Gonzo HR

hunterthompson

My favorite Writer Hunter S. Thompson is responsible for Gonzo journalism, and I think my muses cross over into “Gonzo” territory.

This past week I met up with the Sr. Operating team from my time at Success Academy. Noel (the COO, but really president) and Dennis the CFO and a good friend. We pushed the envelope on conventional operations and HR during our close to two year stint working together. I think Success is succeeding in part because of the foundation we laid 2 yrs. ago. We built stability and infrastructure into a hyper growth  organization. I built a sustainable HR and Talent model. Dennis brought order to financial chaos and Noel brought a level of professionalism and strategic mindset to the organization.

We dished on personal stuff and yes spent a good 45 minutes reminiscing about all the crazy stuff we endured. In the end the organization is better from our services and we are more versatile executives having “survived” our tenure there.

Dennis and I started on the same day and he departed about 2 months prior to my departure. We were kindred spirits working in unison. It was amazing to see HR and Finance on the same side of the table constantly and a tribute to what the relationship between the functions could be.

Noel was our fearless leader. Smart, calculated and steady at the helm. I watched him quell the most contentious meetings to a level of civility on numerous occasions. A brilliant engineering mind, Noel could see the big picture like no senior executive I have worked with in my 30 plus year career.

Success was like a Hunter S. Thompson’s road trip without the drugs in his “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” memoir. One day I will write a short story or maybe even a memoir on our time there. It also rings true of another famous writer…It was the best of times and the worst of times….

I loved the work but had cognitive dissonance over the mission and practices….No child should be denied a great education based on their zip code, however we all need to live within a certain level of appropriateness in changing the education landscape….lets just leave it there for now.

In any event, I have come to to recognize that I am a bit of an HR rebel, I could not have worked there if I was not. My writing also has an edge, maybe even a little more then an edge, I would call it an Attitude. Your free to call it what ever you wish. Maybe it is even GONZO…

My time writing for Fistfuloftalent.com, recruitingdaily.com, and most recently the SHRM national blog has allowed me the freedom to express my views without a filter. I want to thank all of them for the platform and Freedom of Speech that it has afforded me.

It has shaped my personal brand and more importantly is a true reflection of my views, beliefs and ethical perspective.

I have a lot of content out there right now on the sites mentioned, here on LinkedIn, and even occasionally on guest sites like Carnival of HR.  I am also suddenly in demand to speak at conferences. I will be at the Paylocity User conference in Chicago this November, a few SHRM regional conferences and  a slew of conferences the first half of next year….

Maybe GONZO is not such a bad thing….

 

 

It’s Attitude Week for HR

hrwithanattitude

My most recent SHRM blog post was on – you guest it – HR with Attitude. You can click here to see the post. I tend to have repetitive themes that I write or publicly speak about.

This one I believe firmly in. Attitude is not about being aggressive or obnoxious. It is about being competent, taking a stand when you have the information and the facts, and not backing down.

HR needs an injection of this every so often.

You can also check out my previous post on the very same subject it was a podcast and you need 12 minutes to listen. You can click here  to check it out.

I am working on a presentation on this very subject and putting it in my bag of tricks to take on the road in 2018….be on the lookout…

I promise to write about other stuff going forward….

Hope you all have a great day!

HR With An Attitude

HR Studio_Interview_Ep35 (002)

Here is the content from a recent Podcast I did on the “HR Podcast” series. TO hear it in its entirety click here.

Can HR Transform to Truly Impact Business Success?
The profession of Human Resources has evolved over the last 30 years from an administrative function to one focused on positively impacting the bottom line results of organizations. While still required to ensure compliance with regulations and regulatory agencies, the function is focused now on building organizational competencies necessary to compete and win in today’s very competitive and rapidly changing global marketplace.
Truth be told, the evolution of HR is still in progress. Many organizations are at the very beginning in trying to make the transition, while others are at the forefront and making some good headway. But there are many critics that don’t actually believe HR will ever be able to make that transformational shift at all. Mark Fogel is one of those people, and he has a very clear opinion of the topic and some very important and meaningful advice for HR professionals today.
Mark is a former CHRO and CMO, a successful entrepreneur, a writer, and a notable speaker. He has many awards to his name including SHRM’s 2007 Human Capital Leader and SHRM’s 2009 Innovation Award winner. He is currently the leader of the retained search and consulting practice for Signium in New York City. Signium is a top 25 global search and consulting firm.

Key Learnings From This Episode
 State of HR Today. Mark believes HR’s transformation from administrative to an HR Business Partner is like having a GPS, and you have several ways you can go. There are the strategic folks and then there are the tactical people who are taking the side streets and are getting caught up in the street lights at every block. It is a tale of two cities. There are some players out there who are ‘getting it’ and they move the profession/function forward, and then there are a lot of people who are stuck in the mud, spinning their wheels. Mark feels we should get more people rallied around doing what needs to be done to keep the profession fresh, vibrant and important to the business.

HR with an attitude. Mark has espoused an HR posture for success, which is ‘HR with an attitude’. What does that mean and how did Mark arrive at that kind of stance as an HR professional? Attitude means a lot of things to a lot of people. When you are asked to describe a ‘New Yorker’, the first things people think of are ‘sassiness’ and ‘having an attitude’. To Mark, attitude is not about being aggressive or obnoxious. It is about being competent, taking a stand when you have the information and the facts, and not backing down. It sounds relatively simple, but it is difficult when you have people all day long pressing you to move their agenda instead of doing what is best for your business and your people.

Applying “HR with an attitude” to his career. Over the first half of his career, Mark took the slow path, listening to others, trying to do the right thing, and being methodical. One day he realized that if you stand by your convictions and push forward, push away the naysayers, and do what you believe in as long as you know it is right, everything else works out, and it has – and that is when his career took off.

Mark spent the first 14 years of his career working in retail, part of it in operations and then part of it Human Resources, even though people told him he could not make the jump. He wanted to get out of retail, and people told him that although he was HR Retail, he would never get out and work in HR for other companies or industries, but he did.

People would continually give him advice, but he soon came to realize that ‘advice is cheap’. You need to believe in yourself.

What does Mark see as the critical behaviors necessary for success as an HR professional? Data analytics has become a major part of everything we do, and not just in HR. It has become critical to be able to ‘back up’ with credibility. To take a step forward, many businesses are doing predictive analytics – not just saying ‘this is what happened in the past’, but actually saying ‘we can make decisions on the future using this data’ – capturing data and using it in a way that helps you move forward. We need to stop measuring things that don’t add value anymore. HR has to catch up to the times, and right now, it is a runaway freight train. Utilizing data, synthesizing it down to actionable plans, and taking action on those will lead to success.

It is critical for HR professionals to move to a true organizational development mindset. It is easy to do compliance, onboarding, benefits administration, basic compensation, and to administer reviews. It is much more difficult to engage people and to get them to use a feedback culture – to really understand what makes their people tick and keep their people happy. Engagement was the rage a few years ago, but we need to get beyond engagement. Engagement is something that should happen every day.

Is HR going to be able to make the transformation? Mark believes ‘yes’ but that it is a tale of two cities. Some organizations are making it already, and not just the large companies who are getting a lot of press. There are many small and mid-size companies that ‘get it’ and have become extremely agile and optical. The ability to be flexible and to not get locked into an old mindset – those businesses have jumped the river, and they are on the other side. Most want to make the jump, but they either have not or they are struggling with it.
Recommended Reading and References From this Episode
fistful of talentRecruiting DailyThe SHRM Blog

Should you put yourself on the line if there is no clear payback?

biteyourlip

Many of you know that my career has been peppered with controversy. Challenging CEO’s, controversial business decisions, and skirting the line of business ethics with rogue C-Suite members.

Recently I have been dealing with both Macro and Micro issues at Adelphi, where I have been teaching as an Adjunct since 2011. To be clear, I love my part-time job. There is nothing better professionally then playing a part in shaping our next generation of HR and Business executives. This is not a position that is about the dollars. It is a position about giving back to the next generation.

I have been successful in my university teaching endeavors. First at Fashion Institute of Technology in the late 1990’s and most recently at Adelphi where I also happen to be a graduate school alum.

Adjuncts are a rare bread as they typically do not have PhD’s and often are treated no better than disposable contractors, yet they approach the college classroom with energy and passion. I would like to think this is different at Adelphi where we have some of the best, brightest and most caring Adjuncts in the education world. In the business school we went over a decade before I was awarded the teaching excellence award and then one of my adjunct colleagues followed the next year. Clearly our adjuncts standout in the classroom. We also help students with references, referrals, resumes, internships and even occasionally interviews. We also bring real life business into the classroom, I have yet to see a PhD program that can match the value of the real world in a business class….

So for the past 6 months I have been dealing with adversity and by  Adelphi’s administrations own admission been poorly treated in relation to the hiring process for a full-time lecturer role in the business school. I am not alone as my colleagues have faced a similar fate. Some believe that it is even being done purposely. The business school hides behind accreditation #’s and the belief that rookie Phd’s know better and teach better then senior executives with decades of real business experiences.  If you were spending a $150 grand or more on an education wouldnt you want the best education possible regardless of a diploma in a back office?

I have been outspoken about it, confronting the President, Provost, Associate Provost business school Dean, HR, and even pulled the union into the conversation. When I approached our President who broadcasts open office hours for a chat, I was rebuffed twice and pushed to the Provost who politely pushed it further down hill. When I approached our business school Dean I was met with teflon and my call outs were not even investigated. Only after months of emails and contacts did anyone even take my conversation seriously. I was made to feel like the criminal in an assault case…How sad…

Unfortunately after 6 months, the outcome was not optimal. No one took responsibility till recently when the Associate Provost admitted “we fucked up”. HR remained silent, knowing I knew the drill better than they did.

So after 6 months and a couple of Mia culpa’s I am left empty, admittedly poorly treated after a series of incompetent actions.

It’s a strange feeling being on the opposite side of this discussion. In my past life running HR functions I spent significant time cleaning up this type of mess.

So I have several options, including a pretty clear legal runway as well as my personnel connections to major writers at three of the country’s most prestigious newspapers (on-line and print). Even if they don’t pen the articles they can afford me access to Op Ed pages. For those who don’t read Newsday on Long Island, there was a recent editorial on Adjuncts. Oh, and before I forgot to mention it, I write on-line for two of the largest HR social media sites in the country. So I also have the option of writing an editorial myself. In fact I just did, however with minimal reach. My other options are much further and deeper in reach and reputation management….So I have options to stir shit up or take it a step further.

But I don’t want drama, I just want the right actions to be taken and for administration to own their actions…I still love to teach and students shouldn’t be hurt by the poor decisions and actions of their school’s administrators….

So if this was you, would you push the “red button”? Or would you bite your lip?

 

Decisions, Decisions…..

 

 

 

#SHRM17 Recap from the Peanut Gallery, 2018 Events, and a Little Me Time Squeezed in Too!

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I did 2 presentations, as well as blogged this yr., at #SHRM17 in New Orleans. I pushed myself harder than any other year at “the biggest HR conference in the world!”. But I also had some me time, including 18 holes of golf at a local course on Monday. No, I didn’t break 100 and the remainder of my group did (83,85 and 89 to my lagging 104), you also know there is always a silver lining. We played the back tees (longest distance) in 96-degree heat and I par’ d the 4th hole with rental clubs…. Life is sometimes about singular moments and a par on a 430-yd. hole with water down the whole right side isn’t shabby….and I did 26,000 steps on Monday, setting my own record for this year. I bet all of you had some pretty big fitbit #s too!!!

Now down to business. First, I must give Kudos to the SHRM blogging team or should I say the Blog Squad. What an incredible group of high energy, passionate and focused individuals. The SHRM team lead by Mary and Andrew were incredible. I know many of you have heard this repeatedly….TS (you know the acronym) I must say it one more time. I also made some new friends and now have a couple of mentors. One of the best parts of the conference is exactly this. I also made a couple of new friends outside of the blogging community too.

There is so much to see and report on at the conference and we only touch on a small cross section of it. Sure, we heard angles on keynotes and a few interesting folks.We touched on a few existing and emerging issues in the space. The tweets and social media reach this yr. was significantly larger than any conference in SHRM history. Yes, HR folks are now in the main-stream on using social media. This year’s conference proved it and maybe that’s the biggest story of all. However, there were entire sub-topics that we missed unintentionally. SHRM ran numerous training sessions for accreditation in tandem with the conference. The international attendance continues to grow each year and had large contingents and their own events too. There were sub sections of SHRM like HRPS doing conference days within the main conference. There are board meetings or gatherings of HR branches going on before the conference too…I saw the folks from the SHRM Foundation throughout the event. Think of it as the ultimate of all HR folks being “in session”.

Next year I hope we expand the coverage to the outer fringes of the conference. I would personally like to report on these fringes as you may have already figured out. I also want to have a few sit downs with the board and hear first-hand what the agenda for our society looks like and challenge it with important questions. Unfiltered and unbiased, our version of the NO-SPIN ZONE (not to be confused with the FOX television version – OMG). The second ask may be better suited to a couple of our more seasoned bloggers, but as I always seem to do, I will certainly insert myself in the mix.

There was also significant business going on removed from the conference floors with vendors beyond the traditional smorgasbord of Monday night events, or vendor parties…. what was hot and what was not? Business was happening in every corner of the convention, hotel bars, restaurants, “the Quarter”, and even on a local golf course. Come on do you think I was just playing for the hell of it. Inquiring minds would like to know (I am an HR guy and some things just stay confidential).

Who were the HOT newcomers on the vendor floor? I saw two companies playing to the corporate hotel space this yr., competing for the same customers…where were the law firms and major consulting firms this yr.? I was invited to one that had a party and wasn’t even exhibiting. Have they abandoned this conference for good? Is the new model to court and maintain business away from the main conference??? Whats new for next yr.? Is the Smart Stage going Main Stage as I have suggested?

These are all unanswered questions and opportunities for coverage in the future. And how about having blog squad coverage on a smaller level at some of the smaller SHRM conferences? I have an interest in politics, others are interested in diversity, almost all of us are Talent folks? The opportunities are only limited by time and budget.

I can’t wait for 2018!

We have come a long way from the days of the SHRM daily recap newspaper…welcome to the new world of news! Live, raw and in the moment….

Time for the Smart Stage to take Center Stage at #SHRM17

smartstage

Steve Browne, Jennifer Payne, Jason Lauritsen, Trish McFarlane, and a host of others. Names those in the Talent and on-line space are more then familiar with. Doing 18 minute Twitter sized presentations. Minimal slides and time, however maximum impact.

It’s time for SHRM to move the small and friendly venue to a broader audience. One attendee spent the entire day at the stage with the knowledge that she could  listen to 3 times the speakers into the same amount of time. The Smart stage time has come into its own, all grown up, proven speakers, and  great topics in bite sized chunks…Oh and video tape it for the masses too….

Agree with me, tweet #shrm17 and tell them to move it to the main stage…It’s the Smart thing to do!

SHRM at an Inflection Point – Day 1 at #SHRM17

elephantinroom

I am reporting back from the opening session at #SHRM17. I was a little taken back that the opening presentation from SHRM leadership felt like ground hogs day from last yrs. opening. All the same introductions and highlights. The Foundation, HRPS, and volunteers. Lots of talk about agility and being business leaders. A few quick victories….

I would say it was a tale of two cities being played out on stage. Hank has done a very good job of quieting the critics the past few yrs. about his choice as CEO and the Direction of the organization. The organization has grown and improved their financials. The board has responded to the critics too. Betty, Brian, and now Coretha are all solid leaders for the board. Steve and David add insider street cred to the mix. For the first time I am not hearing much controversy from the peanut gallery.

But the world is changing at an ever accelerating rate and HR just does not seem to be able to keep pace. It’s the Elephant in the room and we all know it.

Kat Cole, todays featured speaker hit it out of the park, while at the same time rattling many in the audience with her brutally honest discussion of leadership in the new world of business. I am hoping the board and the executive team are taking notes. Our Society needs to be invigorated.

So what does the SHRM organization need to truly do differently to keep pace. Waiting six months for a new CEO does nothing to help the situation of playing catchup.

The new CEO has a tough agenda as Hank has set the stage for expected Success and change in the future. Can SHRM National leadership get back in touch at the local level with its constituents needs? And what about all the money spent on branding and commercials on CNN? Would we be better to have that money go directly into local grass-roots activities and programs?

I don’t pretend to have answers, but I am curious as many of you are.

2018 will be a year of challenge, transition, and high expectations for SHRM.

Hank, thank you for turning a critic into a believer. Johnny you have a big agenda and we hope you have learned from your previous tour of duty. Don’t forget the Mission to Serve us and Listen….