Happy Saturday everyone! It’s a little extra happy if you’re in Canada, as it is the Victoria Day long weekend and the sun is shining. Hope you’re all enjoying it as much as I am. Things have been a bit quiet on the blog in recent weeks, but I assure you that I have several posts on the way. This week I was honoured to write a guest post over at The Buzz on HR, celebrating the anniversary of Sarah Williams’ fantastic blog by writing about What HR Means to Me. As it turns out, that has something to do with The Hulk (Incredible, not Hogan), sandwiches, and the lack of sorcery involved in HR. Sometimes I am as surprised as anyone about how these things turn out…
Anyway, please take a minute to check it out, and stay tuned for new Talent Vanguard content soon!
I strongly dislike the phrase “put the human back in human resources”. In part because it has become an unimaginative cliché and also because it usually sits atop a passive-aggressive treatise pleading with HR people to stop being such heartless, paper-loving bureaucrats and realize that employees are people too.
The premise underlying these arguments is usually that doing HR well is really just a matter of caring about people. This is nonsense, and does our profession a significant disservice. To see what this belief has wrought, ask 10 HR students why they want to work in HR, and I will wager money that at least 7 of them will say “ Because I’m a real ‘people person’”. Sigh….. Read more
As HR evolves, one of the many challenges we face as a profession is how best to deliver value to our organizations in ways that are aligned with the leaner, fast-moving nature of today’s business landscape. The wide adoption of HR technology, self-service models, and outsourcing are a few methods that the HR profession has increasingly turned to in an effort to place limits on the admin-focused work that has threatened to overwhelm our function. And yet…this kind of automation is unacknowledged as a delicate art; a balance must be sought. We need only look to the larger market for examples…
In recent years a handful of telecom and tech service companies have begun advertising the ease with which their customers can access a “real human being’ by phone as a key differentiator of their service. A real human- imagine! Read more
“It is generally the case with figures of authority that when the masses start laughing at you, you are through.”
Those in positions of authority, including HR pros, would do well to remember this quote. It comes from an article in the Economist discussing recent developments in language policy and enforcement in the Canadian province of Quebec. For those of you who are not Canadian, allow me to briefly contextualize:
Quebec, a French colony that was subsequently conquered by the English (thus being included as part of Canada’s confederation), has grown increasingly resolute in their efforts to protect the French language’s prevalence and usage within their province. Recently, an Italian restaurant owner in Montreal revealed that the office responsible for enforcing French language policy in Quebec- l’Office québécois de la langue française – had sent him a letter demanding that he change his menu to replace Italian words like ‘pasta’ with French ones. The media has had a bit of a field day with this, and dug up a few more ‘extreme’ examples of this type of highly enthusiastic application of authority, leading the Minister in charge of this enforcement to resign. Read more
I consider it a great honour to be featured this week at The HR Fieldguide, as part of Erik Smetana’s ongoing ’9 Questions’ interview series. If you’re not fortunate enough to already be familiar with The HR Fieldguide I recommend that you add it to your ‘must-read’ list immediately. Erik produces a consistently great mix of musings, deep HR thoughts, and HR thought leader interviews…it’s a truly terrific HR blog. You can check out my interview here.
I think a lot about the future. And although I’m not that old, I’ve already learned that the future, when one gets there, differs from the idea of the future in ways that are unexpected and impossible to predict. I think it’s this ‘certain uncertainty’ that drives us to continually envision possible futures. But these visions, fed by our past experiences and current outlook, often tell us more about our present selves than they do about where we’ll actually end up.
I’ve been reading a lot of superb, thought-provoking visions of the future of work and Human Resources from others recently, and grappling with what they might mean for us as employees, managers and HR professionals. The difference between many of these possible realities is vast, but this shouldn’t surprise us- humanity’s visions of the future are often shaped by the contrasting themes of utopia and dystopia. Read more
Can I assume that you’ve heard about the recent case in Florida in which a woman was arrested for riding a manatee? When I heard about this incident my first thought was: “What kind of idiot tries to ride a manatee? Shouldn’t this lady have known better?” The answer, of course, is yes- reasonable people do not see animals drifting along a Florida waterway and think “All aboard!”
But the Florida Keys are positively blanketed in signs like the one above, and a law does in fact exist outlawing the behavior in question. I find it sad that the good people of Florida must legislate for the clueless few, but thatseems to be the world that we live in. A world where our coffee cups bear dire warnings about the hot liquids within, and my curling iron has an enormous label advising me against putting it into my eyes. Sadder still, this lunacy does not stop at the borders of our organizations- many of us will have encountered organizations that create policies for the clueless few. Read more
Your initial, gut reaction when you read the word below has the potential to tell me a lot about you, and possibly a lot about the organization you work for. Ready?
What happened when you read it? Did you think about snacks, agendas, white boards, decisions? Or did your eyelid start twitching as you imagined grueling hours spent under fluorescent lights, listening to other people drone on during meandering conversations about things that are largely irrelevant to you?
For the majority of my professional life I have been firmly in the second camp, viewing most meetings as some kind of uniquely cruel psychological experiment. But recently I’ve been rethinking my long-held enmity towards meetings- surely such a uniform loathing of all meetings can’t be rational, right? And so I’ve given some thought to meetings – their use, their meaning, and how I can increase my tolerance for them. Read more
Happy Wednesday everyone! I’m thrilled to be contributing a post over at the EOList this week entitled ‘ On Rethinking HR‘, in which I ponder the so-called HR ‘doom loop’ and ask: “To be an effective HR pro, do you need to be more of an HR expert, or an expert on your organization?”. If you aren’t familiar with the EOList, you need to get over there for a visit! The brainchild of Bonni Titgemeyer, the EOList is one my favorite HR blogs, and a terrific source of HR networking and employment opportunities. May the remainder of the week treat you well…
I’m a major proponent of mentorship. And in this area (unlike my support of punctuality as a concept), I actually walk the talk. At any given time, I am a mentor (both formally and informally) to a handful of HR students, recent grads or new HR folks, and I’ve benefited enormously from being mentored myself for many years. I’m a member of the volunteer committee that runs my local HR Association’s mentorship program, and I regularly encourage friends and colleagues to devote their time to this noble pursuit.
There is little (beyond overt nepotism) that can super-charge someone’s career like mentorship. If you’ve ever thought “I wish I knew then what I know now…”, then understand that being mentored is as close as someone can ever get to realizing that hope. Read more