Archive for Robin Schooling

Why Your HR Lady Likes to Tell You “No”

1950s_family_lifeThere’s an interesting dynamic often at play in the workplace when the CEO/Owner/Company President serves as an ersatz father figure while the beleaguered HR lady is assigned the role of substitute mother. (And yes; I realize I am assigning genders of male and female based along stereotypical lines but since the human resources profession hovers around 70% female, for purposes of this narrative that’s what we’re going to work with here).

While Dad fulfills his often-absent but always-looming role as patriarch to a motley assemblage of children (the employees), Mom is left to perform the day-to-day care taking duties. It’s a 1950’s sitcom wherein she wears sensible pearls and high heels while vacuuming, wipes a stray tear here and there, and serves as the nurturer when little Johnny comes home after escaping a schoolyard taunting. But it’s only when Dad arrives home from the office at the end of his busy day that true wisdom can be imparted and the final lessons dispensed. After slipping off his suit jacket and inserting his feet into soft velvety slippers (monogrammed of course), Dad sits little Johnny down (along with big brother Bobby and middle child Susie) and shares today’s important life lesson; how to deal with schoolyard bullies. Perhaps the lesson covers why it’s important to work hard and save one’s own money to purchase a new bike. Dad likes to cover the sorts of topics that led the children of the post-WWII generation to write songs like “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

“Your Mother wants what’s best for you,” Dad is fond of explaining in these fireside chats. “Sometimes she has to tell you “No” so you’ll learn what it’s like to sacrifice, work hard, and earn what you deserve.”

Numerous parents have operated by these instructional principles for decades. And your mom, like mothers everywhere, operates from a place of love where she does things with your best interests in mind.

Your HR Lady/HRMom often thinks the same way.

After all, your HRMom has historically been charged with watching out for your well-being and making sure you’re taken care of from cradle to grave (health care benefit enrollments to retirement plan meetings). She has, unfortunately, been charged with crafting the dress code policy, laying out the rules of behavior and etiquette, monitoring the break room refrigerator, and having conversations with you about hygiene and bathroom habits. In HRMom’s world, Joe in Purchasing might as well be a disgusting teen-age boy the way he clips his toenails at his desk!

As a new parent, she starts off with the best of intentions and tells her friends she needs to “cover up the outlets so the baby can’t stick her fingers in them.”

Before you know it though, HRMom is reminding her children to “Put on a sweater before you go outside because I’m cold” and “We’re going to your Aunt Helen’s so you most assuredly cannot wear jeans!”

“You think it’s not fair? Life isn’t fair” she likes to say. “What part of NO don’t you understand?” she’ll ask when you attempt to argue a point.

When HRMom says “I’m not asking you. I’m telling you” she’s letting you know that you best comply with the antiquated rule/policy/edict she is quoting.

Her coup de grace, as it is for mothers everywhere, is merely to expertly arch an eyebrow and inform you “Because I said so, that’s why!”

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When real mom, living in the pre 2nd-wave feminist world, said “Just wait until your father gets home” she was deferring decision-making authority – and moxie – to the headship.

When HRMom says the same thing it feels a bit like she’s abdicating ownership. Doesn’t it? But perhaps saying “No” is the only way she can retain some sense of control. Power in a powerless world.

Unlike mom-at-home who offers you homemade oatmeal cookies fresh from the oven to demonstrate her love and care, HRMom can float through her day in a somnambulistic state; proffering words of wisdom and platitudes designed to keep you in line; semi-cocooned in blissful tranquility designed to ensure you toe-the-line and don’t drift off into teenage delinquency.

And then your HRmom reads an article like this – telling her that an entire new job category is being/has been created for “Employee Happiness Manager” and “Aim-to-Please Specialists.” HRMom reads this:

“ Nuha Masri, 25, says she can’t imagine working at a company without generous perks. They impressed her at Google, which also offers “nap pods,” and then became “so mundane, you just expect them,” she says.”

So you, figuring that HRMom wants you to be happy while simultaneously forgetting that she has already told you her job is not to ensure your happiness, ask for a change to the cafeteria offerings. Or suggest casual days all week long. Or inquire about adding a “bring your pet to work day.”

And you know what your HRmom – and Dad for that matter – is going to say to that, don’t you?

“I don’t care if Billy’s mom let him do it. If Billy’s mom let him jump off the bridge would you want me to let you do that too?”

In other words…no.

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this post was originally published on LinkedIn

Join Us for #truBatonRouge

truUNCONFERENCE300x300We’re holding an event in Baton Rouge on January 29th and I hope you’ll join us as we explore topics related to talent, recruiting, HR, culture and technology. This free event, planned by the community for the benefit of the community, is for YOU! Join us if you’re interested in meeting and connecting in order to share, learn, build relationships, and have conversations.

#truBatonRouge is an unconference and there will be no speakers, no presentations, no pitches, no name tags and no podiums. We won’t be there to collect HRCI recertification credits (because there will be none) and we won’t sit quietly in orderly rows dutifully taking notes.

Rather we’ll have track leaders who will start a conversation around a topic in order to drive an interactive and engaged conversation. While track leaders will have the ability to decide exactly what they want to talk about, we’ll focus on topics like sourcing strategies, hiring the right talent, building your recruiting capabilities, organizational culture, social recruiting and all manner of talent/people strategies. Whether you’re looking to apply some new techniques or share what you’ve done or are doing (big or small companies!) you’ll find the conversations happening at #truBatonRouge. Scheduled tracks thus far include:

  • The Internet IS your Friend: Tips from a Corporate Recruiter
  • Your Company Culture is Crap …. and You Know It
  • The Problem with ‘The Job Interview’

Each track leader (and you can be one! let me know if you’re interested!) leads a ‘track’ on their chosen topic and anyone can contribute, offer an opinion, tell a story or, if they wish – change the entire conversation all together. Track leaders moderate, facilitate and keep the conversation going – oftentimes by challenging the others with questions and ideas.

There have been 175 #tru events around the world since Bill Boorman founded #tru in 2010 and this is the second event to be held in Louisiana (we held #truNOLA in 2012). In the spirit of #trumunity this is a FREE event – planned for and available to ALL in the BR community!

We’ll be holding the event at Success Labs and I hope you’ll make plans to join us.

Contact me if you’re interested in leading a track – and register soon as we have a limited number of tickets available.

Note: #truDublin, organized by Ivan Stojanovic (@IrishRecruiter) and being held at the Guinness Storehouse, is happening on the same day as #truBatonRouge. We’ll be doing something fun with our friends in Ireland during #tru!

Work Factors and Retention Outcomes #EWS2014

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 5.50.56 PMI’ve been partnering with my friends at Spherion to share some information from their 2014 Emerging Workforce Study; see below for full disclosure details.

As 2014 draws to a close, HR professionals from hither and yon are pulling together end of the year reports and reviewing their dashboards to recap ‘the year that was.’ The historical data being reviewed covers the entire employee life cycle from number of hires to time-to-fill all the way to turnover and retention.

Beginning to end.

But the information that lies within and underneath the numbers is often never gathered. We don’t do a very good job of evaluating why our time-to-fill rate has moved from 39 days to 41 days. We also, sadly, don’t do a very good job of understanding the work factors that drive retention. We may toss up our hands in frustration when yet another key employee resigns, but are we asking “why do employees stay…and why do employees leave?”

And leave they do.

According to the 2014 Emerging Workforce Study findings, 25% of workers are likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months. Can you afford to lose 25% of your employees? Oh sure, maybe no one will mind if Bill in Sales hits the road (he’s kind of a jerk), but what about that new .NET Developer you hired? Or the Director of Marketing you successfully wooed away from a competitor? What if they leave?

We know it’s something we need to think about yet companies report they’ve only put in minimal effort to retain their workers. Or, perhaps, those efforts have been misguided and not in alignment with the work factors that matter to employees.

The #EWS2014 study finds that employers believe that the management climate (89%), an employee’s relationship with his or her supervisor (85%) and the culture and work environment (81%) are most important when retaining employees.

On the other hand, the work factors that matter most to employees include financial compensation (78%), benefits (76%) and growth and earnings potential (71%).

Why do employees stay…why do employees leave?

The big questions, am I right?

And the HR professional who can answer them for her organization will be a 2015 winner.

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Disclosure Language:

Spherion partnered with bloggers such as me for their Emerging Workforce Study program. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about any idea mentioned in these posts. Spherion believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Spherion’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

(Check out the full infographic for some interesting information.)

The One Where You Get to Drink

Zapoos HippoEarlier this week I had a phone/video call with a friend in Australia about all manner of things related to work, business, and HR. As the conversation progressed we entered the realm of HR/business cliches when we got to talking about Zappos. It’s a cliche of course, because ‘replicating’ the Zappos culture is the wet unrealistic dream of numerous HR ladies and misguided organizational leaders. Therefore, any time the name Zappos is uttered in reverential tones, we are to take a drink.

Try it. It’s fun.

In any event, the two of us got to chatting about Zappos since a few months ago, during some trips to Vegas, he and I both went on tours of the HQ. While we didn’t go at the same time, we did end up being there within weeks of each other.

Naturally, as a good HR lady I wanted to take the tour for a number of years. It finally came to pass when my friends at Kronos arranged a visit for bloggers, press and analysts during the recent Kronos Works conference which meant that one afternoon a group of 20 hopped on a charter bus and headed from the Strip to downtown Vegas.

I was prepared of course; I know a few people who work there and I also follow the various #insidezappos accounts. I’ve seen pictures and heard stories from friends and I’ve read my share of insider reports. Over the years I’ve rolled my eyes when numerous ‘motivational” speakers with zero exposure to the real-world-of-work have breathlessly exhorted HR audience members to “be like Zappos.” I enjoyed Tony Hsieh’s book, thought the whole holacracy movement was crap, and applauded the recruiting team for eliminating job postings.

So…I was prepared for the tour. But still, let me tell you, I walked out of there in some serious fan girl mode. (Note – per a Zappos Sr. HR Manager I spoke with, there have been approximately 20,000 people who have gone on the tour in 2014).

Of course this went well beyond the putting green, hammocks, and free food. While I gasped and gaggled at the executive’s cubicles (cheek to jowl with their team members) and the throne in the room of the “coach” who is available to meet with any/all employees, there was way more to it than the sights, sounds and colors.

Because those sorts of ‘things’ – those perks, activities, and behaviors  – are all just outward manifestation of what’s underneath. And what’s underneath is solid, real and not manufactured.

It’s certainly not an environment for everyone. When I posted this photo of the HR Department there were friends and colleagues on my SM channels who didn’t believe that THIS was HR; after all, if you’re used to working in an insurance company or financial institution where the HR team attempts to set themselves above everyone else (“we have to be impartial!”) you’re probably not going to be comfortable sitting in an open, industrial environment with an electric fireplace and a ball pit (a la your neighborhood Chuck E. Cheese restaurant) situated underneath the Open Enrollment informational poster wall.

Zappos HR Dept

So yeah; I dug it. A lot.

Prosit!