Thursday, April 19, 2018

Under-promise and over-deliver....

I’ve got a client who learned that nothing comes easy. They needed a new HR and Payroll system and contacted several vendors: some were private label brands you buy, others were outsourced solutions. We’d talked a lot about my paperless HR projects and they were curious and inquisitive enough to ask about and then figure out exactly what they wanted. They put together a scope document that detailed what they expected and received responses from sales people who assured them it was all doable. I’ve been to this movie enough times to know how it ends so I cautioned them to beware of those who overpromise and under-deliver. When they selected a vendor, they didn’t just go through the motions - they dove into the details, asked tough questions, required live demonstrations, and refused to take “no” or “sorry” for an answer. If your job requires you to make decisions, know exactly what you need and don’t accept anything less: in the end it’s your money and reputation. Get involved in understanding the details today.

Tom Robbins (born 1936): Novelist, Short Story Writer, and Essayist

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Help yourself....

I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately; but today’s a brand-new day: time to get back to focusing on stuff that matters. Like eating better: I know friends who keep cut fruits and veggies in the fridge for when they want a snack; those are healthier choices. Like exercising more: aches and pains have kept me from walking and stretching – maybe I’ve just got to start walking and stretching more to get rid of those aches and pains. Like getting back to other things I should be doing – like playing golf and making music, things that get me up and out of the house or myself.  But there’s nobody going to do this for me: because if I don’t, nothing is going to get better…. it’s not. Hey: if I can do it, so can you. Say good bye blues, hello world today.

Theodor Seuss Geisel (1904 – 1991): American author, political cartoonist, poet, animator, book publisher, and artist, best known under the pen name Dr. Seuss

Understanding where you are helps determine where you go next....

couple times a year people ask me to audit their HR practices: I don’t look to see if their files are kept correctly as much as whether they’re doing the right things to keep employees motivated and engaged. I usually start with the employee handbook, looking to see if the first thing they put in there is about their culture or their employment at will doctrine: the first suggests they care, the second says it’s more about the bottom line. Then I look at turnover: how much and whether it’s voluntary or involuntary; employees vote with their feet and this is as good an indicator of the health of an organization as any well-crafted employee survey. And lastly, I check on their internal communications: how much energy and creativity they put into making sure employees are in the know. These are as telling as the lie of a golf ball because it matters less how it got there and more what happens next.  It’s the same with determining how to approach life’s challenges today.

Henry Grantland Rice (1880 - 1954): Early 20th-century American sportswriter who was published in newspapers around the country and broadcast on the radio.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Live your life fully....

had dinner last night with long-ago neighbors who grew up around the corner from me as a kid.  Some of them I’ve kept in contact with, others I hadn’t seen in 60 years. Within minutes it was like the years merged as we talked about where we’d been and what we’d done; we talked about stuff and people from back then and since then, and all to soon it was time to say goodnight. Driving home I thought about all the people that have shaped my life: parents, siblings, my own family, extended family, professional and work colleagues, acquaintances, and so many others who’ve come and mostly gone.  But it’s those who’ve remained, both close and on the periphery that I thought about: those are friendships that only get better with the passage of time and, like good wine, are to be forever savored. While the internet gives us access to them like never before, there really is no substitution to walking and talking, and sharing a glass of wine and dinner, with ‘old’ friends: that’s the real trick to living.  Do what it takes to stay connected to them today.

Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith (1905 – 1982): American sportswriter and Pulitzer Prize winner. 

Friday, April 13, 2018

Say what you mean and mean what you say....

I’ve long held the notion that businesses are a lot like families – the managers are like the parents and the employees are like the children. I’m not suggesting that employees are or act like children, but sometimes they can be very similar in nature and outlook. All the more reason for supervisors to imitate some of the parental behaviors found in families: like caring for others while still having to enforce the rules, communicating clearly and timely, saying what they mean and meaning what they say, bringing people together regularly to make sure everything is okay, being mindful of relationships, and fostering trust and respect. Miscommunications are a problem everywhere, especially when people take hints that weren’t intended and miss some that were. That can cause families to break up and employees to leave their jobs, and both are equally disruptive.  Plan and communicate your intentions as if your job or success depend on them. Because they do.

Robert Frost (1874 – 1963): American poet, Pulitzer Prize Winner for Poetry, Congressional Gold Medal recipient, and poet laureate of Vermont. 

Think for yourself....

spent last week with a client who wanted to reengineer their performance management process.  Like most companies, they’ve always based evaluations on how well their people accomplished tasks – were they on time and within budget, did they meet expectations, and were they continuing on the right path. But they wondered whether these reviews should focus on outputs rather than inputs; they want their people to know whether they’ve been effective. So, they are beginning to ask questions like did they add value, what was the quality of their decisions, were their subordinates properly trained and motivated, and how have their innovations impacted the organization. Maybe the most interesting aspect of the week was watching them learn new things: we all need to fill our minds with all the fresh new things that are out there.  Nobody talks about the information super highway anymore, but it’s out there and full of interesting stuff you may want to learn more about and consider. Be comfortable with learning and growing today.

Lin-Manuel Miranda (b. 1980): American composer of Puerto Rican ancestry, lyricist, playwright, and actor

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Helping to find solutions is everyone's responsibility....

I’m late.  I’m usually good about getting these messages out early each day but this quote had me thinking more than most and the time got away from me. I ended up thinking about a nervous breakdown I had years ago that left me seriously depressed; before that I thought I knew about that stuff but after it happened I realized how little I understood about it or how many others suffered from it. I started talking about it with everyone I met and that’s when I realized those of us in that boat couldn’t bail water fast enough on our own to keep it and ourselves afloat. That’s when I really understood how much we need others to coach, counsel, mentor and lead us to find our way or learn to fly.  Listen and sense what’s really going on around you and look for opportunities to help. Turn ‘me’ into ‘we’ and learn how much change you can make happen today.  

June Jordan (1936 – 2002): Caribbean-American poet, essayist, teacher, and activist for issues of gender, race, immigration, and representation