Star employee: Robin the sock seller

Earlier this week, I received this email. It was unsolicited, so I guess you might call it “spam”, but I call it “a gift”. And a reminder that there are people (well, bots / hackers) out there like Robin from Blackout Knitting Co Ltd. People who are passionate about their work and their company and their place in the world – easy enough when you are working in “the socks capital of the world”, I know.

Anyway, I am not sure what tipped Robin off to the fact that I might be looking to import sublimation socks, or soccer socks (just because they sound like Dr Seuss would appreciate them). But her enthusiasm for her work is somehow contagious. And I have placed an order – socks for everyone this Christmas!


Posted in HR, The Work Place


Did you know that there’s a “taxonomy of hugging”? No, me neither. But according to this Wall Street Journal video on hugging in the workplace, there’s an American lawyer who takes employees through what’s ok and what’s not ok in the world of workplace hugging. It’s pretty weird, to be honest.

But I think the key points are: not everyone likes to be hugged; and there is nothing wrong with a good old high 5 with your colleagues. I would also add: don’t be creepy. As general HR guidance, I’d say don’t hug someone at work unless you know them very well and know that they want to be hugged – and even then, don’t linger, or be creepy or handsy. Honestly, I’d actually prefer it if you just gave the other person an affectionate (and gentle) pat on the head instead. As long as the recipient is ok with head pats.

Enhance Your CV

I’ve seen a lot of CVs during my career in HR. Sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re really bad, and sometimes they’re completely mystifying. I remember back in the day when we were reviewing applications for a graduate program, some of the kids used abbreviated words – as if they were sending us text messages, instead of trying to get a job at a leading global firm. And then there are the CVs that run for 10 pages – no one’s that impressive, honestly.

Our lovely friend JJ recently told me about a website called enhancv. At first, I thought she had messed up the spelling (because engineer), but then I had a look and realised it’s an actual thing. Apparently it’s the human-centric resume that actually works. It helps you build a CV that looks good, includes relevant info that makes sense, and doesn’t waffle on with the crazy. “HRs love it”, they say, and I think they might be right.

Their blog features CVs for celebrities, which made me laugh. That’s where I found this video of Elmo getting fired – a tragedy that they turned right around by helping Elmo with a CV, so the little fella can get straight back on his feet. Or hands.

Love your work, enhancv. And Elmo.


Imagine A World Without HR

No, I would not like to imagine a world without HR, thanks all the same. What a ridiculous notion. I was almost too afraid to watch this You Tube video, in case it was just a series of people staring dreamily into the middle distance as they reflected on how much better their lives would be…

The song was dramatic, confusing and pretty OTT. But then it was followed by interviews with some seemingly credible CEOs. Spoiler alert: a world without HR is basically the WORST THING YOU COULD POSSIBLY EVER IMAGINE. Even worse than someone eating the last of the Nutella; or being short and stuck at armpit level on a crowded bus at the end of a summer day; or finding out you’re allergic to chocolate. EVEN WORSE.


Posted in HR, TV Work Tips


Today’s work tip is about resigning. I know a bit about this topic, from both sides of the fence: having had quite a number of different jobs, and working in HR. My worst resignation was probably when I told one of the Partners of the firm that I was leaving, and he started to cry. Even worse, we were in a bar (probably not an ideal resignation site, now that I reflect on it), so it looked like I was a heartless girl breaking up with him over cocktails. Which I guess I was, except for the heartless part – although I was so happy to be leaving, I may have been grinning while he mopped at his teary face with tissues.

Interviewing for a new job is like dating (more on that in a future post), and resigning from your job is like breaking up with someone. One is full of excitement and promise; the other is awkward and can be a bit sad (especially if you’ve worked in a place for a while). So, if you’ve decided that it’s time to leave your job, and you’ve really thought about it properly, not just decided after a crappy day (or short series of crappy days), then our suggestion is that you tell the truth about it. And don’t tell everyone elseย before you tell your boss – it’s definitely not great for them to hear your news from the well-meaning barista in the local cafe.


And please don’t try a fake resignation, where you actually don’t want to leave, but just want to force your company into paying you more by competing with another opportunity that may or may not exist. You’re better than that, champ.

Many people get stressed about resigning – whether they’re not entirely sure it’s the right decision; or they’re worried about the reaction of their boss; or they feel guilty about ditching their colleagues and friends. The act of resigning is rarely as bad as you think it’ll be. Unless your boss is a Bad Manager – maybe they’ll take it personally and cut you off as soon as they know you’re going; or try a guilt trip to convince you to stay; or pretend they saw this coming; or criticise your decision / new employer / attitude / life. In such cases, you need to remember: it’s not you, it’s them.

Whatever happens, don’t lose your temper or make threats. And don’t start any fires or steal things before you leave. And resist the urge to have a few too many drinks at your farewell and start telling Brian in Accounts what you really think of him. And please don’t send a “Dear all” email – it might feel cathartic as you write it, but will undoubtedly seem like a very bad idea as soon as you hit send.

You might also find this video educational: basically, don’t be like Alice. Good luck out there, friends.

Ideas For Bad Managers: Terry Tate

Life in a work place can be challenging. There are rules – formal and informal – to follow; processes that make things work more or less efficiently; and then there are the humans. For Bad Managers, the workplace’s humans are a constant source of confusion and disappointment. They rarely perform exactly like the case studies in Personnel Management text books, so all of those scripts that Bad Managers memorise to deal with pesky HR issues are basically useless.

Enter Terry Tate: Office Linebacker. This Reebok commercial from the Super Bowl back in 2003 shows that Terry Tate always knows what to do. Adding Terry to a workplace (maybe just offices, not factories or building sites #safetyfirst) could be just the thing to kick start productivity improvements and help to leverage synergies. Terry Tate’s tactics have stood the test of time, and his methodology is as relevant today as it was almost 15 years ago.

Terry Tate was a disruptor, innovator and change agent, transforming businesses way before all of those words just became meaningless hashtags. You want to talk about operational efficiency? Or staff engagement? Or paradigm shifts? I suggest that you bring in Terry Tate and see what happens.

Herding Cats

Today, it’s time for an oldie, but a goodie. I first heard the term, “like herding cats” when I was working at a large professional services firm. I think someone was probably talking about how difficult it was to get the partners to agree on something – anything – or to get them to follow a plan (that they’d already agreed to follow).

There were definitely some interesting conversations in that place. Like the revelation that it wasn’t a great idea to take clients and staff to a gentleman’s club. Or the guy who told me that part time work was “spreading like a virus” across the firm (I laughed, presuming he was joking with that description – it was our first meeting – but he was serious). Or the suggestion that when you’re about to terminate someone’s employment, it’s not a great idea to make lighthearted small talk or tell them stories about your weekend. Ah, memories…

Anyway, it’s a noble pursuit this herding cats, and I’ve had my fair share of scratches along the way. Hats off to these pioneers at EDS – inspiring stuff…

Posted in HR

Informal referees

In real life, when you meet a new person, you might ask mutual friends what they think of him/her. Usually, it’s just as a casual enquiry, to find out a bit more about this new person and whether they’re likely to be keepers or just passing through. (NB, if you’re looking to date this new person, it is of course permissible to ask as many questions as the host of a gameshow in order to find out more info.)

In the working world, your prospective employer (or their HR accomplice) may conduct a similar enquiry if they discover that you’ve worked with someone they know. This mutual acquaintance mightn’t be in that carefully curated list of referees that you’ve listed on your CV, or prepped to say delightful things about you.

This person might be the receptionist you yelled at when he couldn’t produce an instant courier service out of thin air; or the lady in Finance who recalls your harsh suggestion about where she could put her spreadsheet; or the HR person you mocked relentlessly by group email. Now, we all know that formal referees are generally chosen to give glowing accounts of you – painting a picture of a beloved colleague whose only weakness is that you “take on too much responsibility / work too hard / hold yourself and others to high standards”.

An informal referee has no such obligation, and their input might go a little something like this…


Today’s tip: try your very best not be the person that this text is about. (To be clear, this person wasn’t being described as a cook.) Don’t burn your bridges. Be nice to the people you work with, especially if they work in supporting services/roles. Because (a) it’s the right way to live your life, and (b) you never know who else these people know, and if they might be asked for an informal reference down the track. You’ve been warned!

Posted in HR, The Future of Work

The Jetsons Are Coming

While reading the latest Australian Human Resources Institute’s magazine (yes, really), I noticed a FRIGHTENING article. I know, most of you probably just check the magazine for the pictures, so you might have missed this.


OMG! How can HR respond to The Jetsons?

If you are too old or too young to remember this family, I have done some research on your behalf. Because if they are coming, you mark my words: it won’t just be HR that needs to get ready. As this footage shows, we can expect a world where kids are chucked out of the vehicle on the way to school; wives steal their husbands’ wallets and race off to the shopping centre; and husbands go to work for a chance to put their feet up and relax.

And let us not forget Rosie the Robot. According to our most trusted source of knowledge, Wikipedia:ย “Rosie is the Jetsons’ household robot. She’s an outdated model, but the Jetsons love her and would never trade her for a newer model. Rosie does all the housework and some of the parenting. She is a strong authoritarian and occasionally dispenses pills to the family.

If Rosie and her pill-dispensing robot pals are part of the new reality, AHRI is right to sound the alarm. But to be frank, I am nervous if the responsibility just rests with HR. Please help us spread the word: wherever you are, whatever you do, the Jetsons and co are coming for you.