Sunday, December 17, 2006

A little humor goes a long way these days

Just in time for the holiday rush, some kindly (and clearly good humored) HR person passed this clip along to me. She didn't warn me that I should be mindful of who might be within earshot when I played it..... too late!

While I could just use this little post to kick my profession in the shins (again!), I have chosen to use it as an illustrative point for the budding egotists in our midst. The lesson is that being able to poke fun at yourself or your profession is actually a pretty healthy thing. Self-deprecation can be a pretty disarming skill and can help you take away some of the tension between you and those on the other side of the table. I'm not suggesting you eviscerate yourself or profession as a habit, but you should consider the "lighter" side of just who you are and what you do.

Just as the triumphant Roman Generals did, we all need someone to constantly remind us who we are - "Remember, thou art mortal".....


Take a long and merciless look into the mirror (figuratively at least) and see if there are any opportunities to bring to light some of the "areas of opportunity" or chinks in your armor - professionally or personally. Consider if those things can be more than a weakness by acknowledging and owning them through a healthy sense of humor... and hold others to same standard - who knows - we might just realize that we are all indeed quite mortal after all.


Sunday, December 03, 2006

Employee Blogs - As dangerous as you let them be

This post focuses on two things I have ranted about before - Employee Blogs and The Karma principal in HR and Management - If you treat people well, you have a much lower chance of being hung in blog-effigy or being a poster child on F*%^ed Company or Internal Memos.

My company has taken a pretty enlightened approach to blogs and we are pretty proud of this position. We believe that our people are experts and professionals. Since it is bad form to hide your light under a basket, we feel it perfectly appropriate for our folks to blog - many of them do. Some do it like I do - to vent and educate on matters from managing people to managing your scrabble club. Both are legit uses of blogs, but when you are fortunate enough to have folks in your company who are smart and passionate enough about what they do at work to blog about it, you are entering sacred ground!

I am amazed by the technical prowess and passion of a number of my co-workers. I point out two of theme here because they have taken their passion far beyond that of mortal bloggers - they have blown it out to the point where the line between the blogosphere and the real world gets a little blurry.

Daniella Barbosa and Glenn Fannick are great examples of what can happen when bright, passionate people get behind a cause that is along the lines of helping your company or industry. Hats off to them for being shining examples of how to make this blog thing work.... but there is a darker side- what happens when employee blogs are your enemy. It can and does happen.

Once upon a time in a hypothetical company, an employee who was struggling to keep up with her work was terminated. She felt she had done nothing to deserve termination, but her boss felt there was enough grounds to end this unsuccessful and draining relationship. The HR weasels concurred, and off the employee went - banished to bogey-land! Did employee get the feedback and counsel she needed along the way to know she had skated onto career "thin ice" ? Maybe not. Was her termination handled in a clear, fair and compassionate way so she had no doubt about why her performance was the reason for the termination? Maybe not. Was she left to devise her own truth about what went on? You betcha!

Well, it turns out that the now former employee was a blogger. She, being so betrayed, decided to tell the world about her plight. "I was wronged by them" she ranted. "They fired me without cause and gave me no chance to succeed", "They conspired against me and beset me with evil spells and incantations which turned me in to newt.... I got better.....". Wow - sound familiar? I will bet this sort of thing has happened to most of us at some point, but till now it was just a tongue-lashing at the watercooler of her new office. With the advent of "social media", it becomes fodder for the whole world to chew on, and it can have a worse impact on revenue than a faulty product or a larcenous CEO!

Now I am not saying that this would NOT happen if you managed performance and terminated the person flawlessly (is there such a thing?). She might still blog badly about you, but it is far less likely for someone to toss a blog-grenade at you if you have dealt with them fairly and compassionately. Heck, if you take good care of them, give them feedback and help them grow professionally by giving them the responsibility of challenging assignments and opportunities to strut their stuff, you just might find you have a Daniella or Glenn working for you.

Start the conversation with your management about a blogging policy and the tack you will take with employee blogs. Consider the great exposure you can get by allowing your best and brightest to be featured in a product or industry focused blog - imagine the boost to your company's image and the pride, development and stature they might gain from the experience.

Then set up a way to track what is being said about your company on blogs. You can invest in some very cool tools like the one's my company, Factiva does, or you can just set up a Google Alert that searches for mention of your company name in blogs - WARNING - if your company name is as common in the press as the word "dude" on a California beach, you better study up on constructing custom search terms!


More weapons in the Guerilla HR War!

I have to admit that sometimes I feel like I am all alone in this little quest of mine against bad management. That was till this week. In my usual meanderings through blogville, I stumbled across a blog name that caught my eye - the Evil HR Lady blog. Like a gawker drawn to a train wreck, I could not help but investigate.

This is another great addition to your toolbox, o' weary warrior! The Evil HR Lady dispenses her wisdom through a simple Q&A style. Go ahead - ask her anything! She's ready. I highly recommend her blog for Managers, Line Troops and even the novice HR trolls among you. My hat is off to you Evil HR Lady - your advice to staff and managers does a lot to prevent and quell the firestorms that follow bad decisions - every solid answer you give is another potentially another lawsuit saved.

Another interesting HR blog is HR Lori. This blog is written by a plucky and very down to earth HR person in California and she gets on some pretty good rants about trying to manage HR in the "People's Republic of California" which has more HR related legislation than any American state should be allowed - Shame on you Arnold!

Lori's radar picks up all the down to earth matters that trip up HR, Managers and business in general in a way that even a newbie Manager or HR troll can understand. Rock on Lori!

One last blog of note in this post is Jay Shepard's "Gruntled" Employees blog. I just love the title as it answers the age-old question... if folks you mistreat can be dis gruntled than the folks who don't want to see your skull on a pike must be gruntled??!! This is an excellent blog - a two cup of coffee minimum read though, as Jay has a sharp, sometimes dry sense of humor.
Don't let the fact that Jay is a Lawyer scare you (- they cant ALL be bad, can they?). This one is a MUST READ for all you HR munchkins in the crowd.... even you out of touch HR VPs might want to have a read. Jay, we simply have to meet some day.... the stories we could share.....oh my!!

I've just given you a resource to use, no matter what your role or level. Best informed = best armed, so take up the weapon of intelligence and get out there! Fight the morons with FACTS and you cant be wrong.