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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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People suck.
I hate people.
People ruin everything.
My job would be great if it weren’t for the people.
This place would be awesome if it weren’t for all the people.

 

I have said all of those things in my life. Sometimes I mean it. Sometimes I don’t. But the outpouring of love and support after Scrubby’s death reminds me that people are remarkable and generous.

My good friend Charlie said, “The people who reach out to you and offer comfort after your cat dies are the people you want in your life.”

So true.

While some people do suck, most do not.

I like cats, but I love people.

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A few years ago, I retired my blog because I wanted to write under my name. More importantly, I wanted to see if I could branch out beyond human resources and write about something fresh.

In January, a friend of mine reached out and said that he “ceased reading my work” because it lacked passion and authenticity. Where I was once clear and focused on The Cynical Girl, now my voice is lost.

Around the same time, another person sent me a note and expressed his dismay that this site and The Cynical Girl are exactly the same. No difference in voice. No difference in tone. In fact, he was severely disappointed in my lack of growth. Wasn’t I meant to do something different? Why was I re-creating the same website?

My response to both men was the same.

“Who the hell asked you?”

It’s like neither of them reads my blog. I’m not looking for feedback. I’ve never looked for feedback. Feedback-adverse since 1975. Pretty sure that comes through loud and clear to everybody.

YOU CAN LEARN AND GROW WITHOUT FEEDBACK

It’s not like I don’t want to grow and learn; it’s just that random, individualized feedback is unhelpful to most artists and authors (and bloggers). I have specific questions about my audience and my voice. I have areas of strengths and weakness. When I have a particular area that is troubling me, I seek out answers from experts.

I got this.

FEEDBACK IS A FEELING, NOT FACT

What’s disruptive is the casual email or the arbitrary comment that tries to be helpful and causes nothing but a distraction. Even when it comes from a good place—and it almost always comes from a good place—the comment is often uninformed and naive.

(How can I be both the alike and different from my old blogging persona at the same time?)

FEEDBACK CAN BE WRONG

Also, for real, back to my original point: Who asked you? We live in a push-push-push world. Pulse polling. Micro-feedback. Prescriptive interventions. You don’t ask you kids for feedback on dinner. (You like broccoli? No? You want chicken nuggets? Again? Ok!) You don’t ask your spouse for feedback on your marriage vows. (You like skinny blondes? Oh, I’m sorry, go for it!)

Maybe take your foot off the pedal, and your fingers off the keyboard, and resist the urge to provide unsolicited feedback.

SLOW YOUR ROLL

If you care about the people in your life, I have one piece of advice: Lavish praise when it’s appropriate and ignore what’s not to your liking. That’s how the experts train dolphins (and husbands). That’s how you give feedback to a blogger, too.

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One of my cat blogging acquaintances strongly believes that total rewards plans—which include health insurance, retirement, paid time off, life insurance and other benefits—are written for people with kids.

And she thinks it is criminal.

My friend wants a different approach: you should get a flexible mix of cash and other benefits that are more suited to your lifestyle.

I said—Hey, yeah, that exists. You’re not working in Eastern Germany under Soviet occupation. Most professional companies offer multiple options and choices.

She said—Yeah, but I want better choices than I have right now, and I don’t want to subsidize other people’s kids.

The Obamacare debate has turned many employees into more discerning consumers of healthcare and benefits. It’s a good thing. However, the other outcome has been a feeling that individual benefits are being undermined by another population that is less deserving of those same benefits.

People with kids get preferential plan-language treatment. People without kids pay higher premiums to offset larger group costs. Covering LGBTQ families—or even unmarried heterosexual partners—adds to the cost of healthcare for more “traditional” families. Modern retirement plans benefit older workers while younger workers will never retire. PTO banks that don’t differentiate between vacation and “sick days” seem to benefit people without kids who don’t get sick. Bereavement leave is never long enough. Workers compensation, short-term disability and long-term disability benefits are scammy. Why do we offer group coverage for financial planning and life coaching, but we don’t offer better mental health coverage? You get maternity leave; where’s my paternity leave?

I could go on and on about the complaints that I hear about total rewards packages, but one thing is clear: many employees differentiate the workforce as a mix of “makers” and “takers.” And everyone considers himself a maker who is being taken for a ride by some other group.

(Thanks, Paul Ryan.)

Now, it’s true that there’s only so much money to spread around. Yes, you pay for benefits that you will never use. But you drive on roads that are paved and maintained by my tax dollars. You put your kids in public schools that suck up my money. I don’t drive on those roads or have kids, but I’m not going to begrudge you the right to drive your kids to school on safe roads. (I just wish your kids weren’t such rotten assholes.) Lucky for you, I see a collective benefit in the investment in your safety and your kid’s education. And I see an advantage in investing in the workforce even when it doesn’t superficially benefit my bank account.

America could have better paid-time-off policies across the board. Our retirement scheme is a mess. Companies could do a better job of offering smarter benefits to working parents. But you don’t change the system by carrying a chip on your shoulder. You change the system by working hard, getting promoted and moving into a position of authority where you can implement better policy-related decisions.

Want change? Want better benefits and flexibility at work? Work hard, get into a position of power and make it happen.

(But don’t forget about the crazy cat ladies, okay?)

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Here is everything you want to know about the SHRM-SCP based on my site stats.

  1. What is the SHRM-SCP? The SHRM-SCP is a certification for senior-level HR professionals that is managed through SHRM, the world’s oldest HR association. This certification is new. It’s not an accredited certification and is not the same as having your CPA. If you get your SHRM-SCP, I would not use those letters after your name. They hold no real meaning outside of a SHRM marketing program.
  2. What the SHRM-CP? This is also a certification for HR professionals who are relatively new to the field. It’s like the baby version of the SHRM-SCP.
  3. What are the questions in the SHRM test? I don’t know. I haven’t seen it. My guess? You answer questions that test your knowledge, skills and abilities. There is a big controversy out there as this test is not a competency-based exam, although SHRM would argue otherwise. (That’s a marketing ploy to differentiate themselves from HRCI, which is another organization that certifies HR professionals.)
  4. HRCI or SHRM? Both if your company can pay for it. Why not? HRCI if you are paying for it.
  5. Is the SHRM certification worth it? I took a SHRM-SCP self-assessment to pass, and it was free. As my mother-in-law says, “For free? Take.” Based on what I saw, I would be mad if I paid money out of my own pocket.
  6. Is the SPHR exam worth it? If your company pays for anything, say yes. In some markets, the HRCI/SPHR test is considered a barometer of knowledge. Those markets are dumb. If you get a job (or a raise) based on your HRCI certification as an SPHR, count yourself lucky. Your employer isn’t very sharp.

Did I answer your questions about the SHRM-SCP designation? If not, send me an email and let me know. This is a very popular subject that leads many people to my blog, and I want to be honest and helpful.

 

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I live in a world where aggressive, arrogant men swoop down from big consulting firms and hate the women who work in human resources.

It’s creepy.

They are “here to help us” while simultaneously undermining us. And some of those arrogant, aggressive men are women.

(Et tu, Betty?)

I spend an inordinate amount of time defending the modern HR professionals against those weird assaults, but look at the snapshot from recent headlines.

  1. We complain about fonts.
  2. We whine about applicants with petty and irrelevant criminal histories.
  3. We prefer tall men.
  4. We are biased against older workers.
  5. We don’t fight for our workers who struggle to gain access to the healthcare that is legally theirs.
  6. We seem to ignore disproportionate representation on boards.
  7. We say we want skills, but we still make people get degrees they don’t need.
  8. We don’t pay people what they deserve.
  9. We aren’t advocates for the next generation of workers.

HR sucks, man.

Maybe the aforementioned “we” isn’t some chick sitting in human resources in Kentucky or Indiana or Nevada; however, we are guilty by association. The very people who have power and could fix the problems are trying to replicate a google-analytics version of HR and missing the bigger picture.

Be human. Be kind. Solve problems. Go home, make dinner and tuck your kids into bed. Rinse. Repeat. That’s good HR right there.

If you want people to love HR—or at least respect the work you’re doing—pick one of those items on the list above and make it your mission in life to fix it. Or, hey, have a brave conversation about it. Read a news article. Maybe leave a comment on a blog. Let your voice be heard.

But don’t, for one second, tell me that a font on a resume matters. A font doesn’t matter. A person matters. Not the goddamn font. No way. Never.

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

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Delighted to announce that my Sunday morning runs with my husband are back.

When I say run, I mean run-walk. And when I say back, I mean that we’ve done them about a dozen times in our lifetime. We always say, “Yeah, man. That was fabulous. We should do it again next Sunday.”

Our track record isn’t great.

But coming off a stressful week, it was nice to get outside and shuffle along the trail in a local park. The weather was unquestionably gorgeous on Sunday, and we could use the exercise. We came home from our run and did about five hours worth of yard work.

I am sore. I am tired. But I feel like my Sundays always set the tone for the week. A good Sunday means that I roll into the week with composure and confidence. A bad Sunday means that I’m disorganized, frenzied and recovering for the next six days.

The only routine I have in my life is margaritas on Friday with Ken, and even that routine falls by the wayside when I control myself during marathon season. It’s nice to think that maybe, just maybe, we could do Sunday morning runs like Frank and Claire Underwood on House of Cards.

Maybe.

Sometimes I like to sleep in!

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