Archive for Social Media

Goals: Making Them Stick

Stick ItFor the last few days (we’re on day 2 of 11) I’ve been serving as a Social Media Ambassador for Visit Baton Rouge and covering the Miss USA Pageant activities going on here in town; thus far it’s been a whirlwind of sequins, hairspray, high heels and photo ops.  Everything – I mean everything – is a photo op.

It’s a happy, cheery, candy-coated world of filtered loveliness – in a good way.  Everyone affiliated with the Miss Universe/Miss USA organization is smiling, friendly, pleasant, and seems genuinely excited to visit our lovely city.  It’s a bit of a change from the normal lot I hang out with (and love!) at HR and Recruiting events where there’s cynicism and sarcasm and the conversations are punctuated with world-weary sighs of jaded resignation.

Aye me.

These Miss USA contestants have their lifelong (for as long as lives are at ages 20 or 22 or 23) dreams on the line.  I’m sure that underneath much of the PR-smiley joy that is shared with the adoring public there are times when a gut wrenching stab of fear causes Miss Whoever to wake up at 2 AM in a cold sweat as she feels a twinge of anxiety about the whole deal.

As I’ve observed the poise and professionalism with which these contestants pose for pictures, converse with children and hug the old geezers men that inevitably want a hug I’ve wondered how they keep that energy on high.  After all, in their relatively short lives, they’ve done this stuff a million times; a lot of them began competing in Miss Teen USA pageants and have been parading around with sashes for years.  I would have grown tired of it long ago.

But you know what it comes down to?  Each of these contestants is very clear on her goal.  Before she signed up for this fishbowl life Miss Whoever knew it was all about being triumphant.  Wearing the crown. Getting to go on speaking tours with Donald Trump.   Being called Miss USA.  I’m sure she’s imagined herself, envisioned herself, gliding triumphantly down the runway over and over and over.

I can guarantee you that everything Miss Whoever has done over the last 5 or more years has been with a determined focus on achieving her goal.

That goal became sticky.

So Miss Whoever will persevere, eye on the prize, until the last musical note is played on June 8th.  Whether she rides on out with the crown on her head or heads out of town after being relegated to “not the Top 5” she will have given it her all.

No messy residue left behind. But sticky nonetheless.

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Behind the Scenes fun:  this picture of Super Stick It! was taken in the wardrobe/make-up room at the contestant’s hotel. This, my friends, is apparently the magical elixir that makes sure a bosom doesn’t pop out of an evening gown and alleviates that pesky problem of one’s swim suit riding up into one’s lady bits.

“Stick It! is the entertainment industry’s double-stick tape that can be applied apparel-to-apparel or apparel-to-body. It is hypoallergenic and resistant to heat and moisture. Its unique flexible soft material design is almost undetectable and comfortable to wear. Stick It! stays put, yet is gentle enough to use on fine fabric. It leaves no messy residue behind.”

Beauty Queens on the Bayou – #MissUSA #goBR

site_promo1398180413LivefromBatonRouge2As a child (ages 6 through 10) there were two things I always role-played in the comfort of my home – Office and Beauty Pageant.

When playing Office I would move a dining room chair into the living room and place a TV tray in front of it. On the TV tray I placed (neatly!) a pad of paper, multiple pens and pencils, a stapler and/or tape dispenser, and my Fisher Price telephone.  I slipped on a jacket from one of my mother’s suits, clipped on a pair of her earrings, and spent glorious hours being super efficient while taking (imaginary) phone calls, writing (imaginary) work orders and ordering (imaginary) minions about to do my business.

Beauty Pageant was my go-to-role-play when I was freshly scrubbed and released from my mother’s tyranny of the bathtub.  Feeling super chic in my long flannel nightgown, accessorized with my bathrobe artfully flung about my shoulders and a pair of my mother’s peep toe high heels, I prepared for my crowning. I lined up my dolls on the sofa, grabbed a bouquet of artificial flowers to hold in my arms, and, suitably attired, made a grand entrance into the living room.  I humbly acknowledged the (imaginary) thunderous applause as I sobbed uncontrollably and blew kisses to the (imaginary) adoring throngs.

The Beauty Pageant dream died out l-o-n-g ago. Playing Office however, came in handy when I decided to spend 25 years working in Human Resources.  After all, starting at age 6 I wrote memos that no one read, had phone conversations where no one listened, and assumed that ordering people around signaled my authority and influence……….

But you know what guys and gals?

For the next 11 days I get to play Beauty Pageant!!!

OK – I don’t think it’s called a Beauty Pageant anymore; the correct terminology appears to be competition.  And while, obviously, the women who compete are physically lovely the various systems/organizations that run these events have worked pretty hard to make sure the programs also highlight talent and scholarship and accomplishments – stuff that goes well beyond great hair, long legs and super white teeth.

Although I doubt I will get to try on the crown or anything, I will be front and center to the hubbub as an official Social Media Ambassador for the #MissUSA 2014 pageant working in conjunction with Visit Baton Rouge and the Baton Rouge Social Media Association.   This, I have to tell y’all, is quite thrilling.

Naturally, while circling in the orbit of these 51 impossibly beautiful and accomplished contestants, I’m sure I will feel incredibly dowdy and frumpy. I’m already imagining that I will overhear Miss Idaho quiz Miss Wisconsin with a whispered “Who is that woman in the sensible shoes with the Coach bag?  She looks like an HR lady.”

For you however, my dear and loyal HR Schoolhouse readers, I shall persevere.  I shall tweet and Instagram and blog and snap pictures of Nene Leakes (!!!) and Larry Fitzgerald. I shall, if allowed, provide coverage of every flute player, baton twirler and opera singer I can find. My intent is to explore and assess the HR/work/talent related dynamics of the whole event and organization which I find incredibly mysterious and fascinating. I’m willing to bet that I can find a whole new spin on ‘authenticity’ and ‘brand’ in the pageant world.  Just a guess.

I also intend to give you a glimpse of the cool things that are going on here in Baton Rouge. So be warned – if you are following me on the twitterz you will see all sorts of stuff with the hashtags #MissUSA #goBR and #krewedecrown.  Roll with me.

Plus, even though I totally do not meet any of the qualifying criteria anymore, I might still get the inside scoop on becoming the next Miss USA!

Not sure though if my flannel nightgown would still be suitable for pageant competition.

HR Juju

buster-500To the casual reader perusing through some recent posts it might appear that I poke at my fellow HR colleagues with the same level of unbridled delight with which a 6 year old pokes a stick at an anthill.  Over the past week a few readers have called me to task for denigrating the entire HR profession. One reader, bless his heart, even told me to “kiss his HR a**”

I like when people are passionate about something near and dear, which, in this case, is working as a human resources professional.

Look – I love HR; if I didn’t I surely wouldn’t have spent the last 25 years working as an HR practitioner and leader.  If I thought we were a lost cause I would not be an active member of SHRM and a long-time volunteer leader with my local SHRM chapter, my SHRM state council and my state’s Annual SHRM Conference.  If I didn’t care I would have packed it in by now and headed on down the road.

But it’s because I do care that I like to tweak noses, push buttons and point out areas where, in my estimation, we’re failing.  Like most people in HR I like to be firm when needed. That’s an HR skill, right?

Sometimes the tough conversations happen when there are subjects we just don’t want to discuss. We get uncomfortable and defensive whenever a sacred cow is tipped or a long held assumption is challenged. I would hope when prodded that my fellow HR professionals would get to thinking about new ways of viewing things, but sometimes all they get to thinking about is how much they dislike “self-absorbed, stereotyping jerks.” (Yup.  Same guy).

Lots of HR people do awesome stuff in anonymity.  Quite often there is no one, save the employee who received assistance, who knows how hard an HR professional has toiled to get something done.  No one knows about the senior leader who had his rear-end saved because the head of HR talked him out of doing something stupid.  We need to celebrate these successes with each other because no one else will raise the flag on our behalf.

So please, I implore you, go out and thank an HR lady today.

I need to reverse the bad juju of the visits from unhappy readers.

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image via the roller girl.ca skateshop 

A Tale of Two Recruiters: Social Be Damned

deskLet’s imagine, shall we, that there’s no LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or any number of other social technologies and channels upon which one can rely as a recruiter. Let’s take the old-fashioned print publications out of the mix since as we all know no one reads newspapers anymore.  You can still access job boards and your own website where you can write bullet pointed job postings to your heart’s content.

Throughout this experiment your focus as a recruiter remains the same: finding and identifying candidates for open positions, building rapport, discerning their abilities and fit, presenting them to hiring managers and ideally getting a successful hire or placement.  Next step, of course, is to further engage with this newly hired candidate by tapping into their network and getting referrals for more successful hires.  And, of course, if you’re hanging on the agency side you need to get the ever-elusive hiring managers, HR leaders and decision makers to place the necessary requisitions into your hands.

You have no shortcuts and no social sites.  You can’t go mobile and you’re not allowed to use job distribution technology; the branding and marketing you do is in your hands.  You have a telephone, an email account, your connections (whatever that may mean), and an awareness of what’s going on in your market and/or your niche.

Can you still do it?  Would you still want to do it?

Is it 1993 or what?

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Over the last few months I’ve had coffee, lunch and cocktails with a number of local recruiters to get an idea of what they’re working on and how they’re approaching some changes happening in our market.  I’ve chatted with corporate recruiters, 3rd party recruiters, and staffing (contract) agency folks.  I’ve had these conversations with people who are relative newcomers and some who are jaded, world-weary, and remember dialing for dollars on a rotary phone.

So on to the tale…

Recruiter Number One (in-house) spends 2 – 3 evenings per week attending industry gatherings, professional networking events and mixing and mingling with his targeted candidates  – or those who know them.  Oh sure – he rocks social, can run a mean x-ray search, and wields his LinkedIn cred with finesse BUT he knows that a LinkedIn InMail or a bunch of automated tweets is not “social” recruiting.  He knows his success in the job also requires some traditional old-skool kind of social.   Would he rather, on some occasions, head home at 6 PM instead of spending an hour or two schmoozing over watered down cocktails and seafood puffs?  Sure.  But it comes with the territory and he knows it.

Recruiter Number Two (agency) recently told the agency owner  “no thanks; there’s no need for you to pay for me to join the Robotic CoffeeMaker Professional Association even though that’s my target market.  They hold all their events after work and when I’m done for the day I just want to go home.”   This woman apparently does some things right or I would assume she would be long gone but is she serious with this attitude?  Perhaps she’s the queen of the ATS or is able to close candidates when it’s down to the wire but this just stupefies me; she’s apparently under the mistaken belief that job orders will magically appear on her desk and that candidates, when needed, will materialize out of thin air.

So who, I ask, wants to do their job? Who understands that social behavior has nothing to do with tools and apps and technologies and everything to do with building relationships and connecting with people?

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Sure I’m picking on a recruiter here because that’s who shared the story.  But you could replace that job title in the above with Purchasing Supervisor or Database Administrator or Human Resources Manager or Widget Maker.  I continue to be amazed at the number of individuals who decline to take advantage of the opportunities – or shall we say the necessities – to do their work to the fullest.

Some may argue that if Recruiter #2 is getting the basics done and apparently the owner is OK with her performance why shouldn’t she want to live her life and get home?  She’s not letting her work define her – she’s more than her job!  Work – flex – balance.

Interesting twist to this is that Recruiter #2, after informing the agency owner that she won’t be going to any networking events or joining a professional organization, followed up with a request for a promotion.  And I’ve heard similar comments made by IT professionals and HR Generalists who have then gone on to lament the fact that their ‘career’ is stalled.

Yeah.

Look – I could care less if you’re tweeting like a boss or running a LinkedIn group.  Deftly managing your CRM is all well and good. But there are some fundamental social behaviors and duties in any job that are the same in 2013 as they were in 1993.

Social.  Be damned?