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There is no art and science of saying thank you. If you ever wonder if you should thank someone for doing a good job, the answer is yes. Say thank you. Stop what you’re doing and do it right now. Did you overlook somebody? Go back and say thank you. Pick up the phone. It’s never too late.

(Jesus. Some people, am I right? Just do it.)

There are legitimate questions about rewarding and recognizing great effort at work, though.

  1. How and when do you say thank you in meaningful ways?
  2. What’s the right type of recognition?
  3. When do you use money? When are words enough?

I don’t have the answers, but Globoforce wrote a book on the art and science of rewards and recognition. If you have a boss who sucks at saying thank you, or if you’d like to think though the right/wrong ways to do this, you can sign up for a free copy.

I like the idea of sending the book to someone who needs to learn more about how and when to say thank you. Have a CHRO who suffers from “this great idea came from me” syndrome? Have a VP of Ops who thanks senior leaders but never recognizes the hard work from the rank-and-file members of you organization? Do you work with an HR generalist who could use some tips on best practices?

Send the book.

It’s free, and your name can stay anonymous.

That’s the part I love the most.

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I’m speaking at the 2015 Skillsoft Perspectives conference on Wednesday. I’ll be up on stage with a bunch of experts talking about talent analytics.

A colleague of mine asked, “What are you doing on that panel?”

I said — “I sit on the board of a company that uses technology to marry and dissect labor, business, and financial intelligence. I am an advisor to two companies that use data to help HR practitioners get smarter about their companies. And I meet thousands of HR professionals every year who teach me about what big data and analytics mean in their worlds. I got this.”

My colleague said, “And you’ve got a great sense of humor.”

I said, “Really? My sense of humor?”

He said, “I used the word and.”

(HR technology dudes are the worst, am I right?)

What’s your go-to strategy when someone cuts you down and tries to make light of your expertise? In the example above, I’m totally defensive and touchy. Here are some alternate strategies.

Ignore It.

Sometimes it’s best to keep going. Don’t acknowledge the comment. It’s beach season, baby. Vacation time is here. Nobody got time for petty insults!

Address it directly.

When you hear a snide remark, call it out. I was at a workshop, a few weeks ago. One woman said something snippy about her colleague in the room. I stopped the discussion and asked, “I’m not tracking. Can you elaborate?” You should have seen this woman try to dig herself out of a passive-aggressive hole. She broke a sweat. It was the most exercise she’s had in weeks. I shouldn’t laugh, but I am laughing. You don’t act like a dick and get away with it on my watch.

Put it in context.

I believe that, 99% of the time, awkward comments are just failed attempts at humor. I know this because I make failed jokes all of the time. It is why I’m taking a stand-up writing class. And let me give you a pro-tip: even people who are naturally funny have to work at it.

Forgive.

When someone cuts you down once, it’s probably just a mistake. Forget about it. Forgive the slip of the tongue. Don’t obsess. Don’t ruminate. And don’t try to think of a snappy comeback for later. Just move on … that’s the healthiest thing to do.

Me? I forgave my colleague. And, honestly, he’s right. What the hell do I know about talent analytics? Sometimes, when someone cuts you down, it’s about choosing your attitude. And I’m choosing to have a good time in Orlando and learn from other great people!

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My friends at TDn2K tell me that only three hospitality companies have ever won the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award: Ritz Carlton, Pal’s and K&N Management.

On June 4th, I get to stand on stage at Summer Brand Camp and interview leaders from K&N Management on what it takes to be a great place to work and how a relentless pursuit of excellence paid off in their organizations.

But first I had to find out — “What the hell is a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and why am I talking about this? What? What do you want me to do?”

Because, on the whole, I had no clue. The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award sounds like an answer to a human resources test question.

Here’s what I learned from the interwebs.

The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award is presented annually by the President of the United States to organizations that demonstrate quality and performance excellence. Organizations that apply are judged by an independent board of examiners. Recipients are selected based on achievement and improvement in seven areas, known as the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence:

Leadership: How upper management leads the organization, and how the organization leads within the community.

Strategic planning: How the organization establishes and plans to implement strategic directions.

Customer and market focus: How the organization builds and maintains strong, lasting relationships with customers.

Measurement, analysis, and knowledge management: How the organization uses data to support key processes and manage performance.

Human resource focus: How the organization empowers and involves its workforce.

Process management: How the organization designs, manages and improves key processes.

Business/organizational performance results: How the organization performs in terms of customer satisfaction, finances, human resources, supplier and partner performance, operations, governance and social responsibility, and how the organization compares to its competitors.

Although this is some serious nerdery for HR folks, these seven parameters are better than any six-bucket competency model in the human resources market.

Want to be a great place to work? Want to strive for excellence? Want to be inclusive and on the cutting edge of consciously recognizing and rewarding amazing employees? You can do no worse than to learn from Gini Quiroz and Danielle Robinson who have an informed POV about what it takes to do right by your employees and customers while working in HR.

I am excited to moderate this chat at Summer Brand Camp. If you can’t join us, leave some questions in the comments (below) and I’ll see if I can work them into the discussion!

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The running season is winding down here in North Carolina. It’s getting hot. I had hoped to be writing an update on the Not So Normal Half-Marathon.

Instead, I’m wondering why my body hates me.

The whole messy saga began on Wednesday. I went to the Mohonk Mountain House for a business retreat. I spent some time in the spa — soaking in the mineral tub and stewing in other people’s feces, apparently — and I came down with some vague form of gastroenteritis.

I had it all: sweats, gagging, and total loss of control of my lower extremities.

There are no sick days when you are a consultant and a business owner, so I swallowed some drugs and made the best of it on Thursday. Drank a lot of water. Had some soup. I even went on a hike. I thought — this 24-hour bug isn’t so bad.

Thursday evening, everything came back. I just had to make it one more day, I thought, so I swallowed more drugs and went to bed. I slept for nearly 9 hours.

My Friday wasn’t terrible. I was sorta hungry, which is a good sign. I made it home without ruining any more underwear. By Saturday morning, I was convinced that I could run my half-marathon. I just needed to carboload and hydrate. I picked up my runner’s packet, drank a Powerade and thought about my race strategy. I even bought a new pair of socks.

But it all fell back apart on Saturday night. Once I was off the Imodium and Zofran, I felt miserable. Couldn’t keep any food down. Couldn’t stop pooping.

So there’s no race for me, but I have another half-marathon planned in a few weeks.

Also — how the hell do you parents and people who manage eldercare issues do this? (I know, I know. You do what you have to do.) But watching the body fail is gross. All I want is to snuggle up next to my husband and have him reassure me that the world is not ending. He wishes that he could wear hazmat protection and burn my clothing in an incinerator.

Ugh.

To the next race!

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“It’s tough to read your blog. When you insult and criticize HR, I feel like you are talking to me.”

That’s a line from an email that’s sitting in my inbox. It’s not the first time I’ve received that type of note. It won’t be the last.

I am sympathetic to that feedback. I hear it, and I’ve tried to moderate my tone as I’ve grown as a writer. Sometimes it’s fun to make fun of HR ladies, but I rarely insult and criticize the human resources “industry” without offering advice or a prescriptive solution.

If you don’t like something you read on here, or if you disagree, please send me an email. Offer yourself or your company as a case study. Let’s tell your story.

But please don’t think that I’m writing about you and please don’t take things personally. I don’t know you, but I know that you have better things to do with your time than be offended by my blog!

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I’m an anxious lady, but I do my best to keep it on lock-down. If I let myself spin out of control—which happens when I’m not taking care of myself—it’s hard to organize my thoughts and zip myself back up.

Are you like me? Are you an everyday human being fighting an invisible battle that has nothing to do with anybody but yourself? Do you have general (or very specific) anxiety? Do you have tips and strategies for coping with life and its rote challenges?

Here is how I live with my generalized (and very boring) anxiety problems.

1. Build upon positive momentum. Life with anxiety feels relentless. When things are going well, I keep it rolling. I try to sleep, exercise, and eat well. Unplugging from the internet has been huge for me. Abstaining from alcohol, even just for a few days, saves my sanity.

2. Read all the fun books. In general, I try to avoid self-help books. That being said, go read Bryan Wempen’s new book. I enjoy reading books that change the conversation in my head. I’m about to start Luckiest Girl Alive. I also read mindless magazines—nothing serious. We have a subscription to The Economist in this house that I never touch. If I want last week’s news, I’ll watch John Oliver.

3. Breathing works. Anxiety is visceral, sneaky and seductive. If you don’t feel much of anything, which I don’t, it is both miserable and extraordinary to feel like the world is coming to an end. My broken brain tells me that emotional disarray is a necessary precursor to clarity, but that’s a goddamn lie. A panic attack is Gallipoli on the central nervous system. It’s Antietam on the heart. But the one thing that’s true is that I can’t have a panic attack while I’m breathing. So I’ve learned how to breathe.

I have one more tip: don’t take tips from people like me. Go find an expert, and don’t look at me when you’re wandering through a park, alone, hyperventilating and wondering how your life fell apart. I got nothing. If you turn your head, you can see that I’m standing right next to you trying to breathe, too!

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As I mentioned, I’m on the road discussing creativity and innovation in human resources. This is a dry subject.

“Employer branding? Social recruiting? Multitenancy? It’s pure ecstacy!”

I’m hired to deliver these workshops with a bit of humor, but sometimes this is a challenge for me. I once delivered a luncheon talk and my friend Lizzie said, “You didn’t smile once.”

Yikes. I’m smiley. That’s a problem.

If you are a human resources leader, thinking “strategically” and working “creatively” is part of your job. I don’t feel like doing creative and innovative work deserves a parade. And I always think to myself, “Who gave these other HR people permission to take risks and be clever? Nobody. They just did the work and—worst-case scenario—dared the universe to fire them.”

What can I say? My midwestern pragmatism is tough to overcome.

Luckily, I have a mentor who gave me an alternative perspective on how to deliver this material. She told me that my role isn’t to beat the drum for great HR or drop a roadmap into the laps of HR leaders, but rather, to show them what other great HR teams are accomplishing and then give them permission to do it—or something better.

And my mentor encouraged me to be as fun as I can possibly be whilst discussing HR. Don’t lose my edge. But at the end of whatever I say or do with my workshops, always give people permission to blow the fucking roof off of whatever they’re doing (within reason) and become a future case study for great HR.

I like that approach. I’ve been using it more and more. Less lecture, more inspiration and aspiration. And I’m trying to smile!

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I’m on the road, this week, talking about creative and innovative human resources practices.

I believe that great HR happens when our behaviors—the way in which you conduct yourself with your clients and colleagues—are positive and respectful. As I’ve written in the past, far too many HR professionals are caught up in the horizontal drama of human resources and forget that the entire organization is watching us when we recognize and reward our colleagues.

(And when we don’t.)

Great HR happens when our capabilities grow and exceed the stated abilities on our resumes and job descriptions. While it was once okay to be a human resources generalist, it’s now imperative to move forward and think of ourselves as advisors. HR makes great work happen through other people, not by policing or doing the work ourselves.

And, finally, creative and innovative HR happens through the smart and simple application of technology. When it works, it works. When it doesn’t, it doesn’t. We are not afraid to look, listen and take meetings with vendors. We’re not shy and ask questions about buzzwords and jargon that makes no sense. And we’re certainly not going to buy an enterprise software solution without collaborating with our colleagues in IT and procurement, understanding the problem we’re trying to solve, and piloting a program that helps us get down to the simplest solution out there.

Creative and innovative HR happens in the center of respectful behaviors, growing capabilities, and the implementation of simple and elegant technologies. The roadmap to great HR exists, everybody, and it’s less complex than you can imagine.

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I’ve run the numbers here at LFR HQ. It looks like I can take off the month of November (again) to travel and do fun stuff for my personal development. Last year, I ran a marathon. Then I went to Australia and Rome.

This year? I picked my fall marathon. It will be in Grand Cayman on December 6th. I will run the City of Oaks half-marathon as a training run, and I’m totally psyched about my racing goals. The Cayman course is flat and looks gorgeous. I should be in good shape.

But then I booked a trip to Cuba that will happen right before the marathon. If I want to train properly, I must complete two very long runs while I am on the road.

I keep running a new set of numbers. This whole thing feels insane. How will I find the time to run while I’m in Havana? What will I eat? How will I pack? What about my nutrition and rest?

Except, you know, fuck it. I’ll figure it out.

What kind of idiot says no to this life?

I’m saying yes.

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