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Lisa Rosendahl, awesome person: This year’s Tim Sackett Day Honoree!!!

lisaEvery year, the HR blogging community gathers together to honor someone in the profession who is pretty darn cool. This is my third year to participate in such a cool tradition. (Year One and Year Two posts, in case you’re curious.)  In that past, I didn’t really know the people I had a chance to write about. I knew OF those people, and through this tradition, I had an opportunity to get to know them even better.

This is a rare year in that I have actually MET Lisa. In real life. In the lobby of a convention center (because that’s how classy HR people do it).

I met Lisa when I spoke at MNSHRM in 2015 (I think. Seriously, I have no idea what year this is. HELP ME!) Frankly, everyone I met there was a delight. Kate Bischoff gave me a Gopher hat. Josh Rock gave me a “Hi-eeee!” We tried to help Paul DeBettignies find happiness. It was a fun time. Don’t believe me? Check us out. (Yes…I have Beyonce hair in this picture. I’m just that cool. Lisa is the person directly behind me on the right. Avoiding my Beyonce hair. And kindly not laughing AT me.)

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And I also met Lisa at that conference. She is a wonderful person to talk to – smart, funny, wry, empathetic, tough as nails (seriously, when I met her, she was mad that she couldn’t run because she had an injury!). Lisa is a veteran and a mom. She’s also a mentor for so many bloggers out there who are just getting started or want to get better. And she’s one hell of a writer. Lisa is far too humble to believe the impact she has had on the community, so we are happy to toot her horn for her.

If you don’t know Lisa, do yourself a favor and get to know her. If you’re in Minnesota and want to meet an amazing person in real life, you would not be disappointed. I count myself lucky to be connected with her, no matter how tenuously.

So, thank you, Lisa Rosendahl!!! And happy Tim Sackett Day. We are so grateful to know you!

 

To learn more about Lisa, you can find her through any of these links:

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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2017 and the need for a plan

In general, 2016 kinda sucked.

I mean, there were some good things that happened. Captain America: Civil War was released. As was Rogue One, Deadpool, Star Trek: Beyond (I liked it), Doctor Strange…you know – decent movies. People were married and people were born, which I assume made several folks happy.

But there are a lot of you out there who have expressed your overall disgust with 2016. Too many amazing talents died (David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Prince, Gene Wilder, Garry Shandling, Arnold Palmer, John Glenn….it’s a depressingly long list). X-Men Apocalypse was released (good lord, that was awful). Discriminatory laws were passed around the nation, and then we went through that godawful presidential election that has left so many people in fear and despair for the future, or at the very least – not optimistic.

I think this tweet pretty much sums it up:

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So who’s excited for 2017?

I am. But I’m not walking in with my eyes closed. I’m going to be prepared.

Glitchpath shared an approach that I think will work for 2017 – I’m going to do a premortem for my year. But I’m going to keep the scope small. I can’t worry about celebrities and movies (please don’t suck, Episode IIX or Dark Tower), so I’m going to focus on my workplace.

After thinking through that premortem, I’m building a contingency plan for things I think might happen so I’m ready for when they totally do. This isn’t a complete list (that would be a book), but I can bucket some of the areas of potential failure. This helps me think through a game plan to be ready for next year.

Plan A B or C Choice Showing Strategy Change Or Dilemma

  • Potential Failure #1: Employee Issues
    Let’s face it. Employees are great, but they bring on all sorts of variables that will throw your workplace into a tizzy. It could be performance issues, interpersonal issues, illness, turnover, business changes, etc. It’s a lot to plan for.

Contingency plan: Document all processes and cross-train as much as possible. Seriously, have a backup for your backups. Teach your team conflict management techniques (an no, that doesn’t mean “pretend it never happened”). Next, have open career goal discussions with each member of the team – are you happy? do you want to stay? if you stay, what can we help you do better? Be sure to set clear expectations with the team so there are no surprises. Work hard to cultivate a culture of trust and flexibility.

  • Potential Failure #2: Internal Customers
    Bless their hearts. We’re all on the same side, but for some reason, internal customers will occasionally go off the deep end and take you off the rails. They go around you to complain to those above you. Or they spread vague rumors about perceived problems. Issues can include unreasonable expectations, lack of response, not following the process, change in their business needs, budget constraints, etc.

Contingency plan: Build some good relationships. Create a responsive, adaptive, consistent communication cadence for all customers. Know your process and understand what you can and cannot compromise in the name of customer service. Share your process with your customers and outline roles and responsibilities on both sides.

  • Potential Failure #3: Executive Leadership
    You’ll notice that I put this group outside of internal customers. While executive leadership IS usually an internal customer, their real impact is greater because they are making decisions that touch on everything you do – how decisions are made, what can be communicated when, policy decisions, budgeting decisions, etc. There are so many potential pitfalls that I can’t possibly list them. They are legion.

Contingency plan: Find allies on the leadership team and build strong relationships. Leverage these relationships to learn about potential hidden agendas to help you navigate the politics of the situation. Develop an effective dashboard that quickly and easily communicates what’s happening in your team to leadership so you can build credibility and visibility.  KEEP YOUR BOSS IN THE LOOP AT ALL TIMES. (Nobody likes to be blindsided. Nobody.) And worst case scenario – win Powerball.

No, this isn’t an exhaustive list. There will still be crappy times ahead, and I can’t possibly plan for everything that can happen. Hopefully it gives you some idea of how I’m approaching 2017. I’m being proactive and cagey, instead of reactive and quick on my feet. I want to feel in control in 2017, rather than feeling like I survived the year.

So don’t mess with me, 2017. I know what I’m doing.

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

We’re all difficult to someone

On Monday’s #FailChat (on Twitter every Monday, 11am MT/1pm ET – join us!), we were discussing the challenge of managing difficult people (down, across and up) and examining our failures with it. Laurie Ruettimann made the comment that “When managing difficult people, assume you are also difficult. Helps a lot to be humble.” And she’s absolutely right. And because I have a pathological need to weigh in on everything, I responded with:

We are all difficult to someone. #failchat 

The comment got some likes and a couple of “yeps” and we moved on with the conversation.

I’m still stuck on my comment, because it’s true. No matter how charming we think we are, or how many people blow sunshine up our butts, to someone out there we are an archenemy. We are the Lex Luthor to their Superman. We are the Emperor to their Luke Skywalker. We are the Lucille Bluthe to their Michael. hilarious

It’s really hard to accept that.

After all, we work hard to build relationships. A lot of us try to be kind (or at least, not actively toxic), and we attempt to get through our day productively and with limited drama.

And yet, there are people out there who hate us.

“But,” you might say, “how can you possibly know that? Everyone likes me.”

Here’s the test: If you’ve ever had to say “no” to someone at work, you were being difficult to them.

Maybe not all the time and they probably got over it (we hope), but right then and there – you were difficult. You didn’t let them do something they wanted to do. In fact, you probably had a REALLY good reason to not let them do it. But still – difficult.

Think about it – how did you react the last time someone told you that you couldn’t do something…especially if it was a super cool idea! Did you think ill of that person? Did you accuse them of saying no out of spite. Did you get a teensy bit grumpy? Well, other people are thinking the exact same thing about you.

Don’t take it personally – we’re all difficult people. The best way to deal with it is to remember that the other person is coming from a different perspective. A couple of tips:

  • Find out why they think you’re difficult. Try not to discount the feedback automatically. It could be your approach. It could be they have their own issues. Get data and respond appropriately.
  • Explain your thinking. This can go a long way to changing your perceived difficulty. And on the plus side – if you can’t explain your thinking, there is a good chance that you ARE just being difficult out of spite.
  • Ask the other person why. Don’t dismiss something outright. Maybe their end goal is a really good one, but their proposed approach is bad. By knowing their why, you can help them find a better path.
  • Don’t try so hard to be liked. If the thought of being considered “difficult” distresses you, figure out why. If you’re certain your actions were done with the best outcome in mind, you’re going to be okay. It’s okay not to be everyone’s best friend.

“Difficult” is not a title. It’s not a trophy. It’s an adjective – and a common one, at that. So the next time you’re tempted to call someone difficult, just remember – you are, too.

And it’s all going to be okay.

I never give in to the temptation to be difficult just for the sake of being difficult. That would be too ridiculous.    ~ Jacques Derrida 

 

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

We are capable of so much _________________

 

[Note to readers: This isn’t a “leadership” post, per se. I mean, leaders should read it from the perspective of leading others, but really, it’s a post about people.]


We’ve been rewatching From the Earth to the Moon in spurts. My husband and I are unabashed space race nerds – we watch all the documentaries, we love The Right Stuff, and I swear, I would have tried to be an astronaut if it were for the fact that the mere idea of weightlessness makes me want to barf. (Seriously…I can’t even read in a car. It’s a real pain.)

When I watch these shows, I’m struck by how freaking AMAZING it is that human beings did this. I mean…we sent people TO THE MOON. And they came back! In 1969! That’s just crazy. What’s even more amazing is all the steps that had to go right for us to be able to get to that moment with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Someone had to think through all the little steps it would take to launch a rocket safely, then put a person in it, then put two people in it, then dock in space, then design a LEM, then design the space suits, etc. It’s mind-blowing…and nevermind that they did this in only 8 years. EIGHT!

The moment humans walked on the surface of the moon was truly a uniting moment for our species. Footage from around the world showed it didn’t matter what country you were from, or what you believed in – people recognized the sheer magnitude of what we had been able to accomplish. Not only did it validate all that we had worked for up to that moment; it gave us hope for the potential of all that we could achieve.superhero-kids-day-e1431462427802

I bring this up because we need to be reminded of the potential of who we are. We are living in a time of unimaginable connectedness. On the one hand, it gives us the opportunity to connect with and learn from people all over the world. On the other hand, it means people can spew forth any thought that comes into their heads and put it on the internet.  So as you can see, we end up having to take the good with the bad. Unfortunately, the bad is so. damn. loud.

So let’s take this opportunity to remember – we don’t inherently suck as a species. We create so many things for the benefit of others. We can come together as a society and revel in our potential. (I mean, are you watching the Olympics? The refugee team – inspiring!) For every terrible story of someone taking advantage of people, of violence, of terror, there are more stories of heroism, of charity, of bravery…of love.

I am a realist. I know that what makes us capable of so much progress is the same thing that makes us capable of so much horror. I know that sometimes we start down a path with the best of intentions, and somewhere along that path we lose our way. But not always. Sometimes we stumble upon a discovery that can change the world. Sometimes we create something simple but joyous. And sometimes we just keep on keepin’ on.

As you go about your life in the coming weeks, help those around you find the good potential inherent in what we do. Encourage people to seek out stories of triumph, not anger. Keep your mind open to the possible.

We are capable of so much __________.

How do you want to complete that sentence?

This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, ‘The good outnumber you, and we always will.’

~ Patton Oswalt

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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It’s STILL about the people

[Continuing to hang with my HR homies at #SHRM16. It’s happening until Wednesday. So…yeah.]

Every year at the SHRM National Conference, you see all sorts of blog posts about how the content is great, but it’s really about the people you meet and the relationships you build. Hell, I’ve even written that blog post.

This year, I wanted to attend more sessions and see more of the content that’s out there. I went through the schedule and picked out a bunch of sessions that looked good (and there were lots) and was ready to session the heck out of this place.

And then I got to DC and that all went out the window.

shrm_ac2016_logoOver the past 12 months I’ve had the chance to connect with so many amazing folks online that once I arrived, it’s a constant scavenger hunt to find all the people who want to met in real life (that’s IRL for those of you in the know).

People like Jon Thurmond, Dan Cross and Wendy Dailey from SHRM’s NextChat (Wednesdays, 3:30pm Eastern – join!). Other folks like Micole Kaye and Chris Bailey, who are always great to see! And of course, all of the #SHRMBloggers!  (And if I haven’t seen you yet – what the heck??)

Anyway, it just goes to show that while these conferences have some fabulous speakers and helpful content, the reality is that most of us come because it’s like a great big crazy family reunion and we barely get to see each other face-to-face.

So forgive me if I don’t go to as many sessions as I wanted to. And if I don’t connect with everyone I meant to, my bad.

For me, #SHRM is STILL about the people.

 
 

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The beauty (and danger) of rituals

The Beauty

There are two good routines (for lack of a better word) that I see every morning when I get to work.
The first is an older gentleman who walks through our campus every morning and evening. I’ve seen him nearly without fail, every single day, regardless of the weather. He walks with a pronounced limp, so it must take real determination to do it. I asked a coworker about him – apparently, he’s been on this route for YEARS and this is his exercise routine.  It’s definitely working, as I’ve seen the weight drop off. When I didn’t see him walking for a couple of weeks, I got worried…but he must have been out of town, because after the holidays, he was back at it. I really admire this guy. It couldn’t have been easy for him to get started, but he has stuck with it.
The second ritual I see takes place in the parking lot. Every morning, a minivan pulls up to the front door, and a female gets out from the passenger side, walks around to the driver side, and kisses the gentleman who is driving. Then she stands at the curb as he pulls away, and when he honks the horn in salute, she raises her hand in a farewell wave. And then she goes to work. I love it when I get to see this happen. I never want to find out the backstory because it’s such a lovely moment on its own, every day.

ritual

adjective rit·u·al \ˈri-chə-wəl, -chəl; ˈrich-wəl\

What is a ritual, really? The dictionary describes it as something always done in a particular situation and in the same way each time. It can be anything from a simple handshake upon meeting someone, to a highly complex series of phrases and behaviors over the course of a religious ceremony.tumblr_lqcgze7bGY1qfwcfh

We like rituals because it removes the anxiety over the unknown. We like knowing what’s expected of us at a certain time. It comforts us. It makes us feel smart. They also promote good habits (see story of man walking to exercise every day).

When used best, rituals promote a sense of belonging – they help define an organization or culture. They remind us that while we all are different people, we have past behaviors and expectations in common.


The Danger

The insidious side of rituals is that the more we do them, the harder it is to break them. In some ways, our brain likes repetition. Think of your brain as a snow-covered mountainside, with your actions or thoughts as skiers. Like skiers shooshing through the snow dig tracks and moguls into the snowfield, every time we reinforce an activity or behavior, it deepens the neural pathway in the brain. And sometimes those ruts get so deep, you can’t get out of them.

Think OCD.

Now think about your organization. Are there rituals that border on the ridiculous? Ones that are so ingrained that no one even know why they do it anymore, but feel like they have to or else?

You know that rituals have shifted to the “danger” side of the equation when you hear things like, “it’s how we’ve always done it” or “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Rituals can damage innovation and growth. They can rob an employee population of imagination and acceptance of positive change. Rituals can keep a leader from being able to adapt to the needs of her people because she’s always managed that way. They can work an employee out of job because he can’t adapt to a new process.


The Balance

It takes diligence to ensure that rituals are helping, and not hurting, your team/department/organization.

Because rituals help foster a sense of community and belonging at at organization, you need to pay homage to the past while building new rituals for the future.

You need to monitor your rituals to see if they have morphed into something damaging. Are they making it difficult for new people to assimilate? Are they blocking your team from solving problems creatively?

Ritualize behaviors that promote good habits (quality assurance, compliance, etc.) and de-ritualize behaviors that promote creativity (problem solving, recognition, coaching, etc.).

By finding a balance between the beauty and danger of rituals, you’ll minimize the harmful moments – like a team refusing to change – and maximize the good moments – like a morning farewell wave to a loved one.

What rituals do you have in your workplace? Are they “beautiful” or “dangerous”? Share in the comments!

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

SHRM and the art of leadership

This is a slightly different post today, and it’s pretty HR focused, but stuff is going on in the HR world that highlights leadership. This “stuff” also highlights the fact that leadership can look and sound very, very different – and still be 100% leadership.

For the uninitiated:

SHRM (the Society of Human Resource Management) announced earlier this year that it was launching a separate new certification for HR professionals. HRCI (Human Resources Certification Institute) will continue to offer the existing certification. If you want to read more about all this, click here, here, or even here.

This post isn’t about the new certification.

What I want to focus on is the way leaders in the HR community have stimulated conversation.6-blind-men-hans

On the one hand, you have the esteemed Laurie Ruettimann – her approach has been to ask some very pointed questions about the need, efficacy and impact of the new certifications. You can read her excellent article about it here.  Go ahead, read it.  I’ll wait. Done?  Good.

On the other hand, you have the also-esteemed Steve Browne – his approach has been to focus on what the future can look like, and the progress that has been made since the announcement first happened. You can read his excellent take on the situation here. We’ll wait. It’s cool.

Chances are, you were provoked, annoyed, or in fervent disagreement with one of them, rolling your eyes at their comments. Or you may have been smiling, nodding emphatically, or fist-pumping because you totally agree with their comments. Either way, you’ve been exposed to two different perspectives and you thought about where you stood.

That means these folks are Leaders with a capital L.

I don’t mean leadership is about arguing. Leadership is about making people think. Or asking the tough questions. Or being optimistic about possibilities.

Leadership isn’t just about what YOU want it to look like. It takes all kinds, all voices, all backgrounds.

I love that Laurie and Steve come from different points of view. And I love even more that they keep the conversation going.

This, my friends, is what leadership looks like.

Keep the conversation going.  Post a comment here, post a comment for Steve and/or Laurie.  Let’s talk!

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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