Want to Really Make a Difference? Blog.SHRM.org

With #SHRMLeg wrapping up this week, I wanted to share the post I wrote for the SHRM Blog after my testimony as a call to action for HR to join the SHRM A-Team!  I still remember the excitement on the Hill that day and could chat for days about being an A-Team Member!


Want to Really Make a Difference?

Why did you go into Human Resources?  What about HR attracted you?  For me, I wanted to make a difference.  That has always been the most rewarding part of my job.  Many of you will say that you want to have a “seat at the table.”  What about having a seat at the table with the Department of Labor?  What about having a seat at the table in a Congressional hearing?  Sound like a way to make a difference and represent our profession?  Join the SHRM Advocacy Team.

Why did I join the A-Team?  SHRM gave us the opportunity to have a voice, and I took it.  I started out by following the links to the e-mails and completing the templates on the SHRM website to contact my Representative on key issues.  From there, I joined the SHRM A-Team.  Last year, prior to the start of the Annual Conference in Orlando, the DOL held two listening sessions with SHRM members, including many from the SHRM A-Team.  It was fascinating to hear the questions they asked us and to get a glimpse into where the possible changes to the law were headed.  My organization had a vested interest into the possible changes, and I was fortunate to have a seat at that table.

I stayed in touch and remained active with the A-Team.  However, it wasn’t until this summer that I fully became an advocate.  The House Education and Workforce Subcommittee on Workforce Protections was interested in hearing testimony from a SHRM member on the need for FLSA modernizations, and as a member of the SHRM A-Team as well as a participant in the DOL listening sessions, my name had come up.  It was never a question of whether or not I wanted to participate.  This is what we dream of, right?  We actually get to go and TALK to Congress?  Sign me up.

To say that it was the coolest day of my career is an understatement.  While it was the most nerve-wracking experience, it was also a great honor to represent our society of hard working Human Resource professionals.  Kelly Hastings, Lisa Horn, and I spent the entire afternoon prior to the hearing going over my testimony and fine tuning each word to make sure that we made the most of my five minutes.  Nothing compares, however, to the outpouring of support that I received from Steve Browne and my Ohio SHRM members.  That was just one of the many days that I was proud to be a SHRM member.

via Want to Really Make a Difference? | Blog.SHRM.org

Failure is Feedback…

I saw a post on from the fabulous Sarah Hathorn on Twitter a while back:

 Jan 31

I thought to myself.  “Right.  It’s feedback.”  So I replied to her:

“Failure is feedback. It allows us to change our approach and improve the process.

Stop and take an honest inventory of your view on failure.  Do you view failure as an opportunity to improve, or do you view it as being “less than” or “not good enough” because Plan A didn’t work out?  What drives those feelings?  Where is your focus and mindset?

I was talking to a friend of mine about the idea to this post and he said “I fail every day.”  I love that.  He didn’t say “I quit every day.”  He said he failed – this implies he’s trying daily.  We don’t have all the answers.  We are not always going to get it right, but we are 100% more successful when we try than when we are paralyzed by fear of failure.

Did you know that there are over 534,000 videos that talk about how many times some of the most successful people failed before they got it right?  These are meant to be inspirational videos.  If they can do it, I can do it.  Right?  Michael Jordan, Steve Jobs, J.K. Rowling, Henry Ford, all faced adversity and failure, but they stuck with it.  They kept going.

Below is one of my favorite quotes by J.K. Rowling:

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

― J.K. Rowling

In some cases these people faced monumental setbacks, but they didn’t let it define them.  They continued to try.  They rebounded until they succeeded, and then they continued to work hard and continue trying new things.

In order to dare to do great things, two important aspects must occur:  you must put yourself out there to try AND you must engage with others who encourage continuous learning and continuous improvement.  Far too often we engage in cultures where there is such a stigma around failure and so much effort is placed on perfection and the pursuit of it.  Spoiler alert:  no one and no organization is perfect.  We could all save a lot of time and heartache striving to something unattainable.

We see it every day in the news – especially lately with the #MeToo movement:  organizations learn somewhere along the way that a catastrophic lapse in judgment has occurred, and in many cases, lack the courage to admit it, learn from it, and make it right.  We all make mistakes.  We are all human.  Why do we try so hard to convince those around us otherwise?

The Power of Vulnerability

“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”
― Brené BrownRising Strong

I was on the phone with one of my amazing members of my team when she was interrupted by an employee entering her office. She put me on hold, but I could hear the employee talking. The employee had a question about her paycheck. I listened as the employee asked her questions. I heard silence as I could tell my team member was thinking of what scenario could have happened, then she proceeded to ask questions.

Not one time did she defend herself or seem to be reacting to the apparent mistake or misunderstanding. She genuinely sought to understand so she could determine how she could help her. I was so proud to have her on my team.

I know I say I have an amazing team a lot. I do. They are some of the most talented, caring people I have had the privilege to work with, lead, develop, and learn from.

After she had a pretty good idea of what happened, she explained to the employee what happened and how to prevent it in the future. She also explained that she would take care of the correction, and confirmed that it was okay that it was on the next paycheck or needed a manual check cut. The employee confirmed the next paycheck was fine, thanked her, and left.

She got back on the phone and asked me questions about how to best audit for a situation like this in future processing. As we chatted, she realized that she had misspoke in her direction for the protocol for the future to the employee. Within minutes, I was bcc’d on a message to the employee, thanking her for coming to gain clarity on the issue. She then explained how she was wrong in what she had told her for future steps, and she wanted to let her know and clarify the proper process.

Once again, I was proud she was not only a part of my team, but that our employees had such a wonderful human being taking care of them. She’s only been with our organization for less than 90 days, and there are bound to be mistakes in the learning process. She could have reacted defensively and immediately pointed out how the employee didn’t follow the protocol or blamed something or someone else. She didn’t do that. She didn’t react. She was vulnerable and asked questions to focus on the problem and how to best remedy it and prevent it from happening in the future.

The power of vulnerability met the employee where she was and made her feel like they were in it together to find a solution. I hope we all approach problems like this.

Has HR Lost the Trust of Employees?

It was a nice little Sunday.  We went to the Cincinnati Auto Expo.  I had been looking forward to this all week.  When I was a little girl, my Dad always had a “race car.”  He had a ’76 Corvette for most of my childhood, and would take my older sister and I to car shows.  My Dad lives in New Mexico, and I miss him dearly.  The Auto Expo was the highlight of my week to connect with my Dad, thousands of miles away.  The Expo did not disappoint.  It was wonderful.  I sat in several cars, breathed in that new car smell, reminisced about my childhood, and life was good.

We got home, I settled in with a nice cup of tea, and my husband forwarded me this article that took my breath away within the first few sentences “Human resources has to be one of the greatest bait-and-switch professions one can join today.”  OUCH.  I had to read on.  Surely there was more to the story.  There seemed to be some serious pain here for such a statement.    “…the field often attracts starry-eyed idealists, people who seek a mission-oriented, perhaps even noble profession for their careers. They join thinking they are going to make a difference.”  Yep.  That sounds like me, 14 years ago.  I wanted to help people and make a difference.  That’s still one of the things I love the most about HR.  We have the potential to make an impact.

The article goes to on to describe scenario after scenario where corruption occurs in the organization, calling them “HR abuses.”  I bristled as I read the accusations against my beloved profession, but again, I read on.  After all, perception is reality, right?  Isn’t that what we coach and teach others?  We have to manage perception?  And just like there’s no crying in baseball, there’s no ego in HR.  If there is a perception that we are not there to support our people, we need to talk about that – no matter how hard those conversations may be.

The crux of the article explained how various apps and third-party agencies could coach employees to have difficult conversations when faced with situations at work, calling this “network-based HR resources that can be responsive to worker concerns in real-time.”

Rather than looking outside of the organization for support, HR Pros, let’s challenge each other to open our doors, open our ears, take down our walls, and talk to people.  Really talk to people.  Spend time with managers, coaching them, sharing resources to help refine communication skills, empowering them to be better leaders for their teams.  Encourage our leadership to live a culture of accountability.  HR can’t “fix” the issues.  Despite popular opinion, that’s not our role.  We’re not “fixers.”  We are supporters, coaches, facilitators, and it is up to us to ensure that our organizations not only see us for who we are, but utilize us in that manner.  I accept the challenge.  Who’s with me?

You Have to Start Somewhere

Thanks for joining me on this journey!  The adorable pup pictured above is Maximus the Minimus.  I keep this picture of him as the wallpaper on my laptop, constantly reminding me not to take myself or situations so seriously.

My goal of this site is to create a starting place for conversations around servant leadership, HR, finding your voice, courage, belonging (Thank you for your work, Brené Brown), being intentional in our work, and encouraging others to do the same.  Thank you for the encouragement, Steve Browne!  Steve is the most humble, genuine, intentional human being you will ever meet, and knowing Steve, I’m certain you already have.

There’s never a “good” time to start something like this.  I’ve been jotting down or dictating to Siri ideas for this blog for a little over a year.  I would get an idea from a #Nextchat post, or have a conversation that spoke to my soul, and I’d type it in the little Note app on my iPhone.  At first it was possible titles, then ideas for posts.

What held me back?  Fear.  Fear of not having any idea what I was doing.  Spoiler alert:  I don’t.  You’re welcome to join me as I figure it out, though, and I’ve already gotten one thing done right.  I STARTED.

Thank you for checking out my blog.  Please feel free to leave a comment to continue the conversation.

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton