Tuesday, September 25, 2012


First there was Maslow who created an avenue to employee benefits, then Employee Rewards, and more recently Employee Engagement. Today, Culture seems to be the buzz word.

We are consistently evolving employee rights into human improvement strategy. The fluff is gone and even kindness has an ROI metric:
~ Does a rewards strategy cheapen the process of recognition?
~ If we build metrics of profitability to drive our Employee Rewards strategy, have we turned the
process of saying thank you into a commoditized system?

Human effort cannot be commoditized, nor can we simply hug someone and expect to retain them as an employee.

Creating an engaged company culture is extremely difficult because it takes thought, the formulation of relevant initiatives, and an ability to drive results through employee adoption.

When the aforementioned are aligned - 3 things happen:
  • Organizational transparency creates engaged company culture
  • One's participation in building an engaged culture creates personal empowerment
  • Organizational engagement permeates beyond the four walls of any company
The Key to Organizational Engagement
I have conducted a forum on Cultivating Employee Engagement throughout 2012. While the preferred methods for cultivating employee engagement vary, we have all agreed that creating transparency is necessary:
~ Enterprise applications are replacing performance reviews.
~ Executives are polling employees for thought leadership from the trenches.
~ Core Values and departmental objectives are aligned to create mutually beneficial success.

The silos are being removed, the executives are listening, and programs once viewed as fluff are driving revenue production.

How Does It Feel?
All corporations have a commitment to community service because we all come to realize that it is better to give than receive. Perks that were used as recruitment bargaining tools are being replaced with a need for purpose. We are discovering what Tony Hsieh knew long ago: when you put purpose and passion together, the profits come naturally. It's about people not numbers!

HR is no longer an administrative department. Employee performance evaluations are being replaced by people empowerment initiatives. Leaders in HR are taking bold strides to
change organizational cultures through programs that challenge convention. We are disrupting the accepted norm for the sake of open and honest company goals!

I'm Out of Here!
~ How does it effect your company culture when an employee leaves?
~ Does leadership shun the departed individual as a "bad egg"?
~ Are customer's upset by losing a valued partner?
~ Do you pretend your former comrade no longer exists?

Your internal culture feeds everything. The way you treat your employees is transparent to your customers and competitors. If an employee has no faith in your company culture, she will be afraid to wear your logo at the local coffee shop. If an employee doesn't believe in your products and services, he will have trouble selling them. If leaders treat us like numbers on a spreadsheet, we will commoditize ourselves into obscurity.

This is the ripple effect of company culture. The things we discuss when the door is shut reveal themselves despite our intention to mask them. Our employees wear their joy (or discontent) on their faces. If we dislike our work...life sucks....if we love what we do, we share it with the world.

It is time to tear down the silos, open the door, acknowledge our strengths (as well as our faults), and to strive every day to do things the right way!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, September 17, 2012

More Lessons From The Avett Brothers

I have always been a salesman (though I dislike that title). 5 years ago, I began selling solutions to HR Professionals. I was told I had to be "very cautious" in how I approached people in HR because they were intolerant of non-sense. Bummer...!

As I searched the social enterprise for HR knowledge I stumbled upon Punk Rock HR. The site's proprietor at the time was a young lady known as Laurie Ruettimann. Mrs. R was a former HR pro who got fed up with the formality of it all and used her blog to voice her real opinions. She was (and still is) a breath of fresh air in the reserved business world.

I identified with Punk Rock HR and I wanted to be part of it. So, I asked Laurie if I could write a guest post for her blog. She actually wrote me back asking what I was interested in writing about. I told her, Human Relations Lessons from The Avett Brothers. She promptly replied that she would publish it the next day!

Three years have gone by since my first post on Punk Rock HR, a few things remain stable in this ever-changing world: I can always count on Laurie Ruettimann for great content, the blogosphere (for lack of a better term) remains a safe haven for kindred spirits, and HR is continually growing fonder of candor (albeit, in its most polite form). On September 11th, The Avett Brothers released their new album The Carpenter. I thought it only fitting to revisit the band and their continued lessons in human relations:

"If I live the life I'm given, I won't be scared to die"
Before leaving for a recent business trip I told my son that he needed to be the man of the house when I was gone. My daughter (4 years old) over-heard the conversation and in terror asked me if I was going to die. While the end of the road is never expected, it is inevitable (let's keep that from the aforementioned 4 year old for now). In awareness of our fleeting time on earth, I am continually reminding myself of two things:
"You and I know all too well about the hell and paradise right here on earth"
In the movie "down by law" a man learning English through random human experiences shares the term, "its a sad and beautiful world"...that one always stuck with me. We live in contradictions. Each day is met with wins and losses. Managing the ups and downs is the art of our existence. I had also heard it said that things are never as good or bad as they originally seem. While the Avett Brothers songs are filled with emotion, the workplace is not an opera hall in North Carolina....I know you try hard and take pride in your work, but try not to get emotional in the workplace!

"I have some better words now but its too late to say them to you"
One of life's great misfortunes is losing people in our journey through time. Friends do things to you that cannot be fixed, a boss may have to fire you, and people die. We always envision our final conversation but it seldom plays out in reality as it did in our mind...such is life!

Our professional existence is run amok with goodbyes: we lose a deal, a workplace friend moves on to another job, and sometimes a co-worker dies. When an employee quits on you the initial reaction is denial...eventually we come to understand their reason for departure. People don't leave jobs, they leave bosses, and often two very compatible people are held apart by an inability to communicate.

The blogosphere has been a safe haven for me. I don't need anyone to tell me I am an author. All I need is for a friend to call me and say my writing made their day.

So I will conclude by saying Thank You....to the Avett Brothers, my friend Laurie Ruettimann, and those who gain something from my need to share what's on my mind.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Character is not a Cartoon

I am honored to have received the Faculty MVP award at the 2012 Kleberg Emerging Leaders Institute! My vision going into the event was to give back to the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. Admittedly, I had not participated in fraternity activity for a long while. Knowing only the benefit that fraternity life has had on my career, I left Silicon Valley and ventured to Ohio. Instead of talking to HR Professionals about employee engagement, I would be talking to college men about the benefits on their fraternal experience. I dove in and am humbled to understand that my effort was appreciated!

With every day I become more a parent than a participant. I find myself helping young people channel their energy for good. Beautifully boring, perfectly present!

Fraternities were drinking clubs in 1992 when I joined...things have changed. Character building through philanthropy and education have become the name of the game. The fraternity is now a moral foundation instead of a risk-riddled social club. Within a few hours of being in Oxford Ohio, I knew I would be learning as much as I taught.

I have always been an independent spirit. With every instruction, a question. With every conveyed virtue, an eyebrow raised. Yet, in all I have done my intent was never to hurt anyone (least of all myself). As we grow, we reflect. In our limited time we have less tolerance for tom foolery and more direct focus on producing meaningful effort.

Character is essential in finding true meaning!
There are no short cuts
The world is full of liars and cheaters...and many of them have large bank accounts. Money is just paper! I work very hard and take pride in my professional achievement but I know better than to let my career engulf me. At the moment I see disappointment in my son's face, I know it is time to shut down the lap top and give him attention. No one ever wishes they spent more time at work when on their death bed.

They are laughing at you...
I have a storied past of being a show off. I was loud and ever-active. Always willing to participate, often over-opinionated. People were always willing to cheer me on from the side lines...they were applauding my willingness to try more than the results that my effort produced. While it is honorable to be known as a person who always tried hard, I would rather do good things for the right reasons.

What will your gravestone say?
The days are long but the year's go by quickly...

We spend certain afternoons stressing over deadlines. We toss and turn at night debating our ability to put bread on the table...and none of it really matters!

All the money in the world will not replace a walk in the park with your child's tiny hand in yours. There has never been a meeting that has produced better dialog than the after-school commute. We all have a job to do, but the content matters less than the intent of your professional mission.

Are you doing the right things with the right people?
Are you honest in your approach to success?
Would your son be honored to sit at your desk?

Understand what is genuinely important and allow that intent to guide your every decision. To achieve something of true meaning is difficult! Pursue the difficult!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, September 10, 2012

Motivation Inventory

Everyone loves a comeback story. The person who has been beaten down, persevered, and has overcome adversity. Some have great expectations put upon them and fail to instantly exercise their full potential, others are simply written off from the get-go.

Lebron James recently won an NBA championship. He had received great criticism for exuding too much confidence in his ability without producing the requisite results. Tony Romo won the first NFL game of the season, a man who has been labeled as under-confident. We often do not choose the labels put upon us or the expectations they manifest.
Ultimately, Lebron James stopped watching TV and played basketball. Tony Romo ignored an off-season full of talk radio doubters and went out and played football. Actions speak louder than words, expectations are often deflections, and when the work call sounds we have to get the job done.

Others will always find a way to doubt you. They perceive a weakness and use a single instance to assault your character. As an individual, you can allow others to commoditize your human character or you can prove them wrong through your ability. Indeed, your future has no greater compass than your birthright to take the wheel and drive.

Your degree of success can be measured by asking yourself 3 questions at day's end:
1. Have I done everything I was supposed to do today?
2. Am I motivated by facts or opinions?
3. What do I really want out of life?

No one is with you every minute of every day. Only you know how hard you have tried or if you chose to do less than you are capable of. Be realistic with yourself. If you have done everything in your power to succeed you know you are a success. If you have pulled back your effort you cannot deny that you could have done more.

Degree of Influence
There are people who you fly across the country to have dinner with and those who you ignore at the local market. The people who inspire us are those we should try to emulate. The best employees have the best bosses. Great bosses inspire greatness instead of demanding results. Take inventory of the people with whom you interact on a daily basis. Give the greatest degree of attention to those who show you the most respect. Achievement is the result of doing things for the right reason with the right people.

Get Busy Livin'
If you dislike your job it is nobodies fault but your own. You have the power to navigate your motivation, alter your perception, and change your attitude. On any given day you can make a commitment to change your life. All you have to do is question the things that are consuming your motivation and assess if they are worth your time.

Do you do things because you want to or because you have to...?

You should be doing the things you want to be doing!

Don't Forget to Remember!