News, Updates, and Fun Stuff

I hope you guys enjoyed the video series last week. I had a blast, and I’m looking forward to doing it again and delving into other hot topics. This week is going to be a bit different. I have some news, updates, a contest (~$3k in prizes), and my first ever full audience survey. It’s going to be a busy week, but it’s going to be a lot of fun. Let’s jump right in.

Kind of a big deal

I have never done an overarching audience survey, and it’s time to change that. While I sometimes focus on requests from the audience, I think I should be more purposeful with that. I’d also like to have an idea of who is reading this thing–are you all newbies? Are you all experienced pros? Are you all stalkers? I want to serve you guys better, and to do that I need to ask a few questions. Nothing too personal, just your job, general location, what you like/hate, etc. I read every response I receive in every survey–it takes a time commitment, but it also helps me to learn how to best help each of you with the content and tools that I produce.

I will be sending out the survey link on Wednesday morning to all email subscribers. 

Tied into the survey is a contest. I have approximately $3,000 worth of goodies to share with you guys, and I am thrilled about that. The catch: you have to be a subscriber and you have to do the survey.  Not too tough, right? If you are not already on the email list, click here to join the list and get email updates to the blog.

Is ten minutes of your time worth the chance of winning a prize? I thought so. Continue reading

2012 Review and 2013 Plans

Another year gone by and an amazing one ahead. Today I just want to take a few minutes to talk about some of the things I’m planning for in 2013, including events, travel, new tools, and more. And for the fans who keep coming back for the content that I create, I truly appreciate you. It’s an honor to serve the HR community in this role!


Despite the fact that I talk about HR, recruiting, leadership, etc. for 99% of the time, that makes up just a piece of my world. Like the rest of you I have social, family, volunteer, and other commitments. Here are the highlights for the year ahead:

  • I’m stepping down from my volunteer role with NASHRM, my local chapter. After 4 years of working with them I want to take some time to focus on other priorities and this is my best chance. The only sad part is that RocketHR, the site that I built from the ground up starting in August 2009, is going to stop being updated. I expect it to shut down at some point, and I have copied all of the content over to this website so it will not be lost.
  • I’m setting another goal to read 25 business books in 2013. I know I’ve been doing a lot of book reviews lately (and I have several more in the works). I realized that if I’m reading them, the least I can do is share the content highlights with you guys so you get the benefit of learning from industry experts without having to invest the time to read 25+ books. That’s why I do book reviews, so bear with me as I roll out more in the future. I hope they’re helpful for you!


Again, I spend plenty of time writing about this HR stuff, but I only do that after I’ve spent 8+ hours that day working in my full time HR generalist role. Since my promotion a few months ago I’ve had the opportunity to do great things. I’ve made a few missteps, but I’ve also helped us grow in some key areas. Really excited about what is coming in the next 12 months.

  • Nothing is solid right now, but I’m really hoping that we grow enough to bring on an HR assistant next year. We are pushing the limit with our high-touch HR/leadership style, and we’re going to have to grow or reduce the level of service in the coming year. It’s not an easy choice, but it’s a necessary one.
  • I’m planning a major HR audit in January now that the end of year performance/salary changes are out of the way. I’m going to build in about 40 hours during the month to take care of dozens of actions (big and small) that have been on a growing list for a while. I’m really excited to get that accomplished and think there will be some valuable lessons that I plan to share here once I’m done.


Finally, this is the area of my life that I get a massive amount of enjoyment from, but it takes up a relatively small portion of my time. Some of you know this, but I ride to and from work every day (~40 minute commute each way) and I listen to… Nothing! I just love sitting and thinking about ideas to write about and share with others. Yeah, kinda nerdy, but it’s working for me. :-) Here is a list of the big things on my roadmap for 2013:

  • SHRM 2013 in Chicago. ‘Nuf said.
  • HRevolution 2013 in Las Vegas. Heck yeah.
  • Currently developing a tool for entry level HR pros to help them get a job and get promoted. Really excited about that and can’t wait for it to debut. It’s in the middle stages of development, and I’m currently working with an “inner circle” of testers to get that sharpened up for the rest of you who might be interested.
  • I have plans for 3-4 other products, including a GPHR tool, an 8 week version of the PHR/SPHR study course, and more. So many ideas, so little time!
  • I’m putting some time and effort into developing more video content. I spent about 3 hours today doing an actual setup (not just me in front of the webcam) and I think the quality’s much better than in the past. I am still fine tuning, but expect more of that medium in the coming year.
  • I’m working to do a few speaking proposals for state SHRM conferences and other events.
  • Plus a few surprises. Can’t let all the cats out of the bag!

Fun facts and info

I started upstartHR in April 2009. Since then the site has grown beyond my wildest dreams. It still amazes me to see these kinds of information about who’s reading content on upstartHR:

  • The site gets right at 10,000 visitors every month. Google is my biggest traffic source, but I also have a respectable number of referrals from social sites and email newsletters.
  • I have about 1,500 subscribers who read everything that I write.
  • I expect traffic to double in the coming year. I’ve had amazing growth so far and it’s reaching a critical mass. I might be overshooting but I’d rather stretch than not.

All in all, this is still an amazing journey, and I’m thrilled to be able to share it with each of you. I appreciate the time and effort you put into reading and sharing the things that I write, and I hope you get as much from reading as I do from writing.

One more thing before we call it a day. I read a lot of stuff from Chris Guillebeau, and he talks about the world changing people out there. He says (paraphrasing) that their ability to influence and change the world is not because they have 10,000 interested followers, but because they have 1,000 true fans.

Those true fans are the “small army” carrying forward the ideas and concepts that will truly change the world. I think of you as one of those in my small group of true fans. Together we can change the world of HR, one interaction at a time. Never lose sight of the fact that you have friends out there who believe as you do and truly want you to be successful.

I wish you all a happy, healthy 2013. Go out there and make things happen.

My Hope

Christmas isn’t something that should upset or anger people. It isn’t something that should make a person feel uncomfortable. Yet that’s what it has become in many respects. I have no issues with diversity and inclusion, but that also means we shouldn’t be excluding others’ beliefs in hopes that we won’t offend anyone.

If someone doesn’t celebrate a specific holiday due to personal or religious beliefs, then that is their choice. However, I would never feel uncomfortable or uneasy about wishing anyone and everyone Merry Christmas, since that’s the event I celebrate this time of year.

When I wish you a Merry Christmas, it is my hope that you’ll take it in the spirit that it is offered. It’s my hope that you will join me in a celebration that is meaningful to me. I’m not trying to convert anyone or make them feel uncomfortable, and I’ve only met a few people with enough of a chip on their shoulder to respond negatively to my well-wishes.

But why respond that way? It’s my attempt to include you in an annual event that has shaped my life for the better.

I’ve learned to be a selfless giver to those in need.

I’ve learned to have more patience, especially with those close to me.

I’ve learned to hold onto those precious moments with family.

Yes, Christmas holds more significance for me as a Christian, but on the surface, those are the ways that others will benefit from me taking part in this celebration year after year. When I wish you or someone else a Merry Christmas, I hope for those same powerful changes in your own life. Who among us couldn’t stand to have a more generous spirit, a patient soul, and a loving heart?

I wish you a very Merry Christmas, and I look forward to another great year ahead, my friends.

My New Phone-A Love Story

I’m sure the rest of you are just biding your time until you’re off for Christmas, so I’m going laid back today and tackling the age-old question: What does an HR person carry in their purse/pocket for a cell phone? 

Earlier this month I had to break down and get another phone. My Droid2 was my go-to for over two years, and it finally stopped charging altogether. I love technology, but I’m also easy to please, so I’m not switching out every time a new item hits the shelf. I started researching and talking with friends so I could educate myself on the best options available.

droid razr maxxI knew I needed a few key things:

  • The battery life needs to be good. I hate using it at a conference and having to recharge every 3-4 hours of heavy use.
  • Needs to be Android. No Apple for me. And BlackBerry? Don’t make me laugh.
  • It should take good pictures and video so I can fulfill parent law #24-everything your kids do is worth documenting.

So I wandered around the Verizon store and put my hands on the lovely Droid Razr Maxx.

Its  main selling point is that the battery is the largest of pretty much any phone on the market, and boy can you tell it! I can use it for 24 hours of normal talking, texting, surfing, etc. and still have 40-50% of the battery left. Not too shabby.

The pictures are pretty snazzy compared with my old phone as well. I am hoping to shoot more video content for the blog once we get into the new year. I’ve missed the video content and I think it’s a great tool for personalizing the content here for you guys.

Plus it’s an Android phone, which means it syncs seamlessly with my Google account and other services. I liked my previous phone, but I had no idea what I was missing until I moved to the Razr Maxx.

Okay, enough geeky talk from me. What is your weapon phone of choice?

What’s your tool of choice? iPhone? BlackBerry? Android? Something else?

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?

Lesson Learned-The Easy Way that Wasn’t

HR zombieI was rocking right along, knocking out items on my To Do list and feeling pretty good.

Then it hit.

I thought I had made the right choice. I thought it was going to be the “easy way” to get things accomplished.

Apparently not.

Despite knowing–knowing–that the quick/easy way is really just a house of cards that won’t stand up to a little turbulence, I tried it anyway.

Tomorrow I get to start cleaning it up, piece by piece. The process will be littered with frequent, poignant reminders that what I know in my heart is true–the “easy way” rarely is.

The zombie isn’t really relevant to this post, but he makes me feel better.

Stupid? Annoying? You’re Fired.

Recently I was looking through the terms of a web service that I use, and I found this statement buried in there.

We can revoke your [company name] account at any time. Sounds harsh, right? We’re unlikely to ever do that, unless you do something truly annoying or stupid. We’re not going to list the annoying or stupid things you can do to make us mad, because that’s like a magnet for stupid and annoying people. Just don’t do stupid stuff with your account, and we’ll leave your account alone.

It reminded me of an at-will statement that I would probably put into our employee handbook (if we had one). Let’s translate it to “HR” speak: Continue reading