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I’ve Been Raptured . . . Will You Join Me?

April 20, 2012

It finally happened.

I made up my mind, hoisted up my big girl panties and moved from the world of blog-partner sites to an actual honest-to-god self hosted site.

Thanks to the encouragement of Laurie Ruettimann and the web genius talent of Lance Haun I’m getting set to put this site to rest as I’ve moved on over to And really, the two of them (along with an able assist from Lizzie Smithson) did all the heavy lifting while I merely sat back and enjoyed a refreshing pina colada.

I started this blog in September 2010 and a year and a half-later am moving into a new abode.  I would say it’s about time.

If you subscribe to my RSS feed never fear – I’ll continue to pop up in your reader-of-choice.  If, however, you are one of my subscribers – you will want to re-subscribe to the HR Schoolhouse.

Come along for the journey.  It’s rapture time.

The HR Solar System

April 17, 2012

Here’s one I’ve pulled out from the dusty archives… (November 2010)


I was witness to an interesting phenomenon not too long ago – a round of “HR Solar System.” Also known as “I’m in HR and I think the planets revolve around me.”

At a recent workshop, the speaker posed the following question: “if an employee is getting off track, whose job is it to get them back on board?”

So while I ticked through some answers in my mind – “the employee, the manager” – I really wasn’t surprised to hear an answer bubbling up from throughout the audience – “it’s HR’s job.”

Seriously HR? Really?


One thing that always makes me wince is when HR colleagues make statements along the line of “I have to meet with Sally Sue Employee to issue her write-up/written warning/PIP.” And Sally Sue works in Accounting. Or Marketing. In other words, Sally Sue is NOT having this performance discussion with her manager – she is having it with HR.

Stop it HR.

HR’s role is not to insert itself into every single employee interaction. Our role is to assist the managers by providing them with the coaching, support and guidance so that THEY can have performance discussions with employees who report to them.

Our role is to assist in supporting a culture where employees are treated with dignity and in which there is adherence to laws, regulations and policies. Our role is to work to ensure that our organizations provide the foundational structure and the environment in which the employees can succeed. And ultimately our role is to do all these things in order to impact our organization’s performance and success.


The quickness of these workshop attendees to respond “that’s HR’s role to get an employee back on track” points to a continuing desire to be acknowledged and validated. I saw it happen live. I hear stories about it on a regular basis. Jason Lauritsen wrote a great post about this syndrome over at Practicing HR after the conclusion of the HR Reinvention Experiment in Omaha. He made some great points and readers chimed in with some super comments. Go check it out and then let me know —

—- does HR still view itself as the center of the universe? Do we suffer from Solar System Syndrome?

Like Nailing Jell-O® to a Tree

April 11, 2012

My grandma was a big fan of Jell-O® – bowls, parfaits, dessert cups and even “Jell-O® Salad” which she loaded with all kinds of stuff.  One of her favorite concoctions had shredded carrots and cabbage suspended in lime gelatin which carried the none-too-appetizing name of Vitamin Salad.

I was never the biggest fan.

Now I do to admit to whipping up a batch or two of Jell-O® in my life – sans floating morsels of vegetables of course. The recipe directions on the box are fairly idiot-proof and I’ve managed to get it right a few times over the years; not too runny, not too chewy – just right. I have, however, learned one lesson over the years – if attempting to add fruit (think strawberries) it’s crucial to make sure the fruit is well-dried before mixing it in; too much moisture will throw off that delicate balance of 1 cup hot water/1 cup cold water and leave one with a bowl of liquid that refuses to ‘set.’


Nailing Jell-O® to a tree has come to be a metaphor for attempting an impossible task.

  • “Trying to get your mother to understand how to use Skype?” “Like nailing Jell-O® to a tree.”
  • “Convincing the-powers-that-be that tele-work may be a viable option for the workforce?” “Like nailing Jello-O® to a tree.”
  • “Increasing the robust use of social channels and networks among HR practitioners?” “Like nailing Jello-O® to a tree.”


But as with many things in life, sometimes we give up before exploring other options.  Does the difficulty in accomplishing a particular task arise due to our own inadequate specifications/details?  Do we have an inherent problem when working to move-the-needle forward because we’re using imprecise language? Have we identified, and attempted to nail that slippery Jell-O®, in the right sweet spot?

So how DO we nail that elusive gelatinous mess to the tree?  If we take a spoonful right from the bowl and hoist the hammer we’re bound to fail.  But perhaps we:

  • Put the Jell-O® in a Ziploc® baggie and then nail the baggie to the tree
  • Whip up some Jell-O® Jigglers which are a bit sturdier and may adhere better
  • Chop down the tree so it’s laying on its side before we commence the hammering
  • Cook up a batch of Jell-O® shots, drink them down, and stop worrying about nailing anything to that damn piece of timber


There’s not much that’s impossible.  Sometimes we just need to approach it in a new way.

And one interesting side note – in the UK and some other parts of the world, people call this stuff “jelly.”  Jelly with carrots and cabbage sounds just as loathsome.