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scrubsI just told a reporter that I might still have a job in human resources if I had friends at work.

That feels true, on the surface, because I always had more enemies than buddies. Work was a hassle, and nobody liked me. I came back from getting married, and only one person congratulated me. I looked around and thought, my god, these women are monsters!

I know two things to be true now that I’m a little older and calmer.

  1. Nobody wants to befriend a toxic whiner who hates her job.
  2. Nobody wants a needy friend. Trying harder to be “likeable” only made it worse.

I also know that, while I bring the party with me, sometimes people aren’t interested in my party. That’s okay. Not everyone has to like me.

I also realize that I am unnecessarily demanding of my colleagues, even when it’s not my place to demand anything from them. I have a sixteen-page agenda for my day with scheduled bathroom breaks and time to check my text messages, but some people want to come to work and talk about The Goldbergs. Who am I to get in the way of small talk?

I also know that friendships made at work aren’t always the healthiest relationships. The guy who sits as a proxy for your husband who doesn’t listen to you? That guy brings a whole host of issues to the table, and if you scratch the surface, you’ll realize that a quid-pro-quo relationship isn’t very smart.

So now I’m not sure if a meaningful relationship at work would have made an impact on my career. But one thing is certain: I thank Baby Jesus and Ganesh that I no longer have day-to-day responsibilities in human resources. I have more friends, and I am much happier.

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I remember being a punk-ass 22-year-old kid and laughing at people who included “volunteering for my homeowner’s association” on their resumes.

That’s so lame. Who puts that on a resume, right?

Well, since that time, I’ve bought and sold a few houses. While some homeowner’s associations are full of fundamentalist weirdos, my neighbors are okay. Well, as much as I know about them. I keep my distance. I don’t have children. I don’t want to be that weird woman at the 4th of July party who is a little too friendly with the elementary school kids.

Anyway, my current HOA is debating new light poles in our neighborhood. There have been meetings. There was a leaked, lawyerly-like letter from one neighbor to another. People seem angry about something. And my inbox is full of countless “reply all” email messages where people seem to be talking about something other than light poles.

I don’t know. I’m not in the loop. I want new light poles, but I’m not paying attention. And that’s part of the problem.

Most people never volunteer for thankless jobs, and running a homeowner’s association is about as thankless as it gets. Someone’s got to do the job, I guess, but most people think it should be someone else.

(Not me.)

As I get older, I now believe it was wrong to laugh at people who list “volunteering on my homeowner’s association” on their resumes. Some people are tyrants, of course, but I think the act of volunteering builds character and self-control. It also shows that you are willing to step up and take responsibilty when others won’t do it.

My neighborhood is now on the hunt for a professional homeowner’s management company because the job is just that thankless. There was a call for volunteers to help with the search. I would join that committee, but … yeah … I have a million reasons why someone else should step up and volunteer.

(I’m part of the problem. Not part of the solution.)

But if I see “volunteering on my homeowner’s association” on your resume, you will now get a job.

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I just leafed through a report on “HR Technology Trends for 2015″ that made me laugh so hard. Apparently, everything is going So+Lo+Mo … because we live in an episode of Silicon Valley.

I can’t wait to tell the teacher in Indianapolis or the oil worker in Billings that 2015 will be the year when their employer invests in recruiting, onboarding and talent management platforms that are social, mobile and local. I am sure most American workers would say thanks but no thanks. You can take that capital investment and give me a decent raise, instead.

Let me be the first to pat myself on the back and tell you that I’ve been SoLoMo before it was a thing to parody on HBO, which is why I feel entitled to share my top HR technology trends in 2015.

People will use computers.

Maybe it’s an iPhone. Maybe it’s a tablet that isn’t the big-ass iPhone. You will use a computer at work. HR will use a computer. And those computers will let you check your Facebook.

Those computers will have programs and apps that sit in the cloud.

This crazy “cloud” trend takes over for the pipes-and-tubes trend that has been popular with most HR departments since 2006.

People will get hired with computers.

I could go out on a limb and say that your employee-related documents will be in a computer. Handbooks. Tax forms. Documentation. But that seems a little far-fetched to me.

LinkedIn will replace fax machines as the single spammiest way to overwhelm a recruiter.

This trend was first noticed in 2010.

Fax machines will still be a thing.

Believe me, I dream of hitting a fax machine with a baseball bat. I just thought about planning my 40th birthday party in a junkyard with Louisville Sluggers, old office equipment, and a margarita machine powered by the cigarette lighter in my car. (I still might do this party.) But I just faxed a speaking agreement to an HR technology company — along with a copy of a cancelled check to verify my bank account for direct deposit.

Ugh.

So I guess the biggest trend in HR technology for 2015 is that everything old is still old … but still useful, too.

Don’t throw the baby, or a fax machine, out with the bathwater. There are a lot of predictions for HR technology trends in 2015. The world may be SoLoMo, but HR is not.

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There are some days when I think leadership is about character. Then there are some days when I think leadership is all about developing unique skills and exercising adept, creative thinking.

But after having spent time around leaders in 2014 — and appointing myself as leader of a merry band of miscreants in the HR consulting world — I know that leadership goes beyond articles in Fast Company and Forbes.

Here are my thoughts on leadership trends for 2015.

Diversity Matters

I always tell my clients, “You can’t grow if you don’t know.” You think your company has a unique culture, and you hire executives who match a specific style of leadership; however, if you want to increase revenue and expand your market share, you need leaders who challenge the status quo — even if the status quo is great. Step away from the homogeneous pool of candidates and swim in the heterogeneous sundry of candidates who can change the course of your company’s future forever.

Ego Matters

Humble billionaires are so full of shit. You don’t want a CEO who tells you that it takes a village to make his company profitable. You want a CEO who speaks openly and honestly about the business landscape, economic forecasts, and what it takes to attract and retain great talent. CEOs and other business leaders can be competitive and honest without being jerks. You want to be led by someone who wants to win, not someone who is playing a corny PR game.

Money Matters

Empathy. Emotional intelligence. Compassion. Sensitivity to introverts and extroverts. None of this matters if your company isn’t profitable. Sometimes the best leadership style is the style that meets payroll and pays the bills.

There are a million trend reports being published, right now. Leadership is a hot topic. When someone posts an article on what it takes to lead people in 2015, I hope you ask yourself if it passes the sniff test.

The old, musty odors of “leadership trends in 2014″ have got to go!

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I am the proud owner of a Nike Fuel band that I never wear because it’s too big on my wrist and looks like a Lindsay Lohan tracker device. Also, I don’t need a device to tell me that I don’t get enough sleep or sitting is the new smoking.

That’s what blogging is for!

If you are looking for a way to tell your husband that he needs to lose ten pounds or reduce his cholesterol, here are some holiday gift ideas.

  1. The Microsoft Band has all sorts of nifty features like a heart-rate monitor, a microphone, and perspiration sensors. Steve Boese and I were on a panel, recently, where he waxed poetic about a watch that can interpret biofeedback and knows if you are aggravated when you read your email. I know you are aggravated. You are human and email sucks. Tim Sackett was there, too, and thought it would be a great if a watch could notify HR when an employee’s blood sugar is low. He thought it might be cruel to have access to that kind of health information and not rush to bring that diabetic guy a Snicker’s bar. I think it’s cruel to work people to death and give them a watch that watches them being worked to death.
  2. The Apple Watch isn’t out, just yet. Get that on your list. Your husband will love you more if you stand in line and buy this for him. Just ask Apple.
  3. Wearable wellness tech doesn’t have to be a watch. There’s the Fitbit wireless activity tracker and the Jawbone activity tracker. All of these devices — watch or not — sync with your phone. So make sure you don’t lose your phone. Although you might be happier if you lose your phone.
  4. Watches are trendy. If you still want to give someone a watch, there are a ton of options out there from Nike, Garmin, and even Casio. It’s true that kids don’t wear watches, these days, but you’re not a kid.

I gave my husband a Fitbit Force, a few years ago, but we sent it back because it was recalled. The device burned some people. His particular feedback was that the device was okay, the hassle of wearing something 24/7 didn’t appeal to him, and that the data was not worth the trouble. You know what my husband really wanted as a gift? A new ice cream maker. So we got that, instead.

You can’t give the gift of health to someone who doesn’t want  it.

And ice cream is always a better gift, anyway.

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Emma is my best cat.

Hands down, she is the #1 champ. She has the other cats beat in terms of personality and cuteness. Nobody can surpass her all-around awesomeness and poonchy tummy. Look at her smoochy face. Her little pink lips. The adorable flame up her face. I have some great cats, but when you combine Emma’s good looks with her sweet personality, she’s a winner.

Emma-1

And yet.

We pay more attention to Scrubby with his pees.

And Jake with his old-man-breathing-problems.

And Molly with her diva-like behavior.

My cats aren’t anything like your outstanding employees, but I’m pretty sure you aren’t giving your best employees what they deserve. You probably brag about your marvelous culture and your fringe benefits. Maybe you do pre-cations, which deserves a ranty blog post on its own.

But you don’t give your best employees what they need.

Luckily, I think your best employees are like Emma. They get a quarter of the attention they deserve, but because they are so exceptional, it’s fine. They are autonomous human beings (and a cat) who can keep themselves occupied.

The one glaring difference between Emma and your best employees? Emma doesn’t have a choice about her employer. Not that she would go anywhere, but it’s nice to have her locked into a lifetime contract.

You better hope that your best employees like you as much as my poonchy cat likes me.

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God, I hate the holidays. More importantly, I hate going to parties and telling people that I work in human resources.

“Why don’t you find me a job?”

I purposely don’t walk around with a baseball bat in my hands because those people would be the first to feel my wrath.

I try to tell anyone who will listen that only you can find yourself a job. There are great resources out there. Bloggers. Recruiters. Job boards. Niche websites. But nobody will ever hand you a job just because you know someone. You are not a Romney. And even those Romney kids don’t expect to be handed jobs. They went to the right schools, gained a decent education, and work hard.

Some money is better than no money. A job is better than no job.

My friend, Tim Sackett, can get anyone a job. The catch is that you can’t be picky, and you have to show up and work. Very few people take Tim up on his offer to find them a job, but they should.

Sometimes good advice is wasted on people.

My friend, Nick Corcodilos, is probably the best blogger and headhunter I know. He’s the author of a new book called Fearless Job Hunting! Nick knows you can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. There are truths out there about job hunting, job boards and negotiating offers. Some people can’t handle the truth, but Nick can handle it. He’s my go-to guy on looking for a job.

So this is all to say that great advice is out there, but it will be lost on anyone looking for a hack.

If you’re like me — and you avoid telling people that you work in and around HR — take a different approach, this holiday season, and refer your lazy friends and family members to Nick and Tim.

Those guys know what they are doing, and they’ll gladly set someone straight.

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HR always organizes the summer picnic, the holiday party , and the company 5K. If they are sharp, your HR lady asks the local admins for help.

(This is why the admins think they work in HR, by the way.)

Organizing a company event is a pain because people always ask the same questions.

  1. Do I get paid to go?
  2. Do I have to go?
  3. Must be nice to plan a party. Shouldn’t HR be doing real work?
  4. What if I slip and fall? Am I covered by work comp?

(Ugh. I hated working in HR.)

Your HR lady doesn’t always have to be involved. I just ran a local Jingle Bell 5K, and it was super fun and not organized by human resources. People dressed in Santa costumes. Runners pinned bells to their shoes. Everyone smiled.

This event was organized by a local school in coordination with a national charity. Lots of volunteers. Local people with big hearts.

Could the event have used the touch of a skilled and dedicated HR coordinator who likes to throw parties? Did they need better signage? Could they have used a bossy middle-aged woman like me with a bullhorn?

OF COURSE!

But it was Saturday morning, and those women were probably tired.

Just because HR knows how to plan an event doesn’t mean that they should always plan it. And it doesn’t mean that you can’t step in and help out. So go ahead. Volunteer. Make things better at your company. Don’t wait for human resources.

It’s yours for the taking.

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IMG_9633I vowed that 2014 would be the year that I started to live a big life.

I sent out a note and told friends and acquaintances that I would be interested in doing new and different things. I asked people to keep me in mind if they had any projects that required a different type of leader. I wanted to be invited to different kinds of events in 2014.

My network didn’t disappoint me.

I created a spreadsheet and tracked results. I had a 90% response rate, which is good for any sort of email marketing campaign.

Some people wrote back and asked, “Can you be more specific?”

I could not. Those people couldn’t help me.

Others wrote, “Are you interested in a job?”

Again, if you don’t know me by now, you will never ever ever know me. Whoa.

But some people invited me to cool dinners, asked me to consult on fun projects, and encouraged me to speak at events all over the world. I had 42 different client engagements, this year. Some of them didn’t pay cash — only travel. Some paid too much money, believe it or not. And some experiences were weird and a waste of everyone’s time.

It’s possible for you to live a big life in 2015. 

You don’t have to be an extrovert. You don’t have to have a lot of money. You don’t need to be an obnoxious carnival barker or a pushy salesperson to expand your horizons. You just have to be a little braver and ask for help.

Start with an email. Tell the world you’re open to new adventures and new ideas. Ask for people to think of you..

It is possible to make this upcoming year the best year of your life. The only limiting factor is you.

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One of my very best friends told me that my blog is boring when I write about human resources.

“Where is the human in human resources? I go there for you. You are at your best when you write about politics, cats and running. I don’t want to read about HR technology or employee engagement. Draw your HR lessons from more inspired places.”

So I said, “Uhm, yeah, I didn’t ask for your opinion.”

Which is totally true. If anyone wants to offer an opinion, do it behind my back. I don’t mind.

But since we are discussing feedback, let me get defensive and tell you that all niche blogs are boring. In any industry — including HR — writers use “big boy” voices to demonstrate authority. I hate that. And in the HR space, my colleagues want to boss the audience into believing that HR — which includes recruiting, retention, marketing, compliance, engagement, social media, sales, technology, consulting, payroll, compensation and benefits — is significant and relevant.

You and I know the real secret about human resources.

None of this is necessary. HR only exists because business leaders are too lazy to do this work themselves. And the trend is to integrate HR into normal business operations, which means a shrinking share of voice and ownership for the traditional HR professional.

But since HR exists — and no one is the face of the HR market — it might as well be me.

(Is it Josh Bersin? Is it Bill Kutik? C’mon man. Let’s get real.)

While my friend thinks that my HR blog is boirng and needs more LFR, there are other people who think that my posts about cats and running work against me.

But as much as I don’t listen to my friends who want more cat blog posts, I don’t listen to my critics who want me to put on my big-boy-pants and regularly write about boring stuff like big data and HR analytics. Being a human resources leader worth her salt is all about building relationships and meeting the needs of multiple consitituiences while staying faithful to a personal belief system shored up by confidence and integrity.

I have a belief system. I have confidence. I have integrity.

And while this blog may be boring at times to some people for a variety of reasons, I think it strikes a balance between relevant HR lessons and observations about work and life.

I trust my readers to see lessons in the cat posts. I trust them to dig deeper on posts about politics and culture, too.

And I still think my blog — HR or not — is more interesting than anyone else’s.

Prove me wrong.

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