Archive for the ‘HR’ Category

HR and Football

April 11, 2012

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

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

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.

Knowing the ropes

September 14, 2011

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.

‘Cause that’s the way its always been done

July 5, 2011

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.

Sometimes, you have to act then worry.

April 20, 2011

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.

The future of the profession

April 11, 2011

I spent last weekend volunteering as a presentation judge for the North Central SHRM Student Case Competition at Lewis University in Romeoville, IL. It is an event where SHRM Student chapters throughout the 10 state region sent members to compete as teams in an event where they receive a case study in the morning and after a short 4 hour prep time, present a 2 page executive summary and a 15 minute presentation on their solution to the study. In addition to the competition, there were sessions presented by HR pros on networking, strategic HR and the HR profession, as well as opportunities for the students to network among themselves and the HR professionals there as volunteers.

I have been a volunteer in student competitions for years, mostly in the HR Games format.  That format (think HR jeopardy) was great for recitation of knowledge but those of us who have done this for a while realized it is just not remembering what FMLA stands for or what Griggs vs Duke Power decided.  It is taking that knowledge and applying it to our work.  While definitely not as exciting, the case competition is truly more real world.  Hopefully, both can coexist at the state and regional level.

I was impressed to see the professionalism shown in the presentations and presence of the students under such situations.  They all pulled together coherent thoughts and analysis on short notice.  It goes to the preparation and education given them by their advisors and professors.  It does give me hope that those coming into the field will add to the professionalism and quality of the profession.  Props to my friends  like Matt Stollack from St. Norberts, Jeffrey Walls from Indiana Institute of Technology and  Joseph Goodman from Illinois State University for taking their jobs and responsibility to heart.

Also kudos go to the professionals who gave up part or most of their weekend to support the future of HR.  Thank you Donna, Dave, Jodi, Michelle, Carolyn, Mel, Kraig, Janelle and the rest of you who sat inside on a nice Saturday to do what you did.  Finally thanks to the SHRM staff for their effort in running the event.  Always good to see Pam, Martha, Laurie, Maureen, Kristine and Chuck.  I know it is your job, but you do it with passion and energy.

If you ever get a change to get involved with HR students, do it.  It will energize and give you hope.

Are you expecting steak or bbq?

February 2, 2011

 I was talking with a fellow HR pro the other day about organizational and culture change and the topic of time to enact change came up and some folk’s unrealistic expectations.  Way too many in the HR field and other business disciplines think it can be done in a relatively quick manner and be successful.

While cooking dinner the other night, I came up with a comparison related to the food theme of this current HR Carnival.  Too many expect a “steak” solution to the culture issues within a company.  Go to the store, pick up the best looking solution (steak) off the shelf, slap it on a hot grill….a few minutes later, problem solved.  That may be fine for a quick dinner but it is no way to change a problem that has been evolving for quite a while.

Because it is a much lengthier, complex and complicated situation, I compare the process to smoking meat or true bbq.   You must do research approaching the problem, talk to some experts on how to solve the problem, find some methods and tools to use and take a preliminary look at time line for the solution.  Smoking meat is similar in that first, you need to decide on the meat of choice.  Is it beef brisket, pork shoulder, whole turkeys?  Once that is decided, off to the butchers (experts) to pick out the best solution for the task. 

Once you have selected the meat, then it is time to look at the tools needed to get it to the desired completion.  Do you need a good seasoning rub (software)?  How about the wood you will use to create the smoke (training/focus groups)?  Then you also need to look at the size of the meat to determine an anticipated completion time.  Time to fire up the smoker and put the meat on.

Once the process starts, it is no time to ignore it.  You must monitor progress almost constantly.  Does it need more heat (pressure/more commitment from management), more water in the drip pan (additional resources), is it not cooking fast enough (more time to complete the project)?  The only way to tell is by checking the temperature on a regular basis.

Once the temperature is reached, you just don’t assume it is done.  You have to let the meat rest to let the seasonings/juices set.  If you assume it is ready and cut into it, you will lose a lot of flavor.  In a project, you can’t assume the results are what come immediately after completion.  You have to see if the results are what you need after letting it sink in.

Change is not a quick tasty process like a steak.  It is a much more complex process that takes time to develop the “flavor” that you expect in the end.