Friday, April 26, 2019

On Being 46

Today concludes my 45th year on earth, so it seems a natural time for reflection.

My life has a few distinct categories: Domestic Bliss, Professional Advancement, Art and Coaching. I'm an extremely privileged human being. Likely passed middle age, let's explore that which desires focus in years to come.....

The Intention of Sport
I have the joy of coaching boys and girls under the age of 12. The kids are great, their parents often mislead. Sports are to be participated in as a means for conveying life lessons to improve motivation. Unfortunately, many parents have an inability to control their emotions when their offspring are at play. Often, Moms and Dads compete with one another, their children vessels for status claiming. I am as guilty as any of being over-competitive at the expense of development. Over time, the edges get softer. In the long run, wins and losses are insignificant. The joy of sport is created when the least-likely to succeed make a big play at a time when the team most needs it.

The Social Media Myth
At the onset of this Catholic Lenten Season, I stopped participating in Facebook. It was a very beneficial way to ease my mind and save on self-imposed grief. The one thing we don't get back is time. As we age, time becomes ultimately more valuable. Yet, we tend to waste our time in the Great American practice of arguing with cyberspace. Arguments in the social space have ended friendships. Opinions are now validated by less-than-credible resources. We've replaced our need to be part of a fellowship with the need for individual validation through proving our point. Collectivism has been destroyed by the individual need to improve clout in a made up world of influence.

The highlight of the past year was witnessing the film Free Solo. Alex Honnold's solo climb of El Capitan without a rope is the greatest athletic achievement ever performed. The fringe observer would think a man who climbed a 3,200ft rock slab to be a mad man, watching the film reveals another story. It turns out that Alex methodically mapped his climbing strategy for 8 years, exploring every inch of the climb down to thumb and toe placement. His extraordinary commitment turned a death wish into a perfectly predictable process.

What a revelation.

I've been a sales professional for 20 years. Early in my career I thought my "gift of gab" would get me by (and it did). But advancing to the top of any trade requires mastery. Mastery is an affect of perfect preparation, laser-focused commitment and hard work.

Think about how simple life would be if you devoted perfect preparation to everything you did. It's called success and it is ever-evasive because perfect preparation requires more effort than most are willing to put forward.
I have been a member of the Phi Delta Theta Education Committee for 10 years. We build comprehensive programming and conduct training for college men that ranges from leadership development to the importance of by-stander intervention.

My colleagues and I have formulated a multi-phased educational track that takes our membership from their first day of pledgeship through their entrance into the chapter grand.

The culmination of the undergraduate experience is: Self-Awareness.

In anything we do we contribute to learning our trade by sharing what we know with our peers then utilize the experience for the long term impact it has on our human process.

The Most-Important Test
In my 46 years on earth I have come to understand a divine truth:

How a person treats "the help" is the most important revelation of their character.

I recall a time when the company President visited an office I was working in. Several members of our staff folded their hands in their lap and conveyed their pleasantries. What a bunch of phonies.

On a daily basis I see people treat restaurant servers, baristas and laborers as if they are non-existent. This involuntary flaw that individuals possess will remain unchanged and forever categorize them as less-than. Those who seek to categorize will forever be categorized.

Thank You!
I've been writing my silly life stories on these pages for 10 years. I want to thank all 177,484 people who have taken time out of their day to read my thoughts. I hope I might have helped you in some way.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, April 12, 2019

The Final Four

It's that time of year when High Schoolers move along to College and College Kids turn into pros and those who have earned their stripes move on to their second job while newly unemployed 55 year olds try to figure out how to re-create themselves.

Many of us who consult on workforce strategy have been appalled by the Generational Stereotyping that has unfairly categorized Millennials for the last ten years. As Generation Z enter the spotlight hopefully their moms and dads won't try to put them into buckets so as to preserve their own influence.

What A Mess!

My heart hurts when I talk to young people who are motivated but aren't sure where to put their energy. It is equally heart-breaking talking to AARP members who are faced with writing a resume for the first time in their lives.

The process is simple..... whether you are a High School grad looking for work or a former CEO who has come down to earth, you need only know (or remember) 4 things:

Be Willing To Start at The Bottom
I am astonished by people making career moves who are unwilling to get their foot in the door before they are granted the throne. If an organization doesn't have a management position open but are willing to give you a job, there are two options:

1. Stay unemployed
2. Dive In, Figure It Out, Do The Work & Prove Your Qualification

Be The First to Arrive and the Last to Leave
In the HR world we bicker over the relevance of work from home opportunity. Simply stated, people who are great at what they do, do not need a coach.

Trusting a recent college grad to excel under formless leadership is probably unrealistic. Asking a 20 year workforce veteran to report to an office every day is equally mislead. 

Master Your Knowledge
Nothing is more impressive than people who know what their product does, how it solves problems and why that matters... especially those who don't have to.

When I started my career in sales, I thought having the gift of gab was the most important thing..... I now know it is the least important thing.

Celebrate Vulunerability
I know many 70 year olds who know everything.... or so they think. I've also helped 100's of 20 somethings to form their life roadmap.

You can give advice from a position of power but how much of that advice is rooted in making sure your competition doesn't catch up to you?

There is nothing more rewarding in this world than helping grasshoppers become ninjas.

If you think tenure drives status, you've never achieved status. There is certainty in nothing. Every day is a new challenge. Every day is your first day on the job.

Don't Forget to Remember,


Friday, April 5, 2019

Yet Realized Workforce Trends

I've been a member of the SHRM Blog Squad for the last 7 SHRM Annual Conferences. Many of the original members of our #HRTribe have moved on to different roles while others continue to brave the bloggers lounge. My intent at any SHRM Annual Conference is fairly straight-forward... find new ideas and figure out how they can be implemented into workforce culture.

Even the most-innovative of Human Resource Professionals have an occupational responsibility to carefully look through the workforce programming lens. Simply put, sponsoring an initiative comes with the appropriate amount of research, testing and proof. As one who watches the workforce develop from a cliff on the hill, there are things I was certain would gather traction that remain unproven.

I was blown away when reading how Jason Stirman had created a program for performance management at Medium. His parameters were two-fold: get rid of managers and scale to employee preference. It was a fresh approach from a young man in the trenches who knew how to turn an idea into a company.

It failed.

Since Stirman's experiment at Medium, Zappos (the once-benchmark for cultural excellence) has gone all-in on Holacracy.... and received their fair share of criticism.

Is it simply too hard for organizations to grasp life without hierarchy to guide progress?


Is adaption to change turning cool ideas into very real chores that don't pay off? 

While Zappos continues to navigate project clusters, Stirman's second contribution to Medium seems to have gathered greater momentum.

The SCARF methodology empowers employees to stack rank their own path to progress. In this system, employees identify five different soft skill functions that are most/least important to them. We all know that management takes two distinct paths:

1. Group Talk
2. Individual Consulting

A manager is then tasked with promoting an overall team mission while supporting individual progress. It's a complex way to marry big ideas with psychology. SCARF may not have cemented it's 5 pillars in performance management but it is a way for any manager with a pen and a napkin to level-set individual goals.

Centralized User Experience 
The third act in our "yet-to-be" showcase, seems closest to reality.

Human Resources serve a technology function. Like it or not, if you are unable to systematically implement theory into practice, you might not be fulfilling your job rec.

The HR Tech space asks humans and robots to arm wrestle.... an unenviable dilemma.

Such is our dissolution, to stop being the policy police and become an engagement function that requires an acute understanding of consultation to breed a roadmap for progress.

It is 2019 and if Human Resources is to be relegated to policy as permission, we'll have no organizational impact other than to observe what didn't work.

As your #SHRM19 adventure begins, be mindful of one ever-present question:

Where Do We Go From Here?