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!

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First World Problems

I still remember the time during the GFC when someone complained to me about the removal of the “good” biscuits from the kitchen. (The chocolate and cream-filled biscuits had been replaced by plain biscuits = human rights abuse.) And in a Braveheart-style speech, they said they could take the good biscuits, but they’ll NEVER TAKE OUR FRUIT BOXES. (I think we did, from memory.) And by doing so, we could maybe save some jobs, but more likely just send a strong message that times were tough and we all needed to try harder and do more with less. Then I had someone complain that they were worried about maintaining their three investment properties, so they really needed a pay rise. I remember having to grit my teeth so I didn’t yell, YOU ARE LUCKY TO HAVE A JOB. (Also, thank you for trying to make your problem my problem.)

Speaking of problems, this video is not a new one, but I saw it for the first time earlier this year and loved it. I would like to show it to all workplaces and high schools to get the message out there. Sometimes, the best HR advice I can really give is shut the full cup. (Also around the GFC time, I had a similar conversation with a senior lady who came to discuss her salary review concerns with me – she was significantly overpaid and underperforming, yet somehow convinced herself she was worth a lot more. My advice was, literally: DRY YOUR EYES, PRINCESS. But I delivered it in a super charming way, obvs, and she got the message.)

If only this video had been around then…

 

Trust The Expert

Consultants tend to get a hard time. But I’m sure it’s the case (at least some of the time) that the problem really starts with the client. If they’re not sure what they want, or they have mistaken the consultants for magicians, or the company’s leaders are basically dumbos, there’s a clear limit to what consultants can achieve. This video nails it, and also makes me incredibly agitated. Mostly because I’ve been in these meetings, and I’ve met these people, and it’s painful…

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.

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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.

 

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.

Tips From Other Humans

Most people are now familiar with Humans of New York, Brandon Stanton‘s brilliant series of portraits snapped around NYC (and around the world), which became such a successful photoblog that his reach expanded to books and now film.

If you haven’t yet seen the new Humans of New York interview series, it’s worth checking out on Facebook. There are some amazing stories there, grouped by themes, from a range of very interesting humans.

Here’s one of the trailers to give you a taste – it seems like a perfect thing to watch for Friday feels, heading into a weekend (and it’s a looong weekend and a time change for some of us here in Australia, woohoo). And two of my favourites from Instagram.

And if you’re not on Facebook, you can still check out some of the HONY stories here.

First two episodes of Humans Of New York : The Series are now available on Facebook! Link in bio.

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Oh, The Places You’ll Go

If there is a better philosopher than Dr Seuss, I’d be surprised. We were raised on his rhymes and tongue twisting tales, and I think the good doctor definitely helped to feed my imagination and love of clever words and general silliness.

I have too many favourites to mention, but Oh, The Places You’ll Go has been a long-time guide and source of inspiration. Over the years, I’ve bought copies to share with colleagues who need a bit of a kick, or I’ve given the books as farewell gifts when I’ve left jobs. (I know that’s not the way it’s traditionally done, but I guess I thinkย I’m not going to be here anymore, so look to Dr Seuss for answers to your questions.)

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It’s a gem, and I highly recommend it for your personal library, and also as a gift for nearly every occasion. I read about a primary school principal who gave a copy to each graduating student as a takeaway pep talk to help on their journey to and through high school. At work, it’s a fitting gift for the recently promoted, the newly hired, and even the newly fired (NB, not if they’re still in the angry / sad stages of the grieving process).

I’ve just re-read it now (there’s another advantage of Dr Seuss vs a traditional motivational book – Dr Seuss’ work is quick to read) and there are so many highlights, it’s tough to narrow it down. Every page is basically packing a wisdom punch. I’d go as far as saying it is the best work (and life) advice you’ll ever get.

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

Amen to that.

And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go rightย along. You’ll start happening too.

It’s an upbeat book about opportunity, sure, but it also provides reassurance for when things turn to crap, as they sometimes do.

And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.

So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mixย up your right foot with your left.

And then, some hard data to back it all up [SPOILER ALERT]:

And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 per cent guaranteed.)

So, if you’re looking for motivation, or if you have lots of questions buzzing around your head, or if you like funny rhyming words that don’t appear in a conventional dictionary, this book is for you. And that is a work tip for humans that I stand by, 100 per cent.

Advice from Mike Brady

Mike Brady’s wise words apply as much to today’s workplace as they ever did to whatever issue was troubling the Brady Bunch back in the day. Mr Brady seemed to have a knack for getting to the heart of whatever was troubling the recipient of his lecture, and this one is no exception.

If you have a big presentation coming up, and need some words of wisdom from a 1970s architect and all-round nice guy, you might want to watch this. Actually, even if you don’t have a presentation, I feel confident that you can use this technique just about anywhere and anytime. [I’m not one to judge, but if you find yourself doing this around the workplace a lot, you might want to have a think about what that actually means about you, Creepy McCreepster.]

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…