Tag Archives: Confessions

My Parents Had it Right

I grew up working for my parents. Even when I was young, I was helping out around the office of their small business. I learned so much about how the world works firsthand, and I would never take anything for those experiences. I also learned things about management and leadership that I carry with me today.

My dad, wife, and brother at a triathlon

My wife, dad, brother, and I at a triathlon

Work Hard, Get Rewarded

I can\’t remember a week going by where they didn\’t have a rush job to get out the door. Screaming customers and scurrying workers made up the sights and sounds of those frantic days. But it wasn\’t always 110% hard-driving insanity. When the employees had to work late, I\’d often carry them a plate of homemade food from the house. When they had to get there before dawn, I would make a biscuit run to keep them going. And the pizza lunches? I can still remember them fondly. Working your tail off was expected, but you knew that they would still take care of you (especially food-wise!) during those times.

Dive Right In

Remember those frantic times I mentioned? Some people probably figured the boss would be sitting high above, shouting orders and waving frantically to the lowly employees on the floor. Actually, it would have been pretty tough to do that kind of thing while he was working side-by-side with them. I can remember someone telling me one time that it must have been nice to have the employees doing the work for him. I\’ve never laughed so hard in my life. My dad\’s been there at some time between six and seven in the morning every day since I can remember, and he was often that guy who stayed late to finish something and deliver it to a customer. And getting a call at 11:45pm to come pick up a job? He’d be out the door within minutes. People respect someone who can not only talk the talk but also walk the walk.

Being a manager is easier than being a leader.

I know others have talked before about their first jobs. Do you have a story that you\’d like to share?

How I Took Control of My Career Development

Interestingly enough, this post was written about a week before this news on HR leadership development came out from i4cp.

Time to get tough.
Time to get tough.

I don\’t know how many of you know it, but I\’m an HR assistant. Yes, I occupy that prestigious rung of the HR career ladder just above weasels and interns. I jest, of course, but not overly so. It\’s often been said that Gen Y thinks they deserve immediately what it took others years to attain. I usually scoff at that sort of generalization; however, my HR assistant job is one of those times in my life that I actually bear a resemblance to my generational cohort. No, I don\’t think I should be groomed for the CEO position just yet, but I do want to move up in my responsibilities as an HR professional.

I want to step up to important things, but a recent interaction showed me just how unprepared I was for the “big leagues.” Two of my senior HR coworkers were discussing a thorny issue, and I listened intently, gathering as much information as I could. As if by some unspoken agreement, they then both turned and asked me (the HR assistant, mind you) how I would handle the situation if I were in charge.

Wow. My heart fluttered a bit. And I may or may not have broken out into a sweat. (Hey, it is summertime in Alabama, so cut me some slack!)

I eventually gave my verdict, but as I said before, it showed me just how unprepared I am to move up just yet. However, I have found an interesting way to learn and grow in my position. And I discovered it by accident.

My Realization

I had to go over to our storage area to toss our oldest employee files and make room for some new ones. As I was going through the old ones, I came across more than a dozen thick, monstrous files full of interesting documentation. I realized then that instead of waiting for another learning situation to pop up, I could do some research on issues that had already occurred and discuss those with my peers. I got the okay from my supervisor, and starting this week, I\’m going to peruse one of these employee files every week, look for clues and information, and form conclusions based on the available data. Then I’ll discuss those ideas with one of my senior peers to get some feedback. It’s like a scrimmage before the real game, and I think I’m going to learn a lot!

You, too?

I know that professionals from all steps in the grand scheme of things read this blog, so I\’d like to ask those of you who hold a supervisory role to see if you can do something similar to develop your own HR assistants (or whatever you call the supporting staff in your HR department). If you\’re one of the new HR professionals, then try to speak with your supervisor and get plugged into the events around you. If you don\’t take charge of your career, then don\’t expect someone else to!

While school can teach you how to memorize a bunch of stuff, it certainly can\’t give you much practice in employee relations and other real-life issues that don\’t have a single, clear answer. How did the rest of you get started? Were you mentored steadily? Thrown to the wolves? Still learning? I’d love to hear more ideas.

Posts, Problems, and Probabilities

In the past week or two, posting has been sporadic. There are several reasons for that (as you’ll see below). I’ve been reading some amazing posts from my blogger friends, trying to meet a fast-approaching deadline, and planning the future of this site. I hope you read stick around, because you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

First, I’d like to apologize for the double posts you may have received in your feed reader in the past week. I was trying to submit the blog to Technorati, and I’m thinking that’s what messed with the feed. I’m not sure, because I was also toying around with some Feedburner features at the same time. Anyway, if your feed reader was flooded with UpstartHR, I’m hoping it won’t happen again (unless it’s purposeful!).

Next, I’d like to share a little about some projects that I’m working on. Some of them are UpstartHR solo gigs, and others are partner endeavors with some people you all (should) know and love.

  • HRevolution-Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know that HRevolution is coming. We are getting ready to set some of the details later this week, and Trish and I are very excited to let everyone know the status of your soon-to-be-favorite event.
  • HR Ninjas-The HR ninjas just keep coming! I don’t know why people love these things, but they do. Feel free to get one to wear to your next Casual Friday. I guarantee your HR pals will love it.
  • The Master ListThe Creative Chaos Consultant is working on a project. He needs your help. Are you on… Twitter? LinkedIn? Blogging? If you are in the HR field and involved in social media in any way, check out his post today and give him a hand. He’s a friend of mine, and I’d appreciate it if you could stop by!
  • Rock the PHR

    Rock the PHR

    Rock the PHR eBook-I’ve been working on an eBook for a while now, and it’s been tough. I’m in the editing stages right now, and I’m hoping to get it out very soon. After seeing how popular the free PHR study guide was, I decided to put out a premium version called Rock the PHR with some amazing goodies included. Public thanks to April of PseudoHR for the assistance. She did a good bit of the legwork, and I’d have been pushed back even farther if not for her help. In fact, she is still gathering more information that is going to be packaged as a special bonus. Stay tuned for more news later this week (hopefully!).

  • Smile Week Contest-To those that entered the Smile Week Contest, I really appreciate it. After you read the rest of this post, you’ll see why you haven’t yet received your prizes. Don’t worry,  I haven’t forgotten you!
  • NASHRM blog-I’m working with my local SHRM chapter to get a blog up and running. Much of the hard part is already done, and we’re mainly waiting on the more mundane/administrative parts to finish it completely. And a big thanks goes out to Stephen of HR Gumbo for giving me a hand.
  • HR Capitalist-I’m meeting Kris Dunn, the HR Capitalist, today for the first time. We live about 45 minutes from each other. It’s not like we’re seven states apart or anything! He’s coming to do a presentation at NASHRM on social media. Very excited.
  • Jobacle eBook-I’m talking with Andrew over at Jobacle about getting another eBook started. If you haven’t visited Jobacle before, you’re missing out. A gem is the annual Sick Day Calendar, which helps you plan your sick days months ahead of time, so you can get the most out of holidays and other events.
  • NewHR guide-The next UpstartHR product is going to be focused on the entry level HR professional. I can’t mention any pertinent details just yet, but I’m already planning something that is going to be huge.
  • 2nd Guest Post Blitz-I’ve been trying to focus inward in recent weeks, but I have four or five requests for guest posts currently that I’m going to try to fill with another Guest Post Blitz. The first one was very popular, and it’s a unique way to handle the guest post scenario. I’ll probably end up giving half the HR blogosphere the day off by the time I’m through. :-)
  • Baudville-I recently had the opportunity to interview Baudville for a great post on the Jobacle blog, and it inspired this bit of humor that’s been missing from UpstartHR in recent weeks…recognition

This stuff is just a dent in the surface of all that’s going on, but maybe now you see why I drink from a 2-liter bottle of Diet Mountain Dew? If you’re not subscribed, but you think you’d like to be a part of more of the coming events and projects, feel free to join the movement! You can get free email updates every week.

Reading Survey: Self-Experimentation

From AskOxford.com:

The Second Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words. To this may be added around 9,500 derivative words included as subentries… This suggests that there are, at the very least, a quarter of a million distinct English words.

I used to read a lot. Usually it would be fiction, but the occasional nonfiction found its way into my bookshelf. Recently I picked up a novel that I’d been itching to read. I flew through it in 2-3 days. During that time, I hardly read anything else (news, research, etc.). That’s when I started to wonder how much reading I really do in a day. So, in the interest of science, I performed an experimental reading survey. Yeah, I’m creative like that.

During the course of a single day, I copied everything I read into a word document. I excluded emails and other social

Reading is a great, cheap way to be amazingly successful.

Reading is a great, cheap way to be amazingly successful.

media communication, because those are much more difficult to track. I did include a chat with a friend, because we were brainstorming, and there was a good bit of info passed back and forth.

I did my best to keep things at a normal level. There’s always the chance of somehow subconsciously influencing the results, and I tried to reenact the same, generic day I’ve lived dozens of times before. At the end of the day, I was a bit anxious. Was I falling behind? Had I stopped growing intellectually?

Was my lack of reading physical books a foreshadowing of my impending idiocy?

Actually, no.

The reading survey pointed out an astonishing fact. In an average day, I read approximately 15,237 words. Yeah. You got it. And even if that number is 50% wrong, I still top the 10,000 mark. Assuming I read 10,000 words per day, and there are 250,000 words in the dictionary, that means I read a dictionary of information every month.

"Official" word count

"Official" word count

So, the next question about my reading survey that must be asked is this:

What was I reading?

Because if I read a bunch of junk, then I really just wasted my time. But if I read things that were informative, educational, and positive, then my time was more of an investment than a waste. Here are three of the main topics from this particular day:

Reading. Still great. Haven't you been reading this post?

Reading. It's still great. Haven't you been reading this post?

  • HR consulting (~4,000 words)
  • Blog stragety (~5,800)
  • Brainstorming session with Chris Ferdinandi (~3,000)

This experiment and post was enhanced by a tweet from Nora Burns earlier this week. In an interesting twist, Ashley Andrus gave me a book for Smile Week. I’m working on something that will hopefully pay that kindness forward exponentially.

I encourage you to test yourself. Put on your own reading survey and do a few experiments to see how you’re investing your reading time. Stanford University performed a study that determined that if you read 30-60 minutes per day about your field, you will become a national authority in 4-5 years. I’m already well on my way. Are you?

What’s Your Flavor?

This post comes from my office at the “other” job. :-) Needed my prop, and I was out of stock at the house, so I arrived early for a quick video.

Hey, everyone! It\’s Ben with UpstartHR, and today I\’d like to talk to you about flavor.  You want to hear something interesting? You have thousands tastebuds on your tongue. Your tongue can recognize hundreds of unique flavors. Taste is a very powerful sensory experience.

Bloggers use flavor to make their blogs unique. All it takes is a little spice to stand out from the countless others. Frank at KnowHR is known for pointing out things that should be obvious to everyone, but people are still surprised. Chris at Renegade HR is known for his opinions on inspiring and motivating people. Venting HR Guy is known for saying very funny and irreverent things that we all have experienced at one time or another.  All of the great ones have a style and a flavor that is their very own.

So, as I was ruminating over a drink the other day, I realized that I wasn\’t quite sure what mine was. What the heck are people listening to me for? What\’s my flavor? I shot out a quick question on Twitter, and I quickly received a few responses. People know me for my humor and my insights on things. People know me for being enthusiastic and inspiring. And do you know what? I was thrilled. Sure, some people see me and wonder which zoo lost their favorite monkey, but most of you like hearing what I have to say.

And let me just tell you… I truly enjoy the experience. I write. I tweet. I interact with others. I provide solutions to problems. I make people laugh. And that\’s all part of my flavor. The way I do that makes me different from everyone else, and I couldn\’t be happier.

So, while I savor the flavor just a bit longer, I\’d like you to ask yourself what your flavor is. Think about it. Ruminate. Ponder. Drop a comment below and we’ll discuss it!

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Creativity and Innovation in HR

Maintaining creativity     Flick-laffy4k

In the past few days, I’ve had conversations with several friends in the HR field about creativity. I have spent an inordinate amount of time lately just thinking of ideas. That’s all. Just thinking. Pondering. Brainstorming. Plumbing the depths of my cranium for some idea that’s just out of reach. And the reason that I started all of the creative thinking? I enjoy it.

Now, with all of the responsibilities we have on a daily basis, doing something simply for the enjoyment is is a rarity. But it’s a wonderful process to let your mind wander around an ironclad problem, knocking here and there until a weak point is found in the rationale and the idea starts to take form. I truly enjoy the process of coming up with ideas.  One of the reasons why is because I know that I’ll never have enough time to complete all of them. I often wondered why people would give perfectly good ideas to others instead of taking advantage of them. Now I realize that giving away ideas has multiple benefits. It helps you to see new answers for your own issues, it helps someone else solve a problem, and it builds goodwill between you and the recipient.

Back to the conversations–I have been accused of being bold and innovative. I really am just being myself! I’m still young in the profession, and I take advantage of my enthusiasm at every opportunity. However, I never, ever want to lose the fire in my belly. So, how can you keep from losing that spark?  What can keep you from falling into the drudgery of daily life and help you rise above the grinding dullness that some of us face?  There are a lot of new HR professionals who read this blog, and they would all like to know how to stay on top of their game.

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On Blog Taglines and Boldness

Be bold. Change the world. Flickr-hamedmasoumi

Be bold. Change the world. Flickr-hamedmasoumi

If you’ve been redirected here from a participant in the UpstartHR Guest Post Blitz, then I appreciate you stopping by! I hope you enjoy what you see. Want to stay on top of things? Click here to get free updates!

UpstartHR is relatively young in terms of a blog. It seems like only yesterday that I created the first post. Today, I decided on my blog tagline. It was tough to settle on one, but the term “Be BOLD” is appropriate in so many ways. I bet most people have never even thought about how important the blog tagline really is, but it\’s one of the first things people see when they arrive, and it needs to say something to them. It needs to draw them in as much as the other aspects of the blog. Here\’s the thought process for how I arrived at my own blog tagline choice.

The new generation of HR is already versed in the need to think strategically. We\’ve been told that from day one, and we know already that it\’s the only way we\’ll ever make a difference in our organizations. But that isn\’t going to happen if we\’re too frightened of failure or rejection to ever even try. We have to be bold. We have to take a stand. HR isn\’t the party-planner. It\’s just one of the strategic functions of the overall organization. Boldness has to be involved in the process, or HR will be swept under the rug like it has so many times before.

Maybe it also has something to do with my own selfishness. When I decided on the “upstart” moniker, I wasn\’t 100% sure what I meant, but it felt right to me. Now I think I\’m getting the idea. Trying things. Taking chances. Making things happen. These are all aspects of a great organization. Even if some of the projects/idea fall through, the others should be good enough to carry the day. Courage, ingenuity, and innovation are three of the most powerful tools that an organization has at its disposal at any given time.

Someone somewhere has a great idea that they want and need to share, but either that person lacks the courage to speak up or the management discourages that type of behavior. Whatever the reason, they are shooting themselves in the foot by muzzling their greatest assets.

Take a chance. Be bold. It might change the world around you.