Someone Needs to Hear This: Put More White Space on Your Calendar

We, as a society, have morphed into a celebration of busyness. Don’t believe me? Take a look at your calendar, and tell me how much white space there is…Now tell me how much peace vs. pressure you feel not to occupy the white space?

A few things happen when we pack our calendars and to-do lists to the point of capacity: We leave no margin for the ability to spend extra time as wanted or needed, we leave no room for the last minute “must do now” project or conversation, and we leave plenty of room for error from simply being so rushed and overwhelmed – which we brought on ourselves.

I’m my own worst critic. Most of us are. I’m also the one who controls my calendar – down to scheduling calls during my 60+ minute commute. I like to think that I’m making the best use of my time, but what I’m taking away is my white space. White space is the time that you take to brainstorm, decompress, process your day, plan your day, etc. This is necessary time, and I would bet $5 that most of us don’t have enough of this time on our calendars.

The announcement of retirement by Andrew Luck this weekend put my own priorities into perspective. I admire his ability to make the choice that he made. What about you? Would you make the same choice? Does it feel safe to do so? Would you be called a quitter? Would you be playfully chastised for throwing in the towel? How much of other’s opinions of your ability to keep all the balls in the air determine your “yes” and “no”?

We often talk about setting realistic expectations with others, and my dear friends, it is time that we set realistic expectations with ourselves. Take time to evaluate what you have committed to, what truly matters most to you, and make adjustments – guilt-free, as needed. Your stress will decrease, your productivity will increase, and your quality of life will improve. I know this because I have done this before, and I have reached the point of needing to repeat the exercise.

Someone needs to hear this – and today, that someone was me.

There’s No Lukewarm HR

I engaged in a conversation yesterday that went something like this:

Person: “I see you work in HR…how’s that treat ya? Can be a tough job.”

Me: “I’ve been in HR for 15 years. I love it.”

Person: “It’s a position of passion for sure…”

Me: “It can be, but also has the potential for the greatest impact.”

Person: “Indeed.”

Me: “You either love it or you don’t. There’s no lukewarm HR. When done right and with passion, it can be the greatest asset to a company — when done poorly – or “just enough,” it can sink the culture.”

I’m not alone in this sentiment. My good friend Steve Browne (yes, that Steve Browne) expresses this sentiment in his best selling book HR on Purpose: Developing Deliberate People Passion:

If employees are a pain point or source of frustration for you professionally, then get out of human resources. It isn’t the career for you. Quit trying to tough it out because you are this administrative superstar who can make systems hum. Administration is an important facet of HR, but it is not the reason we exist. Without people, we are nothing.

Steve is 100% accurate with this statement. HR is the for the people. It’s our job in HR to help and to support. Yes, we are there to advise, consult, and provide guidance. Yes, we are there to analyze trends and to make suggestions using predictive analytics. We are there for all of that, but at the end of the day, the people are the reason we are there. The rest is just details.

Whether you have authority or not, you have the potential to have a great deal of influence and impact in HR. Why? Because you impact the people directly. You are quite often the first impression of the company to a candidate. You are quite often the first person they meet on Day 1. You are the person who explains benefits (or someone on your team is, but you get it.) You have the possibility to make a tremendous impact on the employee’s view of the organization.

While HR is there for the happy moments: anniversaries, promotions, expansion, development, etc., it is the times of tragedy that are the most important part of our job. When someone leans on you, they are trusting you. Be present. Be there. Don’t make it about you. It’s not about you ever in HR. Come to terms with that and find your joy and satisfaction in others.

One of my favorite quotes that I apply to our work: ” Do everything with a good heart and expect nothing in return and you will never be disappointed.” I don’t mean that cynically. I genuinely mean that if your focus is not yourself, you would be amazed at the happiness in your work.

One final note of distinction: You notice I didn’t say: You are the dress code police. You are the time card police. You are the [insert control measure here] police. We are not. It saddens me when people are afraid of HR – even in jest. If you got into HR to control people or things, kindly see your way out. You are there to be there for the people, and if you ever forget that, do whatever self-care you need to remind yourself of that or kindly vacate this field that myself and so many of my amazing and passionate cohorts love.

Be on fire for people. Work hard. Do great work.

You Can’t Help if You Don’t Take the Oxygen Mask

At some point in your career, you will inevitably encounter a situation where the most important aspect of your job will be supporting someone else – maybe one person, maybe a department, maybe your entire organization.

Here’s the thing. If you don’t first take care of yourself, you will be in no position to take care of anyone else. This is the reason for the flight attendant saying to put the oxygen mask on yourself before placing on anyone else.

Understand that it’s not selfish to practice self-care – or whatever you call it. You can’t bring your best if you don’t first take care of yourself.

You are also showing your team and your org that you are human, humans require care, and it’s not only safe for you to be human, but it’s safe for others as well, and you will support them as they care for themselves as well.

It is our responsibility as leaders to not only take care of ourselves, but to also create that safety for others to understand the strength both required and displayed at recognizing when you need to take a breath.

Your breath may not look the same as someone else’s. What refills and renews you is personal, and what works for you may not work for someone else, but it’s not for them – it’s for you.

Take care. Love yourself enough to be healthy to help others. You have no idea how much they need you – even if they don’t ask.

One Week Later — #SHRM19 Reflection

I mentioned earlier that this was my 4th time attending SHRM National. I can tell you without hesitation that it was by far the BEST SHRM National conference, yet!

Many of my fellow #SHRM19Bloggers have shared their experience at #SHRM19, and I have enjoyed reading each and every post that I have seen so far.

My reflection on #SHRM19 is not just on the content of the sessions, but on the people and the connections. One of the main reasons that I value attending SHRM National is the sheer volume of passionate HR professionals in one place!

This year, there was a creative addition in the Connection Zone called Convos & Coffee. Not only was there a seating area for conversations, a full service coffee bar, and all the fixings for your favorite coffee drinks, there was an interactive floor with conversation starters! There were conversation starters in bubbles that moved around, and if you tapped on it, you could drag the conversation starter to the group you were standing in. It was a very popular area, needless to say, and it was interesting to hear the different perspectives to some of the questions. Kudos to the SHRM19 planning committee for coming up with such a creative way to spark conversations!

Carlos Escobar, myself, and Julie Doyle at Convos & Coffee — See the floor?

Another area for connection was the Volunteer Leaders lounge. If you are not a volunteer for your state or local chapter, I can’t think of a better way to give back to this profession we love. The staff in the Volunteer Leaders lounge worked tirelessly to ensure that the visitors to the lounge truly had a VIP experience, and, speaking of VIP – if you checked into the lounge, you received a special VIP tag that had some pretty neat perks, such as reserved seating in general sessions, etc. We definitely do not volunteer for any of these perks, but it was nice to see SHRM recognize and reward the passion dedicated to these individuals.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Bloggers Lounge as a special area of connection. Andrew Morton (who is transitioning to a new role in SHRM and will be sincerely missed) and Mary Kaylor (completely selfless and wonderful human being) created the ideal environment for connection, creativity, and building lasting relationships. Special thank you to these two and their team. It was a tremendous experience, and in a conference with 20,000 people, having the opportunity to connect with the fellow bloggers in a quiet (sometimes) setting was invaluable.

Too many wonderful people to tag, but an all-star cast of Bloggers!

Oddly enough, the highlight of SHRM19 this year was not the amazing keynotes. I do love Brené Brown. I have written about her before, and I have seen her speak previously. She is amazing, and if we could all do one small change each day to shift our mindset to align more with her Dare to Lead model, we would be much better leaders for our teams. There is always room for improvement. When you stop improving, you stop growing. I, for one, always want to strive to be better than the person I was yesterday. If you did not get a chance to attend this year’s conference, and you are interested in incorporating the model, she is giving it away on her website!

At the end of the day, your experience at a conference as large as SHRM National is what you make of it. The sessions were wonderful and well thought out. I highly recommend purchasing the SHRM eLearning service so that you have access to the sessions that you may have missed due to competing time slots or being full. Bonus: you can share what you learned with others or just watch/listen back sessions that were especially powerful to you. Bonus 2: you have access to other content, not just the conference you recently attended.

If you haven’t attended before, have I convinced you to join us at #SHRM20 in San Diego, yet?! Click Here for early bird registration, and I’ll see you there!

Welcome to Las Vegas! #SHRM19 Let’s Do This!

Are you ready? #SHRM19 officially starts tomorrow, and I’m currently in flight from Cincinnati to Vegas! I can’t wait to see my fellow #SHRM19Bloggers and meet new friends!

This is my 4th National SHRM Conference. My first was in 2014 in Orlando, then Vegas in 2015, DC in 2016, and now back to Vegas!

What’s so great about National SHRM? Well, for starters you get to join over 17,000 of your closest HR pals! On top of the experience itself: development, education, and sharing tips and ideas with one another, you have the opportunity to meet your social media pals in real life and make new friends that were once strangers.

True story: I met my #conferencepal4life @jon_thurmond on Twitter and then in person at SHRM16. I am fortunate be introverted and shy, though, so it was a short first meeting. We reconnected when he and Wendy asked me to be a guest on their awesome podcast #HRSocialHour, and we have been buddies ever since. This year alone, we have already been to #workhuman and #HRRedefined together – hence #conferencepals4life!

So join in! Engage on social media. Follow the hashtags: #SHRM19, #SHRM19Blogger, #NotAtSHRM19 and when you share, please use these hashtags as well!

I’ll see you there!

Intentional Perspective — #HRRedefined Takeaway

Disclaimer: I had the honor of being a guest of Namely to attend their conference, #HRRedefined2019. As a guest, I was compensated for being there. This blog post is entirely my content – hence taking 4 weeks to find the time to put it together…

I was impressed with the speaker lineup for the conference being so young. One person that I had no idea would be there was none other than Valorie Kondos Field – “Miss Val”. She captivated the room and kept us all fully engaged and entertained.

Miss Val shared a story of her battle with cancer and her treatment. She called her chemo treatment the “chemo spa” because a spa is a place you go to feel better. Talk about perspective! She could have chosen to be discouraged and depressed because she was receiving chemo treatment, and instead she saw it as the thing that would make her better, and she embraced it.

How amazing would our own workplaces be if we were to adapt this mindset? Instead of I “have to” do something, start saying I “get to” do it. It’s a privilege. Not everyone has the same opportunities that you may have – even if the opportunity is waking up another morning and breathing in and out.

I say it often, but I truly mean it. The only person that you can control is yourself. Why not starting with being more intentional in your thoughts and your mindset?

I challenge you to bring optimism and positivity to work tomorrow, and I’d love to hear about your experience!

A Lesson in Compromise – Be Like Carol

The image associated with this post is of my dear friend Carol’s jewelry box.

Carol was born in England, and when she emigrated to the US, the left behind her jewelry box that her uncle had given her. She discovered the box at her sister’s house, and the two got into quite a discussion about who the box belonged to.

Do you see the paper below the jewelry box? That’s an envelope.

Every year, on her sister’s birthday, Carol gives her sister the jewelry box and puts a piece of jewelry or other token in the box for her to enjoy. Then, in November, her sister gives it back to her! This way they can both enjoy this beautiful wooden keepsake. What a wonderful lesson in love and compromise!

What is your “jewelry box”? Do you have anything you are holding onto or withholding from others that you could share, or at least compromise? It doesn’t have to be something tangible, it could be your time, your money, your resources.

What can you do today to be more like Carol and her sister?