Tag Archives: Employment

To Really Help Our Organizations, Should HR Go “Back to the Future”?

Back to the Future

Image via Wikipedia

During the past few weeks, I’ve happened to see a few mentions of the classic, 1980’s movie, Back to the Future — which got me to thinking, oddly enough, about human resources.  In the movie, the hero — Michael J. Fox — had to go back to the past in order to help his family and community in the future.  Putting the notion of time travel aside, I’ve been wondering if this might be an apt metaphor for what HR needs to do in many organizations — i.e., to go “back to basics” in order to help the organization move forward.

Being Cutting Edge or Going Back to Basics — Which Is Needed?

In so many HR departments, there is a constant worry about things like “are we being strategic enough?” and “how can we get a seat at the leadership table?” Continue reading

To “Fix” Performance (and Help Employees), Remember Maslow

Diagram showing the hierarchy of needs based o...

Image via Wikipedia

As I was working with a manager recently, discussing strategies for improving the performance of a good-performing  employee who recently seemed to be “cracking” under the pressure, the “light bulb” went on for me.  In that moment, I was struck by the impossibility of the task — or, at the least, the noble-but-misguided way we were approaching the task.  There we were, trying to fix what appeared on the surface to be a “job performance” problem — never recognizing that the real issue was something far different.  All I could think to say was, “Maslow was right.”

Maslow Was Right

“Maslow?” the manager asked. “The guy in accounting who always gives everyone a hard time about their expense reports?” he asked.  Continue reading

What Nurses Can Teach Us About HR (Courage and Compassion)

From the title, you might expect this to be a post about service to others (i.e., what nurses do), as an analogy for HR’s service to employees and managers.  While there are any number of comparisons between nursing and HR (perhaps fodder for future posts), my focus today is on another aspect of HR, actually: hiring the right people (and letting go of the wrong ones).

Minor Surgery, Major Comfort

I had the occasion to have a short stay in a hospital recently for minor surgery (everything went very well; thank you kindly).  As it was (fortunately) my first overnight spent in a hospital, I was keenly aware of the type of care I received.  I was struck by the fact that, to a person, everyone I came into contact with seemed incredibly “at peace” with what they were doing — i.e., caring for patients, controlling pain, prepping for surgery, etc.  I’m sure that each of the nurses, technicians, doctors, etc., had their own personal struggles and hardships that they carried into the hospital that day.  Yet, once the “lights went on” and they were interacting with patients (in this case, me), all of those struggles vanished, as they made me feel like I was their only patient, and all of their efforts were going toward meeting my needs.

It was quite a humbling experience, to be candid — i.e., to see a team of people working together, in this case to prepare for, carry out, and help me recover from, surgery.  They each seemed to go about their jobs with a certain  Continue reading

Difficult Qualities for New HR Professionals To Grasp

A recent post on another blog contemplated “Qualities To Look For In Hiring an HR Professional.”  This set me to pondering a few qualities that often are most difficult for new HR professionals to grasp as part of their role.

Two qualities that come to mind most immediately are:

1.  Ability to balance the needs of the organization (management) and employees

2.  Ability to influence without authority

Balancing the needs of the organization and employees

In a sense, HR’s toughest job may be finding ways to counter the wise admonition, “No man can serve two masters.”  An effective HR person needs to walk a fine line, being a valued part of the management team — while at the same time, being a trusted “ear” for employees.  Continue reading

The Value of Checking References: Light-Hearted Tales


As the summer comes to a close and hiring season traditionally picks up again (or, let’s hope so, anyway, given the economy and all), I thought it might be nice to ease back into the swing of things with a light-hearted anecdote or two about checking references.  My HR career didn’t exactly start off on an auspicious note in this regard; I learned the value of checking references right away.  We “live and learn,” as they say . . . and gaining a story or two along the way is never a bad thing, right?!?

Ignoring All The Evidence (Really, She Can’t Cook At All?)
My first “HR” assignment came in my senior year of college.  I was the catering manager at our fraternity house that year, responsible for getting 50 guys fed three meals a day, five days a week.  Unfortunately, our stalwart cook (a carbon copy of the Marlboro Man, but that’s a story for another day) had retired, so we were scrambling to find a full-time cook that summer.  The economy was strong at the time, and despite weeks of advertising, we were only able to come up with two real candidates: a 40-year old man who had to ask his mother for permission to come to the interview, and Hilda.

Continue reading