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Whatever, Trisha!

October 13, 2009

Do you ever have those days where you think you’re doing everything right, but that is not someone else’s opinion?  I definitely have those days.  Lucky for me, I don’t have someone coming along behind me broadcasting every time I make a choice they would not have made. 

I started thinking about this when I saw a bit of the show ‘Whatever, Martha!’ the other night.  If you’re not familiar with the show, it’s on FineLiving Channel.  It is a show where the hosts, Alexis Stewart (daughter of Martha Stewart) and her friend Jennifer Koppelmann Hutt make fun of old Martha Stewart episodes.  They do it in a fun, light-hearted way though, so it really is an amusing show.  It’s also quite addicting. 

Thank goodness my daughter is too young to make fun of me yet.  I only wonder what she’d say.  Probably something like, “Oh my!  Can you believe my mom likes human resources this much?  Get a life Mom- no one cares” or “Look what my mom is wearing!  Can you believe she is the one who has to make sure employees are adhering to the dress code.  Get a style mom.” 

In the meantime, here’s a clip from Whatever, Martha! for you to enjoy.


A Day In The Life Of Lance Haun- Rehaul

October 12, 2009

As we head into the home stretch leading up to HRevolution, I’m continuing to highlight some of the HR bloggers we all know and love (or should know and love).  Today I am fortunate to be able to share an interview with one of my favorite bloggers.  He is someone I have looked to for HR guidance because of his approach to the profession.  He’s a great writer, a talented business man, and a good friend.

LanceLance Haun spent several years blogging as “” and just recently updated his blog.  You can find him now over at Rehaul.  He’s the VP of Outreach at Meritbuilder.  He’s also active in social media and you can follow him on twitter (@thelance) or on LinkedIn.  So, are you ready to learn more about our blogging friend from Portland?  Here’s Lance……

What time do you start your day?  Are you a morning person or more of a late-nighter?  I am a night person. It is just brutal when you live on the west coast and have people to meet with on the east coast in the morning. I used to be a morning person but that has long since gone.

It’s time to head to work, how do you get there (car, train, bike)?  I work from home most days or I’ll go to a Starbucks and pump out some work.  I have driven, biked and walked to work at previous jobs.

What is one thing you have to do every day to start your day right?  Get dressed. I know that seems funny but when you work from home, it isn’t a necessity. When I worked from home at a previous gig, I started off in pajamas but I just wasn’t in the state of mind. Not that I get very dressed up (for example, today I am wearing a rugby shirt, jeans and flip flops).

Where do you work?  How do you provide HR greatness there?  I work for MeritBuilder, a company that focuses in on employee engagement and recognition. I push other organizations to be great by recognizing their employees positive contributions to their business on a frequent basis.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing HR professionals in today’s market?  Relevance. I’ve talked with quite a few people and the gap between transformative HR practices that are relevant and the same old is becoming huge. Change is tough but it is the only way to become relevant. You don’t see too many marketing execs that are unfamiliar with new technologies yet you still see many in HR in the boat of not knowing what’s coming up.

Answer the question “If I hadn’t ended up in HR, I’d be ____________”.  At my dad’s meat shop or my wife’s winery. I love working with a product hands on and having a tangible result of that work. I wish my work had a more physical nature to it.

What is your favorite HR and non-HR reading?  I don’t know if this is strictly HR but “Good to Great” by Jim Collins is really fantastic. As for non-HR reading, I typically stay in non-fiction with books about history or travel. How old am I again?

What are your thoughts on how HR professionals should get involved in using technology?  It is easy to make excuses. I know non-degreed HR pros past retirement age that know as much as I do about the technology out there so it isn’t a question about age, education or any of that other crap. It is about desire. Do you want to be adopting technology at the same rate as others? If that’s a “Yes”, then go.

Afternoon slump?  What do you do to re-energize during the workday?  I go for a walk, bike ride or exercise mid day. Coffee can help too but exercise helps more.

It’s quitting time.  What is your life like after your day job?  If it is nice outside, we’ll usually go hang outdoors at the Oregon coast or in the mountains. When it becomes crappy though, going to Portland Trail Blazer games, finding new beer pubs and wineries is not a bad life.

Bonus Question:  What is the best piece of HR or business advice you’ve received?  Execute your business with integrity. That’s always the final check on any decision I make.

Thanks to Lance for the interview.  There are only a few more before we all meet up at HRevolution.  Stay tuned.

Top 10 Reasons To Attend HRevolution

October 11, 2009

Top 10With only three (yes, 3!) weeks until the HRevolution takes Louisville, KY by storm, I thought it would be fun to share the top ten reasons to attend.  They are:

10.  Because all the cool kids are doing it!

  9.  You can’t bear the thought of sitting through another boring traditional conference presentation.

  8.  You’ve never been to Louisville, KY- home of the Kentucky Derby, Maker’s Mark Distillery, and Louisville Slugger factory.

  7.  You’re tired of just reading blogs and want to start your own but don’t know how.

  6.  You’ want to get in on the live HR Happy Hour show.

  5.  You’ve clawed your way out of  “cubicle land” and want to talk about the future of HR.

  4.  You want to see Ben Eubanks of Upstart HR chug a whole  2 liter bottle of Diet Mountain Dew.

  3.  You’ve never had The Hot Brown and it’s high time you did!

  2.  Why not?  You don’t have anything else planned that weekend.

And the number one reason to attend HRevolution…..

  1.  You want to learn, share, collaborate, and network with the most innovative people in today’s HR community.  Seriously.

Please visit the HRevolution registration site to sign up today.  For more information on the un-conference, go to the HRevolution site.

See you in Louisville!!!!

A Pig In Lipstick? Let’s Focus On The Right Things

October 9, 2009

 Have you heard the quote “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.”  That was said by Barack Obama during his Presidential campaign.  I thought of that today when I read a story on MSNBC.

Did you know that Burger King is embarking on a ‘futuristic’ remodel of all its stores?  There was an article today on MSNBC that detailed the extent of the remodel and the cost.  The King plans to make owners spend an estimated $300,000 to $600,000 for each of the 12,000 outlets worldwide. “The sleek interior includes rotating red flame chandeliers, brilliant TV-screen menus and industrial-inspired corrugated metal and brick walls.”  The Chairman and CEO, John Chidsey, says, “It feels so much more like an upscale restaurant.”


I don’t know about you, but to me, Burger King is and always will be a fast-food restaurant.  No amount of cosmetic changes will convince me otherwise.  Besides, are they suddenly trying to go after a different market?  I’m not sure, but if the answer is no, then this expenditure does not make good sense to me. I think they need to analyze what they are trying to accomplish.  Is it to gain more of the existing fast-food market?  Then why not have owners invest in higher quality food, better customer service, or more convenient drive-through experience?

I see this happen every day in the business world, and in HR in particular.  How many times do companies have real issues that they ignore in favor of buying a flashy, shiny, “new” program or technology that really doesn’t get at improving the overall employee experience within the company?  All the time.

So, what are some steps you can take to keep the company, or the HR department, on track? 

  • Determine what the core business or service is, then put all your energy in doing that best
  • Look for opportunities to outsource  or redesign various processes within the organization or department
  • Determine your staffing methodology then stick to it
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate
  • Use an external vendor to help you survey and analyze the areas needing improvement and attention

The key is not forgetting what you are in business to do, what your company values are, and the core competencies needed to achieve the goals of the company.  If you take your eye off the ball for even a moment, you may lose sight of what it is that makes the company great.  Don’t worry about putting lipstick on a pig.  It’s still a pig.  And, don’t worry about only changing the “cosmetic” view of your company or department because it doesn’t change what is underneath.  If there are issues underneath, focus on changing them.  That’s the time when you can bring in technology or consultants to really help you address the issues.  The rest will take care of itself.

And by the way, regardless of how much money Burger King spends on the remodel, I’d still rather grab some White Castle hamburgers in a fast-food joint that has looked the same way for generations. Wouldn’t you?

What I’ve Been Up To- It’s All About Evolution

October 7, 2009

Like everyone else I know, I have quite a lot on my plate lately.  With that in mind, I thought I’d share what I’ve been up to.  Even though I didn’t plan it this way, it all revolves around the evolution of HR.

I had the opportunity to guest post yesterday for Halogen’s ‘Lighter Side of HR blog’.  My post, The Evolution of HR and Music, is the featured story for October.  I really love posting there because it gives me the freedom to explore human resources in a different, more whimsical way.  Check it out and we’d love your comments.

I was also privileged to be quoted in a post about ‘Evolutionary HR’ in HR Gumbo.  Stephen Geraghty-Harrison is the 2009 President of Big Bend SHRM and the founder/creator of HR Gumbo.  He wrote an excellent and timely post exploring the evolution of HR.  Be sure to check it out because he also spoke with China Gorman and Ben Eubanks.

Then, there’s the HRevolution.  We are closing in and officially one month away from the event.  Registration is picking up. Topics are posted.  Sponsors will be announced this week.  Are you signed up?  If not, reserve your spot soon.

I also have a couple other guest spots coming up soon, but more on that later….

Anything new and exciting with you?  Share it or promote it in the comment’s section.

Social Media Bridging the Age Gap: The Demise of Generational Differences

October 6, 2009

Newsflash:  There are generational differences in the workplace.  Have you heard about it? (I’m dripping with sarcasm here people)

There are articles, presentations, videos, reports, posts, podcasts,  and more.  You name it and it has been talked about, ad nauseam. Like many issues that come up in the HR world, we spend time talking endlessly about the problem but not enough time on the solution.  Generational differences in the workplace is no different.

There are labels and definitions for each generation.  Are you a Boomer?  Gen X?  Gen Y? We’re told how each generation feels and thinks and why they can’t relate to all the other generations.  But you know what?  At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. 


There have always been differences from generation to generation.  If we could spend as much time perfecting how individulas can work effectively together as we do on talking about how generations don’t, we’d have the most productive workforce ever.

So, how do we do that?  One thing that occurred to me recently was that when I meet people via social media outlets, I never even think about their age.  I have older friends, younger friends, and age is not an issue.  They are mostly HR professionals and I have had some great collaborating experiences with them and age has never come up.  If anything, any differences in our ages made our output better because we were incorporating many different viewpoints.

What do you think?  Does it matter to you?  Let’s get some comments going so we can start collaborating on how to get the message and a solution out to the masses.

HR Technology Conference- Closing Thoughts

October 5, 2009

Last Friday I was able to participate in the final day of the HR Technology Conference in Chicago.  I’ve shared some of my thoughts on the benefits of attending the conference from the perspective of networking and today I’d like to share some ideas about the sessions I was able to attend and some general thoughts on the conference:

The morning tweetup was well worth getting up early to attend.  The highlight was not only meeting Naomi Bloom , but actually having the opportunity to have an in-depth conversation with her.  She is the Managing Partner at Bloom & Wallace and a renowned thought leader in HR Technology and Talent Management.   Naomi not only shared her thoughts on what companies like Oracle will have to do in the near future to remain competitive, she talked about the talent management suites and challenges they face,  and the future of HR and how we can learn by looking back at how far we’ve come.  She also talked about HRevolution and what can be learned in that type of environment.  She was truly inspiring and although I thoroughly enjoyed her keynote closing, it was this intimate conversation that left me with the impression that I had just been given a wonderful gift by just listening to her and learning from her. 

Mike Krupa and I sat in on the “Metlife Tackles Workforce Analytics- Twice!”session.  Nick Schaffzin, who is part of HR Global Operations for MetLife, and Brian Kelly, President of Infohrm, were the speakers.  For me, Nick’s honesty about the process MetLife went through in order to provide reliable analytical data to human resources and line managers was very refreshing.  He shared that they initially implemented PeopleSoft but the complexity of the reporting made people reluctant to use it.  He then began working with Infohrm to simplify the tools that both HR, leadership, and other managers could use.  It was clear that this relationship was providing the service and the tools that MetLife had been looking for.

The system they put in place allows them to measure analytical data on many different criteria. What I found most interesting was that while the new tool provides very detailed reporting capabilities, at the end of the day only a small number of people are using those reports even though they have the capability to make the reports available to a much larger group of managers.  Nick said that they run the reports then move the data to excel so that the leadership can better understand the reports.  That’s when it hit me.  Even if human resource professionals are learning as much as they can about technological tools to help show ROI, manage the business, or attempt to break down the silos between departments like human resources and accounting/finance, it’s only going to work if everyone is trained. 

Without getting the buy in of leadership and making them understand the benefits of the technology, they will still need it reverted back to a simpler format.    Personally, I would rather push leaders to learn about the new technology and break out of their comfort zone.  Otherwise, I don’t see much point in spending the money on portals or dashboards to deliver data that no one wants.  It was a good session and certainly made the participants think.  For me, that is really why HR professionals would go to the conference. 

After talking with many of the conference attendees about the various vendors at the show, the commonality in our conversations was how much the vendors tended to look alike.  Especially in terms of the Shootout, I heard there was little difference in the tools and what they could do.  You can read more about the Shootout over at the HR Capitalist where Kris Dunn did a great job of giving all the details on the four vendors who were competing.

The one thing I didn’t hear about was the quality of delivery behind the various vendors.  I have recently looked at numerous vendors for a survey analytics tool.  Several were similar, several were far below par, and several did not give me confidence they could even deliver what I was looking for.  When the decision was made though, it all came down to the vendor’s ability to demonstrate a strong track record of delivery.  Many had a dashboard.  Many could do a survey and run reports.  Few seemed to be able to assure us that they could complete the project as it was needed. 

I hope to be able to attend the HR Technology Conference next year and that will be one thing I look for as I speak to the vendors.  How do you convince me not only what you can deliver, but what you WILL deliver?