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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who Am I?

I received in my daily barrage of emails one that perked my interest. I apologize upfront because it got deleted by accident and I could not find it again.

The email was from a HR related blog and it began with a scenario in which the employees of a said organization received and email at their desk computers. In essence the message stated that management was informing the employee body that they no longer had to worry about their fellow employee who was holding up the organization because they were no longer with the company. It further announced that there would be a memorial for this person at 3pm in the company cafeteria. The scenario said that when the employees showed up for the memorial there was an open casket waiting for them. As the employees went up to the casket to see who had passed away, they found themselves looking in a mirror.

So here is my question to you. If you received the identical message and you saw yourself in the mirror what is your reaction as to whether you are holding up the organization's objectives. Are you so stuck in your silo that you are not able too see how you fit into the bigger picture? Are you so set in the ...


Blackberry, I Have Loved You, but I Want a Divorce

During the course of a year I bet I meet hundreds of executives.  Last year, I noticed a dramatic increase in the number of executives with an iPhone or other smartphone (but mostly iPhones) instead of a Blackberry. Although I initially dismissed it as a novelty, smartphones other than Blackberry have quickly become mainstream. The iPhone has surpassed Blackberry among business users. As many ponder dumping their Blackberries, it is common to see executives carry a company-issued Blackberry and an iPhone—it’s the 21st century equivalent of driving the company car during the week and the Porsche on the weekends. More surprisingly, major companies are offering their executives a choice of company smartphone. Those who switch to an iPhone swear that their divorce from Blackberry is permanent. What I once dismissed as cultish avarice for Apple products is now mainstream preference.

I have been a loyal and enthusiastic Blackberry user for years.  We were inseparable, though I did have a brief dalliance with an Android a couple of years ago; but after only two weeks, I found myself missing my Blackberry.  And for good reason.  No device does email better than a ...


2 Ways to Fix Mistakes at Work

Recognize This! – We all make mistakes. What we do to fix them has far reaching effects on more than just the error.

What do you do when you mess up at work? The gamut of responses runs from “lie and hide” to “sweep it under the rug and hope no one notices” to “confess and fix.”

That’s always been my motto – in work and life. If you mess up, ‘fess up. Then offer first a clean-up plan, and then ideas to make sure it never happens again.

We’re all human. We will all make mistakes at work. Sometimes, those “mistakes” turn into a highly profitable innovation, but often mistakes are just that – errors in judgment or execution requiring rectification. It’s how we deal with the mistakes – as both the perpetrator and the person in charge – that contributes to the tone of your organizational culture.

I was honoured to participate in a recent Investor’s Business Daily article on just this topic, “Turn A Workplace Blunder Into A Moment To Shine,” in which I offered these two points of advice (quoting):

Strike a balance. Want to add insult to injury? “Only provide feedback on the negative things.”

So says Derek Irvine, vice president of employee recognition firm Globoforce.



eLearning Pros: Stop creating, selling, and buying garbage!

I was thinking today (on my plod around the neighborhood) about how come we’re still seeing so much garbage elearning (and frankly, I had a stronger term in mind).  And it occurred to me that their are multitudinous explanations, but it’s got to stop.

One of the causes is unenlightened designers. There are lots of them, for lots of reasons: trainers converted, lack of degree, old-style instruction, myths, templates, the list goes on. You know, it’s not like one dreams of being an instructional designer as a kid.  This is not to touch on their commitment, but even if they did have courses, they’d likely still not be exposed to much about the emotional side, for instance. Good learning design is not something you pick up in a one week course, sadly.  There are heuristics (Cat Moore’s Action mapping, Julie Dirksen’s new book), but the necessary understanding of the importance of the learning design isn’t understood and valued.  And the pressures they face are overwhelming if they did try to change things.

Because their organizations largely view learning as a commodity. It’s seen as a nice to have, not as critical to the business.  It’s about keeping the cost down, instead of ...


Digital Technology Supports Collaboration in the Workplace: Are We Taking Full Advantage?


“The last few months have seen a spate of end of year surveys and forward-looking prediction reports that examine the workplace ‘digital transformation’ to a more collaborative work environment with greater worker mobility.”

David Lavenda, Fast Company, January 2012

As I was reading David Lavenda’s post ‘Surprising Findings About Mobile Worker Collaboration’ this past Thursday in Fast Company I found myself reflecting back to a small conference hosted by the Bionomics Institute that I attended south of San Francisco back in the mid 1990’s.

Among the ...


When Death Takes You By Surprise

Marilyn, my beloved wife of more than 50 years, died on December 29 of complications associated with Alzheimer’s. It was a fortunate death, though not, in the usual sense, a good death. She had lost 95% or more of her mental capacities, and had no obvious sense of who I was or of what was happening to her.

She was a wonderful woman, the love of my life, and I miss her dearly. When the kids and grandchildren came in from the Coasts to see her in Memory Care, she always had a big smile on her face. I don’t know whether she recognized them, but I prefer to believe that her wiring was so strong that she knew, unconsciously, who they were. Even in the last stages of her Alzheimer’s-destroyed-life, what a smile broke out on her face every time I walked into her apartment. We have a family photo of her reading to her three-year-old grandson in her lap, a paradigm of who she was and the simple happiness we enjoyed. I have always found a deep sense of satisfaction in the love we were able to give and receive, an experience depicted by that picture from a dozen years ago.

Initially, I decided not to write this very personal blog, but I decided otherwise because of its ...


Resume Advice: Things that make me say NO

I am an HR practitioner.  Sounds like an introduction in a self-help group.  But I work every day with people, and stuff, and resumes, and questions.  The resume thing, it's s tricky, sticky wicket.

I am not a professional resume writer.  And I am usually pretty tolerant of styles and formats given that there are no ISO standards for resumes.  I give applicants the benefit - and latitude - when reviewing them but I have to say, there are some immediate turnoffs.  

Let me share.

1. Odd, peculiar fonts.  Differing sizes.  Hard to read stuff.  Keep it clean.
2. An AOL email. Unless of course, you work for AOL.  Come on, it's 2012.  Get a GMail account.  It looks like you might still be using "keyword searches" on the internets.
3. The declaration that, "I am a perfect fit."  Don't say that.  If I don't know, you don't know.  It's my job.
4. Closing with, "I will follow up."  If you write that, you better follow up.  Don't write that because I don't have time to answer your inquiry.   So take that out.  But if you decide to keep it in, and you DON'T follow up, that's not good.   I keep track.
5. Don't include a cover letter from another job.  And while on the topic, ...

10 Myths of Employee Recognition & Rewards

Recognize This! -Recognition done right advances your business objectives.

I’m honoured to have an article included in the December issue of Candian HR Reporter in which I debunk 10 recognition and reward myths.

  1. Employee recognition is best given at an annual awards show.
  2. Cash is the best reward.
  3. Employee salaries should be reward enough.
  4. Determining “how” to recognize is the first step of appreciation.
  5. Appreciation and recognition are the exclusive territory of HR.
  6. Appreciation and recognition are only for the elite.
  7. Recognition takes time and energy.
  8. Recognition is expensive.
  9. Appreciation requires tight controls.
  10. Appreciation is a soft skill with no measurable business metrics.

Be sure to click through to the article to learn the reality behind these myths.

The bottom line: Recognition done right is a powerful, strategic method for advancing the business objectives most critical to your organization’s success. Overcoming these myths to arrive at the truth about the role employee recognition can and should play in your talent management practices will help you get there faster.

What other myths do you see in recognition ...


3 Leadership Lessons To Keep Your Organization From Running Aground

As a leader, one thing you must be vigilant about is keeping an eye out for any process or culture creep which might lead to complacency or a disconnect with the present-day realities found just outside your office walls. While there are many examples in today’s headlines of organizations which have drifted so far off-course that it’s hard to see a viable turnaround in their near future, few illustrate the risks and fallout from such situations as the ensuing drama around the capsizing of the Costa Concordia cruise ship off the coast of Italy.

In the piece “Seven Tips for Becoming a Better Boss”, leaders from several organizations which were recently recognized as being one of the “Best Small Workplaces of 2011” share what they found to be the key steps which were behind their organization’s success and positive workplace environment.

In light of the actions of the Costa Concordia captain and his superiors, this piece ironically also reveals how the current culture and workplace attitudes at Costa Cruises set into motion actions which not only lead to this fatal maritime disaster, but which also played a role in defining how their employees responded to this crisis.

Consider, ...


The pricelessness of reflection

W. Edwards Deming is quoted as saying, “Experience by itself teaches nothing.”  In a fast-paced world where we are bombarded with more and more stimuli and we are called upon to carry out multiple tasks, this is truer now than ever before.  Our lives are filled with more and varied experiences which, by themselves, leave us with nothing more than information.  Sometimes we get to the end of our very busy days and the most we have made of it was, “I was run off my feet all day,” and we let go the opportunity to reflect on what it all meant to us and our lives.  Are we doing what makes us happy?  Are we spending our lives doing something meaningful to us?  Are our lives enriched by the myriad of interactions and relationships we hold?  Are we making a difference?  If we were asked, we could probably recall the things that happen to us daily, but it is not sufficient to merely recollect if these experiences are to have enormous value to us.  In our working lives, which are becoming more unpredictable and and revolve less around the carrying out of rote routine tasks, we are exposed to a veritable banquet of new experiences and interactions.  Within these experiences lie the building ...