HR and Football

April 11, 2012 by

Today is an occasion when 2 of my favorite things have crossed paths. I became aware of Bobby Petrino being fired from the Arkansas head football coaching position yesterday as a sports story. Listening the Dan Patrick radio show this morning, it snapped into my head that it wasn’t a football story, but a human resource story.

He wasn’t fired for poor performance (he was actually very successful) or violating any NCAA rules or regulations.  He was fired for violating university rules on hiring.  He used his influence to obtain a position on the football program staff for a woman with whom he was having an affair.  She was one of 159 applicants for the position and he had her hired without disclosing his relationship with the woman and for that he was dismissed.  He was not fired for having an affair, the athletic director made that clear.  He was fired for violating that rule on hiring.

I am sure there are many in the Razorback nation that are saying not fair and this was too strict.  However, can you imagine if this was done by a less well-known program or department?  The person doing it would be gone in an instance.  Kudos for the University of Arkansas for making the playing field even.

Does your organization have rules in place to avoid undue influence in the hiring process?


Seeking Mentor in 2012

January 3, 2012 by

Smart, semi-successful HR professional seeks HR leader to fulfill the role as mentor. Must be eager to share ideas, thoughts and insider best practices about industry and the HR profession. Preferred candidate will engage in learning and not roll their eyes when in a conversation with staff. It is expected that this mentor will have an open-door policy and also a strong background in losing great staff members because of terrific advancement opportunities. Position available immediately.

People often mistake the idea of a mentor/mentee relationship as a one-way street. Leaders and managers have a view, however foggy it may be, of constantly schooling a wet-behind-the-ears entry-level staffer on how to conduct business. They think it’s a burden. They believe that it slows them down. They feel it’s a waste of time. They are completely wrong.

I had a mentor, once. Is it coincidence that it was my best job ever? I don’t think so. My mentor wasn’t assigned to me. She wasn’t obligated to guide me or provide support under some formally outlined, corporate program. She was just one of those people who shared what she knew, had a desire to further her profession and the people in it as a whole and felt that collaborating with colleagues – all colleagues – made her a better manager.

What if this ad came from your own employee? Could you qualify?

Let’s not make this difficult, leaders. You all know someone with exceptional capability. If you don’t, you better find a blog on bettering your recruiting efforts. Take that colleague of great capacity and fortitude and throw the ball in their court. Take them under your wing, share your expertise and watch for greatness.

And I just bet, maybe for some, hopefully for most, you’ll be mentored in what it takes to be a really great leader.

Applications being accepted throughout 2012.

Today’s guest blog once again comes from the pen (ok, iPad) of Amy Dillman.

Amy R. Dillman, SPHR, is a Resource and Policy Analyst with the Department of Planning and Budgeting at the University of Illinois. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Communications and a master’s degree in Public Administration and Policy Analysis from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. She has been with the university in human resources and recruiting roles since 2001.

Amy is President-Elect for the Central Illinois HR Group (CiHRG), an affiliate of the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM).   She has been a SHRM volunteer at both state and national conferences.

An avid traveler, wanna-be-low-handicap golfer and occasional distance runner, Amy has a love for all things Vegas and finds her peace on the beach. She’s usually behind a camera, but you can find her on LinkedIn ( and on Twitter as @RhumbarFan.

Close Encounters and HR

December 12, 2011 by

Today’s contribution to the HR Tailgate is by Amy Dillman

I had a close encounter of a deer kind.

I was traveling down the road, clear morning, clear view of the road that lied ahead.
I saw his friends first. They came up from the ditch to cross over the bridge. They pranced, they glided effortlessly and they made me smile seeing them this close to Christmas. Then I remembered I was in a car on my morning commute. No worries, I reacted appropriately. I slowed the car to about 40-45 mph. Hey, that’s slow for a lonely, wide open two lane highway in the flat prairie lands of central Illinois.

I glanced down the creek line to see them prancing along their merry way, but when I turned to glance the driver’s side, there he was. Dancer, or Prancer perhaps – I wasn’t getting an introduction – coming straight at my driver’s side.

Please stop. Please stop. Please stay on that side of the road, please don’t keep go….and then with one graceful, albeit powerful leap, he hurdled my car. All I saw was a belly and hooves in my rear view mirror. It was that scene straight out of Rudolph when you see the close up of them taking of for flight. “Holy cow, he cleared it”, I said. Well, maybe that’s not exactly what I said.

Now, I live in deer country and I know a lot of folks that have not had the near miss experience like I just did – they’ve taken direct hits and side impacts without warning.

So, it begs the question in a different context. When have you seen the wide-open road ahead only to be caught off guard by what comes, unexpectedly, at you from the side? If you’re like me, you’re a planner, a compulsive list maker and a scheduler. You plan your day, you plan your career and you plan your life. Then, somewhere along the way, you get sideswiped. You change careers, you get downsized, you get promoted but it comes with a moving package.

A good manager or employee can drive down a wide-open road with no obstacles along with way, but a great individual can manage what comes at them from the side. You can’t control Dasher, but how you handle the unexpected says a lot about you.

Amy R. Dillman, SPHR, is a Resource and Policy Analyst with the Department of Planning and Budgeting at the University of Illinois. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Communications and a master’s degree in Public Administration and Policy Analysis from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. She has been with the university in human resources and recruiting roles since 2001.

Amy is President-Elect for the Central Illinois HR Group (CiHRG), an affiliate of the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM).  Additionally, Amy serves as a classroom facilitator for her chapter’s PHR/SPHR certification study groups. She has been a SHRM volunteer at both state and national conferences.

An avid traveler, wanna-be-low-handicap golfer and occasional distance runner, Amy has a love for all things Vegas and finds her peace on the beach. She’s usually behind a camera, but you can find her on LinkedIn ( and on Twitter as @RhumbarFan.

If you are a HR/Talent Management pro, buy yourself an early present

November 22, 2011 by

There is an event coming to the Chicago area that all recruiters and HR pros need to attend. On December 5, TNL, the Recruitment Holiday Conference is happening in Aurora. You need to be there and here is why:

If you’re frustrated trying to find qualified candidates …

… or a flood of resumes from the wrong applicants …

… if you want to place more candidates faster …

… then this is important.

Here’s why: To find and place the best candidates, you must use the best practices.

Otherwise, that “A” player gets hired by somebody else.

But where do you find the latest and best recruitment methods?

You can read all the books and blogs in the world … or attend a dull, expensive HR conference … but most are just re-hashed versions of “me-too” techniques that stopped working 5 years ago.

Or, you can attend …

TNL National
(The Recruitment Holiday Conference)
December 5th at
Job Search Television Network  HQ

in Aurora, IL.

The experts and speakers you will learn from include:

John Sumser                   Lars Schmidt

Dan Arkind                      Veronica Ludwig

Matt Charney                  Geoff Webb

Craig Fisher                     Marianthe Verver

Crystal Miller                Elizabeth Lalli-Reese

Amber Osborne            Kevin Grossman

Maren Hogan                 Jason Seiden

Joel Cheesman              Sara White

Laurie Reuittimann

Now you ask, “How Much?”  Well, if you go to the official site, register and enter the promotional code “Fishdogs”, you can see this all for an amazing price.  SHHH, don’t tell anyone but it is $75.

If the price and speaker list isn’t enough, check out the agenda.  If that and the price and the speaker list isn’t enough…sorry, I am out of ideas.

I don’t often promote conferences, products or seminars, but this one is special.  It promises to be one of the top events of its like in Chicago this year.  I hope to see you there for this special event…oh, did I mention that there is a tweet-up too?

Knowing the ropes

September 14, 2011 by

As many of you know, one of my passions is history, primarily US Civil War history.  I was recently reading the book, “Last Flag Down” about the last Confederate warship to surrender after the end of the war.  One of the nuggets of information I gathered from the book was the origin of the phrase, “knowing the ropes”.    It referred to the fact that all the sailors and officers on sailing ships had to know the basics of  what each and every rope did as part of the rigging on the ship controlled.  The rigging raised and lowered the sails which gave ships propulsion and if they were not raised or configured properly, the ship would not move or, worse case scenario in bad weather, cause the demise of the vessel.  If you didn’t know the ropes, you were not a good sailor and especially not officer material.

As usual, I found a tie in with the profession of human resources.  There has been a huge uproar in the profession in the last few years about HR being a strategic partner, be a bigger part of the organization and have a seat at a certain piece of furniture.While we as a profession must move on past the basics, we can not ignore the basics.  It doesn’t matter what we do for employee engagement, organization development or strategic planning, it can all be undone in short order if payroll is not processed correctly.  We cannot ask employees to become engaged in the work place if we cannot get their benefits straight.  Members of the organization will not remain with it if we do not ensure that the front line managers are not trained to handle their part of HR well.  Even if some or all of that is outsourced, we still need to make sure we understand how the basics are done to allow for proper implementation by contractors.

I firmly believe that HR needs to move past just “knowing the ropes”, but we cannot forget what moves the ship forward.

A Truckload of Thank Yous

August 29, 2011 by

Well, it’s come and gone. I hope that most all attendees at the 12th annual Illinois SHRM Conference (ILSHRM11) had the amazing time I had. We had a record crowd, cutting edge speakers and very intense but invaluable networking and I hope a little fun. I sit here trying to write a thank you post but have so many to thank I don’t know where to start and if I can keep it the length of a post and not a book, because it would not be hard to do.

First let me start with our keynotes, pre-conference speaker and our emcee. Our opening keynote, Ryan Estes, kicked us off with a very motivating and moving presentation that set the tone for the entire conference. Talent Anarchy (Jason Lauritsen and Joe Gerstandt) did what many keynoters fail to do and that is took the tough after lunch spot and they OWNED it. Testify. China Gorman gave our final keynote as only China can, informative, entertaining and classy. As I said in introducing China, when I took on ILSHRM11, I had a short list of 3 keynoters I wanted and I was blessed enough to get all three, China being top of that list. Whew. Jessica Miller-Merrell came in and led our first ever pre-conference session and did everything I thought she would do and more. And what can I say about our first ever conference emcee, Charlie Judy, but WOW. (Already got him committed to ILSHRM12).

Next, I have to thank our concurrent presenters. I wish I could list all 30 of them but space does not allow it (we run into that book length problem). The only complaint I have heard so far is that we didn’t have bigger concurrent break out rooms (we are working on that). They engaged, entertained and educated all of you. If you attended one (or five) great session, I encourage you to reach out to the speaker and connect with them to thank them and network. They are easily findable on the internet and if not, let us know; we will try and hook you up.

Next, our Social Media folks who came in and shared the conference with the world in ways I never thought possible. The number of over 3.8 million internet impressions just staggers me. Thank you Robin, Geoff, Maren, Kristi, Bryan, William, Jennifer, Dwane, Mike, Jessica, Jason S, Jason L, Joe, China and Charlie.

Thank you to the staff at NIU, Drury Lane, MCS and Chris Martin Public Relations for support and your hard work.

Thank you to our exhibitors and sponsors. You help make this amazing event possible. Please check out the list on our web site. Special thanks to our conference sponsor, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Illinois. They have been unbelievable in their support in the last few years.

Thanks to the SHRM staff at ILSHRM. Martha and Kristine, you support us all year long so thank you for sharing two days with us, I know how busy you are. Kattie from HRCI, it was so great to meet in person and thanks to your team for sponsoring our first tweet up and the ILSHRM All Access video recaps. Curtis, thanks. Without your interest last year, our social media reach would not be anything compared to what it is.

Thank you to all of our Illinois SHRM Board and volunteers. You made this years’ event run as smooth as glass due to all your effort and work. Special thanks go to our officers (Donna, Amy and Marianne), our District Directors (Karen, Lenore, Janeane, Melissa, Connie and especially Pattie), our technology team of Rachel and Dave. Thanks to all the chapter members and SHRM members who pitched into help. Extra special thanks to Sabrina Baker, our exhibitor and sponsor chair and Cathy Plouzek, my Co-Director. You all are super heroes in my book.

Last but not least, thanks to each and every attendee who came and participated. Your energy, enthusiasm and excitement made ILSHRM11 a huge success.

See you at the Drury Lane on August 6-7, 2012.

‘Cause that’s the way its always been done

July 5, 2011 by

Those who know me well are not surprised that I watched the movie “Gettysburg” this weekend. It is a tradition for me to watch it at some point during the anniversary of the battle, July 1-3. Yes I am a Civil War history nerd.

One thing that always strikes me in the movie and Civil War history in general is the amount of death and casualties caused by failure to adapt military operations to the technology that evolved right before the Civil War. The American Civil War was the first conflict to use submarines, ironclad warships, land and water mines, repeating rifles and aerial observation effectively.

In the battle and movie “Gettysburg”, the one thing that strikes me is the failure of the infantry to adapt their tactics to the improvement in weapons that occurred since the Napoleonic era when the tactics were devised.  Smoothbore muskets were replaced by rifles and artillery was improved, both increasing the range and effectiveness of those against infantry charges.  This was very evident in the failure of the climax of the battle, Pickett’s Charge.  For those unfamiliar with the event, it was a charge by over 15000 Confederate troops over 1000 yards of open ground, subject to artillery fire all the way and rifle fire a good portion of it.  Needless to say, the casualties were horrible with over 50% of those involved being killed or wounded.  The reason the charge was done that way is basically that’s how general’s were taught and until the Civil War, that was the way it was done.

How this ties into HR or management is the reluctance of many in our profession to embrace new technology  or change because “that’s the way its always been done”.  If there is a phrase that I have detested since entering management, it is that tired old excuse for not looking at new things.  You need to at least investigate the new ideas to see how it will affect how you do your job or business.  After thorough research, you can then decide if the new way of doing things is or is not for you or your organization.  To use an old cliché, you can’t drive forward by always looking in the rear view mirror.

Check out technology and new methods to see how it is changing the battlefield.  If you don’t, you could easily end up as a casualty.

Ask for permission or forgiveness?

June 16, 2011 by

As many of you know, one of my non-HR passions is the study of the Civil War. I have a sight I check daily on what happened on this date in Civil War history. The entry for June 16 caused me to bring up a bit of correlation to HR and management in general.

On June 16, 1862, Union General Henry Benham was defeated in an attempt to retake Charleston, SC, at the Battle of Secessionville.  The details of the battle aren’t of major importance but what happened after is what struck me.  Three days after the battle, General Benham was arrested for attacking without permission.  Huh? 

In those days, obtaining permission to take action would  have required days if not weeks in communication (remember, no iPhones or Twitter back then), various high level meetings to give the blessing to a go/no go decision and relaying the message back.  Here is a general taking initiative to exploit what he thought had been a weakness.  If he had won, it would have been a MAJOR victory for the North, taking back what was looked at as the hot bed of the Civil War and the place where it started (Fort Sumter).  Instead, he lost and got busted, never to be heard from again.  I wonder if he would have been arrested had he won?

The message to me would be no matter how you weigh risk vs reward, don’t move without permission.  How many of you can relate to this “lesson”?

ADA tees it up

May 26, 2011 by

May is the 10 year anniversary of an intersection of sports and employment legislation, the case of Casey Martin vs the PGA.

For those not familiar with the case, Casey Martin was an accomplished collegiate golfer (and a one-time teammate of Tiger Woods at Stanford) who wanted to take his talent to the next level, that being the PGA.  There was just one catch, Casey had a disability that kept him from walking the course while playing (he had a condition that made his leg extremely fragile), so he needed a cart.  Carts are allowed at the NCAA and some other pro tours, but not the PGA, the “major league” of pro golf.  So he asked for what he thought was a reasonable accommodation, to be able to use a cart while playing.

The PGA said no way, walking was a critical part of the game.  That lead to a lawsuit filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act, as far as I know the only one filed against a professional sport.   Martin had all the necessary documentation showing he had a legimate condition that met the qualifications under ADA.  The PGA thought the use of a cart was not a reasonable accomodation in that it would drastically  alter the sport.  The use of a cart would be an unfair advantage to Martin.   They had 2 of the biggest names in golf, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, giving depositions against having to accomodate Martin.

Well, in a 7-2 desicion, the Supreme Court held that the PGA had to accomodate Martin by allowing him to use a cart.  All of the doom that the PGA was predicting  if they were forced to accomodate Martin never came to happen.  Casey won one tournament in his brief career and was out of pro golf in a few years.  The flood of requests for carts that the PGA predicted never came about.  In fact since then, they have had one request and that was for a heart transplant patient who used the cart only for a short time.

This history lesson is to point out that reasonable accomodation will usually not bring about the demise of an organization and collapse of Western Civilization.  Look long and hard at how you evaluate any accomodation requests and pick your fights wisely.

For more information on the legal battle, see the site that ESPN has for the case.

Sometimes, you have to act then worry.

April 20, 2011 by

My Civil War inner geek raised its head again  when I realized that it was 150 years ago yesterday that Abraham Lincoln declared that the Federals would blockade Southern ports as part of the “Anaconda” plan that would try to squeeze the life out of the Confederacy.  This decision came a mere 8 days after the start of hostilities, the firing by Confederate forces on Fort Sumter, a federal position in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina.

 What does this have to do with management or HR you ask.  It took a tremendous leap of faith by Lincoln in his Cabinet (the famed “Team of Rivals” written about so well by Doris Kearns Goodwin) to help implement that decision, one made a mere one month and 15 days after they took office.  It was a very strategic decision made by those men, especially considering most thought that the war would be over in 90 days.  Even more amazing is the fact that, at best, the Union Navy had maybe 12 ships right then to assign to that task of trying to shut down 10 major ports and thousands of miles of coast line.  Not only that, but half of the approximately 250 naval officers were from the South and would resign their commissions to serve with the Confederates.   Lincoln and others on the Cabinet knew that they would have a lot of work to do in terms of obtaining ships and crews to make this plan work, not to mention worrying about legal issues that this action may cause.

My point in this is not to give you a history lesson (ok, maybe a little), but to say that how many times, we have hemmed and hawed about much simpler decisions on which qualified candidate to select, which software to pick, and similar things when we have greater resources and much less on the line.  Lincoln acted quickly and decisively and all he had on the line was the future of the country.