Changing the HR Story

The new year presents a fresh start. If there is something you'd like to start doing, stop doing or change the way you are doing it, this is when many jump on the resolution train. Whether you are a resolution-maker or not, making something better is bound to be on your mind.

It is on mine. Right out front, I have my running (I plan to run a half-marathon), my food choices (I've been Paleo for over a year now but have begun to sugar-stray), my skin (time to pay my dues for my younger years of sun worship) and the coaching I give, receive and accept.

HR Principal.png

On my mind today (but only because of a prompt) is what I'd do to make HR better. So, here it is.

How human resource professionals are viewed has a direct impact on their ability to impact change. And in many cases, HR pros are viewed as transaction managers, or worse, a necessary evil.  The stories about human resources go like this:

  • HR is hard to work with.
  • HR can't get the basics right.
  • Include HR, why? What do they do anyway?

The stories are not going to change on their own.  Bob McDonald, then CEO, Proctor and Gamble said, "People are going to tell stories about you whether you want them to or not. Choose which ones they tell." 

I love this quote for a few reasons: first, it's true and second, it puts HR professionals and leaders across the globe in the driver's seat. Don't like the stories? Change them. Quit hiding behind technology, leading with the employee handbook and blaming the economy for recruitment and retention challenges. Stop talking (what you think sounds expert and dazzling is actually distancing) and start listening.

Start by getting your HR house in order - strengthen your HR infrastructure and your HR workforce. Align business decisions with organizational objectives  - focus on streamlining the hiring process, ensure employees have the necessary skills and abilities to do their jobs and develop targeted strategies to assist supervisors and managers with performance management. Share your success, take credit where credit is due and be nice to your friends.

Do this and I guarantee the conversations about HR will change and you will be sought out by others for your absolute awesomeness.

Changing the HR Story first appeared on

My Leadership Sweet Spot

Leaders must be learners and last week I completed the Healthcare Leadership Development Program. It was great program focused on each of us as individual leaders, the healthcare environment we operate in and leadership in crisis. 

As a wrap-up, each participant was asked to share a three minute success story.  Not quite Ignite style (wouldn't that have been fun) but engaging nonetheless.

Credit: iStockphoto

Credit: iStockphoto

Here's what I shared:

I jumped out of a perfectly good aircraft. It was an amazing moment falling through the air looking over to watch the airplane that brought me up there - fly away without me in it. Come back!  

I didn't really know how fast I was falling until I began to see the tops of the trees. At that point, I did what you may think would be the last thing you would do as you were falling to the  ground - I closed my eyes. I didn't close my eyes because I though it would magically suspend me in mid-air or stop the inevitable from happening.

I closed my eyes because I didn't want to over think my landing. I closed my eyes to let my body do what it was trained to do. And it did. Five points of contact later, I got up and walked off the drop zone.

My personal leadership challenge is to not to not over think this stuff, to get out of my head, get out of my own way and do what I do best. 

I've been in formal leadership roles since 1985-ish. Every day, I wake up and step into a leadership lab and even after doing this for so long, some of the best insights still come to me at times when I least expect it.

In an impromptu debrief of week one, we we were asked to find someone we hadn't spoken with yet and discuss something that happened since the last time we had met. I found Betty (a medical center director), or she found me, and she zeroed right in on an approach to a missed expectations issue I shared. Turns out, we were both women, in the military and the military communication style did not translate well to everyone in the workplace.

Who knew?! 

I now make it a point to let my staff and those I mentor know that they are not responsible for my communication skills but they are responsible for leaving a conversation with complete information. If they don't get what they need, they need to ask for it.

When others take this on, I see expectations being met and hear clarifying questions being asked. I see confidence, awareness, ownership and strength where it was not visible before.

And that's the leadership sweet spot for me. It's not a position, a title or a grade. It's not my name in lights. It's creating possibility where none existed before. 

This experience reminded me that as a leader, I am much bigger than any role I may fill. So, although I leave the program not knowing what's next for me (think 5 year plan, friends) I leave knowing that whatever my next step is, I got this.  

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