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.

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!

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?

My Bloggiversary

Last month, I celebrated my 1-year Bloggiversary. Yes, I know I’m late. A lot has been happening!

This blog started as an outlet to share thoughts, tips, suggestions, notions. I never could have imagined how well-received it would be, or that it would lead to so many amazing opportunities.

The most exciting opportunity is the invitation that I received to be on the #SHRM19Blogger team! You may or may not have noticed that the day I received the invite, I confirmed that I was permitted to share and then told everyone I know. It’s a big deal, and I’m incredibly excited to be a part of this amazing team! Special thank you to Mary Kaylor. She’s fantastic if you haven’t met her!

The most rewarding aspect of this blog, however, is when employees or friends tell me that they are reading it. Not long after I started with my current company, one of the employees told me that she started reading my blog and was excited about the direction I was going to lead HR if that was how I truly felt about people. That meant more to me than she will ever know.

So, albeit late, thank you for staying with me on this journey and reading my posts. I appreciate more than you know.

If I Can Do it, You Can Do it…

You may or may not have noticed that I have taken some time off from writing lately.  I have done a few pieces for a new concept at SHRM  #NotionsByNicole found here: https://blog.shrm.org/search/node/%23NotionsByNicole.

To say it’s been quite a year is an understatement.  There is a saying that with adversity or challenge that you have survived it 100% of the time, so why second guess it now?  It’s true.  I have.  You have.  Let’s first and foremost be thankful for that.

This year has been tough.  I lost my job.  I lost a dear, sweet friend who my daughter simply adored.  I started a new job (thank you, Jesus).  My marriage ended…

You know what else I did?  I walked across the stage in Indianapolis on November 3rd at the Western Governors University Commencement, and my children got to watch their mom overcome any obstacles and earn her Bachelors Degree in Human Resource Management.  My parents were there, too.  Don’t underestimate the pride in the eyes of a parent watching their child graduate – whether she’s 21 or 37.  I have also been accepted to begin my Masters in Management & Leadership, starting in January 2019!

The moral of the story?  If I can do it, anyone can do it.  YOU CAN DO IT.  I started my degree EIGHTEEN YEARS AGO at Wright State University, in a traditional, brick and mortar campus.  I changed my major twice – sorry Mom, and when I was a sophomore/junior, I was offered a full-time job working in HR.  This is what I went to school for, right?  To get a job.  I took the job and never looked back.  My career progressed, and there were plenty of times that I was not considered for a job based on not yet having completed my Bachelor’s degree.  I worked hard, and I was promoted and progressed to more amplified roles throughout my career.  I earned my PHR and my SHRM-CP Certifications.  I tried to go back to school a few times, and despite the claims of being for the “working professional,” they were not for this working professional.

I found WGU last Spring, and I began on May 1.  This was also the first day of my promotion at work.  I had to write a Vision statement as one of my first assignments, and this was mine:

I will be an example to my children and my current and future employees of what hard work and dedication can materialize into – no matter when you start or how many times you’ve tried before.  What matters is that you finish.

I did it.  You can do it, too.  It doesn’t matter when you start or how many times you’ve tried before.  What matters is that you finish.

What are you waiting for?

Every “No” Makes Space for a “Yes”: Advice for When You Don’t Get What You Thought You Wanted, and How to be Remain Grateful

True gratitude, like true happiness, comes from within.  We are all going to encounter “no’s” in life when we really really thought we wanted a “yes.”

It’s easy to get discouraged and to be disappointed when this happens, and I want to offer a reminder when that happens:  Every “no” makes space for a “yes.”  This is true both in how you handle requests of your time as well as in how the universe responds to your requests.

When you receive a “no,” say “thank you.”  Trust that the timing wasn’t right this time or that there was more to the situation than you realized, and it truly wasn’t the right opportunity for you.

If you are the one delivering the “no,” to the extent possible, share with the person the why behind it, and if it’s a skills gap or some other roadblock to success, help that person understand how they could improve to be considered the next time the opportunity presents itself.  Is there more training this person could take?  Is there a stretch assignment that would better prepare them for the next step?

I read (listened to on Audible) a wonderful book about this called “The Best Yes:  Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands” by Lysa TerKeurst.  She provides valuable insight into the power of saying no and reserving your yesses – your best yes.  Guard your time and make sure that you are putting your energy into what is best for you and for those you serve.  Every opportunity is not created equal and will not have the same impact.  There are no do-overs.

Use your time wisely and be thankful always for every experience.  Have even more gratitude for the “no” and “not yet” that make a space for the right “yes.”