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Below are the 12 most recent journal entries recorded in hrmanager's LiveJournal:

Monday, March 21st, 2005
7:33 pm
12:57 am
On Difficult People (and a few other musings)
We sign up to enter into the business world, and playing in that world is a game where there are proscribed rules for how to play. And the longer you're in it the more you regulate yourself. So the rules no longer matter that much (for most) in the sense of telling us what to do and what not do. We just end up doing it. We learn from what works and what doesn't what those rules are.

I was sitting in on a meeting with a manager and an employee several months ago. The employee had done a series of rather unprofessional things, such as: sending emails sniping at her manager, copying everyone in the department; being extremely vocal on the floor amongst her co-workers (resulting in complaints to management from other employees) about each and every one of her grievances; complaining that she was being treated unfairly because her manager had spoken to her about being late (her argument was predicated upon the fact that the people who worked on the first floor had it easier than she did, since she had to get to the fourth floor -I told her it was part of her commute that she needed to account for); etc.

Anyhow, the woman made a statement during the meeting that the company was "stifling (her) individuality" by writing her up. It just didn't click for her that this was not about her being punished for being who she was, but that this was about her being advised that her behavior was unprofessional. I stated during the session, as I've stated during many such disciplinary meetings for behavioral issues, that honesty is not necessarily the best policy at work, that we simply cannot say everything that comes to mind in any context while in the workplace. Those are the rules. I point out, for instance, that there are things that happen every day at work that I don't like, but that I either accept them or, in my capacity, I find ways to work within the constraints of the workplace to address them. Those are the rules, and that's what anyone who is employed and paid by a company signs up for.

There's a way to shine the light on this in a different way, though. If you know the rules quite well, you know how to break them (and when and in what situations) so you can see the light shining through the cracks in the facade. I often do this when speaking with an employee about a workplace issue. I will stop and say, "Can we have a human moment here?" and there will be this combined shock and excitement on the face of the employee when they realize that I'm not only serious, but that I recognize the facade and am willing to let it go.

In that respect, the game's greatest strength is also its greatest weakness.
12:26 am
Free Brainbench Certifications!
Brainbench is doing an international promotion for the next two weeks providing FREE certifications on all of their evaluations. (These usually run $50 a pop!)

These cover all sorts of ground, but here are the management ones. There are also some good management-related evaluations covered in the Human Resources section here.
Wednesday, March 16th, 2005
11:48 am
College
It's the degree that matters, not necessarily what it's in. This is becoming increasingly true even for Master's degrees when job candidates are not in a specialized field.

(Notable exceptions are students pursuing employment in the medical and legal fields, who will likely want a focused Bachelor's degree.)
11:38 am
Twenty Rules for Job Seekers
Rule number one: Know what you want. If you don’t know what you want, you can’t expect to find it, (and you probably won’t be happy with what you find).

Rule number two: Spend the time to closely review job postings for the types of positions you want. Almost all of the clues you need to target your search to the opportunity are right there.

Rule number three: Recognize your limitations. If you have no experience in a field, accept that you are unlikely to get your dream job right off the bat without paying dues. If every job you want requires a college degree and you don't have a college degree, it's probably a good idea to invest your energy in getting a college degree.

Rule number four: Don’t forget your network. People love to hear from other people, especially if they aren’t desperate for something right now. Make sure you’re maintaining relationships now that may benefit you in the future. Most jobseekers find jobs through people they know.

Rule number five: On your resume and any other correspondence with a prospective employer, please, please, please spell correctly.

Rule number six: Let your resume speak for your skills, knowledge and abilities. You do not need to explicitly state that you are detail-oriented or organized. Your resume should demonstrate those things without you having to state them.

Rule number seven: Your resume is about what you bring to the table, not what you want in a job.

Rule number eight: A resume is not a fixed document. The best job seekers have three pages of material for every one page of their resume and mix and match this material depending on the job opportunity they are considering.

Rule number nine: In your resume, be consistent about the use of periods and punctuation. If you use periods for bullet points, use them for all.

Rule number ten: Eliminate filler and extraneous information on your resume. Hobbies and interests are almost never worth including on a resume. Your future employer doesn't care how much you like going to garage sales. Talk to them about it after they hire you.

Rule number eleven: Consider how each bullet point you list on your resume stands on its own in the eyes of someone considering you for a job. What does it tell them about you? Let every piece of the puzzle be in alignment with your goal.

Rule number twelve: Make sure you modify your resume to match the opportunity. Don't send a resume highlighting your retail department store sales experience to apply for an administrative assistant position. Send a resume highlighting the administrative skills you acquired in that retail position.

Rule number thirteen: Send a cover letter. It demonstrates your professionalism. What does your resume not say that you have to say about how your experience prepares you for this specific opportunity? That is what the cover letter is for. Shorter is best. I go for three paragraphs. 3/4 page double-spaced max. You want it to be something that might be forwarded to the hiring manager that he or she can read in 60 seconds or less and say, "Yes. Yes. Yes!"

Rule number fourteen: Never lie. If you have to, tell the truth creatively. Understand the difference.

Rule number fifteen: Every job interview has value. Even if you have no interest in an opportunity, if you’ve got an interview, go for it. You’re building your network.

Rule number sixteen: Keep your options open. Things change. Be prepared to move when they do.

Rule number seventeen: Stay focused on the move after this one. What do you want your next career move to prepare you to do next? Make sure you’re moving in the right direction.

Rule number eighteen: Don't quit your current job until you've got something else locked down. And leave gracefully, no matter how much you'd like to do otherwise. You never know when you might run into people in the future and what role they may play in that future.

Rule number nineteen: Stay focused. Keep meticulous records of conversations you have with contacts and jobs you have applied for. This will be helpful now and in the future when you're ready to make another move.

Rule number twenty: Follow up and thank everyone who helps you during your search.
8:13 am
Delegation - For Managers
Ever feel like you're doing all the work?

Guess who's responsible for that? You are.

Almost all of us get promoted into management roles because we are subject matter or technical experts in our respective lines of work, not because we are effective at managing people. And therein is the key paradox of new management. We are most comfortable doing the work, and so we will continue to do the work, unless we accept, in our new roles, a different relationship with the work of the team/ department/business.

There are a number of rationalizations for not delegating. One that I hear all of the time is that "delegating takes more time than doing it myself". This may be true in the short run, but obviously not over an extended period of time. Eventually, the manager who doesn't delegate accumulates more and more tasks and decisions and becomes trapped in day-to-day details. This ultimately results in some tasks being delayed and others never being completed. The tasks continue to "pile up" until the manager ends up dealing only with the daily emergencies, and the larger picture of management and supervision is never addressed.

Another reason given for not delegating is that "staff lack experience". Of course, there is no way to get experience unless tasks are delegated. Without delegation, "learning by doing" cannot take place. This leads to under-utilization of skills and abilities. It is the manager's job to continually coach and train staff to develop this knowledge. The manager must broaden their perspective, insight and overall understanding. Managers who delegate effectively have usually found that this "overall knowledge" is something that can clearly be broken down into manageable parts and taught.

Many tasks can be effectively delegated. The following is a list of major types of such tasks:

*Routine, repetitive tasks
*Tasks related to fact-finding prior to decisions being made
*Tasks related to the implementation of programs after the decisions have been made
*The preparation of first drafts
*Tasks that others can do better, sooner, or at less cost to the organization
*Representation at some meetings
*Tasks that will help staff develop through exposure to new responsibilities and problems

There are some tasks that shouldn't be delegated. These may include the following:

*Critical decisions that commit substantial resources
*Critical decisions that affect major goals
*Personal representation at meetings where the supervisor's presence is important for public relations or staff morale
*Tasks involving matters of confidentiality
*The evaluating and disciplining of staff you directly supervise
*Short-term tasks where there is inadequate time to explain or train

Delegation is difficult because it generally involves a mindful focus on the what and how of what we do. We're good at what we do, but we don't necessarily want to get into the tedious details of how we actually accomplish what we accomplish. Effective delegation requires a conscious effort to drop into this level of analysis.

A helpful exercise is to consciously track the work you are doing each day, stopping every hour on the hour to inventory the tasks you have performed during those 60 minutes, for about a week. Once you have this inventory, identify for each task, which of your staff members may have been able to complete the task, thereby freeing up your time. Identify for each "assigned" task the degree of support (from none at all to extensive hand-holding) your staff member would have needed from you to complete the task.

Then over the following two weeks, begin to delegate to your staff some of the tasks that require less support from you to accomplish. Gauge your staff members' comfort level in these new responsibilities and slowly begin to move into the more complex tasks with them, making sure you are available for support.

See what you can do to mmake sure you're following these guidelines when delgating:

*Clearly define the task.
*Set a deadline.
*Breakdown the task into manageable steps. You may want to involve the staff person in this process.
*Decide what training is necessary.
*Decide upon a time frame for feedback; determine how often you will check (or how often the staff will come to you) to go over progress and address any questions or problems.

REMEMBER: By delegating to your direct reports, you are investing in them. Your staff respect you because you've given them a newfound trust. And your time is available to focus on developing and coaching them, and performing more strategic management activities. Everybody wins. Once you get the ball rolling, this becomes a lot easier.
Tuesday, March 15th, 2005
5:14 am
Resignation Letters
Keep them short. Do not burn bridges.

You never know who you might run into later in your career, and what role they may be asked to play in
your future. If you must leave a job, leave quietly and simply.

(Also, it is almost never advisable to leave one employer without another viable job option available.)
Saturday, March 5th, 2005
10:42 am
Quick Tips For Avoiding New Manager Mistakes
Don't show everyone who's in charge.

You don't have to make a big show about being "the boss". You do, however, have to demonstrate that you are making a positive difference through your leadership. Your staff will appreciate when you share your non-management experience with them. Establish camaraderie with them through your shared experiences, but be sure to gain their respect through your actions in your new role.

Don't change everything.

Just because the way something is done isn't the way you would do it, it isn't necessarily wrong. Learn the difference between "different" and "wrong". Focus on doing the right thing, right now. For longer-term concerns, focus on changing processes or programs that will get you the quickest, most visible wins. Manage your energy wisely.

Don't be afraid to do anything.

Upper management wouldn't have put you into the job if they didn't have confidence that you could handle it. Mistakes are a benefit to you in learning how to be a better manager. You'll make them.

Don't waste time with your boss.

Your job, just like it was before you became a manager, is to help your boss. Make sure to budget time to meet with her/him to give information and receive guidance. Act independently whenever possible, but learn how to know when to engage upper management before acting.

Do tackle problems and problem employees.

You can no longer avoid problems or hope they will work out. You are the person who has to see it gets taken care of. The best thing you can do to improve the morale of the team and to quickly build your credibility is to make sure that you have the right people working for you. Your good performers will become great performers if they are on a team without poor performers.

Do protect your staff.

It's your job to stand up for employees and make sure they are treated fairly. They will return the loyalty. Remember that protecting your staff may also mean from each other, and that it is your job to establish standards of behavior and conduct within the team. While being supportive of your team, be certain that you are not cultivating an us v. them mentality within your department. Remind everyone that you are all in this together.

Do take the time to know your staff.

Your team is what will make or break you in your quest to be a good manager. Make sure that you are meeting with each of your employees individually for an hour at least once every two weeks to discuss their needs. Take appropriate interest in your employees' lives outside of work. Make personal connections with them. They will develop a personal appreciation for you if you do the same with them.
Sunday, June 6th, 2004
2:41 pm
9:59 am
W-4
Change your tax withholding here.
9:57 am
About My Job
What is your job title?

Human Resources Manager

How long have you been doing this job?

Since August, 2003, in this position.

What does your job title generally mean?

It actually varies from organization to organization. Some organizations have no Human Resources Department, so the traditional Office Manager becomes the HR Manager by default.

Human Resources departments in smaller organizations may consist of only one employee, generally a Human Resources Manager. Organizations may generally grow to about 50 employees prior to requiring a dedicated Human Resources Manager whose primary functions will likely be recruiting, new hire orientations, payroll and benefits. Industry standard would add an additional member to the department when the employee population reaches the benchmark of about 100, with additional department members for each 100 employees, thereafter.

Larger, more mature organizations will generally have staff dedicated to specific human resources functions, including (but not necessarily limited to) Recruiting, Compensation, Payroll and Benefits, Employee Relations and Training.

Skilled Human Resources professionals will generally have an esoteric comprehension of any federal and/or state employment laws applicable to employees and managers in their organizations. In the United States, these laws include the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Though Human Resources departments (known until the 1980's as "Personnel" departments, whereupon the corporate world adopted the newer moniker) continually speak of their role as strategic business partners with their clients, they inevitably are seen by said corporate leadership as a transactional, service-oriented necessary evil.

Human Resources is known as "HR" to people in the biz. HR is known, alternately, as "the Gestapo," "Payroll," or simply "Them" by employees. (There are a number of other less flattering names we are also called.)

Generalist knowledge of the field consists of the following components: Strategic Management, Workforce Planning and Employment (to consist of the Recruiting or Staffing function of the organization), Training and Development, Compensation and Benefits (to consist of the Payroll function of the organization), Employee Relations and Labor Relations, and Occupational Health, Safety and Security.

What are your everyday activities like?

This is a high customer contact position. A lot of employee and manager contact, either on the phone or in person. Meetings with large groups of managers and employees are also par for the course.

I can be involved in any of the the following on any given day: one-on-one meetings with my employees, career counseling meetings with employees, facilitating disciplinary action notices meetings, meeting with the union representatives or union president regarding employee grievances, searching online for job candidates, speaking with my recruiter about the status of our open job searches, and managing any of a number of HR projects (including incentive and bonus programs for employees, automating payroll and timekeeping, creating a management training program, refining processes such as leave of absence management and internal transfers, revising company HR policies on any of a number of topics, etc.), new hire orientations, providing advice to managers on sensitive workplace situations, conducting investigations into claims of discrimination, harassment or hostile work environment.

What challenges does your job bring you?

Where to begin? The to-do list never stops growing. As soon as one issue is resolved, another is there to take its place.

Do you have any responsibility?

Extraordinary responsibility. Some days I feel like I'm running the place. Seriously. It's like this. My job is to be an advisor to senior management and other managers. I provide recommendations on how to run the business (re: HR issues, which often bleed into other things) on a daily basis, and generally, those recommendations are acted upon.

Do you manage other people?

I have three people reporting to me: a Recruiter, a Human Resources Representative (mid-level), and a Human Resources Coordinator (entry-level)

What do you like about your job?

The variety. The creativity I am able to bring to the work. The impact that I can see as the result of decisions I make and actions I take. The ability to improve the business and the working conditions for employees.

What don't you like about your job?

The pressure. With all of the responsibility comes a lot of attention.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A writer. I write a lot in my job (policies, staff announcements, counseling and advice in e-mails, job descriptions. etc.), but it certainly isn't the writing I expected to do.

What past jobs have you had that lead to your current one?

I think every job I've had has prepared me for this role. I can think back to my days in food service and retail and can recognize how those experiences have shaped my ideas about how a Human Resources department should be run.

I read tarot cards in a metaphysical bookstore, once upon a time. Strange comparison, but often I'll compare that to the counseling sessions I have with managers and employees.

My HR jobs have been: a personnel assistant with a federal government agency, a staffing specialist with a staffing agency, a recruiter with a public relations firm, and a human resources generalist with my current employer before I was promoted into my current role.

What advice can you give people that want to do what you do?

Good HR professionals are businesspeople first and HR people next. I'd suggest against going into HR if your only reason for doing so is because you like people.

Human Resources is a career path that tends to attract people who like people. People who are attracted to HR for that reason alone are not always happy with the way their careers turn out. While humans are generally good, they are strange, unpredictable animals.
9:55 am
New Journal
I'll use this journal to provide general human resources advice, as time allows, as well as to post forms, resources, templates, etc. for the use of managers and employees.
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