listening to podcastsTransformational learning, or transformative learning, is focused in part on learning that drives us to do things. Today I’m going to talk about what listening to over 500 hours of podcast programs has done for my learning, but first I’d like to tell a quick story.

Back when I was in high school, I played football. I was one of the smallest defensive players but somehow managed to nab a slot on the front line as a defensive end. I don’t know about you, but being ~170 pounds and facing the midsection of a 325-pound offensive tackle after he has just pulverized you into the dirt for the fiftieth time in a row isn’t my idea of a good time.

Anyway, after the Friday night games I would drive to my girlfriend’s house and we’d watch movies and have dinner together until I had to get home for curfew.

One night I was pretty tired (probably from a hard night of playing crash test dummy for a handful of 325-pound linemen, but I digress), and I was switching the radio around to find a station that would help me to stay awake for the 20 minute drive home. I happened across what sounded like an old radio program, and I realized it was a Twilight Zone episode that had been recorded for radio listeners. I was instantly hooked.

From that point on, I would leave her house every Friday night in time to listen to the first of the episode in the car. When I got home, I would park the car, wait for a commercial break, run into the house, and turn on my radio in my bedroom to listen to the rest of the episode. It was a strange and wonderful ritual, and I can still remember listening intently to some of the stories in my dark room after midnight. Spooky, but fun.

Even then I knew that audio was a more intense experience for me. I’ve read hundreds of nonfiction books in my lifetime, and I think my imagination is better for that. But I also love the opportunity to listen to stories and learn in the audio format. When I’m listening to fiction it feeds that imaginative nature and builds creativity, and when I’m listening to informational/nonfiction work I get the chance to boost my performance in all areas of life without having to dedicate the time I would if I was exclusively reading for transformational learning and personal development.

500 hours of podcasts – check

I popped open Stitcher, my favorite podcasting app, the other day and was surprised to see my “total hours of listening” number had reached 500.

In the big picture, 500 hours isn’t too much of my life. But to put it in perspective:

  • I used to count ~2000 hours as the workload for a full time staffer for one year. So if I was employed to listen to podcasts, it would be a full time job for three whole months.
  • If I follow the principles in The First 20 Hours, I could learn 25 new skills with that time.
  • If the average TV show is ~40 minutes without commercials, I could have watched about 750 shows.

Now, I know that 500 hour figure is scattered over the past two or three years that I have been using the Stitcher app on my Android, but I’m amazed at it nonetheless. In case it’s not apparent, I very much enjoy listening to audio.

But this isn’t just about my preferences. I think you would enjoy it, too. In the rest of this article I’m going to talk about what I listen to, why, how, and when/where. I hope this helps you to get a better understanding and maybe even drives you to check out some of the options out there.

Podcasts I listen to

I listen to a variety of podcasts and am always searching for more to add. I don’t do profanity, but otherwise I’m open to checking out pretty much anything.

  • HR Happy Hour–a show that lasts less than an hour, but is packed with fun conversation, interesting people, and trends affecting the world of HR.
  • Smart Passive Income–this show features great topics surrounding the world of internet marketing and has helped me with this site as well as with HRevolution.
  • 48 Days to the Work You Love–I have listened to Dan Miller on this podcast for over 8 years now. I can remember listening to an episode while driving on my honeymoon back in 2007. Great content on careers, doing what you love, and entrepreneurship. Very positive.
  • Entreleadership–Dave Ramsey’s small business/leadership focused content. They usually interview a nonfiction author and discuss the person’s latest book. Good for content focused in small chunks on specific topics.
  • Michael Hyatt–I recently added Michael to my list after several stops and starts. I like some of the content but other parts are too general/generic for me. He was the former CEO for Thomas Nelson publishers, so I like the book publishing information but some of his leadership stuff just isn’t hard-hitting enough for me.
  • Pseudopod–Last year I added some content like this and the next one as a way to get more “fun” out of the podcast medium. Pseudopod is a horror fiction show (they also produce both SciFi and fantasy options) with great narration and stories. Not every story is a winner, but often times they are.
  • No Sleep Podcast–This is the first podcast I’ve ever paid for. David, the editor, started the podcast on a whim a few years back. I was listening from the beginning. A year later he quit his job to do podcasting full time. The NSP typically covers several shorter stories and are less subtle than Pseudopod, but still great.
  • How to Do Everything–this is an NPR podcast where the hosts talk about news, listener calls, and how to do, well, everything. For instance, recently a listener called and asked why they couldn’t wear a penguin costume for the “penguin encounter” at their local aquarium. The hosts interviewed someone about penguin life in the aquarium and it was very interesting. Another recent episode talked about how one college in the UK used micropigs to help lessen testing stress. Yes, it’s usually funny as well.
  • Freakonomics–I’ve mentioned my love for Freakonomics here several times. Being a college economics professor was always one of those things I dreamed about doing but somehow made it into HR instead. I love economics and learning more about some of the unasked questions these guys focus on in the show. Very entertaining and informative.

This is not necessarily a podcast, but I also use iHeartRadio to listen to the Dave Ramsey show replay whenever I have exhausted current episodes in my podast list or when I need something that is safe for family listening. 

Why I listen

Three simple words: enjoyment, entertainment, and education.

  • Enjoyment: I just want something interesting to listen to (I rarely, if ever, listen to music in the car #fact).
  • Entertainment: I’m doing something unpleasant and want a distraction (dishes, cleaning the garage, or organizing my office).
  • Education: I am focused on a specific area and want to improve my learning (marketing, writing better copy, improving knowledge of enterprise HR vendors, etc.)

I love sharing things I hear and learn. Last week I was coaching a lady at a job fair and asked her what kinds of things she watched, read, and listened to. Her response was “junk.” I gently reminded her that what we have to say is a direct result of what we’re putting into our brains. If we want to be positive, engaged people with intelligent things to say, then we need to be putting those kinds of things into our heads.

Years ago Earl Nightingale released what some consider to be the first ever motivational audio recording (it was on an actual record, if that tells you how far back). It was called The Strangest Secret. The gist of it was this: we become what we think about. If you spend the majority of your nonworking time thinking about TV, celebrities, and other things that have zero impact on your life, then you will ultimately see the results. Similarly, if you spend a portion of that time listening and reading, you’ll see those results as well. I have documented well my love for reading, which is due in part to great quotes like this:

“The difference between where you are today and where you’ll be five years from now will be found in the quality of books you’ve read.” – Jim Rohn

But today we’re focusing not on reading, but on tranformational learning via audio. It breaks down the barrier of “I don’t like reading” for those of you that use that as a reason to avoid any sort of personal development.

I would encourage you to open your favorite podcast app and do a few quick searches for things you like. This doesn’t have to becessarily be about learning HR and leadership, although it doesn’t hurt to pick up some new ideas in those areas. For instance:

  • If you like cars, find a car/auto show
  • If you like knitting, find a knitting/crafts show
  • If you like small business, find an entrepreneurship show
  • If you love being a parent, find a parenting show
  • If you enjoy inspirational stories, find an inspiring/uplifting show

There are hundreds of options. Once you start narrowing them down you’ll have your own custom playlist, and I’d love for you to share it with me in the comments below. If you already listen to podcasts, what is your favorite show?

How I listen

I use the Stitcher app on my Android Moto X to play the podcasts. It was funny, because on a recent weekend trip we were in an area without service for a period of the drive. My wife asked how I was able to listen to the podcasts because she wasn’t even able to get Facebook up on her phone. :-)

What I do in order to save date usage is I’ll turn on the app when I’m at home or somewhere with WiFi (which is pretty much anywhere these days). It will automatically download and sync the latest episodes of my favorite shows for offline listening on the go.

For what it’s worth, I use a basic set of headphones (like these) but I’d love to have a wireless/Bluetooth pair at some point.

Where/when I listen

As I said above, I listen to podcasts when I’m driving, when I’m doing physical labor somewhere, or when I am trying to keep myself awake.

When I am doing dishes or something where I’m fairly stationary, I will often keep headphones off and let it play out loud as long as it’s family friendly (some of the horror shows are a bit much for everyone else in the house). I love the idea of the kids growing up listening to positive, encouraging audio like Zig Ziglar and Dan Miller’s 48 Days show, though.

Funny enough, here are the times I rarely listen:

  • When I’m running
  • When I’m working

Yes, I know. That is when many people most want to listen. I’m not saying that this is the “right” way to do it; I’m just saying that it is an example of my own personal preference for the medium. Enough about me and my habits, what about yours?

Do you listen to podcasts? What kinds? Where is your favorite place to listen? Why?

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at the Alabama SHRM Conference. It was a great experience, and I love taking notes from other speakers throughout the day as well. My friend Dawn Burke from Daxko was speaking about stress on our employees and most notably on the HR staff. There are several reasons we face stress, including the work we do (terminations and investigations, anyone?), the sensitive nature of our jobs, and this pervasive idea that we shouldn’t be friends with anyone in the workplace because we “might” have to face them in a difficult conversation one day.

I have always thought that was somewhat silly, but hearing Dawn talk about it validated my thinking somewhat. When I think about the times I have had to investigate people at work or terminate them for cause, the people weren’t the type of folks I would have been friends with anyway. And even if I was, they were less than 1% of the company’s workforce. If I had decided not to be friends with anyone I would have instantly closed off that entire population of people, ultimately making my work less pleasant and enjoyable.

Today I hope to eliminate this idea that we should close ourselves off from the rest of the world by encouraging you to make some friends in the workplace.

You Need Friends at Work

Let’s go with someone reputable, like Gallup, to make this argument.

Human beings are social animals, and work is a social institution. Long-term relationships are often formed at work — networking relationships, friendships, even marriages. In fact, if you did not meet your spouse in college, chances are you met him or her at work. The evolution of quality relationships is very normal and an important part of a healthy workplace. In the best workplaces, employers recognize that people want to forge quality relationships with their coworkers, and that company allegiance can be built from such relationships.

The development of trusting relationships is a significant emotional compensation for employees in today’s marketplace. Thus, it is easy to understand why it is such a key trait of retention, and is one of the 12 key discoveries from a multiyear research effort by The Gallup Organization. Our objective was to identify the consistent dimensions of workplaces with high levels of four critical outcomes: employee retention, customer metrics, productivity, and profitability. The research identified 12 dimensions that consistently correlate with these four outcomes — dimensions Gallup now uses to measure the health of a workplace. An associated research effort, in which Gallup studied more than 80,000 managers, focused on discovering what great managers do to create quality workplaces.

This item — “I have a best friend at work” — is clearly one of the most controversial of the 12 traits of highly productive workgroups. In answering this item, many employees do not stumble over the word “friend,” because they have many friends at work. Instead, they get stuck on the word “best,” because they feel the term implies exclusivity, and they have trouble identifying one “best friend” among their coworkers.

Gallup discovered the power of this item in identifying talented workgroups — that the strongest agreement occurred in the most productive workgroups. Because some employees had difficulty with the word “best,” Gallup went back to those groups and softened the word to “close” or “good,” or excluded the word “best” entirely. When this was done, however, the item lost its power to differentiate highly productive workgroups from mediocre workgroups. This suggested that the use of the word “best” actually pinpoints a dynamic of great workgroups.

Okay, so friends at work are important to say the least. But let’s say that you have subscribed to the “no friends at work” rule for some time now. How do you start and reverse the trend?

By being friendly.

Here are a few stories about people I know that work in HR that I would say are better than the average and have cracked the code on how to be friendly with staff.

humor resourcesKrista Francis is the HR Director for Jubilee of Maryland, a nonprofit organization. As you can see in this picture, she changed the title of their department for a time to “Humor Resources” as a way to get employee comments and demonstrate their own sense of humor in the team. I think this is fun because people often see HR as the “no police,” not as a source of humor. Side note, check out the Levity Effect if you want more ideas on this.

Dawn Burke, the speaker I referenced at the beginning of this post, works for Daxko. The company provides cubes for all employees, including HR. That means that instead of the snazzy corner office, they get to work in and among the employee population on a daily basis. There are private areas for when times call for them, but I think this helps to break down emotional barriers with employees by breaking down any physical barriers that exist.

How I’ve Done It

Now, I certainly don’t have a monopoly on making friends as an HR pro, but I have several stories about how I have made this work for me that I’d like to share.

In the past when I had the chance to work in a cube environment, I actually appreciated being close to the employees I was serving. Anyone could stop by with questions at any time and didn’t feel like they were bothering me. When I moved to an office it changed that dynamic, even in subtle ways, and I missed the cubicle for that reason.

I also took time to invite random employees to lunch because we shared some common interest. Aaron the Engineer and I always went to lunch and talked about kids, building things, and faith. In the afternoons after work, Duke the Program Manager and Tina the Engineer were always amazing running partners and we could share stories and learn from each other. I also enjoyed chatting with Dave the Systems Analyst about his band and other fun tech-y type things. So many great memories!

Find people who have similar interests to your own and become genuine friends. For instance, in this photo I am standing with my good friends Duke and Tina at the Cotton Row 10k last year. We won the corporate team competition. We started running at work together.

cotton row 10k winners duke tina

Find people who like your same physical activities!

In this photo I’m hanging out with Trish and Steve, two of the smartest, nicest people I’ve met, at the Ultimate Connections event earlier this year. I met both of them through a shared interest in HR and improving the profession.

ultimate connections steve trish

Find people who like your same work activities!

In this picture I’m looking very chipper despite it being 3:00am at the time. This is our celebratory dinner after the annual midnight 5k that we put on to support our local food pantry. Each of these people is passionate about helping others and supporting the needy, which is why we spend dozens of hours planning this event annually.

light up the night 5k

Find people who like your same volunteer/charity activities!

So, think about how you can connect with those around you. It is a chance to enrich your own life and the lives of those around you.

Friends make you better, and better friends make you even better.

Are you friends with people at work? My guess is the smaller the organization the more likely HR folks are friends and the larger the organization the more likely they are not, but maybe that hypothesis is incorrect. I’d be genuinely interested in hearing some stories from others.

This is the second in a series of posts on a day in the life of an HR pro. Today we’re turning our sights to the recruiters out there. Below I have profiled several readers who recruit for a variety of industries and companies. If you missed it, the first edition focused on the work of a human resources manager. Read on below to learn about what recruiters do all day, including some funny comments, in-depth descriptions, and other helpful details.

a day in the life of an hr professional
The Life of a Recruiter

Kyle

  • Company/Industry: Telecommunications
  • Years with Current Company: 7 months
  • Years in HR: 10
  • Degree/Cert: N/A
  • Average Day: I’ve always been one of many hats and my role continues to be that with my current employer. I love working for a company that places the customer front-and-center of everything we do! The ability to find the right person for the right position is priceless.

Alicia

  • Company/Industry: Staffing Agency
  • Years with Current Company: 4 months
  • Years in HR: 4 months
  • Degree/Cert: Certificate in HR Management
  • Average Day: I spend most of my day recruiting on active positions that my clients have an urgent need to fill and plan for 2 hours out of my day to proactively recruit great candidates. My day consists of phone screening, interviewing face to face, prepping candidates for their interviews. Its competitive, fast paced and a ton of fun. The other side of my job is building relationships with my candidates and hiring managers, for example, taking them out to lunch or breakfast. I love that every day is never the same.

Sharon

  • Company/Industry: Healthcare
  • Years with Current Company: 15
  • Years in HR: 17
  • Degree/Cert: Certificate
  • Average Day: A typical day in the life as a Professional Recruiter typical begins with a checklist of priorities. Filtering through emails and notifications of hiring requests. Almost on a daily basis I review the status of new hires and where they fall in the on boarding process, i.e. pre-employment physical clearances, background checks, references and education/employment verifications via our database linked to the vendor we contract with for this service, Tabb Inc.Many days I may find myself working through lunch or eating at my desk depending on the activities I am juggling with, providing wrap around services to our hiring managers and potential candidates. phone screens phone interviews, scheduling in person interviews seeking potential candidates. Our applicant tracking system is our primary resource in our selection process as well as Monster’s resume database. On average I can recruit for up to 75 requisitions across the board from professional, technical, clerical and support services.Finally, my days generally end with checks and balances noting where I left off and what I will plan for in the coming days. I usually set aside 1 to 2 hours towards the end of the business day to manage applicants in our ATS/Monster. Email follow up and other correspondence as needed.

    I work in a fast paced, high volume organization where each day can bring the unexpected. You adapt and rise to the occasion with confidence and poise. It can be a very rewarding and self fulfilling having the ability to change and impact lives for the better. The ability to offer employment opportunities is what makes me want to report to work every day.

Alison

  • Company/Industry: Healthcare
  • Years with Current Company: 7
  • Years in HR: 10
  • Degree/Cert: SHRM-CP
  • Average Day: Our tool is disfunctional so I spend 50% of my day doing transactional items. We are working towards a consultative recruiting model. 1/4 of the day I do phone prescreens with the top applicants. The other 1/4 of my time I spend with managers. Any left over time I am digging out of my overflowing email box.I really like finding a good fit for an applicant and manager. I dislike all the hoops we have to jump through to make it happen.
  • HR wit/wisdom: Sometimes it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.Be careful who you trust, if someone will discuss others with you, they will certainly discuss you with others.If it’s really funny, it’s probably harassment.

    It’s the moments together that change us forever.

    HR Dept: will work for doughnuts. :-)

Carly

  • Company/Industry: Financial Services
  • Years with Current Company: 3.5
  • Years in HR: 2
  • Degree/Cert: N/A
  • Average Day: I spend a lot of my morning sorting through resumes as I sip on my breakfast protein shake. Since we are currently recruiting an average of 10 positions with no ATS, needless to say, my inbox is a nightmare!Much of my afternoon is spent on initial phone interviews with qualified candidates. I schedule blocks of time each day for these meetings, pack them in back to back and and cross my fingers that everything sticks to schedule. I don’t know why I am still surprised by how many candidates are late or stand me up completely – but thats another story for another interview.What’s left of my day is spent going back and forth with hiring managers to get more clarity on what the h-e-double hockey sticks they are looking for in a candidate (changes daily) or talking them off the ledge of a potential bad hire.

    And that’s just the Recruiter side of me as I wear a lot of hats in HR.

Coming up soon we’ll have other HR roles and responsibilities, but I appreciate the participants for sharing! Let me know in the comments below what you think about this series or what specific roles you’d like to see highlighted. 

breaking news micromanagement worksBreaking News: Micromanagement has the last word, now recognized as valuable business practice

“This is the best news since man landed on the moon” said one supervisor for a nationwide clothing retailer.

Just last week news broke that will change the face of the workplace forever. Micromanagement isn’t just a fad anymore, it really works.

Our subject matter expert, Ima Dum’he said, “I know, I know. This seems like one of those things that is too good to be true. But it’s not. I’ve always been a closet micromanager and now I can finally step out into the light proudly. This is a banner day for micromanagers everywhere.”

According to an informal poll conducted prior to publication, we have determined that employees are very excited about this revelation. In the words of one respondent, “Our employees are loving it. We have always hired people that needed some extra ‘direction’ at work, and now we have the proof to back up our actions. The fewer decisions we can leave for them, the better. I mean, we hire people but we really can’t trust them to make decisions on their own. We are actively developing what I like to call a “second check” system where all decisions are flowed up the management chain before we take action in any department.”

Some organizations are wasting no time in pursuing this latest best practice in the business world. Our HR correspondent, Stu Pidhead, told us that for companies to get the most out of micromanagement they need to have executives involved in every decision, no matter how small. He expanded, “Obviously the executives know better than everyone else, how else did they get into those positions? What your employees have to say is irrelevant. Just tell them what you want, all the time, at every juncture, and at every opportunity. They will be very happy to avoid any decisions and be told exactly what to do.”

Another key tip is to develop a policy supporting managers internally in their micromanagement efforts. This ensures across-the-board application and that none of those supervisors trying one of those silly, unproven “leadership” strategies can avoid using this necessary business practice.

We’ll follow this story closely as it continues to develop…

family feudA few weeks ago I received a strange text from my cousin. He wanted to know if I would be interested in trying out for a game show called Family Feud. Of course my instant reply was “YES!” We had to put in some effort up front and submit our interest. We got together and created little jingles for each person to sing to introduce themselves and did some humorous stuff to try to stand out, then we submitted our video and waited.

Within a few weeks we received a note asking us to come and audition in person, and I found myself in beautiful Birmingham, Alabama on a Saturday afternoon surrounded by hundreds of other families hoping for a shot at getting on the Family Feud game show.

As luck would have it, we were one of the first few families to turn in our paperwork, so we quickly had our shot at the practice audition.

As the team captain, I jumped up to introduce my family and then we got into the practice game. Let me tell you this: the practice is much harder than you might think. It is fast-paced, and without a scoreboard you can’t tell what answers have been guessed already. Our two questions were “What sport should you not do if you’re not a good swimmer?” and “Name something people do around the house naked.” Yes, really.

We played two practice rounds against the other family and won both of them. Afterward we left for dinner, hoping that our performance and winning charm were enough to get us an invite onto the actual show. We are still within the notice period to find out if we will be invited, but as I thought about the experience this week I realized there were some interesting lessons I learned that I would like to share.

  • The goal of the producer on site is to make a very quick judgment about the families playing. They want families that will do well on camera, not freeze up, and entertain the audience. Making quick judgments is difficult to do and is often fraught with incorrect decisions, but we often have to do the same with limited information. Bottom line: know where to look for clues and insights, make the call, and move on. No wasting time second guessing or evaluating sunk costs.
  • They were quick to tell everyone that winning in practice didn’t ensure a spot on the show. They were more interested in chemistry and engagement than in results. I thought that was a good argument for focusing not just on the “what” but also on the “how.”
  • As I said, practice was harder than the actual show, because some of the visual cues and timing were completely haywire. This translates to us making our training and “practice” harder than real life so our people can be ready for whatever their day throws at them.
  • Embarrassing but true: the question was, “What sport should someone not do if they are not a good swimmer?” We guessed some really good responses: surfing, triathlons, synchronized swimming, water polo… But not a single one of us said swimming, which was the number one answer. When we have to make snap judgments and quick decisions, the easy stuff is often forgotten in the rush. Don’t overlook simple answers in a rush to be “right” or to be first.

I’m hoping that we can get onto the show so I can share more about that experience, but for now, that’s what I have to offer. :-)

the life of an HR analystI’ve been working as an HR analyst for about a year now. Several of my friends, both in HR and out, have asked me lately what my days look like. I wanted to take a moment to highlight what it is and what it is not. I’ll also say that this is my experience. It’s certainly different for different people at different organizations. Did I mention it’s different? :-)

Even my coworkers that do very similar work as talent management analysts, learning analysts, and workforce management analysts have different schedules, projects, etc. I know there aren’t a significant number of HR analyst jobs out there, but for those that might be interested, this is a good peek behind the curtain.

A sample HR analyst job description

First of all, the things I spend most of my time on are briefings, research, writing, and editing. I publish all of the blogs and case studies, which is fun to get to see the full spectrum of what we do. Each day is different, of course, and I break down some of those aspects below.

Little man is still not sleeping through the night consistently yet, so when he wakes up at 4:30 I just get to work after feeding him.

  • Up between 4:30 and 5:30, work to 6:15 on email and any high priority work. This is the time to plan my day.
  • 6:15-7:30 Kids! Family! Craziness! I help get Melanie and the kids out the door, then I drop off little man at the sitter’s before heading back home to jump into the workday full speed.
  • 7:30-10:00 Typically catch up on email, work on case studies, editing briefing reports, or writing. Most of our internal company meetings are in the morning as well.
  • 10:00-10:30 Break! I’ll usually do something to break up my day, whether it’s calling a friend, squeezing in a quick workout, or going for a run to clear my head. I can’t work in long blocks without losing focus. Also, while I’m working out I often have some of my best ideas for writing or solving problems I’m working on, so this is critical to me being productive long term.
  • 11:00-11:30 Eat lunch. While I eat I’ll do some reading and research to catch up on what’s going on in the industry. I sometimes use this space to reply to emails and plan my calendar for the next few days to be prepared for any big meetings, etc.
  • 11:30-2:00 Back to work. I like to use my time after lunch when I’m typically at my “low” for creativity and focus to do things like making contact with HR pros to set up briefings and trying to work on any outstanding emails.
  • 2:00-4:30 By this time I’m past the midday “slump” and am in prime gear to do some writing. This is when I typically create marketing copy, write my Brandon Hall Group blog posts, and do any “major” editing work that requires significant brainpower.
  • Melanie usually gets home with the kids between 4:00 and 5:00 and that signals the end of the workday for me. There are some nights where I pick back up again around 8:30-9:30 if I have something pressing, my wife has to grade papers or do lesson plans, and all the kids are in bed.

Now, I know that’s just an average, so here is a breakdown of some of the actual work I get to do. As you might expect, necessary skills for an HR analyst are heavily weighted toward writing, editing, research, and data analysis.

  • Meetings: internal meetings average about 30-60 minutes per day, spanning topics like research, marketing, and technology.
  • Briefings: I spend time talking with HR leaders to learn what’s going on in their world and to stay plugged in. This is one of my favorite parts of my role. And talking shop with HR pros and calling it work just seems unfair. :-) I also host all of our vendor briefings. And while sometimes it’s a chore to fit them in, I have always been a bit of a technology nerd, so finding out what is the latest and greatest in learning, recruiting, or HR is a lot of fun.
  • Case studies: Ever wonder how Hilton runs its learning program or how multimillion dollar security firms hire their staff? I did, too. And now I know, because I get to publish case studies from those companies that describe exactly how they approached the problems and solved them. Here’s a recent blog post on the Brandon Hall Group blog where I talk about them.
  • Blogging: I get to blog! It’s a blast. As you can tell I love the blogging format, so this is just one more opportunity to share my thoughts. More importantly, I love the conversations it opens up to talk about what others are interested in–I certainly don’t have all of the answers. I have about 20 drafts in varying stages right now (some of which I’ll probably never actually write, funny enough) on a variety of topics, from recruitment marketing to technology selection to metrics and more.
  • Research webinars: this year I picked up a new role and am hosting our research webinars with various analysts on the team. It’s a chance to share the latest and greatest research, and I like the opportunity to get in front of our great audience over there. (info on those webinars, if you’re interested)
  • Attending events: a minority of my time is spent traveling and attending events. With a 5 month old at home this is something I’m thankful for. I do love getting to go to great events like the HR Technology Conference and other vendor-focused ones, but I don’t get out very much. I have a total of about 4-5 trips this year at my last count. As the kids get a bit older I expect to do more of this but not a crazy amount.
  • Speaking: I speak occasionally and these are honestly the best types of events for me. I like getting to wear multiple hats. I’ll actually be presenting at SHRM this summer in Las Vegas (anyone else going? I’d love to meet you!) and the Alabama SHRM conference as well. Again, I don’t put in many applications for speaking because I don’t travel a significant amount, but I always enjoy the opportunity. When I speak I usually spend anywhere from 5-10 hours gathering information, developing slides, etc.
  • Informal research: I am a Feedly fiend. I have it open any time I have 5-10 minutes to spare, because I’m always reading other blogs to gather insights and information. It’s amazing how often this inspires me to write something myself, even if the blog I’m reading is focused on design, marketing, or travel. At least half of those drafts I mentioned above started when I read a blog post or news article somewhere else.

5 surprising things about working from home as an HR analyst

This whole “working from home” thing is a bit of what I expected, but it’s also different in other ways. Here are five things I didn’t expect:

  1. Nobody seems to understand that in some ways working from home is harder than working in an office. None of your friends asks to “swing by” or if you can do an errand for them when you work in an office setting. Thankfully that was short-lived, but it happens.
  2. It can be hard to “turn off.” When I worked in an office I had the drive home to decouple from work and shift gears. Now if the family gets home and I’m in the middle of writing or editing I have to suddenly shut everything off mentally and it can be tough to do that.
  3. I have more time. I’m not spending 2+ hours driving daily, and that means I can get more accomplished instead of commuting, getting to work after spending almost an hour in traffic, trying to dodge “that” talkative coworker, etc.
  4. I have less time. :-) I feel like with the additional time I can do more things and take on more tasks, even when it’s not really possible. That can be tough to deal with at times because I like to run in a hundred directions at once.
  5. Some people warned me that I would be “bored” or that I would miss working with people. While I do miss some face to face interactions with friends, I am actually well-suited to working remotely and solo. I can spend all day without turning on the radio, TV, or anything else. The days when I don’t have calls scheduled I can go for up to 9 hours without saying or hearing a single word, which is pretty peaceful. This certainly isn’t for everyone, but it’s something I think is very interesting to know. I’m a natural introvert and talking a lot and interacting with people can be draining for me at times.

HR analyst salary information

Information about a human resources analyst salary is all over the map. I think that’s due in part to the fact that some companies are loose in defining what an analyst is/does, so that means the job duties can range (and pay naturally follows). Here are a few resources for details on what an HR analyst makes. As you’ll see, it can vary wildly.

Human resource analyst job openings

As I said above, the type of analyst work I’m doing is reserved typically for very large companies, vendors, or research/consulting firms. Other names for this type of role (if you’re searching for an HR analyst position) that could be helpful:

  • human resources analyst
  • talent management analyst
  • talent acquisition analyst
  • learning analyst
  • workforce management analyst
  • principal analyst
  • senior analyst
  • associate analyst
  • business analyst
  • HCM analyst
  • human resource analyst

So, what else do you want to know, whether it’s about this whole “working from home” or the HR analyst role? I’d love to answer questions if you have any!

I’ve been wanting to write for some time about the customization of, well, everything. I think it’s fascinating that so much can be customized to your very specific, individual tastes. Personalization is in virtually everything we do.

Movies/television? Give Netflix a go.

Music? Check out Pandora.

Hungry? Get a NatureBox with your own favorite snacks.

Sports? Yes, even sports. ESPN’s 22 million (and growing) website visitors are going to see a customized display based on their own location, interests, etc.

This incredible shift is hitting us in all of these areas, but a story I heard a few years ago about a school in New York could be the next advance in learning.

Let me introduce you to the School of One from iZone. Here’s a bit about them:

iZone is a catalyst for 21st Century learning across the New York City Department of Education, (NYCDOE) the largest school district in the country, serving 1.1 million students in more than 1,700 schools. We work with schools, the edtech marketplace and policy makers to design and scale promising learning models that prepare all students for college and careers.

So what is the School of one? In a nutshell it is an individualized education plan that adapts to a child’s learning style. Not just a program that we set based on a child’s preferences, but an actual adaptive program that can change over time to deliver the highest-impact learning experiences possible.

This is blended learning at its best. Children are taught in traditional group classroom lectures, small group work with peers, and online tutoring sessions. Then teachers can review the data on performance before and after the types of sessions, and an algorithm helps to select the following day’s exercises based on which ones the student learned from best. Over time this happens continuously to fit the program to the individual student—hence the name “School of One.”

But What about the Workplace?

We know that our training and development efforts are not going to reach all employees in the same way. And each employee has different needs from the training programs we offer.

What if instead of using a blanket program we could tailor it over time to deliver the best possible learning experience for the lowest possible price? Here’s an example of how this could play out in the workplace.

The Custom Learning Training Method

Let’s say Mary scores highly on a post-test after she sits through a live instruction class, but Bob scores higher after he completes a learning game. Tomorrow we swap them to compare the results. If both of them have the biggest improvement from the learning game, maybe we start lean more heavily on the gaming aspect.

Then we introduce another element: social learning. At this point they diverge. Mary does poorly when it comes to social interaction, but Bob does even better than with the game. So in terms of the learning programs Mary’s preferences are built this way:

  1. Game
  2. Live instruction
  3. Social

But Bob’s are different:

  1. Social
  2. Game
  3. Live instruction

And over time the algorithm will continuously tailor the training to best meet their needs and return the best results for the time invested.

How is this different?

Some would say that companies already offer these types of training options, but the difference here is the system learns what works best for you and redirects time and resources into training you via that medium. It’s not just based on preference–I might like video training but it doesn’t necessarily improve my results as much as a learning game.

My first thought is that this sounds incredibly costly to develop. But Pandora offers an even deeper level of customization completely for free for most users (and still managed to net $230 million in 2015 revenue). And Netflix is just a few dollars a month for a matching algorithm that measures your TV and movie preferences to deliver recommendations that you would enjoy. As more attention moves to this concept of the custom learning experience, we will see more opportunities to scale these types of programs. I’m excited to see what is next.

What are your thoughts on custom learning experiences? What other ways can customization and personalization weave into our training methods and HR practices?