amount of work done, done right and in a very short time. The problem with this employee though is this, they lack finess, they have a tendancy to piss people off and they really only focus on getting the job done. Organizationally, this type of employee often reaks havoc within the organatization. For the purposes of this post I will call this type of get ‘er done employee the mercenary.
    There are many of the touchy feely types in HR who don’t like the mercinary because they don’t play well at work. But there are those of us, such as myself, who call upon the mercinary from time to time, because we know they will execute – no question. For those of us that call on the mercenary we are willing to deal with the collateral damage, especially when we need  someone that we know they can get the job done.
    Sadly, this may even be our go to person, if we are short on the rock stars.  We all know someone who is either a mercenary or has those tendancies. They are not all bad,  perhaps they just need a bit of refinement.  So, if I can’t have one rock star, maybe I can get by with two mercenaries.
    This idea for this post came out of a recent discussion with Laura Schroder, my project social partner and she too agreed that she would choose a good mercenary employee now and then, when she had  a need to get the job done;  You can read her take on the matter at her blog Working Girl.
     
  • Project Social Rides Again

    Project Social what is it?  Well like most things anymore if I want to know more about it, I Google it.  If you do so you will end up on Ben Eubank’s blog site. While that gives you a brief overview, my view is a little different.  I was one the Project Social particpants of what I termed the Beta-ites.  Laura Schroder and I were paired up by Ben and Victorio.   Slowly we figured out what we needed to do to make Project Social a sucess in our minds. Not long after we included Lyn Hoyt in our escapades – although she came along willingly.

    Now Project Social is becoming full on operational. Apparently, you will find this triumverate under collaboration.   Laura and Lyn and I have written a number of posts on the same topic.  Then when we post them, we mention/reference our partners in the post and suggest to our readers that they check out our partners. Quite frankly at the outset it seemed like somewhat of a hair-brained scheme but I was able to sell Laura on it.   Oddly enough it did prove to be at least nominally sucessful.

    For much of 2011 Laura and I would Skype on a weekly basis – 6 am on Monday mornings (althogh it was 1 or 2 PM in Germany depending upon day light savings time).  We would chat and concoct a topic to write on.  Often times then I would contact Lyn and include her in the effort.

    This worked well to keep us posting.  We were accountable to each other to meet the deadlines and get the work complete. I know at one point Lyn told me that she was posting monthly and we were trying to get her to post weekly, and we did. We pushed her and she liked it.

    Another benefit to this collaborative effort was it helped each of us to increase the traffic on our sites.  We began seeing cross-overs readers from one and others followers.  On a few occasions it was significant.  We also increased our Twitter followers and presence on the platform with the interaction with one and other.

    Well now my understanding that here on the Project Social Site we are going to be a mini-carnival.  Most carnivals consist of numerous posts ont he same subject matter.  We will continue to do this, I guess until we come up with another scheme.  So look for the the three of us out in the blogospher and here through the Project Social web site.

    In the  meantime if you would like to be part of this effort, you can join in right here.

 
  • A Czar’s Christmas

    My Project Social partners and me are at it again.  We like to share in each others story-telling (blog posting) call it what you like.  I have written a bit about Christmas around my house.  I am sure that both Laura Schroder and Lyn Hoyt have cooked-up much more interesting holiday stories than have I.  So after you check out Laura’s Christmas Post at Working Girl  and Lynn’s Christmas Post at the HR Bacon Hut, come back and see my intriguing story I will call A Czar’s Christmas.

     

    My life seems to be falling into somewhat of an annual routine at this stage of my being. For the last time, this year in the late summer I sent a son off to college.  Then it was Labor Day, Birthdays (mine is 10/16 and my wife’s is the next day).  Somewhere in there is a USA Hockey Officials Clinic, the hockey season begins, then there is SHRM Leadership, Thanksgiving and then boom Christmas.  It seems to have rolled this way for about the last 7 years of my life.  It’s not bad; it is just the way it is.

    But the Christmas Holiday is always special, both in what it represents and the family time that it brings.   Only since my sons have left home and gone to college, do I know understand why my dearly departed Father-In-Law so much loved the holiday season.  For many of us it is a chance to gather with family and friends that we seem to see less and less. It’s no ones fault it just happens this way.

    In my time of having children (25 and 22 now) we have done many different things on Christmas, but in the last seven years some of our traditions have begun to develop a little staying power.

    Getting ready to make some juice

    The Chairman of the Board of our Company is an active Rotarian at 80 years +. One of the things they do to raise funds is sell Fresh Florida Citrus (oranges and grapefruits) at the first part of December.  I have always purchased a case or two.  For the last several years the tree-ripened fruit ends up being squeezed into fresh orange juice.  Whatever of that juice is left come Christmas morning is used to make Mimosas after the presents are opened

    Another thing our family does is this. As a family unit, usually on Christmas Eve, we watch Christmas Vacation. You know the show, with Chevy Chaseand Beverly D’Angelo. We all know nearly all of the lines in the movie, yet we still laugh when Clarksays “Eddie if I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpeting I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am right now!”

    Christmas Day we always manage to catch A Christmas Story at least once or twice on TBS, where we hear a rousing version of Deck the Halls.

    My wife comes from a large family, so many of her siblings end up at our house for an early afternoon Christmas Dinner and gift exchange. I am usually knee deep in cooking by this time and about waste deep in some sort of Christmas Cheer.  I end up being the last to eat, and then start the clean up.  It is noisy there are a lot of people – sometimes near 40.  There is always a lot of trash, following the orgy of gifts. And then – they all leave. Everyone seems to have at least two or three stops on Christmas Day.

    We wind it down at the Ryan house and then we head out for a very special early evening.   The Chairman of the Board of our Company (the Fruit Rotarian) and his wife have for many years now had an open house on Christmas Day.  It is always wonderful. I see people I work with; I see old friends and make new ones, and share great food and Christmas Cheer. We have missed this a few times, when I took the family and bolted to see my relatives who all live in warmer climates.

    So depending upon whether or not the 26th is a work day, kind of drives what time we depart the open house.   But at some point we get back in the car for the five minute ride home, and it’s all over.  The excitement, the expectations, the craziness is all done for another year.

    Next year the Christmas build-up cycle will not begin with sending a kid off to college. Hopefully he will be working.  So if you are in HR and are looking for a sharp young man with a B.A. from SIU in Video/Cinema Mass Communication Major for your organization,(check him out here) just leave me a comment – we’ll talk.

    Merry Christmas!

     
  • 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.

     
  • My Circle of Tweeps

    I often date myself as I sit in my basement and create blog posts.  Today I am going to do it again – hopefully to make my point.

    You have probably seen a number of posts that I have written in tandem with my blogger buddy Laura Schroeder @workgal   and as of late the duo and turned into a trio.  My friend Lyn Hoyt @designtwit   has joined us when we decide to write collectively on a topic.  My meeting of Laura was rather fortuitous.  We met as a random pairing of social media enthusiasts though a program that Ben Eubanks   and Victorio Milian.  It has been nearly a year since we were first paired-up.  Lyn and I had met on line but had a chance to visit face to face this year at HREvolution. As a little group, a clique we are getting pretty tight.

    We do nice things for each other  on social media.  We re-tweet each others tweets, almost mindlessly.  We comment on each others’ posts.  We co-mingle our followers and readers with one another.  Essentially we each have some on to lean on.  This brings me to the dating myself part – please see the video.

     

     

    As a child of the ’70s I think Bill says it well, we all “Need Somebody to Lean On”.  You can ask the questions of your SM buddies, does what I wrote actually make any sense, do you think this is funny.  Blogging is someone of a solitary activity and it sure is nice to bounce things off of others.

    I have other on-line friends who are also most gracious and RT my tweets, read my posts and the like and appreciate ALL OF THEM.  But the big take-away from this has to be, as you immerse yourself in social media, find a couple on-line friends that you can count on and have those private conversations with, or bounce ideas off of them.   Writing and posting can be a lonesome activity especially at when you start.

    So build your circle of tweeps, and share things back and forth like I have with Laura and Lyn.   And yes they have both posted on this matter of on-line collaboration.  Laura’s post is a click away here – and Lyn’s is right here.  Please go over and read their posts on the matter, because what they have to say will no doubt be illuminating on the subject – and their my friends!

     
  • Social Media Which Medium do You Choose

    The once famous or perhaps infamous media critic Marshall McLuhan espoused many years ago “the medium is the message.” So if he was correct, which Social Media platform you choose must say a lot about someone.

    I can think of six or more platforms that I use, regularly.

    Twitter|Facebook|FourSquare|LinkedIn|Skype|YouTube|Blogging & other Blog Sites

    But I must confess, my real SM home is Twitter. I like twitter the most. I like the lively – yet concise dialogues that are had on twitter. It’s also a little geeky and dare I say I like that too.  I have met some very cool people from twitter.  And lastly I will RT my best tweet of 2010 – Ppl who tweet r fun ppl. I will leave it up to my OD friends to obsess about what twitter being my number one platform means.

    I do also spend some time on Facebook, not so much but it is a great place to connect with people.  I used to reserve FB for my “real” friends and family.  But have adopted the William Tincup philosophy, which is, I am who I am on any and all platforms.  Accordingly, I am now FB friends with many of my twitter friends and some of LinkedIn acquaintances too and anyone else most anyone else who wants to connect. My project social partner Laura Schroeder is a Facebooker dirrenet than me.  She has some other ideas on the matter in her post titled Do you Facebook.

    This now really brings us to the point where the lines have become very blurry.  I have met many folks via SM and have now become good friends as we say IRL (in real life).  I also have friends of many years who I do not connect with on SM.   I also connect with folks on LinkedIn and then that goes to Facebook and to twitter.  It is becoming a never ending web. Now that’s my web, Lyn over at The HR Bacon Hut has an even more complex web of social application – seriously!

    Having recently attended HREvolution I saw just how cool FourSquare is if you’re looking for the party.  People check in and you see where the action is, and who is there.   However the same info from Foursquare is often found bleeding over on or through twitter.

    This now brings me to my closing point, about the different platforms.  In my opinion, it is ok to connect one or two mediums occasionally to get a message out, but in general I think it is a bad idea and turns people off – especially if you have 3 or 4 platforms connected. Each of them is different and serves a different audience in a different way.  So don’t connect all of your social media outlets, because it doesn’t make sense to different groups on different platforms.   And if Marshall McLuhan was right – boy will you be sending some major mixed messages!

     

     

     
  • The Art of the RT

    To RT of not to RT That is the Question

    The way that most of these Project Social cross-post develop are usually just a volley of ideas. This, oddly enough is almost like an MRT (Modified Re Tweet).  Where someone says something and then someone says it again and may add to it <like this!  If at this point RT is still unclear –  I would  Google it.

    Ok so now that’s  the what; is cleared up, how about the who, and the why.   Why do I RT the things that I do.

    • · Because the tweet is an awesome 140 character bits of wisdom
    • · Because the person that said it is a sage/savvy SM person and I want to demonstrate to them I value what they have to say.
    • · The tweet is funny – odd- or otherwise intriguing
    • · I enjoy the blogger and want to help them spread their message
    • · I got a DM asking me to retweet a particular tweet
    • · I picked the wrong function on Tweet Deck and out went the RT

    Ok so in true inverted pyramid style, now that I have the who, what, why, where  it is now on to when.  RT  ASAP.  This is even more true if you ever follow any of the online chats like #TChat.  The tweets and the Re-Tweets come so fast you can’t keep up. If you have never participated one of the twitter  chats – load up the hastag #tchat in one of your search columns, and be on-line at 7 PM Central  on Tuesday for Talent Culture’s Tchat, and watch the RT’s go by.

    If you don’t think the Talent Culture #Tchat is for you  Jessica over at www.blogging4jobs.com has put together this awesome list of twitter chats. Do yourself a favor and check one out.

    Lastly how to re-tweet – most apps have a function, or you can copy and paste the tweet and put RT in front of it.

    That is the HROfficial’s take on ReTweeting.  Now there are a couple other folks I would give an RT to just because of who they are.  It is kind of an act of friendship too.  So often time if I see my friend Laura aka @workgal has posted something on her blog  Working Girl. I will give an old RT just because of that.  And since Lyn Hoyt  aka  @designtwit has decided to hook here wagon to this ProjectSocia train as well,  I will give her an RT for any of her posts over at The Bacon Hut. Both Laura and Lyn have posted on this subject or RTs so click on over and see what their take is on RTs.

     
  • Project Social – 6 Month Check-up

    It has been six months since Laura Schroeder and I became Project Social Partners.  We were matched up by Ben and Victorio as part of the roll out of their brain child Project Social.  We were told that we would be part of a small beta group. Laura and I agreed happily.

    While we did agree to participate we did not receive a planner, outline, syllabus or any other guiding documents.  So we were pretty much on our own to figure out what it was that we both wanted to get out of it.  I was really somewhat shocked to find out that Laura lived in Munich Germany.  I thought wow, this is rather international for old Central Illinois Dave.

    Laura and I figured out that Skype would be the way to communicate.  We also learned that there was a seven hour time difference between Springfield and Munich. We established a target time, and we try to chat weekly.  When we talk, we talk about what is going on in our lives and what we want to blog about.

    What we have done is write about the same topic and then we link to each others post.  This seems to have increased traffic to each others site.  We also have seen an increase in followers from each other’s blogs.  We both have also learned more about SEO.  We have learned what days create more traffic for our posts.  Again we are doing this,  so see what Laura’s take on the matter is here at her  blog Working Girl.

    We have encouraged each other to push their personal limits.  Although I still have not yet gotten Laura to do her first video blog, but it is coming.  Laura has given birth to Jonas, who I have met on skype, and even wrote a post about. Laura has helped to validate my thoughts on things.  Sometime I feel my opinion about things is not really representative of anyone else’s, but she encourages me, having referred to me as the everyman HR guy.

    Although I must say out of all of the wonderful benefits I have reaped from this endeavor the biggest and best thing is making a new and dear friend.  Laura and I have not met face to face, although she knows a lot more about what is going on in my life than most of my friends.  I have shared nearly private moments with Laura and her young baby boy.  This is no different than other acquaintances I have made on line.  It is not an unusual way to meet people, it is just another way.

    And the kicker is that once you meet people on line, in second life, any way other than face to face, you always have the experience of meeting face to face for the first time to look forward to.  I guess the next step in this process is for us to introduce our spouses to each other.  My first skype call to Laura was on my wife’s computer, so I suspect this will happen at some point.

    We will continue to do what we are doing, that and more, because Laura and I are both enjoying this and learning from this effort.  How long it will go on I don’t know.  This was our six month check up; we see how this thing looks after a year.

    Thanks Laura it has been my pleasure!

     
  • 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.

     
  • 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 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.

     
  • Business is Down – Cut the HR Programs

    Business is down, this is your HR budget

    My partner Laura and I are taking our roles in Project Social very seriously and want to make a difference with what we are doing.  We are trying to talk at least once a week and this seems to be enough to keep the project moving forward. While this week, Laura and I continued work on our super-secret world changing project (sswcp), we talked about some more mundane HR matters. 

    I spend my most of my days in what Charlie  Judy –HRFishbowl  calls trenchHR  Laura is removed from the trenches by one degree of separation, working in the HR Software industry.  As we brainstormed about the sswcp, we traded some HR war stories, Laura recounted to me about a friend of hers who had taken on an HR position in an upstart company. Her post on that story is here. Laura said things were going well for her friend, (I’ll call her Ann) at the young company, Ann said that the Company was taking off, and was quite financially successful.  

    Accordingly most everything Ann requested funding for was funded and implemented.  But like with any success story, things slowed down, the money slowed and the financial picture of the Company changed. And now – the Company was pulling the plug on programs and not nearly so committed to the strong employee engagement programs, or other employee focused initiatives. 

    Laura asked me if I have I had ever experienced this phenomenon? This became a SAY WHAT moment for me.  The answer was yes – with about every slow down in business. 

    Like many of my trench HR peers, I have lived through this numerous times, Even if your department is allocated certain funds for a period of time that can change in an instant! When the funding/sales/revenue slows, or goes away, business functions that do not directly enhance the bottom line (product or service), quickly loose their luster, to most CEOs and CFOs. While a seasoned HR pro may be able to salvage a program or two, they  must choose their battles wisely and hold on to the program or service that is certain to bring benefits to the organization. That has to be the last thing you won’t give up – because you know it is too valuable to loose and your Company’s image may be tarnished if you let it go. For me, this has always been safety training – you just can’t stop regardless of the cost! 

    Meanwhile, it is only the true visionary leaders that manage to stick to their guns and not pull the plug on the people programs during downturns. So consider yourself one of the lucky ones if your CFO/CEO has gone through a downturn in revenue and did not take the meat ax to the HR budget or the people programs. They are the leaders who get it. 

    Like it or not this is one of the realities of HR.  As an HR pro, if you wish to understand business you need to understand this – you don’t have to like it but you need to get it. I don’t have hard date but over the year I have learned 9 out 10 times, the money people are NOT going continue with the HR people programs in a downturn. It’s not personal it’s just business.

     
  • 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!