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I had breakfast with Jason Lauritsen, last week. He is a super human being with a big heart. You should know him.

(Side note — his wife knows my cousin. It’s a small world.)

Anyway, it’s breakfast and I’m eating everything at the hotel buffet. Jason is trying to have an adult conversation with me about life.

What am I doing in 2015? What’s my plan? What am I passionate about?

Apparently, we’re just getting to know one another. I’m like — Here’s the deal, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, and I have no plans. I’ve got a good thing going,and I don’t want to mess it up by dreaming and having goals.

Jason, on the other hand, is my opposite. He fights battles — against mediocrity, employee disengagement, unfair treatment of women in the workforce — and he has a seven-part plan to take over the world.

He asked me what battles I’m fighting. I said, “The only battle I’m fighting is against myself.”

True. Probably the same battle everyone fights, too. Beyond that, I don’t have much going on in my life. My husband has a new job. I like The Mindy Show. I’ve been eating lots of carbs and trying not to drink too much, lately. That’s something, right?

Well, I felt pretty lame. So I decided to get myself back into a running group and lend my expertise as a mentor. It’s something I talked about in 2014. What the hell else am I doing besides avoiding writing a book? I would rather train for a marathon, and get other people geared up for races than write.

That’s my battle. It’s a stupid fight. I would like to think that running will help with that, but if it doesn’t, at least I’m doing something productive.

So here’s to a season of mentoring!

Thanks, Jason.

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IMG_8095Several years ago, my friends and I started a meme called #timsackettday to honor unsung heroes in the field of human resources who hustle but don’t receive any press. We’ve honored good folks like Tim Sackett, Paul Hebert and Kelly Dingee.

When I asked for nominees for this year’s Tim Sackett Day, someone sent me this note:

I have to nominate Victorio Milian. He has grown SO MUCH from consulting, and from being exposed to the real worlds of running small businesses, be they nonprofits or for-profits. He understands the financial impact of HR decisions, and he appears equally skilled in coaching the uncoachable entrepreneurs he works with. Lastly, I think he needs more visibility. He has persistently hustled for two or three years now. Anything you can do to help him gain some more credibility and visibility would be greatly appreciated.

Boom. We’re done here. This year’s honoree is Victorio Milian.

Victorio is a comic-book-loving human resources leader who is kind, insightful, and believes in the enduring goodness of humanity. He doesn’t take himself too seriously while simultaneously striving to ensure that others take his work seriously.

I look up to Victorio and admire him. He fights the right battles. He works with not-for-profits, volunteers to help felons find jobs, and he manages to raise two fantastic children while also acknowledging and praising his partner for being an excellent mother.

I can’t say enough good things about Victorio. He is a role model, a seriously talented human resources professional, and a damn good human being.

Go find him. Be his friend. Learn from him.

* http://creativechaoshr.tumblr.com/
* http://twitter.com/Victorio_M
* http://hirevictorio.com
* http://www.linkedin.com/in/vmilian
* https://plus.google.com/+VictorioMilian
* http://www.facebook.com/Victorio.Milian
* http://instagram.com/victorio_m/

Happy Victorio Milian Day!

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I grew up on the northwest side of Chicago. It wasn’t tremendously ghetto back in the mid 1980s, but it wasn’t all that flashy. I was lucky enough to attend parochial school for six years. Even though money was tight and nobody in our neighborhood did very well — and believe me, I never heard the end of how broke we were — nearly all of the adults I knew smoked cigarettes.

(Amazing what you will do for an addiction.)

In 7th grade, my classmate’s mother up and died of lung cancer. That’s the story the nuns told us, anyway. The mother was in her late 30s and smoked heavily. She was agoraphobic and never left the house. Health insurance? Preventative care? That wasn’t a thing. And I think the mom was a drinker, but I might be confusing her with other women in my life who were heavy drinkers and smokers.

(I have a list.)

Anyway, I hope you’re still with me because it’s 1987 and my classmate’s mother died. We were told it was lung cancer. The news didn’t shock me, if I’m being honest. I remember the mom’s cough, or rather, I remember the guttural way she tried to clear her dry, irritated throat of pervasive and imaginary mucous.

“Harrumph. Hack. Cough.”

Always with a cigarette in hand.

I’ll never know if this mother truly died of lung cancer, but I remember that my mother went to the funeral on behalf of our family. My mom came home from the service looking green. She whispered something to my grandmother and enrolled herself in a smoking cessation program almost the very next day.

True story.

And I’ve never smoked because I remember the look on my friend’s face in the bathroom of St. Wenceslaus when she said, “Lauren, this doesn’t feel real. It feels like a bad dream. My mom is dead.”

Jesus. You don’t forget that.

It’s not like anyone bears the responsibility of my friend’s mother’s death, but I read that upwards of 85% adult smokers have tried to quit smoking at least once. All we can do is be there to support our friends and family members as they struggle with this addiction. And we can fund the hell out of anti-smoking initiatives and smoking cessation programs.

So I am Hustling Up the Hancock for the third year in a row in memory of my friend’s mother. The run happens in a month. Will you support me?

Honestly, I am hustling up 94 flights of stairs because smoking is bullshit. I’m hustling because tobacco companies and advertising agencies want to kill us slowly. And I’m hustling because no twelve-year-old girl should lose her mother to addition — even if that addiction is legal.

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71uMOmpZZQS._SL1422_Back in 2004, I used to have a real job.

I lived in Michigan and worked for Pfizer. My territory was global. My job started off as a normal HR job until I had to lay people off. A lot of them. I traveled to fun places like New York City, London, France and Puerto Rico. And some times I really lucked out and traveled to Nebraska, Indiana and Connecticut.

Ugh.

I loved to travel, but nobody told me how boring it is to travel midweek to a small town by myself. I would spend my days in meetings, and my dinner options were limited since nobody wanted to entertain the HR chick who was about to fire people. My dinner choices were Chipotle (if I was lucky), a pizza-and-wings joint, or maybe a dark Indian restaurant with red walls and a sketchy BYOB policy.

(I always went with the Indian place.)

I used to be sober, too.

I rarely drank when I was working. It seemed weird and sad to drink alone. My habits were simpler. I would go to dinner and always order dessert. Then I would go back to my room, change into a pair of pajamas, and watch The Bachelor and America’s Next Top Model.

Sometimes I killed time by writing on my semi-anonymous blog.

Travel isn’t much different for me in 2015 except that I have a very public blog and I drink a little more. I don’t watch The Bachelor, but I do watch a lot of online videos.

Travel can be so unproductive.

Because traveling alone can be so demoralizing for me, I have new rules in 2015. I am not speaking at any SHRM events. (You just can’t pay me enough for the hassle and the disruption to my schedule.) No overnight stays if I can get somewhere and back in 12 hours. And I’m not traveling on Sunday nights. It’s an important day for my family. I don’t know about you, but we get organized for the week on Sundays.

Everybody needs balance and boundaries.

While I may have to get up early and stay up late to meet some of my new business travel guidelines, it’s worth it. The payoff is that I’ll spend more time at home with my family.

Hopefully, these new rules will keep me feeling a little more grounded in 2015. At the very least, I won’t be avoiding the bar — and the SHRM conference scene — by watching The Bachelor at some dumpy hotel in the middle of nowhere.

I just don’t have that kind of time in my life, anymore.

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I spend a lot of time talking about what makes HR professionals fail, but I have strong opinions on the key attributes that make human resources leaders successful.

Here are four.

Great HR leaders are dependable and reliable.

Everybody wants innovative and disruptive until you actually give them innovative and disruptive. Then they want steady and trustworthy. I say — don’t discount mature and competent leaders who talk about boring things like administration and compliance. Dependable and reliable HR professionals know the law, know the by-laws of a company, and usually do the right thing for shareholders and employees alike.

Successful HR leaders don’t grab the limelight.

I’m currently away at a conference with a few hundred executives who are responsible for the HR function in the restaurant industry. (This industry employs nearly 10% of all workers in America.) You’ve heard of Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffet, right? That’s great, but you don’t know the name of the man who runs a personnel and ops department for one of the largest fast food chains in America. That guy has a budget bigger than your company’s revenue. He is all about service, integrity, and achieving greater revenue and enhanced margins by elevating the work of others. If he grabs the stage, it’s to salute someone else.

The best human resources leaders don’t get too political.

I always tell aspiring HR professionals to watch the State of the Union and have a political opinion. However, working with leaders and employees means being politically savvy enough to know when to express an opinion and when to hold back. Great HR professionals don’t hold their colleagues hostage to a specific political point-of-view.

Exceptional HR leaders embrace diversity.

You can’t be a human resources leader if you have a chip on your shoulder or malice in your heart. You don’t have to like it. You don’t have to love it. You have to get on the bus. Otherwise, it’s leaving without you.

Being successful in HR isn’t all that difficult. I think great HR leaders embody balance in their personal and professional lives. Nobody likes the guy who takes himself too seriously, especially when he adds SCP or SPHR after his last name. Unless you’re a doctor, drop the fake credentials and stop pretending like what you’re doing is science.

Human Resources professionals do important work, but great leaders know that HR is less of a science and more of an art.

A messy, messy art.

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There aren’t a ton of fun things about working in human resources. We do things that need to be done. It’s not super sexy or totally fulfilling, but it’s important.

You know what’s fun? The other stuff that sits outside of HR.

Social media. Employment branding. Data. Thinking about HR as a B2C function instead of a B2B cesspool of boredom.

But people want to take the fun stuff away from HR.

Without blinking an eye, HR professionals give ground to vendors who throw parties at conferences and promise to “partner with HR” — all while undermining the very function of human resources itself.

One of those vendors is Glassdoor. They’ve created a marketplace where people can talk about their experiences as applicants, candidates and employees of specific companies. People can review the employment lifecycle — from soup to nuts — and give honest and semi-anonymous feedback.

That’s great, but other than selling your data and inserting a cookie into someone’s browser, Glassdoor falls victim to the curse of every other vendor in this space and can’t monetize jobseekers or employees in a super compelling way.

Glassdoor is the 2015 version of The Ladders.

Where most vendors fail to monetize the jobseeker, Glassdoor effectively monetizes the dim-witted HR professionals who follow fads.

* Worried about this thing called employer branding?
* Want to respond to user reviews in Glassdoor’s marketplace — as if those reviews mean something?
* Want to have a special profile that tells people how great your company is — beyond your dang website and career page?
* Want to monitor your company’s reputation like it’s a sketchy credit score?

Glassdoor can sell that shit.

It’s called employer branding (very loosely) and everybody talks about it.

I don’t mind it when companies make money, but the thing about “employer branding” is that it’s pretty easy to do on your own. You can google it and master it in a few days. Go to a conference. Take a short course on branding. Talk to my friends Lars Schmidt or Jennifer McClure. Study your competition. This isn’t hard. And, when done right, employer branding can be cheap.

When you spend money with Glassdoor, you wave the white flag of surrender.

I don’t respect people whose actions tell me, “Our human resources department like cats, Diet Coke, and cupcakes. We can’t monitor a brand or use existing technologies to post jobs to the right communities at the right time. We’re too busy being gossipy and lame.”

When I work with HR professionals who get giddy about Glassdoor and complain about the challenges of employer branding, I give them the Laurie Face® and ask, “Can you come to work on time and do your job, or is that too much of a challenge, too?”

Stop being lazy.

Successful HR leaders are bold, courageous and stingy as hell with their budget. They aren’t spending the tens of thousands of dollars needed to appease the market and jump on the latest fad. They are demanding more from their HR, staffing and recruiting leaders — and they are getting it.

And, FWIW, these leaders just invested in new cloud-based recruiting and social talent acquisition platforms. They’re not going to spend hard-earned cash with Glassdoor as long as the can own the conversation about employment and brand themselves.

So stop being a tool and jumping on the latest trend. Glassdoor shouldn’t be a thing, and you shouldn’t be a mouthpiece for such a silly fad.

Why does everyone hate HR? Join the movement to fix that. Download the new e-book, “I Am HR.” http://ow.ly/xIRbQ Click to tweet.

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Roxy-1Everybody jokes about the HR lady cat stereotype because, if I’m being honest, I made it okay to joke about that stereotype when I first started blogging about HR.

It’s like Coach purses. I have a bunch — including an awesome, vintage Stewardess bag — but I saw myself mixed in with a group of frumpy women who had a bunch of Coach purses and it scared me.

(I was one clutch away from getting a french manicure. I made fun of it to show that I didn’t take myself too seriously.)

So back to cats: I have a few, and while I laugh about it, I’m pretty sick of hearing other people make fun of HR ladies for having too many cats. First of all, HR ladies have dogs. Lots of them. Little ones. Just ask Robin Schooling, who is America’s HR lady and recently adopted her dog — Mr. Crumples.

(She will tell you that HR ladies don’t scoop litter boxes.)

But it is true that HR ladies, in general, love animals more than people. Can you blame us? People lie about being injured at work. People try to cheat the system and blame the payroll department for not paying alimony, child support, and taxes. People with no ties to 9/11 still call in sick on 9/11.

People suck. People invent drama where none exists. People abuse children and cocaine.

(Animals are better.)

Roxy-3My cat, Roxy, lived in an open-air lot for the first few weeks of her life. She was discovered behind an abandoned washing machine with her younger siblings. She prefers old, dirty water to fresh water because she learned to drink from puddles. And she licks my face and tries to nurse on me because she lost her mother too soon.

You can make fun of me for being a cat lady all day long. But if it weren’t for sweater-vest-loving HR ladies like me, your hard earned tax dollars would be used for corporate welfare AND to euthanize unwanted animals in our society.

I can’t fight corporate corruption, but I can rescue smoochy kittens.

(Once again, HR ladies are bailing your ass out.)

You’re welcome, America!

 

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About eight weeks ago, we celebrated my “early 40th birthday” in Australia. I drank cocktails and jetted around the Great Barrier Reef. I was able to snorkel with tropical fish, swim with sea turtles, and then head down to Sydney for more sightseeing and tourist fun.

Thank god I had that wonderful experience. When my birthday finally arrived, last week, I celebrated turning 40 by traveling for business. I bundled up in a goddamn parka and walked the cold and snowy streets of Chicago. Then I came home and finally had a birthday dinner with my husband.

He said, “I’m so glad you didn’t write a blog post that is a letter to your younger self or 40 lessons on turning 40. Those posts are so cliche.”

I said, “I almost wrote both posts, but I hate it when women try to teach other women in obvious and sententious ways.”

And I don’t have 40 lessons about turning 40. I just turned 40. I maybe have four lessons, if that.

“What are they?” my husband asked.

Here we go.

  1. You can tell if dinner at a restaurant is going to be great by the bread service. My birthday dinner was awful. For our first course, we were served cold, hard cornbread with one pat of butter. I channeled my inner Auntie Helen and was like — What injustice is this? Is this Guantanamo Bay? The rest of the meal was crap. So hear me now and feel me later, readers. The bread was an omen.
  2. Every girl over the age of 10 should be able to run a mile to outrun her attacker. Most men have us on weight and upper body strength, but most sketchy dudes who attack women can’t run for shit. Give yourself a fighting chance. Learn to run a mile. Anybody can do it. Well, not rapists.
  3. People who hate animals are to be avoided. Listen, nothing against ferrets, but I don’t want one. Pretty sure a ferret would chew my face off if given a half a chance. Nevertheless, I don’t hate ferrets. Obviously, they exist for some reason. The concept of “hate” should be reserved for important things like genocide, rape and racism. People who hate cats, squirrels or even pit bulls should be avoided. (Although, between you and me, I don’t really care for PitBull.)
  4. When you need to do show up in life, be sober. Hey now. I think the war on drugs is hypocritical and racist. And you can drink a bottle of champagne and do more damage than someone who smokes weed. But nothing good or productive ever comes from someone who is drunk or high. Art? Music? Amazing literature? The first draft — created while fucked up — often benefits from a sober editor. I would also argue that the final piece of art gains prominence through the sober execution of smart PR and marketing plans. Do what you need to do, of course, but when you need to show up in life, be sober.

Those are my lessons on turning 40. My husband agrees with me on the bread, but everything else is up for debate. I know those aren’t amazing insights, but let’s be honest, this is the best I could do. And I would never write a letter to my younger self. I like my younger self too much to be a condescending 40-year-old bitch.

Like I know things because I’m suddenly 40? Please.

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Heather-Locklear-Melrose_lWe all know women who don’t help other women.

I use some of these women as examples during coaching sessions. With great specificity, I talk about dysfunctional professional behaviors and wrecked work-relationships. I try to debunk gender stereotypes while simultaneously acknowledging that the woman-who-doesn’t-help-other-women imbues some of those stereotypes.

This woman is complicated.

She is privately and pervasively negative.

The woman who doesn’t help other women carries a boulder on her shoulder. Nobody works harder, nobody sacrifices more, and nobody has greater insights into the industry.

She is surrounded by men.

She works with men. She hires men. After her family, she counts men (and only men) as some of her best friends.

She actively undermines women. Younger and older.

Instead of forming alliances and relationships, she sees women as competition. Every alternative approach is seen as insubordination. She seeks to stifle creativity instead of elevating great ideas. And if she doesn’t have the power to stifle it, she makes fun of it.

She doesn’t mind scaring people.

She has a life plan, and she’s not here to make friends. Her agenda takes top priority, and her time is more valuable than yours.

Who is this woman?

She exists, believe me, but her identity doesn’t matter. Nobody benefits from a game of “name the queen bee,” and nobody wants to hear you get defensive and tell us how you operate as a dynamic example of female leadership.

(She is most of us, really.)

The woman who doesn’t help other women serves as an example to young human resources professionals — and old HR leaders on the cusp of getting fired — that you can’t be the queen unless you can command an army. 

Far too many people benefit from the fact women actively undermine one another on a daily basis. I tell my clients that I am not interested in a race to the bottom. While we fight for pride and ego, someone else wins. And I ask — aren’t you sick of losing to the woman who doesn’t help other women?!

I know that I’m sick of losing to the men who benefit from all of this thoughtless naïveté.

Why does everyone hate HR? Join the movement to fix that. Download the new e-book, “I Am HR.” http://ow.ly/xIRbQ Click to tweet.

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Screen-Shot-2014-12-16-at-8.22.22-PMNext week, I’ll be attending a conference called Global Best Practices 2015.

I sit on the board of TD2nK, which will bring together the brightest executives in the restaurant and hospitality industries to discuss labor trends, economic policy, and issues around engagement and retention.

It’s a great event for HR leaders who work in the restaurant and hospitality sectors of America. More than 70% of the new jobs in America are in the retail, restaurant and hospitality industries. People travel and dine out in record numbers. And while those jobs aren’t often seen as very good jobs — and the fight to earn $15 is real and compelling — it’s not like corporate jobs are all that great, either. Workers are burned out, people are disengaged, and wages have remained flat over the past twenty years, too.

And, call me crazy, I think the professional sector can learn a lot from the service sector.

Which brings me back around to TD2nK and the Global Best Practices 2015 conference.

I’ll be attending the conference in Dallas, next week, with a simple agenda. I’ll be listening and spending time with executives who try to walk the talk. I’ll be learning more about the work that real Americans do. And I’ll be live-tweeting the event on my social media platforms. So if you can’t attend and want your fill of pithy observations and honest feedback, follow me on Twitter. I’ll be using the hashtag #GlobalBPC.

But I hope to see you there!

Why does everyone hate HR? Join the movement to fix that. Download the new e-book, “I Am HR.” http://ow.ly/xIRbQ Click to tweet.

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