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.

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?

#Workhuman Takeaway — Resilience and Grit

I had the extreme fortune of attending #Workhuman this week in Nashville. I am very fortunate to work for an organization that believes in professional growth and supports me attending conferences like this one. I know that not all organizations share this same sentiment or simply don’t have the budget to send their leaders to conferences for professional development, and I am grateful.

I attended every keynote at the conference, and I’m sure every attendee took away something different and certain aspects resonated more than others. For me, it was a theme of resilience and grit. Resilience resonated with me so much, in fact, that it was my word that I had engraved on the leather key fob as a conference attendee.

While I was most excited to see Brené Brown (and she was fan-freaking-tastic), I was most impacted by Viola Davis‘s story. The spectacular Steve Pemberton, Chief People Officer for Workhuman, formerly known as Globoforce. Steve’s story is all about overcoming obstacles, so it was no surprise that he was the one chosen to interview Viola in the closing keynote on the Workhuman stage.

I knew a little bit of Viola’s story already. She was featured in Braving the Wilderness, my first exposure to Brené Brown, so I knew she had grown up in abject poverty in Rhode Island, her father was an abusive alcoholic, and that she didn’t let it define her or live in fear or shame. What I didn’t know, was how she continued to overcome no matter the obstacles.

In her interview with Steve, Viola shared how she had received a hand up, a wonderful opportunity to attend a performing arts school via a scholarship because someone believed in her. The school, however, was not located remotely close to where she lived. She had to leave 3 hours early and take 3 different buses to get there. She was poor, you’ll remember, so she didn’t just pay 3 bus fares and go to school. She shared that sometimes she would walk the first leg of the trip to get to the second bus, then walk the last leg. The school, like many, had a late policy. There was no consideration of the why, if she was late, she was late.

What struck me the most about this was the grit and determination that Viola had to make it work. She could have turned down the scholarship, citing the commute, waiting on something closer or waiting on someone else to solve the distance problem for her. She could have stopped going when it got tough. So many times she could have given up, and yet she kept going and worked hard to succeed – despite all odds.

How many times in our own organizations or households have we seen opportunity squandered or explained away because it was going to be too much work or sacrifice our time? The world is a much better place because of people like Viola sharing their stories, and I can only imagine the impact that she will continue to have.

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.