April 18, 2017

When I see something horrible in the news and then the subsequent comments of shock and surprise wondering what we’ve become, I can’t help but think what took us so long? What did we expect?

There are of course many examples to refute what I’m about to say below, but the trend is there nonetheless. THIS IS US–NOT A RIGHT WING OR LEFT WING MONOPOLY.

These are but a few of many examples.

  • Statistically, over half of all resumes and employment applications have a falsification on them. Not typos or errors, but out-and-out lies regarding previous employment, education, etc.
  • Even in the most prestigious of our higher learning institutions, major cheating scandals occur regularly. Of course this is the fuel for the future leaders of our society.
  • Human kindness (even civility) has taken a back seat to behavior seen on TV that has been fostered and passed off as acceptable with shows such as Survivor, et al.
  • The 7 Deadly Sins have been treated as though they were the Bill of Rights by many, who can easily rationalize their behavior.
  • Personal religious or spiritual beliefs are compromised without conscience, few would ever think to listen to another viewpoint, and hatred permeates society.
  • None of the major economic systems can work long-term without a dash of the human impact, but without some credence given to the finite nature of available resources, economic systems will fail to survive.

We have such a beautiful gift of unlimited information resources available to us, especially via the internet. Without a financial and human based perspective upon which to base our perspectives and judgments, we can turn into rabid jackals who get exactly what we deserve.

So when someone says how can someone do this terrible thing, maybe the better question to ponder is what terrible thing will happen next time?

What do you think?


Making America HATE Again

July 31, 2016

While watching one of my all-time favorite groups this evening, I was almost brought to tears. The Temptations music was great as always but quickly reminded me that when I was first acquainted with them, I firmly believed there was hope for a kinder, gentler country. As of this writing, things seem to have regressed with little hope of racial harmony. 

All of a sudden the 7 Deadly Sins have become the Bill of Rights and a major political party candidate spews bigotry and hatred daily. Even scarier is that he has a very large following that rationalizes his hatred. 

I must be very naive because I actually thought  we could make a difference in the 60s. I knew it wouldn’t be easy but going backwards at a fast rate seemed incomprehensible. 

The Temptations music was merely a catalyst for this malaise that I am witnessing. Will we come to our senses?  Oh how I wish that it would rain!!

Certifications and More Certifications

August 29, 2014

In my early career, it was sufficient to have an undergraduate degree, and as icing on the cake, a graduate degree.  There were very few professional certifications that job candidates showed and even fewer that were required.  In my chosen field, a PHR or SPHR became the “gold” standard for excellence in Human Resources.  I resisted for many years, but curiosity got the better of me and I registered for and took the SPHR exam.  I had too much practical experience to sit for the PHR exam.

I bought a cheap study guide, read through it, took the practice exam, and then I felt comfortable.  I didn’t need the overly expensive prep courses that were popping up with regularity.  After taking the exam, immediate results were not available so I had to wait several weeks to find out what I pretty much already knew.  My score was very high and of course, I could then put the letters “SPHR” after my name and on my business cards.  

But what really happened?  Was I now more effective in my HR role?  Did an aura of wisdom suddenly surround me?  Of course not.  I did my job to the best of my ability as I had done before.  But I started feeling like I had contributed to the mentality that says certifications are the savior of not only my discipline, but many others as well.  And the market for expanding our certification credentials continues to grow to this day.

With the need to screen electronic applications more quickly, the certification is often used as the pass/fail criteria.  While there are many, many talented individuals who have the certifications, I feel there are a great many others who have been bypassed for opportunities in which they and the company would have succeeded.  While this system may seem to be an easy way for recruiters to “thin the herd”, does it really force people to spend large sums of money on preparation and testing just to be considered?

Of course I believe that functional knowledge is important, but I have seen individuals pass a certification exam with a very poor employment track record within their particular discipline.  I’m not advocating dissolving the certification process by any means, but would suggest that using it as a pass/fail criteria is not a good idea–for either the candidate or the company.  I welcome your thoughts below.

In spite of what happened in baseball today, it is still the greatest game. And for anyone who doesn’t believe the NFL and NBA have a problem, I say WAKE UP. MLB’s drug policy is much stronger.

August 5, 2013


A few years later but still kickin’

March 2, 2013


Treat Your Job Like a Stepping Stone AND as a Perch

March 25, 2010

The heading may seem to be both ends of a continuum, but hopefully you’ll see the wisdom in this type approach.  For the most part, we’re all looking to advance in our careers and use our current job as a stopover to show our wares and be considered for that next opportunity.  So we want to perform and perform well.  It would be easy to fall into a quick fix type mode and do only what it takes to advance, with little regard for what you leave behind.

I worked at a manufacturing location that was the “launching pad” for many of the corporation’s rising stars.  Some were terrific and others left there with the organization in much worse shape than when they arrived.  The latter  group obviously had no feeling for the employees who remained to clean up the “mess.”   The vicious cycle this created was a problem for those who were genuinely concerned about the local operation.  Employees became very skeptical of the motives of any new manager, and sometimes made it difficult for the manager to obtain good results–even when their motives were the right kind.

My suggestion is to use the job as a stepping stone BUT act like you’ll finish your career there.  It’s the equivalent of thinking globally and acting locally.  You’ll get results and cooperation from fellow employees, satisfaction from knowing your legacy will be a positive one, and the experience that prepares you well for your next assignment.  If you stay with the same company, your reputation will also precede you to that next assignment.

And besides…someday you might have to go back to that location!!  How will you be perceived then?


Integrity Challenged by Compassion

February 1, 2010

Several times in my career, I have been faced with the responsibility of administering a reduction in force (RIF.)  So many factors to be considered from the financial aspect as well as from the emotional aspect—-for both the organization as well as the individuals.  As a Human Resources professional, I was always at the center of activities during a RIF.  The trickiest part was doing a balancing act between maintaining personal, department, and company integrity, while showing as much empathy and compassion as possible for those employees who have already or will have lost their jobs very soon.

Many of the employees losing their jobs hadn’t prepared for such an event, either monetarily or skillwise.   They are frightened and very apprehensive of what the future will bring.   They’re looking for any possible advantage to help them find the next job.  There’s a real sense of urgency!

Now comes the tough part.  Occasionally one of these people would ask me for either a recommendation letter or some other sort of certification showing they had met some qualification that wasn’t in fact true.   I felt very compassionate towards these employees who had given their lives to the company, and don’t for a minute think that that didn’t weigh heavily on my mind.  However, I felt that I had to be true to myself and to the company.  I couldn’t in good conscience lie or exaggerate an individual’s credentials, and this didn’t make me very popular with that person.  That was something I just learned to live with.  I tried always to be compassionate but frank with the employee when I explained that I couldn’t comply with his/her request.

You may think you’re helping someone out, but at what cost if you don’t give an accurate representation.  Your integrity and your company’s reputation may be at risk.  Plus, is it fair to the prospective employer?


Go Over Your Supervisor’s Head?

January 25, 2010

You’re thinking to yourself: “This is a real problem, not only for me, but for my department and the company.”  Your supervisor is doing something illegal or immoral, and you know it for a fact.  What are your options at this time?

  1. You can totally ignore the situation.  This may put your employment status in jeopardy if the impropriety is later uncovered and there is evidence that you knew about it and didn’t report it.
  2. You can go directly to your supervisor’s boss or to your HR Department.  This is the method that most company codes of conduct would suggest, but you have to feel comfortable with your company’s reputation as an employer who doesn’t retaliate against whistle blowers.
  3. You can confront your supervisor with the facts (and I must STRESS facts— and not suspicion) in hopes that he/she will do the honorable thing.  The facts are important because if you happen to be wrong, you’ve placed yourself in a very rough spot.

Of these three alternatives, my choice would be for number three, adding that if he/she doesn’t admit the wrongdoing to upper management immediately, that I would be forced to take my facts to them myself.  Why would I take this approach?  First, I find it personally distasteful to go around my supervisor to a higher level.  After all, I wouldn’t want any of my subordinates doing that to me.  Second, I don’t want to have a perceived reputation that I will go around my supervisor.  Other company managers (who someday could be my supervisor) may wonder at what level I would do this.  What if I were just upset with one of their decisions.

Having said all this, option 3 allows me a chance to not have to go around my supervisor, but still get the issue resolved.  However, I had better be prepared to follow up if my supervisor refuses to follow through.  Which option would you choose, and why?


Lose Your Temper at Work?

January 18, 2010

In today’s work faster and longer with fewer resources, it is no small wonder that we’ve seen the occasional flare-up that makes national news.  You know the one–some disgruntled employee (or recently ex-employee) comes back to the workplace and opens fire.  This of course, is the exception rather than the rule, thank goodness.  Most temper issues are manifested at lower levels, but are just as senseless.

There are going to be issues that arise that frustrate all of us from time-to-time.  Perhaps your computer system crashes at a crucial time in your project.  Maybe one of your team members fails to deliver an important part of the project.   You may just have been chewed out (wrongly so of course) by your boss.  Each of these events may cause you to lose your temper at the next slight provocation.

I’m here to say “stop and think before you act.”  Once those words or the actions are out there in front of your subordinates or coworkers, they ain’t coming back!  Sure you can always apologize later, but in the back of their minds, people will always be wondering that if it happened once, it can happen again.  In addition, when you think about it rationally, the temper outburst adds no value to your organization.  I know there will be some of you who say that the explosion gets a message across to your employees that they shouldn’t get complacent.

To this point I would say that if you must lose your temper in order to control your subordinates,  you never really had conrol anyway.  Give that some thought the next time you’re ready to explode.  What exactly are you accomplishing?


Changing Team Member Behavior

January 11, 2010

Your staff is performing very well, and H.E.L.L. is not such a bad place to be.  However there still can be the occasional hiccup, and one of the links in your team chain has a crack in it.  How are you going to fix the crack and still maintain the integrity of the chain?

You’ll start by understanding each member of your team, and what are their motivators and what do they value.  As I had mentioned in an earlier post, what motivates one might infuriate another.  I have always been a strong proponent of a more direct style of communication with a subordinate, but mixed with a generous helping of understanding about their motivators and values.  When one of my last team’s members was slipping in her dedication to our objectives, I had to examine the situation from my perspective, her perspective, and the team’s perspective.  After determining that the change needed must come from the team member herself, I then thought about the strategy needed to get the point across, change her behavior, but not alienate or demotivate her.  That’s when I had to use my best leadership skills.

When we sat down to discuss the situation, I was prepared with the facts that were very undeniable.  There was no way these could be refuted, and she was made to realize that she was being held accountable for those objectives under her control.  Then we discussed if there were any external factors that might be impacting her work results.  Having dismissed this as a contributing factor, the only other possibility was that there was a performance behavior that was impacted by internal stimuli.  We talked and set up a corrective action plan along with a timetable in which the behavior needed to change.  There were consequences if the behavior did not get back on track.  Don’t think that your other team members don’t see the problem and your solution from their perspectives.  You’re reinforcing your philosophy on expectations at the same time.

Don’t think that your organization is immune to these hiccups, but be prepared instead to correct them and move on.  If you have one you’d like to discuss, please let me know.


Will You Ever See It Again? Or Even Once?

January 4, 2010

You may not know it when you’re right in the middle of it.  You might only recognize it after it’s gone.  You may only see it once in your working career.  Once you do recognize it, you wonder why it is so elusive.  Do others around you recognize it.  The “it” I’m speaking of, is being in a team environment where everything just clicks.  All of your co-workers like and respect each other.  They help each other with smiles on their faces, even when other parts of the organization are in chaos.

Not long before leaving my last traditional HR assignment, I  mentioned to my team during a meeting that what we have here is something to be cherished.  It doesn’t happen very often, and you may never see anything like it again during your working careers.  I’m not sure how much they believed it then, because their working careers were much shorter than mine, and they hadn’t been in many work groups.  I hope that they continue to strive for the blend of high quality/quantity work, coupled with harmony and unselfishness.

How did my team get there?  It is probably best summed up in my previous post about “Managing in H.E.L.L.–and Loving Every Minute of It.”  There are a number of short posts on that link, but the five minutes or so you’ll spend reading it may be the turning point for your team.

If you’re fortunate enough to experience it more than once, my hat goes off to you.  If you’re still looking for that first time, never, ever stop trying.  The results are worth the wait.


Happy Holidays!

December 23, 2009

Please have a safe and happy holiday season with your family and friends, and we’ll see each other again in 2010!

Sunday Night Syndrome (SNS)

December 21, 2009

You’ve worked hard all week in a tough environment (ie, hell) and on Friday afternoon you’re so glad to get out of there for the weekend.  Time to forget morons, politics, schedules, and hypocrisy.  There’s sports, kids, friends, and other welcome diversions to make Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday seem like heaven.  Now for some of you, I may have taken that just one day too far.

On Sunday morning you wake up and go through your normal activities or plans you have for the day……but……there’s something looming on the horizon that starts to eat at the pit of your stomach.  Your evening reminds you that hell starts all over again tomorrow, and as luck would have it, there are 5 days of hell for every 2 days of weekend leisure.  Your mind wanders into thoughts of morons, politics, schedules, and hypocrisy.  Oh, please!!  Let me have just one more day!!

If the above scenario seems to be a regular occurrence in your life, you should be thinking about making a change for another opportunity.  Now I realize that in difficult economic times, you may have to bite the bullet and endure SNS until things improve for employment opportunities.  Not being able to make a  move doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be prepared in case the right job opens up for you.  Just about everybody has had a case of SNS at one time or another, and the secret is to make sure it doesn’t become a permanent, chronic disorder.  You owe it to yourself and to your employer to come in on Monday morning, fresh and without the lingering effects of SNS.


Be a Good Listener/Sounding Board/Advisor

December 18, 2009

There will be times during your supervisory career when someone on your staff is having some sort of crisis outside of the workplace.  If you’ve built a rapport with that person based upon credibility and trust, chances are that he/she may come to you for an opinion or for advice.  Maybe just as an option to vent.  Now comes the tough part.  How paternal/maternal should you be?

If the individual just wants to vent, understand that all you need to do is listen and give your complete attention to that person.  Nothing is worse than talking to your boss who is busy with a BlackBerry or a PC.  Focus on your employee.

If the employee is in a situation and they have taken a course of action already, they may only want your opinion of their actions.  If you’re able to do this without being too judgmental, that’s probably the best avenue to take.  If the action is totally out of line, ask the person why they took this action, and if they understand what the consequences might be.  This approach may help them decide what their next step should be.  Remember that the decision was theirs–not yours.  If you agree with their original action, resist the urge to wholeheartedly endorse it, just in case things don’t turn out well later.  In many instances, your just listening means so much to them.  And don’t forget that you want them to be able to function well on the job.

Last but not least, the employee may want your advice.  It’s an honor to be asked, but it also places a great deal of pressure on you to assist your team member while still maintaining a good, healthy working relationship.  Think it over very carefully before rendering the advice.  For instance if you were to condemn a troubled relationship and it later blossoms, the awkwardness can make all uncomfortable later.  Good luck!


How’s the Kool Ade at Your Place?

December 16, 2009

We are taught early in our careers to respect the decisions of our managers even though we may disagree with them.  After all, they are privy to information that we don’t know about.  They have a much more broad perspective than we do.  So we continue to drink the “kool ade” that they serve us.  When the continued poor results make you question a number of decisions, does the kool ade lose its refreshment value?

If we choose to challenge the kool ade flavor we have been chugging for some time, we’re labeled as not being a team player.  When that drink continually fails to produce desired results but we still have it served in heaping portions, when is enough, enough?  It may be necessary to rethink your boundaries as spelled out in Bend But Don’t Break, an earlier post of mine.  Can I continue to drink the same kool ade and be OK with subpar results or with a violation of my value system?  If not, I have a decision to make.

Interestingly enough, in your own department, are you guilty of serving up the same old flavor of kool ade to your team members?  Maybe this has happened over a period of time and you’re not even aware of it.  Do you question your team members’ loyalty if they challenge you?   Can you learn something from one of your subordinates?  See You CAN Teach an Old Dog New Tricks.  The kool ade you’ve been serving your team members may not be as refreshing as you think it is.


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