Monthly Archives: August 2010

It’s The Little Things: People (Not Programs)

As HR people, we’re often asked to find “solutions” that are “scaleable.”  Translating these popular buzzwords into plain English, this management request often means, “Can’t you roll-out a one-size-fits-all program to thousands of people so that I don’t get bogged down having to deal with my employees day by day?”  (OK, maybe that’s a little cynical — but it feels like that’s what’s being asked sometimes, doesn’t it?).

I’ve always believed that the simple but correct answer to this question is, “No.”

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not against “programs” (i.e., recognition programs, service longevity programs, wellness programs, employee assistance programs, etc.).  Well-designed programs can add wonderful elements of supportiveness to an organization’s culture.  But . . .

Programs Support People, Not Vice-Versa

. . . Programs can only be effective if they are an outgrowth of a caring culture — not a replacement for it.  If they are not, they will be seen/felt more as a discordant note (not aligned with company culture) than anything else.  And, the “culture of caring” starts in all the small ways that we relate to as individuals — personal kindness, respect, dignity, etc..

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A “Secret” of Success: Asking Good Questions

Are there any “stories” that people have told you that stuck with you and shaped your thinking — and your career?  Here’s one that has had a great influence on me over the years.

How Do You Do That?

Early on in my career, my boss at the time (a VP-HR) shared with me a story from his prior role as an HR manager at a “name” Fortune-500 company that was (and is) highly regarded for its HR function and management development programs.  Early in his career there, he noticed one particular colleague (Bob) wielding considerable influence in the organization — quietly but consistently.  As Bob wasn’t the most senior person, nor the most well-known, nor the most visible, most technically skilled, etc. , he was quite puzzled by Bob’s out-sized influence.

After a meeting one day, he approached Bob.  Continue reading

My Boss Is A Mensch: A Rare Gift, Indeed

Bosses From Hell

I fully sympathize with those who are forced to work for”bosses from hell.”  In my HR role, I do my best to help organizations weed out these bad-actors as quickly as possible (for any number of legal reasons, to say nothing of the damage these folks wreck on the people who are subjected to them).  In fact, this was one of the primary reasons that I got into HR in the first place — seeing the impact that bosses with unrestrained egos and boorish temperments had on family members and friends subjected to their whims.

This Isn’t About That

This isn’t about any of that, though, as I’ve always been fortunate to work for good people   Continue reading

Quick Thoughts On Leadership from Around the Blogosphere

As I’ve been becoming more acquainted with the HR and leadership-related “blogosphere” in recent weeks, I’ve compiled a short list of interesting “takes” on leadership and organizations that I wanted to share:

faviconSir Richard Branson on The Art of Delegation (he really means it)


Billionaire entrepreneur/innovator, Sir Richard Branson, weighs in with an impassioned insight into one of his keys to

building successful organizations: hiring great people . . . and delegating extensively.  Paralleling the first rule of management (“hire good people and get out of their way”), this view will cause great consternation in organizations with “trust issues.”  Continue reading

When Does “Loyalty” Turn Into “Insanity” (or “Hubris”)?

“They’re Not Really Re-hiring Him, Are They?!?!”

Welcome Back??

I was driving into work the other morning, listening to my favorite sports talk show when one of the hosts said something about “Isiah Thomas returning to the Knicks.”  “Nahhhh,” I thought — “that couldn’t possibly be right.”  But, amazingly, it was true.  This set me to pondering the question of “loyalty” (or perhaps, “blind loyalty”).  Where does it stop being a virtue and become something else — something that, when taken to the extreme, can end up “doing no one any favors,” as the expression goes?  And, taken far enough, can it really be a sign of hubris more so that a quality best exemplified by “man’s best friend”?

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“Why Do They ‘Hate’ HR?”

Ok, well — maybe not “hate,” exactly (though in some offices, this is no exaggeration, I’m sure).  Perhaps it’s something closer to this snippet of dialogue from Godfather III* (I know, I know — “it wasn’t as good as the first two,” something I still grieve over 20 years later):

  • Michael Corleone (Al Pacino): “You hate me — you truly hate me.”
  • Kay, ex-wife (Diane Keaton): “I don’t hate you, Michael.  I dread you.”

Is dread any better?  I don’t know.

* Apologies to my female readers.  I know that The Godfather is a “guy” thing mostly (and probably a New York guy thing, more particularly).

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