So, I Auditioned for Family Feud in Birmingham, AL

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. :-)

How to Avoid Accidentally Sending Emails

Oh. No.

Did I really just send that? Let me check my sent items.

Yes, I did.

Aaaggghhhhhh.

Maybe they won’t see it.

Who am I kidding? They are looking at it right now.

Sigh.

oops sent emailI may be the only person who accidentally sends emails on a regular basis, but in case I’m not, I have recently started doing something that really helps me to avoid that little problem.

When replying to a message

When I’m replying to someone’s email, I hit “Forward” instead of “Reply.” This empties the “To” field and allows me to write without having to worry about accidentally sending the note prematurely.

[Note: this has always been one of my biggest fears working in HR. The other involves printing sensitive stuff to a public shared printer. Shudder.]

When composing from scratch

When I’m writing an email from scratch, I leave the “To” field blank until I’m finished and happy with the email.

Next time you’re writing an email and you are worried about sending prematurely, just follow the applicable step above.

You’re welcome. :-)

What email tricks do you use to help you get the job done? Have you ever sent an email that wasn’t quite ready to be released into the wild? 

We Wish You…

Merry Christmas

Captain Awesome in his new Rudolph threads

From the Eubanks house to yours, we wish you a very merry Christmas!

Whatever reason you have to celebrate this time of the year, enjoy it. I pray that you’re blessed beyond measure and that you take a little time to bless others as well. Any opportunity to bring joy to others in the form of a smile, a gift, or a heartfelt comment is truly worthwhile.

We’ll be back next week with more HR fun. :-)

SPHR/PHR Prep Course Black Friday Sale

Wow.

sphr phr self study courseI just realized that it has been two years since I published my first PHR/SPHR prep course. Time flies! Over that time I have had dozens of students use the course to help them prepare for, and pass, the certification exam.

If you are considering the PHR/SPHR and are having trouble staying motivated, keeping on track, and juggling all the terms and theories, then this could be the answer you’re looking for. I provide lessons via email and help you to stay on top of your studies with regular updates and helpful content to tie your learning back into your day job. Because in the end, it’s not just about getting certified, it’s about being a better HR pro.

If you’re interested in getting this for yourself or someone else, I have a discount running until Friday night for 20+% off. Coupon code is “GIVETHANKS” for those who want to take advantage of this. Here’s the link to the course

If you are less than 12 weeks from your exam date, please email me and we can speed up the materials to give you time to finish.

Thanks, everyone, for your support! I’ll be sharing more fun HR/recruiting content very soon. Enjoy your holiday!

The Newest HR Ninja and What it’s Like Working from Home

Most of you probably are not yet aware, but we have some pretty exciting stuff going on over here at the Eubanks house.

The best thing? Little HR Ninja #3, Briggs Eubanks, is on his way.

My wonderful wife is due late in November, and we are thrilled about his impending arrival. I’ll be spending HRevolution in a mild state of panic worrying about everything back home, but I know it’ll all work out fine. :-)

With my move to Brandon Hall Group earlier this year, I started working from my home office. That has been an interesting change (and sometimes a challenge of sorts), but we’re about to make a little extra room for an actual office for me to work in. The nursery is taking over my work space, so for now I’m a laptop nomad within my own home, but soon enough I’ll have a dedicated space to take care of the various work I have to do.

One of the most common questions I get is “What’s it like working from home?”

Well, maybe the most commonly asked work question, since the other one is “When is the baby due again?”

Anyway, exactly what is it like working from home? I miss interacting with people, sometimes. Previously I worked for a company that offered a lot of flexibility in terms of my work schedule and setting priorities, but even that pales in comparison to my current level of work flexibility and autonomy.

I still have meetings (plenty), phone calls (plenty) and deliverables (more than plenty). But I get to work at 5am, then get the kids off to school, and still have time to spend with them in the evenings because I’m not spending 90+ minutes on the road every day. On occasion, I have some work to complete after the family is in bed, but it’s not an everyday occurrence.

As far as the whole “managing your own schedule” and “motivating yourself” part of the experience, I will say it’s not for everyone. It’s not a perfect, mystical world with no requirements. But it fits me and my work style.

This summer was pretty tough with the family at home, but the way we’re planning to redo things around here, I’ll be a little farther from the daily “flow” where my office will be positioned, so that will definitely help.

The only other thing, inconsequential as it may be, is the high speed internet access here in our neighborhood. AT&T is the only service here, and every time I try to find out if faster service is available, they tell me it isn’t. However, I just found out that my two neighbors both have the uverse service that’s three times faster than the DSL I have. I have spent hours going in circles with the customer “service” (yeah, right) folks and could write a dozen blog posts on how to NOT treat loyal customers.

Again, minor and inconsequential, but I’m hoping to get that resolved at some point. Maybe in those sleepless nights when Briggs arrives I can hassle every shift of AT&T employees until we get some action. Yeah, that sounds like fun… :-)

The Goal of Human Resource Management

goal of hr management

With over 800 posts in the archives, I know some of you have missed some good stuff over the years. I’m going to test out publishing some of these regularly to breathe some new life into the content and give you guys a chance to check them out. Enjoy!

AKA How HR management facilitates corporate and staff goals

In my time in the HR profession, I have had the pleasure of working with some leaders that taught me the importance of solid HR and how that looks in the day-to-day running of the business. Supporting leadership, managers, and employees is the primary goal for me as a human resource professional, though the “how” of that support can vary greatly by situation.

The most basic goal my performance is rated on? Helping the organization solve its problems through better people practices. 

Recently I wrote about HR bringing solutions vs problems. I had some good feedback on the topic, so I wanted to offer a few examples of how to put some of the ideas into action. Here’s a refresh:

It’s time to be proactive. Start looking for ways you can cut costs, streamline your functions, save time for managers, etc. Look for some solutions to age-old problems, not just new ones. Not sure where to start? Ask some of your managers what their biggest pain points are with regard to the HR or recruiting processes. Ask your senior leaders what their biggest concerns are at a corporate level. Then take that information and use it.

Want to know the fastest, easiest way to prove the value of the HR department? Solve a problem that plagues the management team. Yes, it seems simple, but it is often overlooked because HR tends to exist in its own little “bubble” and never takes the time to actually find out what the business needs are from the HR function.

Let’s look at a few ways to find these underlying issues and consider ways to solve them.

Problem #1 Recruiting Time

Situation: The manager comes to you complaining that the length of the recruiting process is forcing her to be less productive and is straining her team. She wants to have more candidates to pick from and she wants them hired faster to reduce the amount of pressure placed on her and her staff while they are shorthanded.

Potential Solutions:

  • Look at the recruiting process. Where do the longest wait times take place? Is it when the job is posted? Is it when you are waiting on the manager to schedule interviews? Figure it out and work to reduce the time needed for those specific steps.
  • Coach the hiring manager (and the hiring team) on how to be better interviewers. Better selection means less chance of turnover and having to go through the interview process all over again.
  • Define the ballpark cost of a bad hire for your organization. Then share that information with the hiring manager as a solid reason not to rush through the process.

Problem #2 Performance Management Process

Situation: one of the senior leadership team approaches you with the idea that you should stop using the current paper-based performance management process due to the burden it places on managers and staff and the lack of clear return on the time invested in the process. He thinks you should be able to talk normally and not have to sign a piece of paper to make it “official.”

Potential Solutions:

  • If you have previous lawsuits that utilized the performance management process as a piece of evidence, pull that information together. Oftentimes when managers go through the motions (giving everyone a “meets expectations” rating even when they don’t, for instance), that blows up in their face when it’s time to go to court. Show how that could have been used to defend the company’s point of view if handled correctly.
  • Find some of the statistics on organizational success as it ties to flowing goals from the corporate level to an individual level. For instance, one of my previous corporate goals was “Deliver On Time, Every Time.” In my own role, that could be distilled into responding to employee requests within 48 hours, getting all reporting (EEO-1, VETS-100, etc.) turned in 2-3 weeks early, or something else entirely. I’ve seen statistics that show companies who do this sort of flow-down process are more likely to be successful/profitable–find those numbers and use them to back up your suggestions.
  • A good middle ground solution would be keeping the process, but making it leaner and more flexible. What if you reduce a four-page form to only a page while keeping the critical elements intact? What if you find a performance management system that saves your staff time and effort and eliminates the need for paper forms?

Problem #3 New Hire Orientation

Situation: You are seeing a steady climb in the turnover of staff with less than 6 months of experience on the job. With at least a general idea of the amount of money the turnover is costing the organization, you decide that you need to research the issue and come up with a few potential ideas to solve the problem, then brief your management team to get some guidance. In your research, you find out that some of the policies that were highlighted in the orientation session are not being followed by some managers.

Potential Solutions:

  • You take the information about managers skipping orientation sessions back to the leadership team with the suggestion to sit and explain the issue and the cost of the turnover with the managers who are not following the rules.
  • Furthermore, you find out that some of the managers are not even completing an orientation for their staff due to the time constraints. You decide that it’s time for a short training session for all managers on the cost of a good orientation session versus the decreased time to full productivity when someone has the full picture to work from.
  • You learn that even though the rest of the managers are providing an orientation session, they are not deviating from the “script” on a corporate level, which means they are not adequately preparing the employee for what to expect at the team level. You make the call to work with a few of those managers to develop department-wide orientation conversation topics to help customize the sessions for what people really need to know–where to go for help, what the team culture is like, how people communicate, what the dynamics are among the teammates, etc.

These kinds of problem solving activities are what you need to carry out if you want to be seen as a partner to the business. Like other critical skills for HR pros, understanding how to facilitate the goals of the business via better people practices should be something you seek to improve regularly.

And these examples are easier because they are closely tied to HR functions. What if you heard about a problem with product quality or external customer service? How would you use people practices to influence those areas? It’s a big task, but human resource management (if done well) is an exciting and innovative field to be in!

What problems have you solved? What was the response from your “customer” (staff, management, leadership, etc.)?