By Ron | December 10, 2011
Things have changed. Get in my time machine and I will take you back to the mid 1960′s. I’m the Personnel Manager working in my office on the Friday before the holidays. I have a big decision to make.
Should I stay in my office or go join my friends over in Production Control? Why is this a big decision, you ask? Well, the drinking always started early on the last day at work before Christmas. To make matters worse, this was an explosive ordnance plant and people were still kind of working. Although the temptation was strong to go imbibe on the job, I chose to wait at least until noon. The other problem facing all of us was that the official Christmas party (not “Holiday Party” as we call it now), started shortly after work.
Let me describe the Christmas Party to you – it was down at a local hall that had a bar the length of a football field and behind that bar were several bartenders who did nothing but push out the popular drinks of the day (screwdrivers, bourbon and seven, etc.) all night long. And, by the way, there was no dinner served, just horderves.
Well, you can guess what happened at these shindigs every year. Yep – fights, divorces, and a lot of what we call today – inappropriate behavior). I always got a lot of compliments the next week for organizing such a great party.
Yes, it was sure different then.
By Ron | October 22, 2011
I’m really tired of reading articles on how to manage and motivate the Gen Y employees, the Trophy Internet Generation, the Millenium generation, ad nauseum.
OK. I got it – us old dogs can’t use our old management skills to engage them. Maybe, just maybe they need to engage us. Maybe they just need to grow-up.
As Larry Winget says, “There is a reason they call it work; because it is.
By Ron | October 9, 2011
Headline in an HR magazine; “More CFO’s Landing In HR Territory.” In this recession, I am sure they are, especially in smaller companies. We find out what the CEO really thinks of the HR function when there is a downturn. During the good times, the chief executive can give lip service regarding her/his support of HR, but we can see what happens when the rubber meets the road.
So, what’s wrong with the HR function reporting to the CFO? Isn’t that a logical parking spot until the economy turns around?
Frankly, I’ve thought for a long time that the benefits piece could easily fit with the accounting group since, it’s a no-win proposition (especially with medical insurance hikes every year). Let Finance take the heat.
But, other than that, the Chief Financial Officer has a different mission than that of the HR Director. In many cases they can be in opposition. It is just not a good fit. Whoever is left in HR after a reduction in force should report to the CEO in my book.
Most Non-HR people still believe that the Human Resource function is just more overhead which can be absorbed anywhere.
By Ron | October 2, 2011
I don’t know about you, but I keep getting ads for webinars and seminars regarding how I’ve got to get savvy on all of the new regulations on the Fair Labor Standards Act, the ADA, and all of the other HR related alphabet soup. Its creeping me out.
I know that we always had to be concerned about the legal aspects our profession, but this new push is crowding out the fun part of Human Resources. I’m even trying to remember what the fun part is.
Maybe there is not a fun part anymore unless you are an attorney. If you are considering a career in this field, I recommend that you enroll in law school.
By Ron | September 25, 2011
I’ve a new friend. His name is Donald Huntington and he wrote a great book, “How to Put Your Whole Self In. In the book, he provides 101 instructions for “becoming good for yourself, good for others and good for heaven’s sake. Each one of these gems is worth a book in themselves.
Instruction number 4 is “Leave Errors Alone.” For years, I have personally struggled with self-improvement. Don recommends that we should let go of that struggle.
In the work world, I’ve preached for a long time to “fail-forward;” that is, learn from the mistake and move on. When IBM started out, a new engineer made a mistake that costs the fledgling company $40,000, a tidy sum in the day. When the engineer was called in to Tom’s office, he thought he was being fired and Tom told him, “Heck no, I’ve got forty grand invested in you; now go fix the problem!”
I still believe in continuous improvement, but I refuse to beat myself for my mistakes as long as I learn from them.
By Ron | September 18, 2011
There is a company that pays for housecleaning services as a fringe benefit. Amongst other perks offered by companies now includes pet insurance. Does Human Resources ever learn?
The axiom regarding employee benefits is: Once you grant a perk, you can never take it away. Well, you can take it away if you are prepared for the flack you will get when you do it. I remember a company who used to give away turkeys at Thanksgiving. When the organization fell on hard times, they had to discontinue this practice. Twelve years later, the employees were still complaining every November.
I also wonder how many of these companies who are providing these creative benefits are paying the full boat for medical insurance. If not, I’d take paid insurance over housecleaning any day.
By Ron | September 4, 2011
Want to get sued? Create and issue an Employee Handbook. So many of the employees who were terminated told me that we could not discharge them because of what the employee handbook stated. Guess what? We didn’t have one.
How could that be? Well, many people just assume the company has a handbook. Instead of it being a helpful guide for them to assimilate into the organization, they think of it as their personal bill of rights that protects them against perceived wrongs waiting to be leashed upon them by you.
I was involved in a wrongful termination suit where the defence attorney blew up a page from the employee handbook to use against us. We won, no thanks to the handbook.
Remember, if you do create an employee handbook, your attorney will load it up with so much legaleze, it will lose the warmth you wanted to project and almost be unreadable because of the jargon.
Employee handbooks are the traps we set-up for ourselves to step in.
By Ron | August 28, 2011
Some time ago I wrote a little book entitled, “The Way” to help HR people learn on how to become more mainstream (let me know if you would like a copy by providing me with your email address). I personally got tired of being thought of as a “necessary evil” by those employees who were more directly involved with the company’s products or services. Some of them did not even think of HR as necessary, evil or not.
In the same vein, Steve Myer tells us how to talk to executives, specifically the CEO:
“Frame your message in terms of how it wil reduce risk, improve the bottom line or affect the organization’s future”
“Remember the CEO’s main interest is optimizing the business’s resources, and your proposal should show him/her how HR can help meet that goal.”
“Speak the language of the CEO, appropriately using appropriate terms like ROI, operating profit, operating expenses, cash flow, and the like.”
Amen, Steve. Drop the Human Resource jargon and talk like a business person. Oh, yeah!
By Ron | August 21, 2011
OMG, is this the worst time to be in Human Resources, or what? Downsizing, right-sizing, zero budget for training, and now we have the feds aiming their guns at us. Yes, the High Sheriff has us in his sights. Just listen to what David Michaels, the chief of OSHA said, “Under this administration, we are a regulatory and enforcement agency and we’re going to act like it.” The head of the EEOC recently said, “We’re shifting our focus to the enforcement side.”
So, at a time when the government is supposedly trying to generate jobs, we who are the job generators, are under attack. I’ve been under attack before. Auditors from the aforementioned agencies can tie you up for days. I once had an auditor stay with me for two weeks arguing with me about trivial details on the format of my Affirmative Action Plan.
When I was that naive lad in college signing up for HR classes, I didn’t picture this as part of my job. I’m sure that we all had similar dreams – helping companies grow through our assistance from the human-side. Forget it. We now have to worry about the Department of Labor’s 100′s of newly hired investigators coming after us for alleged “wage theft” (FLSA classifications, overtime, etc.). Just remember, when your receptionist buzzes you and tells you that a government auditor is in the lobby – he or she is not there to help you.
By Ron | August 14, 2011
I haven’t seen the movie, “Horrible Bosses.” I would like to, but I won’t watch these gross-out comedies even if I think the plots may be funny. In this case the subject matter may be too close to home. Many companies during these hard times allow horrible bosses to operate since employees are just glad to have their jobs.
Horrible bosses make for horrible companies. You’ve worked for a horrible boss before and so have I. They make your life miserable and miserable employees pass it on to other employees and, eventually, the customers. You’ve heard me say it before – You should treat your employees like you treat your best customers.
It is also unfortunate that during recessions, we layoff our management training staff and cut our budgets for leadership seminars just when we need it the most.
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