6 HR Epiphanies Learned Through 6 Years of Blogging

6 HR Epiphanies

Yesterday was my 6th year blogiversary for this here blog. I am eternally thankful for the ride I have had to date with this blog. After 10+years of living HR day-to-day (6 of which I have spent writing about it too) — you have many a-ha moments.

This blog has spawned a business, speaking engagements, brand partnerships and more.  I created this blog as a safe space for me to reconcile the things I was experiencing as an HR practitioner who struggled between being human and being in HR. I’ll explain more about that later.  Ultimately, the more opportunities I garner to step outside of the traditional HR box the more I see both the potential and disarray of HR as a discipline. Both warrant our attention separately and collectively.

As such, I have decided to share 6 HR or more specifically business epiphanies with the lens of HR for my fellow practitioners to sink their teeth into.

Here we go…

1) One of the reasons that I struggled to find sustained success in my HR positions was I was always striving to be more “human” in Human Resources. That should not be an oxymoron, but judging by discussions I have had with friends who are practitioners as well as attendees of my workshops — there is almost always a moment or moments in which we all as practitioners need to yield more heart than head; less policy and more practicality. No HR practitioner should be working in HR feeling like they are at constant odds between their HR duties within their respective organizations and their own morals, values, and well-being. This needs to stop.

2) Change is happening quickly. Innovation is the new buzzword we all love to hate. That aside, I’m not sure that we are moving quite as quickly towards innovation in our own discipline as we should. If we are the core or the heart of the organization, how well can the rest of the moving parts operate with a slow or non-existent “heartbeat”? Ponder that for a moment.

3) On innovation, we can not afford to have change happen to us, we must initiate and lead from where we sit. Forget “seats at tables” and our usual bouts of being “strategic”. When was the last time we shifted or pivoted for the sake of being a better industry without first being beat down in some doom and gloom article or being coerced by other elements outside of our sphere of influence? Don’t get me wrong, we are very much guided by what happens in our individual organizations and must keep an eye to that, but it is safe to say that we should have many ideas about how HR can be done better and be actively seeking to implement or experiment with them.

4) The truth hurts. That is if you are brave and bold enough you have to realize that speaking truths outside of the normal realms of compliance, strategy, and protocol will rub people the wrong way or they will pretend to not understand. I’d like to believe we have gotten smarter as a species, so it is a little hard for me to believe that people can’t or won’t admit to some of the harder truths working against us like: Why does Diversity & Inclusion exist? Is it because it is necessary for having a sustainable business or is it because there are systems beyond the scope of business and HR designed to marginalize groups of people who are now being “managed” and given “opportunities” under the guise of D&I? I’ll let that marinate.

5) For HR practitioners and HR Influencers alike, if you don’t have a zeal for improving lives, society, businesses — get out! There is a space for you in this world. You owe it to yourself to find it as there is a vast labor market of opportunity calling you to find your true passion and purpose and/or a tiki torch, but I’ll save that discussion for a different day. I have had my fill of HR practitioners who have fallen and bumped their heads on HR and do it with hate and disdain for the industry. As for the “influencers”, many are great, just as many exist to blow hot air about how terrible we are as a discipline while collecting checks from said discipline. There’s a difference between “tough love” and “snark for snarks-sake”. Know the difference. Evaluate yourself and if all outlined here is applicable– get out! As the saying goes, we can do bad all by ourselves.

6) Lastly, there is still hope for our discipline despite the calls for its obliteration. It’s called imagination, creativity, and humility. These three things are the foundation for what HR needs to be in the present and in the foreseeable future. These three approaches to HR and business are not to be seen as scary but are meant to excite, inspire and galvanize those of you who are ready and willing to face societal ills, digital transformation, and rapid growth head-on. The future is exciting and so is the work we have ahead of us.

So there you have it, my epiphanies on HR 6 years into blogging. I hope it sparks conversation, makes you think, and promotes change. After all, the initial intention of The Aristocracy of HR was to raise the standard of HR while always asking ourselves the hard questions about how and why we do what we do.

Thank you for reading, supporting and inspiring me through the years.

Humbly yours,

 

Janine a.k.a. Your “CzarinaofHR”

Keeping up with disruption: Why every trend isn’t for your business

Keeping up with Disruption

There is nothing but trouble to follow when we believe that we can be all things to all people. We also endanger any good we have the potential of doing by feverishly jumping on every fad. I can remember so many days in HR reading articles about the trends for the year the next year. I would start counting from the day that I read the article (especially if it was published in SHRM, HBR or Forbes) to the few days after-when I would inevitably be asked about the article. The next request was always for me to start sourcing for ways to implement whatever was being touted as the “best-in-class” practice. While it might seem harmless- like we were keeping up with the times; it was indeed harmful. There was seldom any consideration of what we excelled at as a business and why adopting any of these suggestions were worth our time. It was merely a knee-jerk reaction to hearing what seemed like good advice.

Having worked in STEM and Healthcare, every new technology or methodology was not always for us. Composed under these disciplines are an inordinate amount of regulations at the state and federal levels and stringent requirements for doing business that is unlike any other industry. To make sound decisions about how we progressed was a consideration that required a lot of discussion and conceptualization of how to assimilate “the idea” of new ways into the a very rote, and established ecosystem. I repeat, “the idea”. Getting buy-in to potentially purchase was another round of discussion and conceptualization with several layers of approval.

For example, I was with a company that was in dire need of a new ATS and HRIS. I knew they outgrew what they had and all of our internal customers had their complaints about the system as well. To even begin sourcing for a new system, “the idea” was exposed to a six-sigma evaluation which took a few years and only then were we able to present the case to management for why this was needed. What they wanted was something “perfect” with all of the “bells and whistles” that would somehow give others the impression that they were being “innovative”. In striving for perfection and racing towards innovation, they forgot to focus on what they truly needed. What they needed was something with a simple interface, robust reporting features and the ability to streamline what we were doing from a hiring and on-boarding standpoint.

You may ask why were they worried about having “bells and whistles” for the new system? It was because they tuned into the same publications and reports as every other HR department and assumed that because “consulting firm x” says that it is the best then it must be so.

Can we stop with the “best-in-class” or best practices lingo?

What is best for me as a company of 15 is very different if I’m a company of 40,000. Similarly so, the best-in-class mantra does not necessarily work when there are two different companies in the same industry with the same headcount. The differentiating factors between businesses (especially those under the same company umbrella) are endless. Hence why, it is absurd for anyone to assume that every suggestion for innovation, change or disruption should be answered by an obligation to implement.

Disruption shouldn’t be a call-to-action for hasty moves. It is meant to keep us all aware and awake to how the nature of our work is changing. It is up to us to decide what changes make the most sense for the organization.

Consider the following when evaluating the ever-growing list of things to change:

1) How will these changes impact your workforce? In the implementation of the ATS that I spoke about, we actually spent too much time on this aspect. It’s important to understand how change will impact the people that do the work, but you must also be sure that you don’t stifle forward movement in an effort to be a crowd-pleaser.

2) Will these changes benefit you now or in the future? It’s important to consider how you stand to benefit from a short-term and long-term standpoint. If it isn’t clear how these suggestions will benefit you in either regard; it may not be the move for your company.

3) Is leadership prepared and invested in making these changes? It has been my experience that disruptive ideas die a slow and painful death without leadership being invested in the process.  The real question is: Are they truly invested in making this change or is this a whim? Many ideas seem novel on paper, but being truly dedicated to the process and willingly traversing the hurdles that inevitably crop-up is something altogether different.

There’s no question that we must always be looking for ways to improve and better serve our customers. The key is not to make moves under duress, but from a place of being informed and prepared to take action.

Want more? Don’t forget to visit The Aristocracy of HR You Tube Channel for weekly dialogue on a myriad of topics. Subscribe here.

 

 

TED@IBM Outlook: I Create,Therefore I am.

Campaign/FTC disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I will receive compensation for this post. I only work with companies I feel have great products, services and offerings. In accordance with my blog disclosure statement, I will only work with and showcase products, events and/or companies I believe my readers will benefit from. IBM has hired me as a brand ambassador for this campaign because of my participation in the IBM New Way to Work Futurist Influencer Program. I am not formally employed by IBM. All thoughts and viewpoints are created and written by me. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Image courtesy of IBM.

Image courtesy of IBM.

As a philosophy enthusiast, I have always loved Rene Descartes’s take on the existence of things which is: “I think, therefore I am.” He believed the only way we could be certain that we exist is when we are thinking. Given the nature of the rapid advancements of our time, I believe he would be certain that we exist just by the sheer numbers of inventions that have cropped up over the last decade.

What if we switched up his quote a bit to say: “I create, therefore I am.” In the context of 2015, wouldn’t it be fair to say that people who create products, businesses, art, music, and even content have infinite existence and visibility by virtue of what they create. Whether or not the things they create are successful doesn’t much matter. The very act of creating something is an extension of their existence as a human being. In many cases- what they create has a lasting effect and impact long after the creator is gone.

These lasting effects are footprints that ensure that future generations have blueprints (some unfinished) that peak curiosity and fuel invention and innovation for a long time to come. This is how it has been and so it will continue in the future.

When we look back at this time in history, it will mark rapid advances in technology and innovation. It is a time ripe with opportunity for anyone to create something new and/or improve something that could be better. In retrospect, we may question anyone who failed to create anything useful during this period. Yes, you have to have an idea, plus a plan and the audacity to believe in your ability to have an impact- but how can you not be inspired to create something with so much innovation and necessity at play?

To be a creator doesn’t mean you need to be building multi-million dollar companies. It can be as simple as creating something that solves a problem for one person.  For that matter, you may even create something that improves your own quality life. It would be self-serving, but at least you created something. Let’s take a broader look at the art of creation and this period of time in our history. There are still unperfected technologies, deficits of basic resources like clean water and adequate food in many countries around the globe; as well as  socio-economic catastrophes that seem never-ending.

If you can sit back and watch all of these human and technological conundrums continue into the next century without recognizing what your part in it is- that is disappointing. The only way we continue to exist is by creating things that are needed and keeping the innovation going. I am often asked what the most important aspect of the future is. My answer is always: “the people” or “humans”. We have the ability to change it all.

This is why I am so honored and excited to be attending the upcoming TED@IBM conference in San Francisco on October 15th. I am in a state of constant creation, but I am always eager to be fed new perspectives, ideas and inspiration that in turn inform everything from how I live my life to how I run my business. This year’s theme is “Necessity and Invention”. Each of the speakers touches on some aspect of the human experience by discussing a “need” or “an invention” that will impact us all.

To see the agenda, lineup of impressive speakers and register for this event, visit IBM.com/TED  for more information. In addition, I will be live tweeting from this event and expect there to be lots of live content being streamed during the event. To keep up with the latest and greatest during the conference, follow the #TEDatIBM hashtag.

#ProOpinion: Closed Mouths Stagnate Progress

Made with Photofy

Made with Photofy

Campaign/FTC disclosure: I will receive compensation for promoting this campaign. I only work with companies I feel have great products, services and offerings. In accordance with my blog disclosure statement, I will only work with and showcase products and/or companies I believe my readers will benefit from. Pro Opinion has hired me as a brand ambassador for this campaign because of my influence on social media and in business. I am not formally employed by Pro Opinion. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Working in HR you get your fair share of discussions around the need to have a town hall or to administer a survey. I’m pretty sure most of the workforce is over surveys, because two things happen: 1) They end up answering questions leadership knows the answers to and 2) There is usually no action behind the surveys- making employees’ efforts fruitless. I believe in soliciting feedback from the very people we serve: employees and customers. Despite the stigma around surveys, they still have an important use in many areas of business when utilized appropriately. It is clear that, businesses focused on new ways to serve their customers and employees are poised to see continuous growth in their organizations. It goes back to the old saying:”You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” How can businesses stay ahead-of-the-curve while operating their businesses blindly? The truth is they can’t and many CEO’s are adjusting to this new reality of data-driven decision making.

A 2015 Global CEO survey by PWC found that 60% of CEO’s are concerned about threats to their businesses given the increased transparency around business operations in the past few years. Additionally, they found that 67% of US CEO’s feel their are more opportunities for their business today than three years ago. Even in this instance, you can see the power in surveys and soliciting feedback. We simply have no way of knowing where we have been, where we are currently and where we are heading; unless we ask the those connected to our markets how we are doing.

You can question the efficacy of surveys, but what I do know is closed-mouths stagnate our progress in business. If a product is terrible and doesn’t do what it purports to do- the business never knows they need to make a change unless consumers speak up. If a business process is slowing down the productivity of employees, leadership has no clue and carries on as usual- if none of the employees speak up. One of the ways we get people to let us know where we can improve is via surveys. Per my earlier sentiment, if those customers and/or employees don’t think their voice is important enough to record their thoughts in a survey; nothing will change.

This is why I am so happy to be working with ProOpinion as a brand ambassador. ProOpinion allows business professionals to make data-driven decisions that will drive results. Essentially, they are a survey partner for businesses that need to get feedback on their products or market behavior from professionals like you and I. I just completed a survey today about business communications, the providers I use and why I use who I do for my communications needs. I have had so many trials and tribulations with phone and internet providers that I was actually happy to provide some feedback on my experiences. Will my feedback change certain providers behaviors? I certainly hope so. However, I can rest easy knowing I didn’t sit in silence when my voice and opinion could have made all the difference.

Image Courtesy of ProOpinion

Image Courtesy of ProOpinion

I need a favor from you. You all are professional rockstars and have shown up for me in the past. Sign up for ProOpinion here. It is free and will enable you to have input into some of businesses most pressing concerns. Additionally, you have the ability to earn rewards like Amazon.com Gift Cards and gift cards from many other retail outlets. In addition, you will have access to their infographic vault and blog filled with timely business information and metrics. Your initial profile creation will be around 20-25 minutes, but that is just so they are clear on what surveys to send you. Surveys come straight to your email inbox specifying the time it will take to complete it and the amount of reward points you will earn for your efforts.

Join me on ProOpinion and start allowing your voice to have an impact on business while earning great rewards. After all, it isn’t often that you get so much for free. The only thing that isn’t free is your time, but what better way to spend a few minutes than to chime in about topics that are important to you. Check it out you won’t be disappointed.

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31 Days, 32 Revelations: Innovation Ego

Image courtesy of EinsteinQuotes.com

Series Introduction

Every year, I like to find a different way of celebrating my favorite day: my birthday. Since I am turning 32 next month (I know…awww…), I’ve decided to share 32 revelations I have had during the course of my life about everything from life in general to business. Think of it as daily inspiration for you and therapy for me. It is a challenge for me, because I don’t think I have ever published a post everyday in the entire existence of The Aristocracy of HR. Plus, I recognize that while I am fairly generous in sharing on social media and here, I have only just scraped the surface on sharing who I am when I’m not pontificating how HR and Business can do better. Let’s use the month of March to get to know one another better. I hope at the end of the month, you walk away with something you can use in your own life or business.

Day 15 of 31- Innovation Ego

I have heard through the grapevine that nothing being done now is either “unique” or “innovative”, but rather many regurgitated versions of someone else’s ideas. There is certainly evidence to suggest that lots of people go around poaching the work of others. However, for the people who are really dedicated to creating something new or give something old a new spin- you can’t deny them their innovation badge of honor. One idea spurs another idea and then another- that is kind of how innovation works.

Let’s be honest, we are influenced by a myriad of people, places, cultures, circumstances over the course of our lives. If you don’t think so you must have been rushed from your mother’s womb to a bubble in another dimension where no one exists; but then again even that experience would influence your view of the world. I believe we become a mosaic of our experiences. Some are hard-coded and other traits, thoughts and practices are things we select for ourselves-because it favors our trajectory in life and facilitates our survival. Let’s take Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung for instance. Freud was the founding father of psychoanalytic concepts in the early 1900’s until he became acquainted with Carl Jung. Carl Jung became a friend and a student of Freud until he endeavored to propose a slightly contrarian analysis and criticism of  Freudian precepts like the”oedipal complex”. Innovation ego of today would assert that Freud said all there was to say about the “oedipal complex” and that Jung was being duplicitous by merely tweaking already established concepts.

The reality is we received a far more refined proposition for the oedipal complex because Jung studied Freud’s concepts and found areas for improvement or better explanations for that behavior. Was Jung innovative- in my opinion yes. Was Freud innovative? For sure. He started it all, but even he had experiences and influences that led him to develop his theories.

Just because you have created something, said something profound or blazed a trail, does not make you the chief innovator for all eternity. The goal should be continuous improvement of all things as necessity requires it. If someone comes along and takes something you did and improves it-that is the completion of the cycle of innovation. By no means, should any founder or talent feel like someone isn’t studying your craft and finding cracks in it that they will someday improve.

From time to time, I’ve heard people say things like: “I wrote about that back in 2008 why is he or she writing about that now or we were talking about how to implement “x” in 2000 this has already been done.” I humbly pay homage to pioneers, because many things wouldn’t be possible without a few good men and women to blaze the trail. However, ego need not take over. Sometimes things need to be said again and again and maybe with a twist and a turn. Just maybe, that tenth or thousandth instance of discussing a topic or reinventing something is exactly what is needed for others to finally get it. So, next time you gurus, ninjas, experts get the gumption to turn your nose up at something you think is old, trite or lacks innovation ask yourself if it is your ego or if the cycle of innovation has been completed by someone adding a new slant or useful thought.

 

Czarina’s Lesson: There’s no place for ego in innovation.

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