crazy employeesFun, happy, and crazy employees make this job awesome

I absolutely love this profession, but we have some interesting challenges in front of us. On one hand, HR really wants to be strategic. On the other, we deal with unbelievable people issues. The variety really keeps us on our toes! The notes below are based on comments I have had with employees and managers over the years, and I’m willing to bet you have had some of these, too. Feel free to add your own to the list below!

  1. I know you don’t like that brand of clothing that one of your employees wears, but we can’t create a policy banning it. Might I suggest something radical? How about taking with the individual directly?
  2. Yes, we have limits on what we can offer to candidates. That’s why we call it a compensation range, not just a compensation suggestion.
  3. No, you can’t fire her for poor performance solely because she’s not working as much as your other staff. She’s taking intermittent FMLA leave, remember?
  4. No, I can’t find someone with all of those qualifications you listed. The job requisition asks for a combined total of 72 years of experience.
  5. Sorry, tuition reimbursement doesn’t cover your travel to a quilting conference. No, I won’t request a waiver of the rules just for your “special” case.
  6. Certainly! We’d love to consider you for a promotion just as soon as you can start coming to work on time and sober for more than a two day stretch. No, I don’t think that’s asking too much.
  7. What do you mean you didn’t know about the seven emails I sent, the poster in the break room, the flyer I put on your desk, the letter I mailed to your home, or the all hands conference call where I explained the open enrollment deadline?
  8. I know you think you’re right, but cc’ing every management level up to the CEO on notes in your email battle with another individual is a bit much. Yes, it makes you look a bit crazy.
  9. I appreciate the retirement plan fund suggestions, but your brother’s company stock isn’t available through our company plan. Yes, I already checked.
  10. I know you think your employees are engaged, but your manager survey scores indicate otherwise. Why haven’t they said anything? Probably because of this “blows up angrily at any comment or question” item that I keep seeing on all of your survey results.

Bonus (vendor style): Yes, I’m well aware of the mistake, Mr. Insurance Provider. We provided the complete and accurate documentation in time and via your requested method. Apparently the mistake was choosing you as a provider since despite all that you managed to lose my employee’s application for coverage and are now denying them coverage.

So, which ones have you said lately to your employees? What would you add to the list? 

Sometime last year I ran across Dale Dauten’s website when I found out he was coming to the Alabama SHRM conference to speak. My post on killing the status quo focuses on that session, but he also has created a list of rules for work that I think most people need to learn. It’s titled “The Contribution Ethic.” I’m going to add my own comments behind each main idea to clarify what each means to me. After I share the ten points, I am going to challenge you to pick one to focus on today, so try to figure out which one you need to work on the most.

  1. Just help-Make yourself useful. Don’t make someone ask for your help; just do it. It’s one of the single largest ways to differentiate yourself from everyone else at work.
  2. A great player is worth less than a great teammate-A great player may not improve the group’s performance, but a great teammate always does. Be careful when hiring “all stars” who don’t play well with others. If you have to spend twice as much time managing that “star’s” attitude, then it wasn’t really that good of a hire, right?
  3. Your half is 60 percent-Focusing on “doing your half” and then stopping is no way to go through your working life. Do more than what people expect. Or do the hard part. Or whatever it takes to make it easier on your teammate when you hand the project back to them in an unfinished state.
  4. Innovation is a subversive activity-Organizations are built for continuity, not creativity. Don’t let someone tell you the idea isn’t worth trying if you truly believe it has merit. Someone else somewhere believes in that idea, too. Find them and co-opt their influence to help you.
  5. Giving time without attention is an empty gift-wrapped box-Managers, I’m looking at you. Don’t make your people wonder, “Am I good enough?”
  6. Assume the best-Dale says this best: If you assume that every tenth person in the world is a jerk and that you’re a jerk a tenth of the time, then you can meet the world with a smile… You will run into people that are pretty much terrible human beings. How you react in those situations is what matters most.
  7. Being right is overrated-Keep trying. Worry less about who is right and when and more about how you are going to reach the end goal.
  8. Being wrong is underrated-I always like to say, “Everything I know how to do well I screwed up the first time.” Being wrong is just one more opportunity to learn something new.
  9. Always bring something to read-I am a huge fan of reading, and I think it’s one way to separate good employees from great ones. If you don’t have a corporate library, maybe you need one. This great quote I heard yesterday says it all: I not only wrack my brain when I come to a difficult issue, I wrack the brains of others through reading and discussion. One of my favorite authors also talks about books being our way of learning from our past mistakes so we don’t repeat them. If you aren’t reading, you are missing out. I feel like this point is combating the complaint from many that they “don’t have time.” If you have a book with you at all times, you’ll find little snippets of time throughout the day to read without impacting anything else you have going on. Ten extra minutes per day is an hour a week of reading that you wouldn’t otherwise be doing!
  10. Think like a hero; work like an artist-Heroes attack the dragons, save the maidens, and win the day. Artists put relentless passion into their work and refuse to let anyone tell them it’s not worthwhile. Combine the two and you’ll be an unstoppable force.

If you’d like to download the original PDF of The Contribution Ethic, here’s the link.

Is there an item in this list that you can focus on today in order to better yourself? Which one? 

I have a lot of fun digging into the statistics on this blog to find out what everyone enjoys reading about. That, in turn, helps to influence what I write about! I have spent some time looking through the pageview counts and visitor stats, and I have developed a top ten list of most popular posts this year. One point I found interesting was that some of these posts that were viewed the most often were actually written in 2010 or before. If you missed one of them, feel free to check it out. Everyone else is. :-)

  1. HR Careers-How to Get a Job in HR – This post focuses on the transition I experienced as I moved into HR for the first time.
  2. Onboarding and New Hire Orientation eBook – This collaborative eBook brings together some of the smartest HR pros of the day to share their take on onboarding.
  3. I don’t believe in social responsibility, but… – This short post discusses a different type of “social responsibility” in the business world.
  4. How to Establish Credibility – I do some Q&A with people I highly respect to find out how they established their own credibility. Great lessons here.
  5. How to Ask Questions During an Investigation – If you’re in HR, you will eventually run into an investigation. Here’s how to ask questions to find out what you need to know.
  6. How to run a one person HR department – If you’ve ever worked in a small HR department, this one is for you.
  7. Policy on working through lunch – Do we need a policy banning working at your desk during lunch? Do we need a policy for anything?
  8. Employee Engagement eBook  – This collaborative eBook brings together some of the smartest HR pros of the day to share their take on engagement.
  9. The Cost of Disengaged Employees – Looking at how disengaged employees can impact your business and culture (and not for the better).
  10. Men in HR-A National Geographic Exclusive – This was a fun post to write, because I am definitely in the minority as a male in the HR field. Good stuff here.

Just wanted to say a quick “Thanks” to everyone who reads the blog. I am so appreciative of it. If you ever want to reach out via email, feel free!

It’s October. That means Halloween is just around the corner. And I’ve got a Halloween business strategy that employers will be dying to get their hands on. Okay, I’ll let you in on my secret. Zombies. What if your HR reps could reanimate dead flesh and bring those zombies into the workplace? The potential benefits more than outweigh the occasional brain-eating frenzy. Here are 10 reasons to hire zombies in your workplace…

  1. Use them to cull the bad employees from the herd. That should discourage the ‘ole quit-and-stay mentality.
  2. While they\’re not great at complex tasks, you can use them as motivators for the people who do those types of work. Bob in accounting wouldn\’t screw up the numbers with a zombie hanging over his shoulder!
  3. Since they don\’t get diseases or sickness, you won\’t have to waste any more time with FMLA.
  4. The benefits package would be cheap. They don\’t even need vacation pay!
  5. Zombies don\’t get tired, and they never waste time on Twitter (although Zombiebook is growing in popularity from what I hear).
  6. Everyone loves zombies. They\’re so cuddly. There have been dozens of movies dedicated to their antics.
  7. There is a drastically simplified recruiting/hiring process associated with zombies, and it\’s actually just a single question. Are you a zombie? [grunt] Great! You\’re hired.
  8. In case #7 worries you, don\’t freak out too much. Zombies aren\’t a protected EEOC class. I checked.
  9. You can train them to recognize and attack union organizers, IRS agents, or OSHA inspectors.
  10. With all of the recent employee engagement talk, you really don\’t have to worry. Zombies stay 100% engaged until a shotgun blast pulverizes their skull.

But, as always, I’m not covering something. What are we missing? Is there another great reason to hire zombies that I’m not covering? Drop it in the comments below! And if you enjoyed this list, then you might want to check out the Batman list as well!

Update: I posted a sequel list (more reasons to hire zombies). Check it out!