Getting out of the HR funk.

Being well aware that it has been considerable months since my last posted thoughts, I do have a confession – that I was going through a time of HR cynicism, and I lost the inclination of reaching out to others I once was communicating and instead wanted to lose myself in my studies and family (which is not entirely a bad thing).  To retract from the scene, meant self-reflection.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve gone through dreamily highs of HR possibilities of collaborative organisational networking, diversity engagements, ditching the performance reviews, etc etc.

But it seemed my world of HR was completely different to how others were living in the #HRSoMe.

I don’t have the resources or the mandate to initiate some of the “wild” or “new world” initiatives that I see others are on the internet… the local government industry doesn’t have luxury to break out of bureaucratic moulds.  So, I do what I could… challenge the status quo from within, which seems to the be only thing that worked, as my colleagues are used to my ways of objection – whether they like it or not I’m not too sure… I just like to challenge for the sake of it, to have people justify the whys.

HR fads, buzzwords, relationship/strategic building, chair-at-the-table stuff… it all seems lost in the day-to-day Generalist grind of endless administration, and the resentment of how things are and frustration of others seemingly to keep moving forward on LinkedIn where one wishes to break out of the mouse-wheel.

One positive thing that did come out of my absence is an assurance that my passion for continuous HR improvement and ‘making a difference’ has directed my studies into Organisational Development – which, I had cups of mochaccino with three different OD Advisors from different industries and all of them gave me a different answer on what OD is, and what the Advisor does (go figure).

I must mention the HR Game Changer conference that recently occurred in Wellington where I stumbled slowly back into reading LinkedIn and Twitter feeds… and found myself glued once more to the feeds that were coming forth from attendees with little jewels of precious insights from leading HR thought-leaders and connecting to new people I haven’t encountered before – which was so familiar and refreshing to finally acknowledge I’m feeling like I’m coming out of my funk.

So for now, I have a few of my thought-posts in draft form, waiting… (for the last few months) to be released – but all in good time, when I can spare some – I am still studying after all – now in Organisational Behaviour – HA!

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My daughter in HR?

Driving to her school one day to drop her off, my 5-year-old girl starts chatting to me about possible future endeavours she’s thinking about pursuing…

The top of her list was ‘horse farmer’ – amusing, since I think she meant ‘horse breeder’ and that her only contact with horses was at her 3rd birthday party when we took her to a pony club (they must have had an impact on her).

When I asked, if she wasn’t going to be a horse breeder, what else did she have in mind?  The conversation went a little something like this:

She said “I like what you do…”

“Oh, no, honey… you don’t want to do my job – don’t you want to be a doctor to help sick people?”

“No”.

“What about being an astronaut, and go out to space?”

“No”.

“You sure?  You could be an inventor, or a scientist… or you really like maths – what about a mathematician?”

“No”.

Then I stopped – why am I discouraging my daughter away from a possible career in HR?  Is it not worthy enough as a career aspiration that it couldn’t compare to a horse breeder?

So, which leads me to another question – what would HR look like if my girl did pursue a career in HR in roughly about 20 years?
Would it continue the same way?  Always with an element of putting out employment relation fires? Constant paperwork?  Paper application forms, recruitment interviews (and forms), employee change forms, development forms, benefit forms, exit interviews (and forms).

One of the interesting things I’ve found that will occur if she does succeed in getting a role within HR is the amount of ageing people who is estimated to be in the workforce around in 20 years (give or take her graduation and finding a job!).

“By the mid-2040s, half of our population will be older than 45 years, compared with a median age of 34 years in 1999. ” – Statistics New Zealand

Accompanied with people stretching out their retirement age, would our HR tertiary system or HR practises be any different to accommodate this shift of demographic to better facilitate theirs and our operational needs?

As I’m the generation that found when we entered the workforce that we didn’t need to pay Union fees (or yet understand what Unions were or the working history of NZ), where the decline of Union membership around New Zealand and the rise of individual powers to companies, would they still be relevant?  Or would Employment Relations (ugh!) be just a history lesson?

No doubt the age of technology and mega-data is in its toddler years, how is HR embracing the race to not be left behind?  How is HR understanding the technology, let alone the people we try to recruit or develop for their needs and possibilities?

I, on the other hand, have very little hope that much change will occur for the local government industry (where I’m residing), as some are trying to keep up with private sectors on the limited rate-payer budgets to service the community with extraordinary employees.  Only time may prove me wrong.

Sorry to leave you with more questions than answers… but isn’t that what the future does to mankind?

As for Breanna, I don’t think she understands what I do, or why I think being in HR is self-fulfilling (he tangata, he tangata, he tangata).

But I’ve now learned not to dismiss her aspirations of where she wants to go in her career, no matter how crazy (or mundane) it might be.

Writ large – New Zealand’s HR bloggers

A special blog with names of NZ HR bloggers I follow and admire… oh yeah, I’m meantioned. It’s a bit of a motivator to keep journaling my journey/juggles. 🙂 Thanks @HRManNZ!

Up the Down Escalator

shutterstock_216819316Bloggers in my experience are intelligent, clever and thoughtful people (see what I did with the title? A little topical humour). We are not generally loud mouthed, ego driven ranters. At least, not in the HR space.

When I first started writing this blog nearly two years ago, I had many motivations for doing so. One of them was that no one else in the New Zealand HR profession was doing it and there was a gap to be filled. At least, that’s how it seemed at the time.

Similarly, I thought if I could do it then that might inspire a few others to jump in and write stuff too.

It occurred to me recently while going through all the HR blogs I follow and read that there is a growing list of NZ generated content that needs to be shared and celebrated.

Recently US blogger Christopher Demers

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Mind Your Language!

I. Love. This… I’ve been drafting a blog that in the similar vein… coming soon! Exhaustion from the hyper-pep-space age-HR spam that infultrating my twitter and LinkedIn feeds!

corridorconversations

bingo

I’ve been thinking a bit about Donald Rumsfeld lately. The old warhorse and former two time US Secretary of State has been popping up in my thoughts. More specifically, I’ve been thinking about language, particularly the language of HR and where it might be leading us. Rumsfeld is probably best know for his remarks about the potential lack of evidence for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

In one of the most notorious press briefings of recent times, he said:

“Reports that say there’s — that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things that we know that we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

Before we all start feeling smug…

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No one said it was going to be easy…

The part-time student life in a full time working, part time family world.

Couldn’t hold my disappointment from my partner when I received my overall result for the Employment Relations paper.  It was a sledge-hammer to my heart… a C+.

My first real HR paper! Really???  That’s all I got?!?

Thankful that I don’t have to repeat it, but in the case of pride, I’m very tempted to.

Recently transferring extramural studies from Open Polytechnic of New Zealand to Massey University after listening to personal opinions from various HR colleagues, I decided to switch as it was perceived more prestigious to have a qualification from a uni rather than a tech. (Again: really?)

Clearly I didn’t take it as seriously as being in tech – I admit now that tech was easier… Whether they were more lenient towards their students I’m not sure; but studying during my lunch breaks at work and after the kids go down to bed, I achieved more marks than I previously could be bothered during high school. I rewarded myself whenever I attained an ‘A’ and felt chuffed with myself when it went to a B-.

Although I feel that I’m well-versed in the Employee Relations material and topic – I realise now that it’s my translation of what I learned and not assuming what I think the lecture is asking me to do… both I believe are also traits in being in HR:  one must be confident in the translation of what they learned into practise, and that assuming will make an ass-outta-u-and-me.

I have taken this lesson to heart, and please bear with my blog and online presence as I recluse myself into the depths of journal articles and heavy textbooks – determined not to make a repeat.

For now, it is onwards to Business and Society (Business Ethics) – a fascinating topic, and I say this without sarcasm – understanding the complex relationship between society, government and business… particularly with corporate social responsibility… a topic close to my heart.  I am making good progress and am due to give my first assignment regarding CSR in the next two weeks.

You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it. – Maya Angelou

In praise of blogging

People Stuff

Once upon a time, published content was the preserve of journalists or academics. Paid writers.

Not anymore.

There are something like 60m WordPress blogs out there. People blogging away, putting their thoughts out into the world. All for free.

I started blogging a couple of years ago. My early posts were very well received by my mother. Over time, my blogging has developed, and developed me. The process has made me more creative. Made me think harder. More reflective. But before I started my own blog, I was reading those written by others. And there are some amazing bloggers out there, writing about the people stuff. This particular blog post was prompted by a 24 hour period where I read three fantastic blog posts. All very different, but each making me stop and think in their own way.

Blogs are a rich stream of learning. I read them everywhere. On…

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How many NZ CEO’s have worked in HR?

Wow… Haven’t heard of a summary of NZ CEO’s backgrounds before – it’s a bit of a worry. :S

hrmanagementbites

This is a bit of a different blog for me. I decided to do some big data (or perhaps it’s only medium sized).

After I co-blogged with Richard Westney on why CEO’s prefer blondes, it seemed to spark a chain reaction. Amanda Sterling wrote about just because I’m young and quiet, doesn’t mean I’m stupid and David D’Souza blogged on the Sexy Women of HR. Many comments and discussions ensured. All this from wondering about whether CEO’s really get what HR can do and are they hiring the right people to deliver.

Could part of the issue be none of them have ever worked in HR or managed an HR function (even at an exec level?).  I decided to look into the top 50 NZX companies CEO’s and see if I could find the answer.

My CEO analysis

I looked at a number of things:

  • Gender
  • The degree…

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Reformations and transformations

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This is a snap from a presentation from the CEO of the Waikato Chiefs rugby team – basically going through how in within 2 years, the team went through a zero-heroes to holders of Super Rugby cup – twice in a row… The 4th team to do so back-to-back.

Was an interesting presentation. Quite a lot of HR *men* attended! (Wonder why?) so they do exist!

Leading from the front

another HR ranty blog I’ve got respect for…

Up the Down Escalator

A fantastic post by Simon Heath on his Work Musing blog this week struck a real chord with me. It was about leaders who don’t know their arse from their elbow, and how there should be a focus on breaking down silos in organisations and building connections.

I make it a rule that I don’t blog about work I’m currently doing but I’m going to make a brief exception here. Over the last two weeks I have been involved in running leadership workshops for each of the managers and leaders in my region.

In line with Simon’s message, we kept it simple. We talked about the traits that the best employers and leaders demonstrate and how can we be better managers. We gave them real life examples of some of the little things good leaders do that make a difference.

There was no mention of team types, or personality types…

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Stating the Obvious

Wow – great blog. Engagement isn’t complicated, and it isn’t expensive – treating your employees how you would like to be treated.

People Stuff

The subject of engagement has been on my mind a lot of late, hence the plethora of blog posts I’ve written on the subject. It was certainly a hot topic at the HR Director’s Summit I recently attended. I’m going to say just one more thing, and then shut up about it for a while.

And it is this. Employee engagement is stating the bloody obvious.

Treating your people well so they want to come to work and form good connections with your company? Offering them good leadership? Listening to what they have to say? Recognising them, developing them, communicating with them? No shit Sherlock.

Haven’t we always known this?

HR professionals have. This is what we talk about, every day. Engagement might not be the word we have always used for it, but we are talking about it, have talked about it, all the same.

Because what is engagement…

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