Sunday, November 26, 2006

Finally, a topic worth blogging about!

As I mentioned in a previous post, my company is deep in the work necessary to complete the transaction where one of our two joint venture parents is buying the other out.... "fun" it ain't!!!

But all this work, coupled in with the usual year-end rush of all that HR minutia is really eating into my reading and blogging time. I completely missed posting last week, but not entirely because I was too busy. It was equally as much because there has been nothing that inspired me to write.... tired minds are not very creative and I refuse to post for the sake of posting. So here I sat, as mute as a stone till....... BANG! Inspiration hit me. No, not the noble kind - I was inspired by something so INCREDIBLY STUPID!

You all know that just the mere act of blogging about anything HR'ish is enough to get my secret HR Decoder ring taken away , so this one ought to REALLY get me in deep kimchi with the grand HR Poobah.

My inspiration for this little diatribe of mine is a recently published study by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM). I don't think I'm giving away a secret here by telling you that SHRM is viewed as the professional standard bearer for HR pros in America. They are effectively the embodiment of all the good stuff HR is supposed to stand for... till now.... Strap in kids, you are about to hear a good old fashioned rant that would make my Cranky Middle Manager mentor proud!

It seems that these grand champions of the HR profession felt it necessary to conduct a study on a very tricky and emotionally charged topic; no, not ethics reform, benefits cost containment, or even how to help people affected by layoffs - these geniuses decided it was more important to focus on a REALLY vexing question - Is it OK to have weapons in the workplace?! Honest to goodness - they actually decided that this topic needed a formal study capped off by a slick 32 page report on it! This Society strives to make HR a relevant and important part of the business and the most relevant and helpful topic they can study is weapons in the workplace - dear God! My 8 year old niece knows that weapons anyplace near work or school is a major Bozo no-no!

Holy Hopping Snot - what is wrong with these imbeciles? And they wonder why HR can't get a "seat at the table". Duh! How about we devote our time and talent to solving real problems in the workplace that help people and management get the job done well in a pleasant environment with decent pay and benefits. While I am sure that this topic is important and I don't mean to diminish the tragedies that have occurred when folks bring weapons to work, the answer doesn't require a study and a report - it's much simpler than that; If you treat people decently, fairly and manage performance and layoffs with compassion and help for those impacted, you wont need to worry about them bringing a weapon to bear against you.


Looking beyond the insanity of this post, consider if there are risk factors in your organization that might increase the possibility of the "disgruntled" worker coming in with his fire stick to exact a little revenge. Know your people and their pain points and look for ways to defuse the problem before the shots ring out.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A timeless lesson, perfectly timed!

As I have mentioned in a recent post, my company is in the process of being acquired by one of the two parents in the Joint Venture that formed the company. Needless to say, it's a very busy and anxious time. Most of us are anxious about getting all the work done to facilitate closing the deal on schedule, some are anxious about job security, others are anxious about how we are going to operate post acquisition. I could blog about all three of those topics; the work involved in getting through the "deal" in a merger or acquisition is a long post all to itself - so I will leave that for another day. We'll just focus on how to get along in the new world post acquisition.

I found a great article in Fast Company that explains how WebTv and Microsoft managed the integration when WebTv was devoured my the Empire of Gates. Now don't get me wrong, this is not about how to cave into the new corporate culture - this is all about ensuring that you are doing the right things for the company AND the people. Making the right choices based on the core principles of the companies involved - examining and embracing the best things that both have to offer. True, in most acquisitions there are the "acquiring" and those being "acquired", but that does not have to equate to "winners and losers"! There is a lot to learn from each other and the best opportunity for personal and organizational success is to put aside pride and ego and dig deep into the knowledge and talent of your new found colleagues.


Start planning now for what you will do if your company acquires or is acquired. How will you showcase what your company has accomplished? How will you tell your story and help people see the value of the experiences, processes and people in your company.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


You will probably recall the recent sentencing of the former Enron criminal (er... executive) Jeff Skilling. For his greedy and dishonest acts, he's been sent to take a nice long vacation in the land of the orange jumpsuits. While I am thrilled to see him get a long run in prison, I am equally disturbed at the damage that creeps like him have done to the the cause of good management everywhere.

Skilling, and countless jerks like him violate an important trust. Our people have to believe that we are honest and accountable to the truth in all our dealings. How on earth can we ask our people to put themselves on the line for our company, their team or even for us if they don't trust us.

We managers are in important and responsible positions. We have access to information our troops don't get to know about, and we use this knowledge to make decisions that impact them. I found a great quote that I hope puts this into perspective for you; " Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful." - Samuel Johnson.

While Jeff Skilling demonstrates the second part of that quote perfectly. I submit to you that the first half of that quote is more often the problem than the second. While most of us are guilty in this regard, it just isn't newsworthy. You're a good boss and you always try to take care of your troops, but how often have you let the value of your integrity be diminished by not backing it up with the knowledge to make it count? Wanting to do the right thing is pretty easy - gathering the information to make sure that that you are doing the right thing effectively, or even ensuring that what you are doing IS the right thing is harder.

Hold on to your integrity and make an "integrity check" part of every decision you make. And before you get to the point of having to make that integrity based decision, get ALL information on the matter. Become smart enough on the topic to know what the "right" decision looks like - then check your gut and charge ahead!

Carry on!

If your boss demands loyalty, give him integrity.
If your boss demands integrity, give him loyalty.