Archive for the ‘Human Resources’ Category

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.


Is there nothing good with Social Media?

February 9, 2011

Not a week goes by that I don’t receive an e-mail announcement or two from various organizations or law firms proclaiming a new seminar or webinar aimed at businesses or organizations on the evils, minefields or snake pits that businesses face with social media. Ugh, is it that bad?

Whether it is the possibility of the employees wasting time, doing damage to an employer’s brand, information technology breaches or privacy issues, social media seems to being blamed for everything up to and including the destruction of the Hindenburg.  Yes there are some issues that need to be addressed, but isn’t that always the case with new technologies or ways of doing business?  I remember that the internet was looked at as the end of the business world if it was allowed into the work place.  Well, it was but in a very good way.

Social media allows for the promotion of ideas, extensions of brands, advertising products and different ways of doing business.  What companies have to do is embrace the technology and platforms, learn how to use it in a productive manner, train employees on how to use it and, yes unfortunately, set up some type of measures and safeguards if necessary.  I just don’t see enough of that type of training or programming out there.  Hopefully that will be changing on a much larger scale than it has been currently occuring. 

Also, social media has allowed HR proffessionals from across the world to better network,  share ideas and solve problems.  Personally, I can vouch for Twitter as a tool I have used in the last 2 years that have allowed me to create many new relationships with some of the best HR folks I have ever met.

ILSHRM will be one of those organizations hopefully be offering that type of offering as part of the 12th Annual State SHRM Conference this August.  A whole new track will be introduced this year in order to education HR professionals on how to harness the world of social media for good, while protecting companies from the bad.  Hopefully, we will be covering everything from the basics to more advanced problem solving.  Look for a couple of announcements soon on the Illinois SHRM blog.

Turning the “table” on the CEO

December 15, 2010

I attended a SHRM chapter meeting last night with the subject being an age-old classic, a panel discussion by a bunch of CEOs on what they expect from HR. It was a nice mix of industries, 2 manufacturers, a health-care provider and a consulting group. The only initial problem I saw was it was all male, but that may the subject of another post.

They were all asked to describe their respective organizations with references to size, product or service and a bit of their own background. They were then subjected to questions from the moderator (handled very nicely by a lawyer of all things) on various aspects of how they viewed HR, what their definition of HR was, how HR was a valued part of their company etc. I heard way too many usages of the good old “seat at the table” line. Other lines they used included “HR is the guardian of culture”, “HR keeps me informed of the mood of the employees”, “they keep us out of trouble as far as compliance goes” and the usual things that most CEOs would say when placed in such a situation.

After the moderator’s questions, it was thrown open to questions from the floor. There were many good questions but they were all of the usual “what do you look for in a HR person”, “how can HR get a seat at the table” (I know, any more if you have to ask, forget it), and others.

I was somehow fortunate to be able to ask the last question and it was one I have never heard asked in such a panel presentation: “What can HR expect from you?”  After a couple of seconds of complete silence from the head table (and a smattering of murmurs from the audience), a couple of the CEOs commented by saying such things “support”, “an open door” and other generalities.

My question to my fellow HR practitioners, especially those in the trenches, is what you you expect from your CEO?  If your CEO was on the panel, what did you want to hear him or her answer?

SHRM, Value, and You

September 7, 2010

Today is the HR Tailgate’s first guest post.  I am pleased that it is written by Ben Eubanks, author of, a blog that should be required reading by all and someone I feel fortunate I can call a friend.  Ben is also an active member of his local SHRM chapter, covered the San Diego SHRM conference from the view of a first time attendee and is the Chairman of SHRM’s Human Resource Young Professional initiative.

Ben and I have had an ongoing conversation about the value of SHRM and the affiliated chapters for HR professionals and I asked Ben to write about his thoughts.  Here they are.

I read over John’s piece with interest, because while I can give you good reasons to join a local chapter (based on my own experience and involvement with my own), I still can’t make the case for a national SHRM membership being worth my investment. As a low level HR person, I have no use for reams of research or a passel (yes, I can use old-fashioned words like that even though I’m under 30) of legal updates. Those tools aren’t worth much, if anything, to me. Yes, those of you with a bigger title and more money get something out of those things that SHRM offers, but you also have a bigger paycheck to get your dues in. 🙂

Get in touch

You’ll never see SHRM being as plainspoken as some bloggers. That’s probably because SHRM members and HR professionals in general seem to be more conservative. If we just wait long enough, SHRM just might die of old age. But if they want to survive and thrive on the upcoming generation, they need to look closely at what they are offering and tailor it at least a little bit toward their potential younger customers.

Show me the money value!

SHRM, what do you have for newbies? I see little value in membership. Reams of research are useless to me. I don’t care about more legal updates. I want something fun and useful and inspiring. Here’s a quick idea for SHRM to offer that younger market: cheaper membership. Just give me 12 or 18 months of the cheaper price. I’m not really using any of your resources, but I sure am paying a lot of money ($185 isn’t much, but it seems like it to an entry level HR pro who doesn’t make much or see value in the offering).

I was a student member of SHRM as a college student. I totally wasted my money. I learned more from HR blogs six months after college than I ever did as a student member of SHRM.

If SHRM doesn’t start thinking about this, they’ll realize one day that they’ve missed their opportunity to reach out to a group of new (yet still quite capable) HR pros.

Local chapters-a mixed bag

John touched on the difficulty of proving local chapter value. I totally agree on that. But from my experience, it’s possible for chapters to make the case for membership. What local chapters have that national doesn’t:

  • Networking with local people who will be the ones hiring or referring you to jobs
  • The chance to volunteer and influence an organization
  • Leadership opportunities
  • Building connections with a variety of professionals, mentors, and friends

I’d love to keep up the conversation on this. What makes SHRM valuable for you? What do they have that is really useful and valuable for people who don’t have a need for the knowledge center, research papers, etc.?

This guest post is by Ben Eubanks. Ben has a deep love of his local SHRM chapter (shhh, don’t tell his wife!), and he’s working on some tools to help them serve their local HR pros even better. He lives and works in Huntsville, AL as an HR pro by day and an HR blogger by night. Want to connect? He’s on Twitter, LinkedIn, and uses that email thing, too.