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Photo on 7-23-15 at 6.10 PM #2

Years ago, I dated a boy whose mom had a part-time job working for an artist.

She didn’t earn money. She received art.

When I challenged this boy on his family’s wealth, he tried to tell me that his family wasn’t affluent. I rolled my eyes. When you earn art for a paycheck, you don’t have problems in life.

That’s when this kid yelled, “My mum has a job! People don’t just work for money, Laurie. Art is currency!”

I was just a kid, but I wondered — in what world is artwork considered currency? OMG, I rolled. On my side. Off the couch. I laughed so hard that I had tears in my eyes.

To this day, I look for opportunities to say things like, “Art is currency!”

Now that I’m older, though, I realize that art can be currency. (Sorta.) It doesn’t pay my mortgage, but it’s a legitimate and thoughtful payment for a favor or a kind gesture.

And when the artwork comes from Doug Shaw, along with a thankful note about our friendship, I’ll accept it all day long.

Thank you, Doug!

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When someone shows you who they are, you should believe them. Maya Angelou said that, and I think was talking about Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is very racist.

There’s no bigger example of Trump’s racism the 2004 season finale of The Apprentice. (Yes, this is ancient history.) Trump cast Omarosa Manigault as a villain and then chose Bill Rancic over Kwame Jackson.

Before the choice is made, Kwame Jackson is asked to work on a final project with a team of people. Omarosa is cast as a partner. She is rebellious, and in retrospect, it seems like she sabotaged Kwame’s project at the behest of the writers and producers to make the show interesting.

When Kwame Jackson is at the board table for the final time, he defends his work and complains about Omarosa’s behavior. Trump says — You should have kicked her off your team and fired her.

Jackson was like — I didn’t know the rules. I didn’t know that I could do that.

Trump is like — Well, that sucks for you. You’re fired. Rancic wins.

(Or something like that. I’m close. Pull the tape.)

That exchange in itself isn’t overtly racist. However, Trump and his writers paid Omarosa to act like a villain and saboteur and then penalized Kwame for not knowing the rules and parameters of the game.

Those shifting goal posts and unclear levels of authority are very common for women and minority leaders in corporate America. Many white men are applauded when they drop the hammer and make tough decisions. Women and minorities are often left wondering — Can I do this? Do I have the power?

(I can’t see you, but I would ask you to raise your hand if someone has ever asked you, “Who do you think you are?”)

So I’m not saying Bill Rancic didn’t deserve to win. I’m just saying that long before Trump was a racist presidential candidate, he was a racist fake-boss on TV. And he’s probably a racist boss in real life.

He showed us who he was, and we should believe him.

#teamkwame4evah

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Sometimes people complain that my blog has clickbait on it.

“You roped me in under X and then told me about Y.”

Smart bloggers who monetize their online presence know that they have to sell ideas, products and services through their websites. I could load my blog up with display ads or pop-up advertising. I could end every post with an obvious call to action on behalf of a vendor. Or I could simply sell sponsored posts.

I do all of that, sometimes, but that kind of behavior is mostly obnoxious.

I have created a system where I write what I want to write. If it links to a client in a legitimate way, I link it. If I want to complain about salad, I complain about salad.

For what it’s worth, life is clickbait. Once someone has your attention, they never want to let it go. This applies to brick-and-mortar stores as well as news and information websites. Why should someone try to keep you engaged and entertained for as long as possible — for free — unless they’re trying to sell you something?

Me? I very rarely try to sell anybody on anything unless it’s my ideas. I am an HR expert. I offer helpful and fun posts about work, life, and cats. I do what I want when I want. I don’t owe anyone an explanation about how I structure my blogs, and if you think this website resembles clickbait, you haven’t spent much time on the internet.

You feel cheated when I write about a webinar? Maybe this site isn’t for you!

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Everybody is freaking out about (proposed) new overtime rules in America.

Here are some of the insincere objections to the rules I’ve seen from pro-business websites.

Workers Might Lose Money in the Long Run

Yes, companies who previously paid people $23,000/year and called them managers — and worked them 50+ hours each week without overtime — are now concerned about how much workers earn. That makes sense.

Professional Employees Might Have to Punch a Clock

God-forbid someone who isn’t a janitor “punch a clock,” as if logging onto your computer workstation every morning isn’t the same darn thing. Many store owners track their exempt-level managers via security systems. They watch their leaders do their jobs via a closed-circuit TV system. That’s empowering, right?

Workers Will Lose Flexibility

I was at the vet, a few weeks ago, and heard one receptionist training another new receptionist. If you arrive at work in the morning and punch in from 8:00:00-8:07:59, you’re on time. Your check won’t be docked. If you punch in between 8:08:00-8:15:00, you lose all 15 minutes of pay, and you’re docked a point in some punitive system of justice.

For every additional eight minutes, things get weirder.

I later learned that the new receptionist worked at Barnes & Noble during the recession after she lost her professional job. Then she was laid off when B&N closed its local store. She started working with vets. Her skills are in marketing and project management, but she loves animals and enjoys subjecting herself to the “flexible” American system of work and the awe-inspiring time & attendance policies of the hourly, non-exempt workforce.

Offering her new opportunities to earn OT would be horrible. She needs the flexibility of arriving at work between 8:00:00 and 8:07:59!

More OT Means Less Developmental Opportunities

How do you train the workforce of the future when you have to pay them a decent wage AND maintain an inflated bonus pool for your executive leadership team? These are tough questions, yo!

Let’s face facts. The overtime rules need updating.

If you ask me to make a choice between the Chamber of Commerce and the manager who runs my local coffee shop, I’m going to pick my coffee shop steward. And if you’re wearing Brioni shoes, you don’t get to lecture anybody on how the proposed OT changes will hurt the economy.

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I’ve spent the month of July curating posts at The Hiring Site about work-life balance. I’m proud of the team’s work over there. There are excellent pieces on unlimited PTO, giving up technology for a weekend, and paternity leave. You should go check it out.

But reading about work-life balance never saved anybody’s sanity. The key is to read, reflect and act.

Evaluate whether or not the advice applies to you.

Do you have work-life balance problems, or do you have unrealistic expectations of adulthood? Grownups are busy. They have obligations. And even the luckiest among us will do stuff they don’t want to do. Maybe you would have plenty of balance if you stopped expecting balance and embraced the very normal and ordinary blend of calm and chaos that adults experience in a lifetime.

Don’t automatically assume you need a vacation.

I know so many working parents who feel stressed out and tired. They take a vacation, return to work and look like they’ve slogged through a WWII battle scene. Vacations can be hard work that require planning, coordination, and patience. If you want to drop hard-earned money on a vacation, consider a staycation where you invest in a cleaning service and get the house organized.

Read this closely: Don’t horde your time off.

Far too many benefits plans reward American workers for skipping a vacation and coming to work. Your “days off” do have cash value and are part of your total rewards package; however, even your CEO takes time off. Skipping vacation days makes you weird and cuts you off from real life. If it’s important for you to carry time over, carry the smallest amount of time into the new plan year and use your vacation days to get a hobby or visit family and friends. The future version of yourself—unemployed or retired—will thank you for that investment.

One more thought.

It’s really easy to give vague work-life balance advice, which is why I’ve teamed up closely with The Hiring Site to suggest realistic advice that applies to your professional development. I’m passionate about creating healthy space and boundaries between work and life. I also recognize that work is life for some people. The best vacation policies don’t apply to everybody.

So my last piece of advice is simple.

If you need time off, take it. Don’t need time off? Take it, anyway, and make the most of it. Volunteer. Take a walk. Cut your grass.

I am looking at you, my neighbor lady with a bunch of toys strewn around her house. (I’m also looking at my husband who needs to paint our front door and clean out the garage.) A day spent organizing your life and being productive is a day worth taking.

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Lots of traffic to my blog based on Google searches related to interview questions.

I’m not a big fan of pre-planned interview questions. Ask a boring question, get a boring answer. I like reliable and valid interview processes, but asking someone to list their “biggest weaknesses” will not predict success.

So if you’re going to ask some interview questions, make them interesting.

What do you think of Donald Trump?

There is only one correct way to answer that question. I know you might not be able to ask a political question if you work in a government office, but he won’t be in the presidential race forever. It’s always a valid question.

Do you think the Confederate flag is racist?

Of course, everybody will say it’s racist. Your follow-up question is simple. “Really?” And you should whisper it because racist people think you agree with them when you whisper.

Do you watch soccer?

C’mon, man. Nobody in this country watches soccer on TV. Maybe the Women’s World Cup, of course, because those women are badass. But not a pro-team. Don’t lie to me.

If you had to pick one, choose Scientology, Westboro Baptist Church, or the Bandidos.

I think the answer will show creativity, character and a good understanding of whether or not the candidate is up on current events.

Do you think it’s okay to kiss animals on the lips?

Yes, duh, it’s okay. Any other answer is unacceptable. I kiss my cats on the lips because my cats are delicious and, oh yeah, it allows me to stay on top of their dental health. If a candidate is allergic to animals, you could listen for a second conditional answer such as, “If I had a cat, I would kiss her on the lips.”

So those are my suggestions for great interview questions. Have some, too? Let me know!

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I’m a vegetarian and people always offer me a salad.

You know what? Fuck salad.

Lettuce is barely a green. Why don’t you offer me a saggy strip of wallpaper from your guest bathroom? That would be more delicious.

Also, do you know the markup on lettuce? It’s picked and packaged by undocumented and underpaid migrant workers. Then it’s sold to me with a 500% profit for an evil agra-business.

No thanks. I don’t want any part of that.

Don’t try to butter me up with tomatoes and cucumbers, either. Those are condiments, for chrissake. There’s nothing sadder than watching someone eat a side salad with French dressing and act like it’s both nourishing and tasty.

Forget it, chump. I know that salad tastes like Legos.

Maybe you’re a fan of salad. I don’t mean to offend you. Whenever I go on a salad rant, I get friends who say, “But I know this restaurant makes a great spinach salad.”

Hold the phone. It’s a bag of spinach with some oranges thrown into the mix. Nobody made anything. To make something, you gotta show talent and some love. And don’t charge me $12 for a plate of green leaves that are 90% water. I sorta want those restaurants to sneak in some chicken. At least I’d get my money’s worth.

But I will say that I have a lot of love for salsa, which is salad with some balls. Add some chips, guacamole, and a margarita. I’d eat that salad all day long, baby.

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There was a time in my life when I worked in HR and people asked me to write performance improvement plans for a living.

I would be like — Is it 1963? Am I your secretary? And do I look like I know anything about your jacked up employee?

But, more importantly, I have no idea why people want to write stuff down like amateurs. When you write it down, you have to defend it. And it’s not like a well-written document ever beat a lawyer. You never beat the lawyers. The only way to win is to steer clear of those jackwads. Once you have to explain yourself, you’ve already lost.

So here are my ten steps to writing a great performance improvement plan.

Step 1: Talk to the worker who has issues. Use your words.

Step 2: Speak openly and clearly about the issues at hand. Be kind, but don’t mince words.

Step 3: Lay out expectations. Let the person know that you’re not some chump who will put up with an ongoing, 30-day rolling performance improvement plan. This ends now.

Step 4: Look internally. Ask yourself, who hired this person in the first place? If it was you, accept some accountability. If it was someone else, get a fast read on why this person is working for you.

Step 5: Uh, yeah. Notice we haven’t sent an email or written anything down yet? We don’t write shit down.

Step 6: Notice the employee doesn’t have any documentation in her file? We don’t do personnel files, anymore.

Step 7: Notice how steps 1-4 were all about talking and thinking and reflecting? Do you really need HR for this?

Step 8: This step is all about me rolling my eyes at you.

Step 9: Fine, okay. We can still talk about performance improvement plans. Maybe you need to fire this person. Maybe you don’t. If you’ve been kind and fair, you’ll know right away if this will work out. Tell me again why you want to document this and send a note via email?

Step 10: There are two paths, buddy. • Path 1: If you can see a way forward for the employee, be a decent human being and offer it. Don’t write a PIP. Spend 1:1 time with that employee. Be a mentor, not an asshole. • Path 2: If there’s no future for this worker, cut quickly and spend the money to make it right.

If you’re truly at the point of writing a performance improvement plan, you’re at the end of an employment agreement.

So those are my recommendations on how to write a PIP. Got something better? Let me guess — is it in the cloud?

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CIxk8GFVAAAj-HpWhat would you do if everybody hated you?

Well, everybody does hate you if you work in human resources.

* Employees hate you for being an administrative obstacle. What? They can’t sleep late and take mental health days? Why you gotta be like that? All bossy & stuff?

* Supervisors hate you because they can’t just hire and fire people based on instinct—or racism. Why you gotta be like that? All rulesy & stuff?

* Leaders hate you because you make them follow the law and spend money on safety, training and compliance issues. Why you gotta be like that? All legal & stuff?

* Other HR people hate you for thinking differently and daring to do new stuff. Why you gotta be like that? All brave and into data & stuff?

* And consultants hate you because you have a budget, share of voice and authority over systems and processes that are quite lucrative. Why you gotta be like that? All powerful & stuff?

I once read a poorly constructed survey that felt right to me. It said that HR loses 2-3 people over the age of 35 for every entry-level hire in our industry. That means that women—yes, mostly women—are choosing to leave mid-level jobs that pay about $99,000/year to do anything other than human resources.

I may be misremembering that survey, but it sure feels familiar.

While I am not in HR on a daily basis, I wrote a book about how you are the future of human resources—especially those of you who hate it—and you need to stick it out and fight like hell to shape the future of your careers. Don’t acquiesce to haters. And remember: while it seems like everybody hates you when you work in HR, but you don’t have to hate yourself.

I know you don’t need my help, but I can’t stand it when someone (other than me) makes fun of HR ladies. So when Halogen Software asked me to speak about my book in my hometown of Raleigh, next week, I said yes.

I never get a chance to roll out of bed, put on my yoga pants and speak to my hometown crowd about something that sticks in my craw. I said yes to speaking in Raleigh about how HR is doing great work on a daily basis, and I hope you can join me.

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I’m on record telling everybody that the current trend of “culture” is a bunch of baloney. You don’t have a culture.

At best, you may have a vibe in your office that’s influenced by real-time employee interactions, systems and behaviors. That’s not culture. That’s just a bunch of people who are paid to come together and choose to behave in a certain way. Then they go home. You should be thankful that they came to you with morals, values and a work ethic. You didn’t make that. You hired for it, and you’re the benefactor of solid adult choices.

At worst, you have a cult. I want to be fair because some cult members are happy. Even Scientologists think they do good work.

You’ve heard this all before.

Although you follow generally accepted accounting principles, your company isn’t the House of Medici. You don’t support art and culture. You make plastic tubing and metal fasteners. You pay people to do good work, and you encourage them to have outside lives. That’s great. Let’s not make it out to be something it isn’t.

But maybe you are like the House of Medici. You exploit people and horde wealth. That’s nothing to be proud of, and maybe you should stop throwing around the word culture as if your CEO is Pope Leo XI.

If I can’t stop you from using the word “culture” in your HR department, I want you to think about how you use it and why. I think good office environments with healthy interactions are the sum of three things: creative thinking, curation of good behaviors, and continuity of values and beliefs that can withstand turnover.

So if you’re interested in learning more about that, you can pay me a lot of money for a lovely keynote speech—where I’ll probably piss off half the people in the room—or you can hear me for free on a webinar from HCI.

Webinar! Whoo hoo!

You may disagree with me on culture, but you might also learn something and see your company in a different light. So why don’t you give it a shot?

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