Showing posts with label Human Resources. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Human Resources. Show all posts

October 13, 2020

Born or Trained In Crazy


 This was a funny sign at the store:

You don't have to be crazy to work here, we'll train you.

Some places they hire the crazies and other they train them to be crazy. 

Perhaps, it's a bad culture or some bad applies, but either way they can turn good, caring employees into some more crazies to add to the office's bunch of bananas. 

Fortunate is s/he who works in a normal, good workplace and can do "a decent day's work for a decent day's pay."  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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January 4, 2019

Them Tables Always Turn

Just wanted to share a saying that I liked.

It is an ancient Mongolian proverb and was in the movie, "Mogul" about the rise of Genghis Khan:
Do not scorn a weak cub; he may become a brutal tiger. 
I think this is the Asian equivalent of:

1) Don't burn your bridges.
2  Don't start a war you can't win. 
3) Pick on someone your own size.
4) What goes around comes around.

The Asian version is better! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 20, 2018

Don't Get a Huge Hierarchy or a Big Fat Flat

So organizations are a funny thing.

Too hierarchical and you can get lost in the maze of corner offices.

Too flat, and there is no one to make a darn decision. 

Huge hierarchies can be costly and inefficient, but flat as a board organization are mob rule.

I think there has got to be a happy medium.

- One, where there is leadership, accountability, a reasonable span of control, and room for professional growth. 

- Two, where there is dignity and respect for everyone, and your tile and level doesn't make any difference in terms of having your voice heard and being able to make a difference. 

Hierarchies that reach to the pompous sky and flat organizations where all the air is let out and nothing can get done are those that need to be hailed away in a big menacing orange wheel lock.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 13, 2018

Succeed OR Fail

So I liked this saying from a colleague of mine at work:
We succeed or fail as a team.

It's not me. 

It's not you. 

It's not him.

It's not her. 
It's us!

No one can do it alone. 

- If we fail, we fail as a team. 

- If we succeed, we succeed as a team. 

So let's come together and be a team and give it our best shot! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 30, 2018

Don't Take Away The Breadcrumbs

So today it was announced that they want to cancel the meager cost of living adjustment (COLA) increase that federal workers were slated to get for 2019. 

A mere 2.1% increase in federal pay (compared with a more than 4% projected increase in private sector pay for 2018) is basically just enough to cover inflation for 2018 forecast at 1.9%.

In effect, without the cost of living adjustment, about 2 million federal employees end up with a net decrease of 2% in their standard of living because of inflation and no pay increase to offset. 

This is on top of the fiscal year 2011 and 2012 federal pay freeze that President Obama prior enacted. 

Why are we picking on the federal workforce when:

1) The U.S. economy is booming at an annual 4.1% increase
2) Of the $10 trillion tax cuts, 20% is being showered on the wealthiest 1%.

Le's just call a spade a spade--the pay freeze (i.e. cut after inflation) is really being driven to downsize government by driving employees out

Many of these are good people, hardworking people, and those that not only serve their nation but also sacrifice for it. 

With midterms around the corner and another Presidental election coming in a couple of years, why would you want to alienate 2 million workers instead of getting respect and even greater dedication?

As was written on this simple pair of blue jeans:
"Don't beat your croutons, you'll get breadcrumbs."  
In this case, don't beat up your federal workforce by taking their meager breadcrumbs, to begin with. 

Instead, let's show our appreciation for federal employees service to their country. ;-)

(Full disclosure: I am a federal employee and am proud to serve.)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 12, 2018

Getting To Know You

So we recently took on a new function at work.

With that came a new group of employees.

Today, we had a wonderful breakfast as a meet and greet for everyone to get to know each other.

There was a tremendous spread of food laid out everything from bagels and smear, granola and yogurt, free fruit and vegetable salad, donut and muffins, and more.

There was enough food to feed a small army.

Aside from the group joining us, we had people come from other departments that support the process they are involved in--so folks from finance, legal, and even the front office.

The new lead assigned for the group that came over even gave out envelopes to thank their new team and 2 big boxes of gourmet coffee for them to share.

How nice this all was done and the investment that was made to bring the new team on board was really amazing to me.

I saw all the goodwill that was being built up from this event and the niceties put into it to recognize the people and make everyone comfortable together as a team.

I learned that an investment upfront like this in people and function can have tremendous benefits downstream in building a team and performing services that everyone can be proud of who is apart of this.

Invest not only in things, but also most importantly in people and relationships! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 4, 2018

Have a Heart: Leadership With Heart

So many of you already know my leadership mantra. 

It's all about:
Leadership With Heart

That means understanding that workers are human beings. 

Yes, they should act as professionals.

But also, they are people with imperfections and problems.

Whether they are fighting addiction, debt, illness, mental health issues, family problems, abuse, or personal loss. 

Life happens.

And it's not always pleasant. 

Unfortunately, it seems like we are tested all the time. 

Therefore, good leaders, real leaders...lead with heart. 

They focus on the mission, but also empower, develop, and have empathy for the people. 

Think of the people you know in leadership positions today. 

Are they leaders with heart or heartless sons of guns. 

Who do you want to follow into the future?  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 19, 2018

When People Fear You, You're Not A Leader

As the fortune cookie I came across yesterday says:

"Leadership is action, not position."

And actions demonstrate a good or evil heart.

When everyone hates a leader is that a "leader?"

- Fear is not leadership.

- Bullying is not leadership. 

- Corruption is not leadership. 

Leadership is:

- Showing others what is right and being a good influence. 

- Rolling up your sleeves and doing the hard work alongside everyone else. 

- Helping others to achieve their potential. 

- When others see you as a leader based on your integrity of purpose and actions. 

How we treat others is as true a test of leadership as of where we want to go and how we want to get there. 

G-d sees everything man (leader or not) does, and only He in Heaven is the Leader of Leaders and the King of Kings.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 6, 2018

Sexual Harassment No, No, No

So I took this training about sexual harassment etc. 

There were some good general tips for managers confronting these challenging situations:

1) Address it quickly
2) Discuss it privately
3) Specify the problem behaviors
4) Get commitment that it won't happen again
5) Document what occurred

It's not rocket science, but thought this was useful guidance. 

Unfortunately, people don't always behave appropriately, but hopefully, individuals and society as a whole can learn to do much better.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 15, 2017

Management Is A Privilege

So some people have this notion about management that is all wrong. 

- Management is not a right or entitlement.

- Management is a wonderful privilege!

The privilege comes with responsibility and is earned by knowing how to manage and treat your people right.

That means:

- Acting with integrity

- Treating people fairly, with dignity, and respect

- Showing you value them

- Helping to develop them

- And of course, achieving results together!

I heard it said well like this:
"If you don't treat people well 
you won't be a manager for long."
Again, it's a privilege, not a right, to manage and lead others. 

Those who abuse their privilege and people--it's like the cycle of life. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 5, 2017

From Cradle To Grave

It's funny how in organizations talk about the lifecycle of people. 

From a full lifecycle perspective, it's "cradle to grave!"

In terms of lifecycle on the job, it's "hire to retire (or to fire)."

Really the lifecycles are intertwined. 

It starts with the cradle...we are born and go through a maturation process that focuses on our education and preparation for life. 

Then we get hired into our (hopefully) dream jobs, where we spend our careers until we retire--or if you mess up badly and get fired or decide to change career course--you may have to go back to "go" and "do not collect $200" and you get hired again for another career round. 

Eventually you retire and start your 2nd life in retirement, where please G-d, you have the health and prosperity to enjoy the fruits of your labor and your families. 

Ultimately, our lifecycle ends at the grave with the death of our bodies--our souls go on to Heaven and live forever basking in the light of the Almighty. 

Thus, the human capital lifecycle. ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

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April 9, 2017

Third-World Office

So hooray for paper towels. 

A good workspace is definitely conducive to productivity and morale. 

That means cleanliness, open collaborative spaces, quiet work areas/offices, ample supplies, and obviously good technology. 

I've been in world-class institutions in terms of their mission, but that were third-world in terms of their work conditions. 

In one place, the bathroom toilets kept getting clogged with paper towels, so they got rid of them altogether, which forced the employees to use toilet seat covers for hand towels--yes, believe it!

Of course, at least we had running water, but there was also often flooding in the cubicle areas and the windows were nailed shut--high-tech security, not. 

In another place, in the private sector, I remember a new CFO coming in and being so cheap that he actually got rid of the milk and creamer from people's coffee. 

Talking about pennywise and dollar foolish. 

Don't these institutions get that the way you treat people impacts the way they respond to their work.

How can we be the Superpower of the planet and can't provide decent, normal work conditions to our workers. 

It goes without saying that treating people with respect, dignity, and value should be happening all the time, but doesn't.

We're not even talking six-figure bonuses and stock options either--just treat people like human beings and not indentured slaves or cattle. 

Wake up America--you're people are worth working plumbing, paper towels, and some milk and creamer for their coffees and really a heck of a lot more than that. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 4, 2016

Manage As A Mensch

So I was watching Shark Tank and they gave an update on how one of the products, "Mensch on a Bench," is doing.

It's selling in Bed, Bath, and Beyond and has exceeded 100,000 units already!

Aside from the doll and book, they are working on Mensch apps, activity kits, and candy bars. 

The founder said, "It is hilarious and heartwarming to see all the different ways that families can incorporate Mensches into their lives."

This got me thinking about how being a mensch can also be incorporated into being a great manager!

- Treating people decently and fairly

- Empowering them to do their jobs well

- Empathizing with them as human beings

- Appreciating the power of diversity

- Respecting everyone and their points of view

- Recognizing and rewarding a job well done

Unfortunately, there are too many bad bosses out there that micromanage and abuse their people. 

They are arbitrary and dictatorial and never ask what anyone else thinks; they dump the work on their people, but don't lend a hand; they steal their ideas and take credit for their work; on top of it, they might even then stab them in the back when they're not looking; ah, forget about showing any sort of appreciation or kindness--it's dog eat dog. 

Hence, being a mensch first is a management must!

Think about people, not as a means to an end, but as an end unto themselves--they are souls interacting with your soul. 

Kindness, compassion, empathy...but keep your eyes on the important work and mission you are doing.

Get it done together, as a team, collaboratively, and with everyone contributing towards the endgame. 

(Live and) manage as a mensch! ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Bed, Bath, and Beyond)
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January 28, 2016

Suicide Office To-Dos

So at times, organizations send out notices to their staff with self help suggestions or organizational resources that are available.

One such case is for suicide prevention. 

For example, if you are thinking about suicide, perhaps you should contract the employee assistance program.

It's a good idea to reach out to employees when the messaging is done in a way that makes employees feel they are genuinely cared about and needed, and substantial help is available to them.

People contemplating suicide are in a desperate state of mind and proper handling is nothing less than a life or death situation.

Going to the extreme to make a point for a moment, office reminders about suicide prevention should never be selfish or cavalier, such as:

- Remember to turn the lights out.

- Set your out of office message on.

- Have you done a knowledge transfer to ensure a smooth transition?

If employees are coming away feeling like the organization is just sending out a form message or treating their feelings and situation lightly or in their own interests (such as to remove/reduce liability) that is apt to make things worse and not better.

Please treat employees with genuine dignity, respect, caring, and humanity, and offer them substantive help when they need it.

There are families depending on them and they love and need them. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Jason Kuffer)
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July 12, 2015

The "Real" OPM Data Breach

A lot has been made and should be made of the theft of over 21 million federal employees' sensitive personnel records and security clearances. 

Everyone rightly, although somewhat selfishly, is worried about identity theft and the compromised privacy of their information.

The government is worried about hostile nation states using the pilfered information to bribe or coerce military, intelligence, high-level politicals, and others to turn and work for them or otherwise to use against them. 

But what is grossly missing in this discussion is not what information presumably the Chinese stole and how they will use it against us, but rather what information they inserted, altered, or otherwise compromised into the OPM personnel and security databases when they got root access to it.

Imagine for a moment what could hostile nations or terrorists can do to this crown jewel database of personnel and security information:

- They could insert phony records for spies, moles, or other dangerous persons into the database--voila, these people are now "federal employees" and perhaps with stellar performance records and high level security clearances able to penetrate the depths of the federal government with impunity or even as superstars!

- They could alter personnel or security records taking prominent or good government employees and sabotaging them to have questionable histories, contacts, financial, drug or criminal problems and thereby frame or take-down key government figures or divert attention from the real bad guys out there and tie our homeland security and law enforcement establishment in knots chasing after phony leads and false wrongdoers and villains.

Given that the timeline of the hack of OPM goes back to March and December 2014, this was more than enough time for our adversary to not only do to our data what they want, but also for the backup tapes to be affected by the corrupt data entering the system. 

The damage done to U.S. national security is unimaginable. As is typically the case with these things, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Instead of investing in security, now we can invest in "credit monitoring and identity theft protection" for a very sparse three years, while federal employees will go a lifetime in information jeopardy, and the federal government will be literally chasing its tail on personnel security for decades to come. 

With the price so low to our adversaries in attacking our systems, it truly is like stealing and much more. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 10, 2015

Don't Just Hire Another You

So the corporate cat is out of the bag...

The New York Times confirms that "more than 80% of employers worldwide named cultural fit as a top hiring priority," where cultural fit is a sugarcoated synonym for hiring others like themselves!

Your resume influences whether you get an interview, but then "chemistry"--personality ("not qualifications") takes over--"like you were on a date."

Often cited reasons for hiring someone:

- Someone you would enjoy "hanging out" with, and "developing close relationships with."

- Those with "shared experiences," alma maters, and pedigrees--including "hobbies, hometowns, and biographies...and even "those who played the same sport."

What about diversity?

Well apparently, it's still an "old boys network" out there, even though diversity has been found especially important for "jobs involving complex decisions and creativity,"  and so as not to become "overconfident, ignore vital information, and make poor (and even unethical) decisions."

No doubt, personality and values can also be important in getting along with others in the group--even a few jerks on the team, can create plenty of havoc, discord, and dysfunction. 

Maybe after meeting the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) requirements, one of the litmus tests should be not whether the person is the same as us, but whether they are moral and decent human beings that can act appropriately with others.  

Not an easy thing to judge from some interviews, testing, or even reference checking--even when these are done well, there are still quite a number of hiring surprises that happen.

Or as they say about marriage, you don't really know the person until you wake up with them in the morning. 

There are also more extensive background checking that can help vet employees, such as in the Federal system, where many sensitive positions require an in-depth security clearance review process that looks at everything from criminal background, financial responsibility, psychological stability, national loyalties, and more. 

We need to know who we are dealing with, not intrusively, but responsibly for good hiring decisions. 

Honestly, you don't just want to hire the candidate that just looks good, like the pretty girl with no personality or a hideous disposition. 

To be clear, there should never be ANY hiring biases in the workplace--conscious or unconscious. 

Hiring mangers should make sure the person they are hiring is excellent in terms of the KSAs, has a broad set of terrific references, and can reasonably act like a mensch under a broad set of circumstances--the last one is the hardest one to ensure. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 22, 2013

Workers Getting Choked

Took this picture today of a worker protest outside of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in Washington, D.C.

It's a big blow up of a "fat cat" symbolically choking a worker.

You can see the reflection of the American flag in the window above the blow up cat. 

And the guy off to the left leaning against the barrier is wearing the same shirt as the blowup worker.

Not sure why they were having this protest or how they were allowed to erect this right in front of OPM.

Hope they resolve this quickly--because this is some bad "public relations" to be seen in front of the agency that manages Human Resources for the Federal government.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 2, 2009

Are Organizational Values Valuable?

Many organizations have a value statement that identifies what traits are most important to them.

Organizational values are similar to an enterprise architecture in that the organizational values identify a type of target state for organization members to strive for and adhere to.

The purpose of value statements is to guide people’s behaviors, decisions, and interactions.

For example, one police department that I looked up has value statements around the traits of integrity, pride, service, and fairness. A city that I found had value statements for passion for community, integrity in work, and results through collaboration. A non-profit organization had values of leadership, integrity, excellence, and impact.

As you read the value statements they give you a sense of the organization in terms of who they are, or actually more like what they believe in.

But do they really—i.e. are organizational value statements something that people in the organization are aware of, understand, can locate, recite, or summarize, and moreover, are the values actually used to guide behavior?

Or are these value statements written by leadership, human resources, or some strategic planning function in the organization as an ivory tower effort, and then published in the organization’s glossy annual plan and/or on their website, but never really communicated with or adopted by the people in the rank and file?

The question is not posed in order to be cynical, but to genuinely ask: are organizational value statements “true values” or are they more marketing and branding glitz?

With few exceptions, I would challenge most to identify whether their organization even has a value statement, let alone what it is. Moreover, the last time, they thought of and considered the organizational values in making a decision or taking an action.

Then why do organizations have value statements?

Perhaps, organizations intuitively or through management best practices know that they need to have values, because they are genuinely important. Just like as individuals we have personal values (be they religious or otherwise) that “tell” us who we as human being are and guide our behaviors, so too as organizations, we need to identify the values that will be our “moral compass” and define our organizational identity.

The problem though comes when organizational values are developed as a “project”—a time bound task or “to do” for someone or some committee who researched it, developed it, and got approval on it; but not managed as a “program”—an ongoing endeavor and commitment to create awareness, educate, and even enforce the values through performance rewards and recognition.

Moreover, culture and peer pressure are vey powerful forces that drive employee behavior, whether they consciously are aware of it or not. So many values are indeed employed in day-to-day interactions, but they may not be explicit and they may not be the same values that are actually in the organization’s value statement. That is because the informal network and implicit values may actually be more prominent and powerful in driving people’s behaviors that the formal and documented one in the organization.

The key is for leaders to genuinely commit to the values and their use across the organization. The leaders need to provide for the values to be widely communicated (on wall hangings, pocket cards, employee reference guides, Intranet and so on) and they need to be referred to in periodic communications (speeches, announcements, broadcasts, meetings, etc.). They need to be living, breathing values that touch people daily (and obviate the implicit and unsanctioned ones).

Further, leaders need not only talk about the values, but also they need to exemplify them. In other words, leaders need to practice what they preach and lead by example using the values to drive decisions and actions in a way that is transparent to all.

What I learned when I developed user-centric enterprise architecture is that any ivory-tower exercises or development of organizational shelfware is by definition a failure, and therefore we need to treat all of our strategic planning and management functions as a real-world effort.

If we could do that with both EA and organizational values, it would be great to integrate them and use them to drive an explicit target state for both the performance and the business perspectives, as well as a human capital perspective of the architecture.


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