Tuesday, April 26, 2011

So HR IS the Police after all???

So after YEARS of me trying to convince the world that HR's value lies in being a partner to help the business do what it needs to do, people really just want us to be the office police force and handle all those unpleasant conversations about personal scent, food aroma's, lecherous behavior and the proper position for toilet seats in co-ed restrooms.

But seriously, it turns out that if we play the role of the "Good Cop", they will like us after all!
Read the whole diatribe at The real job of HR

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hijacking a tragedy is a travesty

Just 100 years ago this week, the worst industrial loss of life in American History occurred;  The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.   This tragic fire took the lives of 146 workers, almost all of whom died because of a series of horribly bad and dangerous decisions about how that facility should be run.  In it's wake, the labor movement of the day rallied for safer facilities and many more protections for workers.

Now, a century later, the labor movement of the day is trying to convince workers that we still need THEM to protect us in the workplace.  Yes, labor played a big role in getting workplace safety laws implemented, but they are now the law of the land.  No less than 5 governmental agencies oversee the safety of workers (OSHA, NLRB, State Fire Marshals, Municipal Fire & Safety Inspectors, and State labor standards officials), yet Unions would have you believe that if not for their interaction, tragedies like the Triangle Shirtwaist fire would be commonplace.  

We can all appreciate the role unions played in establishing the laws, but let's be clear here - ALL employees benefit from these protections WITH or WITHOUT being members of a union.  Dont let a union organizer try to claim your workplace safety as the sole domain of a union.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Unionizing the TSA???

File this under the heading of "nothing good can come of this!" So since the TSA cant seem to steer clear of trouble and have a horrendous track record with talent, now POTUS wants to let TSA workers unionize.  

Let's see... our track record with allowing critical transit safety folks has gotten us such memorable moments as the Air Traffic Controllers strike debacle.  Who are we kidding with this move?  These people don't need a union to protect them, they need decent management, supervision and training.  In a Presidency which is heavily beholden to organized labor, this is just another move aimed to placate the Unions who counted on Obama to ring in a new era of Union power, when union membership is fading.  I guess his stacking the deck at the NLRB with pro-labor appointees wasn't enough to satisfy them when they could not get the hallucinogenically named "Employee Free Choice Act past even the super majority honeymoon of the first part of his administration.

I could (and have already) climb up my stump and vent for hours about this, but let's take a more pragmatic, historical perspective - because "Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it"

Let's look at how well most "big union" industries have done so far:

Big Steel -  rusted and barely breathing
Automotive - saved only be massive concessions and billions of our tax dollars 
Textiles - crushed by cheaper imports....

The list goes on and on.  I am NOT anti-union, but I am pro-business and when you don't have a truly compelling reason to bring a union in to protect workers and ensure a reasonable wage, you are just adding complication and cost to the equation.  Leave the TSA off the labor unions menu and let them get on with their jobs!

Friday, February 04, 2011

Does your resume stink?

Perhaps I should start off with a different question like "when is the last time you even looked at your resume?"

I look at resumes ... way too many....every day, and I just have to ask, what are people thinking???

Your resume is your professional introduction to the world, it's the herald that announces you. You want to have it scream "capable, experienced professional", not "out of touch, illiterate egotist"

I could go on for DAYS with a list of things you should / should not put in your resume, but here are a couple of quick pointers:

1. Only put in things you have actually done. If you lie, we will find out, then your name is MUD.

2. Put relevant things in your resume; if you are going for a job as an astronaut, it's not a good idea to talk about your time as a lion tamer...

3. Put measures and metrics in your resume; Don't just say "improved sales results" , say "improved sales results by x%"

4. Put specific stuff in your resume; following from the prior point, say how you improved sales results - what specific actions you took (eg, "by following up on all sales calls with points to address identified customer needs")

5. Make sure your resume and / or cover letter (YES, you DO need one of those), specifically illustrates how your qualifications match the requirements of the role.

Now those are just five quick pointers that will help... for a deeper look, I will now turn you over to an older, but ever-so-relevant post by the wizards over at Manager-Tools which gives this topic a much deeper look. Note that I don't buy into Mark's views on the one-page resume, but you should consider the following rule-of-thumb; the number of DECADES of experience you have is the maximum number of pages your resume should contain.

Happy hunting!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes

Jimmy Buffett's song tells the story pretty danged well. I took a long break from blogging and even took some time off from work to get a little sun and a new job. It's amazing how white sand, blue water and a lot of rum under a palm tree can really change your frame of mind.

Now the tan has faded, the hangover is gone and I've traded the warmth of the sun for the snow and cold of New York. I guess it really is time to get back to work, in every way.

The recent change in job has me all sorts of jazzed because I'm getting to practice the best kind of HR - talent management. Simply put, my job is to help my company assess it's business needs, look at the talent we have in the business and figure out how to fill the skill gaps that will bring the best possible business results. It may sound fancy, but it all boils down to good management skills - and THAT'S what this little circus of a blog is all about.

Enough about my triumphant return ( I could swear I heard trumpets and cannons). This blog is about being a good manager - how did you do while I was away? Did you slip back into the kind of bad management that sparked this rant-tastic blog back on post #1? Slacker time is OVER troops! I'm gonna get blogging and get you to shed some of those flabby, bad manager behaviors and turn you into lean, mean managing machines! Drop and give me 20 good performance reviews!

Next time - Getting 2009 performance management off to a great start!

Monday, September 01, 2008

The Carnival comes back to Guerilla-ville! (Better late than never)

Ladies and Gentlemen..... Step right up and see the Carnival of HR. Nope, no bearded ladies here, but we do have a bearded blogger and whole kettle of interesting posts this time.

First up is a great post from our friend Wayne (the Cranky one) over at Management issues to help spell out the pleasures and perils of the working from home. I'm afraid GOOF is all too often used to describe me, but not for the right reasons!

Susanna at Recruitment 2.0 ponders a question for the ages; why do all HR Systems all seem to be rubbish? Just a guess here, but maybe because most of us HR-types cant seem to make a compelling business case to force the vendors to deliver something better??!

While Susanna's post title is a little provakative , Etienne at the Happy Employee wins the award for the most shocking post title -
"Employees are a necessary evil" . Love the title, but let's keep this little thought just amongst friends in the HR field - if the villagers ever figured out that this is true, they'd be heading to your door with pitchforks and torches!

The Team Doc has a new and no-nonsense approach for us on squelching team member gossip. We seem to be on a very anti-employee thread here - while Etienne says we can do without employees, Denise has offered us a great excuse to clean house by canning folks for gossiping... ooooh, hear me purr!

Alison at Ask A Manager has some good advice on how to find out if you new boss is one to avoid - gotta say I will be taking this advice if I ever change jobs again.

Wally Bock over at Three Star Leadership knows that most managers don't spend near enough time managing their people, and in this post, he explains three reasons why they are not getting this done. Let's all just remember that "reason" does not equate to "legit excuse".

Jon Ingham at Strategic HCM offers a thought provoking (if not a bit depressing) summary and opinion on studies that about the majority of organizational initiatives that fail for lack of a "sense of urgency". Jon is dead on that all the "urgency" in the world will not move the mules unless they have the heart to move... it's all about heart at the end of the day.

And finally - if all the rest were not scary enough - Michael Moore (no... not THAT one), from the Pennsylvania Employment Law blog relates the scary tale about how the American's with Disabilities Act is being applied not just to a businesses physical properties, but to their on-line spaces as well! Wow... kinda makes being a Luddite a bit more attractive, doesn't it?

Well folks, there you have it... the belated September 3rd Carnival!

How'd you like a kick in the butt?

Have you ever noticed how when something is stuck, whether it be a stubborn door or a machine that wont run, we tend to try the "magic foot lever" (aka a simple kick) to get it moving?

I've lately become addicted to an old sitcom titled That 70's Show, in which the curmudgeonly father figure presumes that most people are dumb-asses and would benefit from a friendly visit of his foot on their ass to promote improved performance. Who knew that Red Foreman could be such a wise man??? Out of the mouths of babes... and screenwriters.....

But seriously, there has to be something to this whole kick in the butt phenomena, right? Examples of this are all around us:
  • That really tough English teacher who just hated you. She made you struggle and strain to finish that book and write that essay. She kicked you in the ass... and look at you now! You can read and string words together to form a cogent stream of thought. Looks like that kick worked out ok.
  • How about that maniac coach you had? He made you run laps till you decorated the track with your lunch. But when it came time to run at the track competition, you had the stamina to keep going. Another Kick success story.
  • Finally, what about your first tough boss. You know, the one who made you do it over till you got it right and kept handing you more challenging projects all the time. Now you are managing people ( or well on your way if that's your choice) and more capable than most because of all the foot-traffic your boss left on the seat of your pants.
When you look back on these things, you really did need that kick. While you might not have been a total dumbass at the time, there was a lesson you needed to learn and that kick was just what you needed to get you moving towards learning it.

So, it seems that kicks aren't just for stuck doors - they are to help people like us get un-stuck from the cycle we are in and launch forward for something better.


Remember those who gave you those kicks and consider if someone on your team could benefit from the same care and concern, albeit not necessarily in the form of your foot in their butt - after all, I'm an HR weasel and I don't want you to kick someone literally then say you did so because I told you to.

Friday, August 22, 2008

So this is freedom?

Folks who read this blog will know that I generally try to stay middle-of-the-road on political issues, but occasionally something comes up that is so genuinely repugnant that I just have to take it to task.

Buckle in kids, this is going to be a long and bumpy ride!

So much for the American concept of freedom. If the Unions have their way, a critical part of the protection from forced unionization will be taken from employees. A bill deceptively titled The Employee Free Choice Act would change the playing field for Unions and make it much easier for them to coerce folks into joining union against their will.

The current law governing how unions are established in a company have been around for years and are clearly arranged to protect an employee's right to freely choose to elect a union to represent them, or not. The law today provides a very solid balance to allow employees to freely seek to elect or reject a union without fear of reprisals from either the employer or the Union. See this very brief summary of the Employee's Rights under the National Labor Relations Act.

Like most laws, the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) is a pretty long and complicated tome that spells out things in detail. The key elements of the law related to if and how a union gets elected to represent employees are;
  1. Employee / Union rights to organize and;
  2. The election process which includes a secret ballot.
Simply put, Unions have the right to solicit, market, advertise and otherwise communicate to employees why they need a union to represent them. Likewise, employees cannot be prohibited from, or punished for pursuing union representation. The law very clearly protects these rights and the unions know it. Employers who violate these employee rights are penalized and if such violations in any way impeded a union's attempt to get in, the union election process gets the equivalent of a "do-over". Conversely, employers are prohibited from actions that could be construed as being coercive or retaliatory towards employees who support the union.

Typically a union will attempt to organize workers by holding off-site / off-hours meetings, passing out pamphlets or using other marketing methods. Make no mistake on this point - unions are a business and they invest BIG money into marketing and "selling" their value. They hire full-time organizers whose sole job is to get more dues-paying members into the union. This goal of the unions is to get at least 30% of the targeted employees (referred to as the Bargaining Unit) to sign cards saying that they are interested in possibly making the union their representative. They are NOT signing cards to say, "Yes, I want this union to have full authority to negotiate every term and condition of my employment", but if this bill passes, that is EXACTLY what the cards will mean.

In a world where the Employee Free Choice Act gets enacted, there is basically nothing to prevent union thugs ....er, Organizers.... from accosting you and pressuring you to sign away your right to negotiate terms of your employment to them. You'll also be signing on to allow them to take dues from you which may be used to drive union political agendas, to fund illegal activities or even to personally enrich union leaders!

So why is this a bad thing? After all, isn't the union just moving to the logical conclusion a bit faster? Besides, the unions claim, thousands of employees are discriminated against because they support unions. This is simply a clear case of misdirection. Where employees have been mistreated by ill-informed employers for their union supporting actions, the very cases the unions cite as the reason we need the Employee Free Choice Act, are themselves testimony as to how the current law works. The cases they cite are cases in which employers were sanctioned for coercive or retaliatory acts. The unions want this because it would allow them to unionize a work-force virtually overnight for far less cost and effort than allowing the current process in which both sides can educate the audience and allow for a peaceful, thoughtful and FEDERALLY SUPERVISED election process.

The fact is that if this bill passes, the employees will lose the right to vote in secret and be subjected to the "parking lot politics" of having peers and union organizers directly pressure them to sign a card on the spot or be subject to ridicule or harassment. How on earth is this better? IT'S NOT!!! Simply put, if this bill passes, the very employees it proposes to protect will lose a basic protection and American right of electing representation by secret ballot.


Contact your elected representatives and let them know that the so called "Employee Free Choice Act" is anything but, and that you demand your right to avoid coercion or pressure from anyone through the time tested American standard of the secret ballot.