Is Eating a Banana at Work a No-No?

Re-Run Friday is back again – this post originally was posted in June 2015.

What Not To Eat: Work Edition

We are constantly bombarded in the media about what we should be eating and what we shouldn’t be eating. Just last week the FDA came out with it’s new ban on Transfats starting in 2018.  While this is a good thing for the health of our society, it’s just one example of how we are being told what to eat and what not to eat.

While I don’t want to get into an argument here about whether or not you should be eating more protein, or fruits and vegetables, etc. I do want to give you some insight into foods you just should never eat at work.  Here’s my list:

1. Bananas.  No one wants to say it, so I will. There’s no good way to eat a banana at work and not have some fourteen year old comment come out. Male or female, eating a banana just isn’t a good look for anyone at the office.  I know, I know, you just break off small pieces and it’s fine.  It’s not. Stop it. Eat that home before coming in. (Also see: Twinkies, foot long hot dogs, those cream filled long john donuts, a full carrot)

2. Beanitos Chips.  The name pretty much tells you why.  Really, any “Beanito” product isn’t a good office product if you’re within fifty yards of a co-worker.  Yeah, they taste great, I’ll give you that!  But, an hour down the road we hate you, and that Fabreeze isn’t helping.

3. Sushi.  I love sushi.  The one problem with sushi is similar to bananas, you have to open your mouth so wide that you look gross eating it!  Sushi is a bad date food of choice as well, it’s just not a good look.  Any time you have to shove something the size of a golf ball into your mouth in one bite, you’re in trouble.

4. Raman Noodles. Again, love noodles, but I don’t want to see or hear you eating them. The slurping of noodles, while respected in Asian countries, is not respected in my office.  I don’t want to hear you eat, or slurp.

5. Anything cooked in the microwave in the break room that stinks up the entire place. Usually, this means fish. While it tastes great, fish does not smell good warmed up, and lingers.  I actually have a policy in our employee handbook at HRU that if you cook fish in the microwave you get fired.

6. Microwave Popcorn.  I actually love the smell of fresh popped popcorn! I worked in movie theaters growing up and can kill a large bucket by myself. The problem is, most people can’t quite grasp the concept of cooking popcorn in a microwave.  You have to watch it, listen for it. You have about a three second window to get it out before you have incinerated microwave popcorn. You just can’t push the “popcorn” button on the microwave and walk away, that is a recipe for disaster!

7. Any Vegan Food that looks like poop. Vegan’s know what I’m talking about. Let’s face it, most vegan food is gross and tastes like dirt, but God bless those people, they’ll probably live a lot longer than I! Like into those great 90s and 100s years! Yeah, can’t we all wait for those years…

What are the foods you don’t think people should eat at the office? Are bananas really a no-no? Hit me in the comments!

*Shoutout to Jacks in my office for the idea for this post!

Thinking Like a Killer Can Save Your Business

A few years ago at some conference I was at, Adam Grant, author of “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World,” gave a talk that really stuck with me. He asked a question that stood out: “How will you kill your business?”

Me? What!? Kill my business? How?

The idea is to get your company’s leaders to think about every possible way they could ruin the business. Write down the ideas, talk about them, and brainstorm. It’s often easier and more effective than asking, “How will you save this business?”

When you ask people to come up with ways to improve or save the company, you usually get the same old ideas and not much innovation. But when you ask them how they could wreck it, you’ll be amazed at the creative ideas they come up with.

This exercise shows the real threats and pressures your company faces. It’s a great way to get everyone thinking. And scared. (Or excited… I guess!)

People who normally don’t have much to say suddenly get really involved when talking about how they could harm the company. These are often things they worry about but don’t share because they don’t want to seem negative. This exercise gives them a chance to speak up.

Talking about how to kill the business also opens up more creative thinking about how to save it. The solutions need to be just as imaginative. It’s important to be open to these ideas instead of sticking to a failing plan just to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.

When you think about how to sabotage your business, ideas come quickly. But when you ask yourself how to save it, it’s harder. This shows we need to train ourselves and our teams to think differently.

We often take ideas about saving the company less seriously than ideas about sabotaging it. Both are important. A company can fail just as easily as it can succeed if leaders are open to listening to all ideas without judgment.

Relying on just one idea to save the company can be risky. It’s important to have a variety of strategies.

So, how will you kill your business? By thinking like a business killer you can spot hidden threats and come up with new ideas to help your company succeed.

Do Great Things

I’ve found the next great trick in HR to become world-class!

You might think I’m referring to the latest AI innovation, a revolutionary staffing solution, or a groundbreaking website set to transform the HR industry. But what if the secret to becoming world-class in HR isn’t about the newest tech1 at all?

We live in an era obsessed with quick fixes and instant results. Everyone wants the magic pill for effortless weight loss or the shortcut to professional success. I want it! In a world where we want everything instantly, it’s annoying when even the best AI can’t figure out what we need before we do.

So, what’s the ultimate strategy for HR greatness?

Surprisingly, the key to outstanding HR has always been straightforward: do great work. All the time!!

Often, it’s just one dedicated person who believes in an idea, cares about it, and keeps pushing forward. Rusty Rueff says it best: “Make big changes to big things.” Great HR is all about always aiming for excellence, no matter what.

To really succeed, create a culture where excellence is normal. Don’t let anyone in your organization stop you from aiming high. Work to make your HR department known for outstanding work.

The real secret to great HR isn’t a trick at all. It’s about hard work, sticking with it, and always aiming for greatness. So, focus on doing great things and then keep doing more great things. Be the one who drives amazing results in your organization. That’s the real way to master HR.

Ready for Change? Think Again!

I get asked a lot of advice on talent and HR issues people are facing.

Many of these questions are about fixing things that aren’t working well in their HR or Talent departments. “How do we get more applicants?” “How do we get managers to develop their people?” “How do we deal with our unpredictable CEO?”

In the past, I would jump right in with quick solutions. I’d spend five minutes giving advice without knowing much about their specific situation. It’s fun sure, but it’s not always helpful.

I’ve changed my approach.

I realized that my quick fixes were based on my experiences, not theirs. What worked for me might not work for them.

Now, I start by asking one important question: Do you really want to get better?

Do you really want to change?

Most people quickly say, “Yes!” But then, after thinking for a moment, they might pause and start to explain, showing they aren’t really sure they want to change.

This hesitation is powerful!

We often think that getting better is always the goal, but sometimes, staying the same is just fine. The return on investment might not be worth it.

We tend to focus on fixing problems, believing they need to be solved. But in reality, we can continue doing great HR work without making unnecessary changes. It might seem like the next big issue to tackle, but sometimes, it’s better to leave it alone and focus on something else.

Often, HR and Talent professionals find that those around them aren’t really interested in improving. This realization can save them from a lot of frustration. It’s better to wait until everyone is genuinely ready to get better.

So, before you try to fix everything, ask yourself: Do you, or do those around you, really want to get better? Hopefully, the answer is “Yes!” But if not, remember, the world will keep turning, and so will you.

The Need For Proof

As an experienced HR pro and leader, I’ve seen a troubling pattern in workplaces: we often wait for solid proof before addressing problems, even when it’s clear something is wrong.

Malcolm Gladwell said it best: “Sometimes ‘proof’ is just another word for letting people suffer.”

Think about that.

We often know something isn’t right, but without concrete evidence, we hesitate to act. This hesitation means people continue to suffer because we don’t have undeniable proof.

HR pros and leaders are trained to rely on proof to minimize risk. This cautious approach can lead to inaction, even when we know someone is being wronged.

Here’s my challenge to you:

Stop hiding behind the need for proof. Your employees are suffering, and using the lack of evidence as an excuse is wrong.

Yes, acting without proof can be risky. Yes, it might backfire. But we have a responsibility to help those who are suffering, even if it means taking a risk.

I’m willing to get fired for doing what’s right. I can’t stay in a job where people suffer because I can’t ‘prove’ something. Think about these examples:

  • Hundreds of athletes were abused by a doctor because there was no proof.
  • A hiring manager’s racism goes unchecked due to lack of proof.
  • A co-worker harasses another employee, but there’s no proof.
  • The CEO’s misogynistic behavior is ignored because there’s no proof.

“Sometimes ‘proof’ is just another word for letting people suffer…”

Look around your organization. Who is suffering today, and what can you do about it?

The Ultimate Internship

Re-run Friday time! This post originally ran in June 2017.

Every First Internship Should be a Sales Internship!

So, it’s that time of year. Bring in the interns and show them what they’ll never do or see again in the real world when they get their first job! I’m only half joking. Most internships I hear about today (and I hear about a lot – I’ve got two sons in college!) aren’t coming close to teaching young adults what it’s like to really work a job in your company.

If I was Chief of HR for the country, like I got to make all the HR decisions and make rules and stuff (wouldn’t that be a fun job!) – Chief Justice of HR! I would force every kid who ever did an internship to first do a sales internship with whichever company they decided to do an internship with. Great, you want to be in HR, or an Accountant, or an Engineer, or a Developer, etc., first, you need to go out on the road or sit on the phone with Jerry, he works in sales for our company.

Why sales?

Too often I see entry level grads come into organizations with this strange sense of how the world works based on what it is they do in their chosen profession. Do you want to know how to really impact your chosen profession? Go find out how the sausage is made! The ‘sausage’ in most organizations is sales.

Want to find out how to save the organization money as an Engineer or Accountant, you better understand your customer and what and how they’re buying? Want to be a great designer or developer? Sales will teach you what your priorities should be. Want to find out how to impact employee development and career growth? Go find out how hard it is to sell $1 of your product your company sells every day.

This isn’t some plan to get everyone in the world to think sales is hard and you should pity them. Sales is hard. Great sales pros also make a ton of money. No one usually feels bad for sales. This is truly about getting the new grads coming into your organization to have a better perspective about what’s really important.

If we don’t sell our stuff, you can’t ride the down the slide into the lobby on your way to hot yoga.

So, no matter what you do in the organization. You should know how to sell. Well, Tim, I’m going to be a nurse. Hospitals don’t sell, we save lives. Congratulations on becoming a nurse, it’s such a great profession, you’re a moron. Every organization sells. Hospitals compete against other hospitals for high-margin health care business. Nonprofits compete for donations and grant dollars. Churches compete for your souls.

Every organization is selling something, and you should know what it is you’re selling and how it’s sold.

We do a disservice to kids when we make them think that their profession is only about the skills they’re learning for some title they’ll one day have after graduation. Your profession, every profession, is about ensuring crap gets sold.

Not Everyone Wants to Grow!

As leaders, we often hear that every employee needs and wants development.

But here’s the truth:

Not all employees crave or need development. Not everyone wants to grow! Some are already doing great. Others just want to clock in and get their paycheck. Many leaders think they can help all their employees improve, but it’s a lot harder than it sounds and many struggle to make it happen.

Here are 5 tips to help leaders better develop their teams:

1. Trust Your First Impression

“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” – Maya Angelou Preach it! Leaders often try to change adult employees. The truth is, adult behaviors are mostly set. If an employee shows they don’t want to work, believe it. Building strong relationships means focusing on people who are worth your time.

2. Change Comes from Within

People only change behaviors they want to change, and even then, it’s tough. Reflect on personal experiences: Early in my career, my ‘passion’ was actually a career derailer. Recognizing and changing this took a lot of effort. Some employees may never see this about themselves.

3. Invest Wisely

Don’t invest more in an employee than they’re willing to invest in themselves. We want our team members to do well, but they need to be committed too. We can pay for training, but employees need to show they care by fully participating.

4. Address the Mindset

Often, it’s not the situation that frustrates us, but the mindset behind it. As a leader, communicate why a situation matters. Tell the full story. Seeing things from your employees’ point of view helps you solve problems together. If you don’t do this, it can lead to misunderstandings and bad results.

5. Show Your Disappointment

Disappointment can help people grow. Leaders should be strong, but showing disappointment with determination can make us seem more human and build trust. The best leaders show that setbacks are temporary and can be overcome, helping to build a strong team spirit.

Keep your eyes open, leaders!

Being a leader means having both successes and failures in developing employees. Celebrate the successes and learn from the failures. Embrace the process and keep working to build a stronger, better team.

How often should you get a promotion?

How often do you think you should get a promotion?

According to Ian Siegel, CEO of ZipRecruiter, you should aim for a promotion about every three years. Do you agree?

Siegel thinks if you’re not moving up within three years, there might be an issue. Imagine you start working at 22, right out of college. Your first job could be an HR Generalist. By 25, you might move up to Senior HR Generalist, then HR Manager by 28, Senior HR Manager by 31, HR Director by 34, Senior HR Director by 37, and Vice President of HR by 41.

When I look back on my own career, I had a goal to become a Vice President by 35. I’ve mentioned this before. I achieved it at 38, but then I realized titles aren’t as important as I thought.

They vary a lot depending on the company size. Becoming a VP in a small company with 250 people is very different from becoming a VP in a big company with 25,000 employees.

Titles often don’t mean much outside your own company. For example, being a VP with just a couple of direct reports is not the same as managing a large team. So, focus more on your responsibilities and the impact you make rather than just the title.

For big companies, Siegel’s three-year promotion idea can work if you meet certain conditions. You need to be ambitious, willing to relocate, have special skills or education, be open to learning different parts of the business, and be good at workplace politics. Just showing up and doing your job isn’t enough for a promotion. You need to show your value and your desire to grow.

There are a few ways to move up faster. Make sure your boss knows you want to advance and are willing to help them succeed too. Create your own development plan and get your boss to support it. Remember, it’s your responsibility to follow through on this plan. Be patient and strategic; sometimes promotions come quickly, sometimes they take longer. Avoid jumping to a new company just for a title because that can (and usually will) backfire.

Promotions aren’t just about time in a role but about positioning yourself well. Focus on your growth, communicate your goals, and be patient. Sure job titles can open doors, but your skills and contributions are what really matter in the end.

Hiring your first employee is a big deal!

Do you remember your first hire? It’s normal to have felt nervous because you definitely didn’t want to make a mistake. You wanted your first hire to be amazing!

All of our new recruiters and hiring managers face the same issues when hiring for the first time. They’re not quite sure what to do. It’s kind of like bringing your first baby home from the hospital. Remember that? You get to the lobby with your baby in the car seat, and you’re waiting for someone to stop you like “Are you sure you’re ready for this?” They might as well put a sticky note on your forehead that says Hey I’m new to this!

That’s exactly how our managers feel when they hire for the first time. You’re letting me make this decision? Are you sure?

To help out, I’ve put together a list of the Top 7 Rookie Hiring Mistakes to avoid. Here they are:

  1. Letting HR Control the Process
    This is your hire. You’ll probably be working with this person every day, so get involved from the start. Don’t just sit back and let HR handle everything.
  2. Looking for the Perfect Candidate
    No one is perfect, not even you. Find someone who can do the job well and fit into your team, rather than holding out for perfection.
  3. Hiring Someone Just Like You
    You might think someone like you would be great, but it’s often better to hire someone who complements your skills and brings something different to the team.
  4. Moving Too Slowly
    If you find a great candidate, don’t wait too long to make an offer. Good candidates are often snapped up quickly by other companies.
  5. Taking Too Long to Fire a Bad Hire
    First-time managers often think they can fix a bad hire. Don’t drag it out—if it’s not working, let them go quickly.
  6. Thinking Recruiting Isn’t Your Job
    As a manager, finding the right people is part of your job. Take ownership of the hiring process and work with HR, but remember that you know your team’s needs best.
  7. Worrying About Leadership Judging You
    Leadership isn’t going to judge you on one hire. They look at your overall hiring track record. One mistake won’t define you, so don’t stress too much about it.

What do you think? What are some of the biggest hiring mistakes you see new hiring managers making? Share your thoughts in the comments!

It’s Really Hard to Judge People—Or Is It?

Welcome back to Re-Run Friday! This post was originally posted in June 2020.

It’s Really Hard to Judge People!

I was out walking with my wife recently (that’s what middle-aged suburban people do, we walk, it makes us feel like we are less lazy and it gets us away from the kids so we can talk grown-up) and she made this statement in a perfectly innocent way:

“It’s really hard to judge people.”

She said this to ‘me’!  I start laughing.  She realized what she said and started laughing.

It’s actually really, really easy to judge people!  I’m in HR and Recruiting, I’ve made a career out of judging people.

A candidate comes in with a tattoo on their face and immediately we think: prison, drugs, poor decision making, etc. We instantly judge. It’s not that a face-tattoo candidate can’t surprise us and be engaging and brilliant, etc. But before we even get to that point, we judge. I know, I know, you don’t judge, it’s just me. Sorry for lumping you in with ‘me’!

What my wife was saying was correct. It’s really hard to judge someone based on how little we actually know them.

People judge me all the time on my poor grammar skills.  I actually met a woman recently at a conference who said she knew me, used to read my stuff, but stopped because of my poor grammar in my writing.  We got to spend some time talking and she said she would begin reading again, that she had judged me too harshly, and because I made errors in my writing assumed I wasn’t that intelligent.

I told her she was actually correct, I’m not intelligent, but that I have consciously not fixed my errors in writing (clearly at this point I could have hired an editor!). The errors are my face tattoo.

If you can’t see beyond my errors, we probably won’t be friends.  I’m not ‘writing errors, poor grammar guy”.  If you judge me like that, you’re missing out on some cool stuff and ideas I write about.

As a hiring manager and HR Pro, if you can’t see beyond someone’s errors, you’re woefully inept at your job.  We all have ‘opportunities’ but apparently, if you’re a candidate you don’t, you have to be perfect.  I run into hiring managers and HR Pros who will constantly tell me, “we’re selective”, “we’re picky”, etc.

No, you’re not. What you are is unclear about what and who it is that is successful in your environment.  No one working for you now is perfect. So, why do you look for perfection in a candidate? Because it’s natural to judge against your internal norm.

The problem with selection isn’t that it is too hard to judge, the problem is that it’s way too easy to judge. The next time you sit down in front of a candidate try and determine what you’ve already judged them on. It’s a fun exercise. Before they even say a word. Have the hiring managers interviewing them send you their judgments before the interview.

We all do it.  Then, flip the script, and have your hiring managers show up for an interview ‘blind’. No resume beforehand, just them and a candidate face-to-face. It’s fun to see how they react and what they ask them without a resume, and how they judge them after.  It’s so easy to judge, and those judgments shape our decision-making, even before we know it!