Tag Archives: Inspiration

Rising Up to Embrace Our Humanity

“Come on. You can do it. I know you can. I believe in you.”

I'm watching my baby make the transition to “toddler,” and it's a bittersweet moment. No longer will she stay where she's put. She's going to start exploring the world, and that exploration will only speed up as time goes on.

This moment, this incredibly precious moment, is forever burned into my memory. We learn very early in life that when we fall, we try again. When we struggle, we try again. When we fail, we try again.

We rise up again.

In the grand scheme of things, simply standing up, or doing anything, would be so much easier than hunkering down, cutting most of our ties to human contact, and sitting around waiting for this crisis to be over.

Throughout this challenge we are all going through as individuals, as communities, and as a global population, we have seen the worst that humanity has to offer. We've seen the hoarding and the selfishness. We've seen anger and hatred.

But we have also seen glimpses of the amazing kindness, grace, and love that we all have to offer.

In an eye-opening interview with a former astronaut and flight leader for several key space missions, the interviewer asked how it was possible to survive in close quarters with other humans for weeks and months on end.

The answer was fairly simple, even if it wasn't always easy in the moment. The astronaut said that the recipe for success was doing one random act of kindness for someone else every day. This practice formed deeper bonds, created more goodwill, and smoothed over any potential slights or issues that might appear in the day to day.

Was it perfect? No.

But it did create an experience that allowed each person to try and bring out their best and most human qualities of charity and goodness that make us who we are.

If “rise up” is too vague of an instruction, then resolve yourself to doing at least one random act of kindness daily for others. Better yet, why not journal that list of deeds so that you can look back on it one day far into the future and remember how you embraced your humanity in a time that tried to wrest it from you.

If you're a rational thinker, Thomas Paine once said, “These are the times that try men’s souls… [Y]et we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”

If you're more spiritual, James said in the New Testament, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial.”

Either way, the concept of struggle isn't new or novel, but an essential component of the human experience. Let's not just survive this thing. Let's rise up and share kindness, charity, compassion, and love for our neighbors and communities.

I leave you with this: “Come on. You can do it. I know you can. I believe in you.”

Family, Parents, Mother, Father, Toddler, Life, Evening

50 Conversations in 50 Days: 10 Things I Know about Today’s HR Professionals



I have spent the last 50 or so days speaking with dozens of HR pros (more than 50 now, but the number worked for the title so I ran with it!) and the takeaways I’ve had are pretty incredible.

The gist of it: one of the research projects me and my team have been working on this summer was researching employers with 1,000 or fewer employees. Another was around compensation technology, which involved conversations with companies in the 1,000 to 10,000 range.

These all came with conversations to understand challenges, opportunities, and more, but what I really loved was getting to hear the unique stories of each professional, company, and culture. Here are the ten things I know as a result of talking to dozens of people like YOU:

  1. HR tech is part of your job performance. We’re all using some kind of tools for payroll, benefits administration, recruiting, etc. This stuff isn’t just something we grab off the shelf–it’s an enabler of our performance on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. It helps us get the job done, which is really cool when you think about it. hr professional lessons
  2. We love and hate it :-) That said, sometimes the tech doesn’t work or function the way we want it to. It’s life. When it’s not saving our skin it’s giving us a headache.
  3. We love creating the right environment for our people. SO many of the HR pros I spoke with have unique and interesting ideas for how to support their teams, connect them with the mission of the firm, and build an inclusive, exciting culture. I’ll be interviewing one of these people in the next few weeks on the podcast to talk about how to engage remote teams and keep them connected, so stay tuned for more.
  4. We can’t create value if we are treading water with administrative busywork all the time. Our insights on the HR-employee ratio have shown us that that drives strategic activity. HR wants to be strategic but has 1,000 employees to every HR pro? Strategy won’t happen because you’re just treading water. HR wants to be strategic and you have a ratio of 75 employees to each HR pro? Now you’re in the driver’s seat for success.
  5. High-performing companies have a higher ratio of HR staff to employees (and more HR technology). Essentially they just put more budget towards the people side of the business. Kind of like this best place to work winner.  FYI, “high-performing” companies aren’t the cool ones like Google or Facebook, they’re everyday firms like yours that have positive metrics in employee engagement, retention, and revenue.
  6. Most of you are very creative and looking for ways to improve the employee experience. In the last couple years the “” has become a recurring theme. These conversations showed me that you are trying to create that on a regular basis for your own teams. It’s not just about getting payroll done or running a performance process but about how to do those things in a way that differentiates us from the competition.
  7. I am personally thankful for each one and what they bring to the professional community. Wow. You are all doing amazing work but it’s often unsung internally. Some of the people I spoke with were getting the accolades internally but others were not. If you are, keep up the amazing work. If you’re not getting recognized, make sure you are doing the work that aligns to the business and getting the results/metrics out in front of the right stakeholders.
  8. We love our certifications but we also hate the struggles we have between which one is the best for recertification credits. 
  9. We may have gotten into the job on purpose or entirely by accident but that doesn’t change our vision for what HR can be and do for the business and its people. No matter the path that led the person to the role they are currently in (or what led you to the role you are in), that should not and typically does not change your vision for a high-impact, highly relevant HR function that creates value for the people and the business.
  10. This is the best profession there is! All the time and effort I’ve put into helping people get into HR, whether they have education in this space or they are coming from another profession, has shown me that we attract some of the very best people from across the world of business. Yes, we occasionally get the person that’s crusty, cantankerous, and disinterested in creating the right environment for workforce success, but they are few and far between.

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The Purpose of Human Resources

What is the purpose of human resources in an organization?

Have you ever wondered about the purpose of human resources? Does the stereotypical HR person represent you? Are we working to make sure everyone is “playing nicely” and that every rule is being followed to the letter of the law? Are we planning picnics and making sure that nobody’s feelings are hurt whenever a decision is made?

Lord, I hope not. 

I see the purpose of human resources as something else entirely, and some of the brightest people in the entire human capital industry do as well. Check out this phenomenal quote that made me stop in awe–it encapsulates well the true purpose of human resources.

HR departments should focus both on talent (getting better people) and organization (building stronger capabilities). If the focus is only on talent, the organization may be a disconnected group of all-stars who don’t play well together and don’t win over time. Line managers need to find great people, but then create great organizations for the people to work in. The strongest HR departments help secure talent and shape organizations.

And that, my friends, is a great example of what HR should be about. When you’re looking at your “to do” list, the major items should always map back to those two key components: getting better people and building stronger capabilities.

Everything else is second.

Because at the end of the day, your leadership team is going to pat you on the back not for the great cake you baked or the employee whose hand you held when they had a tough time, but for the talent and the culture that will sustain the business through good and bad times. That’s your true role. That’s the purpose of human resources.

Are you living out your purpose as an HR pro? Why or why not?

The HR Capitalist Challenge

Kris Dunn NASHRMOkay, so I may have made up the name for the HR Capitalist Challenge (HRCC), but I didn’t make up the idea. Kris Dunn wrote a post last week about having passion for what you do. Like KD, I firmly believe that being passionate about what you do will put you ahead of so many others.

Pause: If you don’t know who Kris Dunn is, then you might want to check out his site linked above. He’s a pretty cool guy. The photo you see here is from when he came to my local SHRM chapter and spoke about using social media as a business professional. You can see from the line that he was pretty popular.

So what’s the HRCC, the thrill-inducing topic of this post? In his article, Kris talked about three questions that really show what your passion looks like. I’m going to answer the questions for myself. I’m also forwarding the challenge onto the rest of you. Continue reading

Comic Book Leadership

comic book leadersShall I make yet another confession? Yes, I believe I shall.

I like comic books.

While I haven\’t been an active reader in years, I still love flipping through them at the bookstore. Recently my brother passed me a copy of a magazine that had an article about Marvel Comics (the company that made the movies for Spiderman, Wolverine, Hulk, Iron Man, etc.). The article focused on their editor in chief, Joe Quesada. I think there were some great leadership (and HR) tenets that were covered, and I\’ll share a few of them with you. Continue reading

Looking back at 2009 and forward to 2010

After all of the “end of 2009” and “here comes 2010” posts I’ve been reading, I realized I haven’t done my own! I checked my phone, and I have lots of jumbled ideas. Maybe I can straighten them out and have some smooth sailing into the new year. Let’s unpack, shall we? I’m just typing as fast as I can and will probably miss quite a few things.

Looking back at 2009

Created UpstartHR

I created UpstartHR and really got into writing online. It’s been an eye-opening experience for me, and I am thrilled to be a part of an amazing community.

Made LOTS of friends

I don’t have the space or time to mention all of the friends and acquaintances I’ve made this year. Andrew, April, Jim, Victorio, Trish, Steve B., Steve H., Rich, Lance, Chris F., Crystal, Joan, Margo, Mark, Paul, Michael, Kelly, Alicia, and Allen are just the tip of the iceberg. If I didn’t mention your name, please leave a comment below and hassle me for it. I promise it’s not on purpose.

HRevolution Continue reading

5 Tips for Human Resources Leadership

human resource leadershipHuman resources is a vital function for an organization’s survival. With the proper tools, a good HR department can turn sticky problems around, increase revenues, and lead/challenge the organization to become better overall. The only problem?

Many organizations lack strong human resources leadership.

That fault may be intra-organization or intra-department. If the human resources staff has weak leadership, then there’s a good chance that HR within the entire organization is weak as well. If the organization has weak leadership, then there’s a good chance that they won’t give HR a chance to shine. Whatever the case, weakness like that can cripple an organization.

We All Know and Hate It Continue reading