What we say versus What we want in a Job!

My wife always tells me it’s actions, not words that make a difference. You can say all of this great stuff, but if you do nothing, it’s meaningless. I think we would all agree with this.

So, when we hear graduating students, candidates, and employees tell us what they really want is “Meaningful Work” in their careers, we have to understand that those are “Words”! Not actions, just words. A new study from Olivet Nazarene University Meaningful Work Survey asked this question and, predictably, found this:

So, yeah, 90% of us believe that meaningful work is critical for our career and happiness. Sounds about right, those ‘words’ tend to always come out when we talk about our dream job, etc.

Then the study asked another question. It was basically, given your current career, job, etc. what is the one thing that would make it better? An action. But, remember those words!? What you would believe would make their career/job better should be “more meaningful work”! 90% of you idiots just answered that is was super important for your career and happiness!

Here’s what they actually said:

Show. Me. The. Money!!!!

Yep, you know I love this! “We just a job that saves puppies! That would make me so happy!” Oh, wait, saving puppies only pays $23,000 per year!?! Yeah, screw those puppies! I want to work for a private equity firm! I’m a boat, bitch!

Want to retain your employees? Stop trying to make your employees believe that the rubber vomit you’re manufacturing matters and pay them more and give them flexibility! Stop asshole managers from treating their people bad! And magically, you’ll have high retention and your people will love working for you, even though you don’t save puppies!

I get it, deep down, we all want to do something that changes the world for good. We want to help others, and save puppies. And the concept of meaningful work does really matter, given all other things, like compensation, flexibility, great leaders and co-workers, etc. are equal.

If I can make six figures a year saving puppies, I’m saving puppies. You’re saving puppies. We are all saving puppies!

But it doesn’t, so our actions speak way louder than our words when it comes to career choices and change. Meaningful work is not the most important thing for people in their careers. Its something to consider, but don’t get too caught up in believing it’s going to fix all of your employee experience issues!

Who are the best companies to work for? And why?

I don’t put much stock into “Best Company to Work For” lists. That said, the data provided by Universum in there World’s Most Attractive Employer Report is pretty cool and gives you some insight on how you can help move your organization in the right direction.

What’s wrong with the best places to work lists?

  1. It only measures those employers who actually do the work to be considered for the list.
  2. It’s based on data that someone, other than yourself, decided was criteria for being a great place to work. And that might not align with what your org considers to be a great place to work, or the talent you market to, etc.

All that being said, I find that organizations, every single one who tries out for these lists, probably care about their employee and candidate experience at a pretty high level. Are they really the ‘best’ place to work? I don’t know, but they’re trying and that’s more than most of us can say!

So, who are they?

So, you can already see the bias, right? Tech, Business services, big brands. There isn’t one company on the list you haven’t heard of. Doesn’t that seem strange? You mean in the top 50 companies in the WORLD, there isn’t one company we haven’t heard of who is just great? Well, it’s the “World’s 50 Most Attractive”, so the one thing about being “attractive” is you’re probably known, when it comes to lists like these.

What makes you an “Attractive” employer? 

1. The ability to have high future earnings (you can make a lot of money) – 49.1%

2. You’ll get professional training and development – 43.8%

3. The job is secure (you won’t get laid off) – 39.1%

4. Working for this brand will help your career in the future – 38.8%

5. You have the ability to be creative – 38.7%

6. The company is successful within the market they compete in – 38.5%

7. The company encourages you to go home once in a while – 38.2%

8. You like the people you work with – 38.2%

9. You have leaders who support and they know how to develop talent – 38%

10. Competitive base salary – 37.6%

Anything pop out at you from the list?

What about #1 and #10? Oh, so, really base salary doesn’t mean anything, as long as I make a lot of money from what I’m doing!?! Turns out we release research and data for a reason. If you’re trying to sell employer branding software, it’s important for employers to understand it’s not about how much you pay because at that point you don’t need a brand, you need to pay the most.

But, it’s not what this data says. Like all modern research around this topic, what you make, is significantly more important than things like ‘being developed” and having “challenging work”. The person has to know and understand that financially this will work out very well for me, and then, all the other stuff becomes important once that question is satisfied.

You can not act like the most important thing on the list (#1 – High Future Earnings) is really that different than the last thing on the list (#10- competitive base salary). Those things are married at the hip if we have any inkling about basic compensation theory on where someone starts their career in base salary vs. the impact that has on future earnings, in the millions of dollars, going forward.

Let’s face it, as an employer you want to be able to deliver each of the ten things on the list in a really good way. If you do, you will not have trouble attracting talent or keeping your best talent.

College Students: Are you adding your side-hustle to your resume!?

I got killed a few weeks ago by some trolls on Twitter over posting this tweet:

I get that many people need to work side hustles to make ends meet in today’s world. I wasn’t talking about these folks working their butts off to make ends meet. I myself work side hustles.

In today’s #outrage culture, this tweet was seen as insensitive by some folks who spend way too much time on Twitter and not enough time on their professional role! Also, I’m clearly not Gary Vaynerchuk, the king of hustle porn, who could tweet this exact tweet and get 5 million likes before the end of the day!

Turns out, Recruiters are now encouraging college students to put their side hustles on their resume and profiles. Why? Because employers actually really like candidates who aren’t afraid to work! It’s the #1 thing that executives tell me when we talk about their pain points around hiring. “Tim, we just need people who want to work!”

So, what are the top side hustles you should be adding onto your resume and profiles? The folks at The Knowledge Academy did a survey and found these were the most popular:

  • 85% of US recruiters recommend those college students who buy items from garage sales and then sell them online for a higher price, to include it on their resume/job applications
  • 67% of US recruiters believe college students that create/modify products to sell online, should have it on their resume/job applications
  • 60% of US recruiters think college students who offer photography services for hire, encourage stating it on their resume/job applications

I really think as a candidate, any skill you believe adds to your overall value as an employee should be something you add to your resume and/or profile, but just know that some HR/Talent/Hiring Managers will look at this in different ways. If you’re an engineer and you’re also driving for a ride share service, you probably need to explain why the full-time gig isn’t enough. “I’m also supplementing my income with weekend and evening ride share to help pay off my student loans quicker!”

The survey found that –52% of recruiters feel companies who know an employee has a growing ‘side hustle’ should take an active approach to support them (i.e. offering flexible working hours). Um, what!? So, Mary is our accountant and we love her, but she also has a growing cupcake business on the side and I should give her time off to go do that and not fulfill her duties in a full-time role? I’m not sure I 100% can buy into this philosophy from a business standpoint!

I would probably go back to that employee and ask them if they started their own business, like this side hustle, and had to hire folks, who then wanted to not work their ‘real’ job, but put more time and effort towards their own thing, how would that sit with them? I already know the answer. They want and need workers who are committed and get their jobs done like everyone else.

It’s definitely a different world we live in. Side hustles become full-time hustles for so many folks. I definitely see this when someone is working a full-time gig that they hate, and a side hustle that they love. Like Gary V would say, you need to then adjust your lifestyle to fit your side hustle, and not your full-time gig if that’s what you desire to do. What you can’t do is think just because you love petting puppies, doesn’t mean you can do it full-time without giving up some stuff. It’s hard to make those Tesla payments on a puppy petter salary!

Are Employees Really Upset Over Being Replaced By Robots?

I think we all want to believe that our employees are freaking out that one day their job, in the near future, will be replaced by a robot. It’s all you hear right now in our space! “A.I. will be taking over 97% of jobs by next week!”

The reality is our employees are not afraid of their job being taken by a robot. But they are afraid!

Turns out, our employees are more afraid of their job being taken by another employee, not a robot! A new study by the Technical University of Munich has shown that our employees are actually more afraid of other people taking their jobs, then by A.I.

The study shows: In principle, most people view it more favorably when workers are replaced by other people than by robots or intelligent software. This preference reverses, however, when it refers to people’s own jobs. When that is the case, the majority of workers find it less upsetting to see their own jobs go to robots than to other employees…

People tend to compare themselves less with machines than with other people. Consequently, being replaced by a robot or software poses less of a threat to their feeling of self-worth. This reduced self-threat could even be observed when participants assumed that they were being replaced by other employees who relied on technological abilities such as artificial intelligence in their work.

Turns out, it’s a huge punch to our gut to be replaced by another human since we compare ourselves to being equal, or better, to other humans, but we can comprehend that technology, like A.I., is actually better than ourselves at many tasks.

“The robot can definitely do parts of my job better than me, but g*d damn it, Mark can not!” 

It makes sense, for the most part, we all have fairly fragile egos. It’s hard for us to comprehend that our employer would replace us with another person because that means we probably suck at our job, or at least, our employer thinks we suck. If I’m replaced by a machine I can rationalize that away. If I’m replaced by another person, that’s a hard one to explain to family and friends.

It’s definitely something to keep in mind as we transition many tasks over to the robots. I think from an organizational behavior standpoint we are very concerned about what our employees will think, but the reality is they’ll probably have less issue with it than if we were shopping their jobs offshore to people who will do it cheaper but are real!

Career Confessions of Gen Z: “Greener Grass”

A criticism I often hear of my generation is that we don’t stay at a job or company as long as previous generations. I call it “grass is greener” thinking. It’s on my mind often, both because of the direct and indirect experiences in my own career. I wish I had a clearer position on it, but I don’t. I’m still figuring it out and thought it might help to throw some stuff down on paper.

As with everything in our lives, we have tremendous visibility to new opportunities more than ever before. I receive daily updates of not only the new opportunities at new companies available to me but the potential earning power I might have at those opportunities. I don’t think this is a bad thing, but how will it continue to shape the way we, as Gen Z, view, interact, and ultimately move between opportunities? Furthermore, what are the positive and negatives to “grass is greener” thinking?

In my opinion, this type of thinking is ever-present early in one’s career, and it’s arguably the most important time to act, or not act, on the thought. The majority of us switch jobs at an incredible pace, and we all have our own justifications for doing so. We sometimes get frustrated at work when the fruits of our labor do not appear to pay off the way we think they should, which can lead to feeling undervalued or simply stuck. As those feelings well up inside of us, we begin to take advantage of resources that show us where the grass could be greener. Rightly so, but are we truly helping ourselves and those around us by looking at new opportunities outside of our current company?

Fully exploring and vetting a new opportunity is a TON of work. It’s not difficult to submit applications via LinkedIn, and many companies make it simple to apply to a few different positions at once. This isn’t what I am talking about. I mean actually taking the time to research the company and opportunity requires a lot of time and attention. Not simply for what both are, but also for how they align with your own goals and mission statement. Should you be fortunate enough to move through the interview process, another set of commitments begins. You may need to spend a few additional hours per week prepping, in addition to the hours you will spend interviewing. After all of this, there is still your current role. One of these opportunities will be sacrificed. If you’re thinking you can handle both, stop. Maybe you’ll get close, but one of your opportunities will take a backseat.

I think that there are serious pitfalls to juggling new opportunity exploration and current role responsibilities. What might you miss out on in your current role? You might be getting by day-to-day, but just getting by isn’t going to lead you to a promotion. Just the same, are you giving your all to exploring the new opportunity? I’d argue that people can certainly move through an interview process and successfully get the job without doing an appropriate amount of opportunity vetting. Simply put, the grass seems green, so they graze. However, after a few months, they realize that the grass isn’t greener and so begins the process of looking for something new all over again. Nobody wins in this scenario; the company is out the investment they put into the new team member, and the person has taken a few steps back, both professionally and personally.

I recently read “The Servant” by James C. Hunter, and it led me to contemplate how leadership intersects with grass is greener thinking. One of my key takeaways of the book is that leadership opportunities present themselves on a daily basis. It really doesn’t matter the position we have or where we are at in life. So, the question is, as we look for greener grass, are we being the best leader we can be? I truly am not criticizing because I don’t have the answer, but I think it’s worth pondering. If we slack a little in our current role, however minimal because we are looking for the next big thing (for ourselves), are we being a good leader? Or, if we happen to obtain that new opportunity, but ultimately find ourselves unhappy because the grass isn’t as green as we thought, are we being a good leader?

Don’t get me wrong:  As much as this sounds like a criticism of Gen Z’s insatiable desire for the next great opportunity, it isn’t. I graduated from college 6 years ago. I’ve worked at 3 different companies for an average of 2 years. Truthfully, I didn’t expect to move this much, and the jury is out on whether or not I think I’ve made the right decisions. I’ve seen a lot of positives in my moves, but I can’t overlook some of the negative impacts they have had on my career development either. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I currently work in talent engagement. The grass is greener thinking keeps me in business. However, I urge you to really think about your career. Do you want to build a portfolio of experience, or is grinding in your current role perhaps better for the long-term? I don’t know, but you will.

All of this said, at the end of the day, sometimes you need to find greener grass 🙂

What are your thoughts?


Quintin Meek a talent consultant at Pillar Technology (part of Accenture Industry X.0). Also an active member of Detroit’s startup and tech community. Every day is something new and challenging, and I am learning more than ever before. I’m finding that I’ve become a lifelong student, and I’m excited to see how that continues to shape the road ahead.

Should You Be Promoted Every 3 Years?

If you didn’t catch it this week, a job board executive came out with how often you should be promoted early in your career. Basically, he said it should be every three years. Do you agree?

Early-career employees should aim to get a promotion around every three years, according to Ian Siegel, CEO of ZipRecruiter. “If you aren’t moving up after three years, there is a problem,” he said.
Let’s say you start your new job right out of college at 22 years old.
First job title (Individual Contributor): HR Generalist 
Second job title at 25 years old: Senior HR Generalist
Third job title at 28 years old: HR Manager 
Fourth job title at 31 years old: Senior HR Manager
Fifth job title at 34: HR Director 
Sixth job title at 37: Sr. HR Director 
Seventh job title at 41: Vice President of HR
I’ve told this story before but I had a goal coming out of college that I wanted to be a Vice President by 35 years old. I spent the early part of my career chasing titles. I became a Vice President at 38. Upon becoming a VP at 38 I immediately realized it didn’t matter at all!
Titles are organizational-size specific. If you work for a 250 person company (or a bank or a startup) becoming a VP of whatever probably isn’t too hard. If you work for a company that has 25,000 employees becoming a VP is going to take some time. Also, are you really a Vice President when you have 2 direct reports, or when you are responsible for an organization of hundreds or thousands?
The reality is titles are basically meaningless to everyone except yourself.
I think Ian’s math actually works out for large organizations. If you start working for large companies, the three-year promotional cycle probably works out in most normal economic environments for above average performers who meet the following criteria:
  1. Have the desire to continually move up.
  2. Have the ability and desire o relocate.
  3. Have a specialized skill-set or education.
  4. Have a willingness to go cross-functional and learn all parts of the business.
  5. Have the ability to play the political game.

You don’t get promoted for just showing up and doing the job you were hired to do. Every idiot in the company can do that. Showing up doesn’t make you promotable.

There are probably a few things that can help you move up faster that I think most upwardly mobile professionals don’t know. You need to make your boss know that you want to move up and you’re willing to work with them to make that happen. Working with them doesn’t mean trying to push them out, it means you will work to push them up.

You need to have a developmental plan that your boss, and maybe the boss above them, has signed off on. This plan is your responsibility, not their responsibility. If you think it’s your bosses responsibility to make your development plan and push for your promotion, you’re not someone who should be promoted. Own your own development, with their guidance.

Understand that three years in an average. You will be promoted sometimes in six months and sometimes in six years. In some career paths you’ll be promoted three times in three years, but then not again for nine. The right amount of patience is critical in getting promoted. One of the biggest mistakes I made in my career was jumping companies for a title because I thought my current boss wasn’t going anywhere and three months after I left he was promoted and told me I was in line to take his spot. I loved that job! I had no patience.

Being promoted has nothing to do with time and everything to do with you putting yourself in a position to be promoted.

 

 

 

Career Confessions of Gen Z: Intent, Purpose, and Focus

Last week, I wrote about the benefits of being connected to work. Not only the flexibility that can come from it, but the true edge it gives us to move throughout our day in the most productive way possible. Despite this, I didn’t mention much about the dark side. We lead these connected lives on an extremely slippery slope. If you didn’t read my last post, I promise this can be read as a standalone.

How do we ensure our connected lives don’t get the best of us? Be intentful. Be purposeful. Approach everything with a results-oriented focus.

I find these few words of advice are so difficult to follow. Each day, just when our minds begin to turn off, that familiar temptation takes over – to take a peek at what was left behind after a long day, to check in for just a minute. While that little peek always feels harmless, it sometimes leads us to see that colleagues are still working…er…maybe just looking busy. It makes us question whether or not we should be doing the same, or if we simply aren’t doing enough. Sometimes it feels like everything to us, when it may be nothing at all.

I’ve fallen victim to this before. At times, it has hurt my career and personal life, but just the same, there have been times some level of advancement can be attributed to it. All in all, I enjoy being connected to work, but it’s something that our generation would be wise to keep in check. It isn’t a danger only for millennial generations, but I think the temptation of connected busyness is stronger for those in the first 5-10 years of their career. The desire to impress is ever present and showing effort by staying connected feels like a key part of that. The lines become blurred so quickly, however, that it may take years to recover – if we ever will. Showing our consistent connectability to a job can become an obsession.

While it feels different, showing our connectability isn’t limited to work. You know the word, FOMO. It’s really the same thing in our personal lives. What a travesty it is for us to miss out on something in our personal network. When you really think about it, after work and play, there’s not much left. It becomes difficult to find the peace that we need to re-energize. Don’t get me wrong, the benefits of advancements we’ve made to live in this connected world are tremendous. Lives are consistently positively affected by these advancements. However, we shouldn’t overlook the unintended consequences.

In pondering all of this, I think we can take plenty of different actions to recover. As big business never fails to show us, mindfulness is now a foundational key to reducing stress in a connected life. That said, the ways in which we direct that mindfulness is extremely important. I really think it circles back to having intent, purpose, and a focused approach. Having intent and purpose in all that we do can help “weed” out some of the unnecessary tasks that tempt us to stay connected at all hours. Focusing on results can guide our thinking and eliminate the poorly directed focus on short term gain that may result from unnecessary tasks. By combining these three principles, we can stay on track and hopefully curb the busyness of our lives, without sacrificing personal and professional advancement.

 


Quintin Meek a talent consultant at Pillar Technology (part of Accenture Industry X.0). Also an active member of Detroit’s startup and tech community. Every day is something new and challenging, and I am learning more than ever before. I’m finding that I’ve become a lifelong student, and I’m excited to see how that continues to shape the road ahead.

Career Confessions of Gen Z – Every Day Is the Weekend

Over the past couple of years, I’ve observed a number of situations where past generations viewed the working habits of current generations (Gen Y and Z) with a level of angst, dare I say spite, specifically when considering “hours spent in the office”. This isn’t new, in fact there is almost a comedic undertone to the inherent daily misunderstandings resulting from the coexistence of Baby Boomers, Gen X, Y, and Z all working together in the same place.

I feel this specific case boils down to a noticeable disconnect in how Gen Z and many millennial’s “work for the weekend” compared to the generations that have preceded them.

To Baby Boomers and Gen X (probably some of you in Gen Y too) — there was a time when 9am – 5pm mattered. Coming in early and working late certainly got you further ahead than punching a time clock piously, but a standardization of the work day mattered. There was a time when clocking out at 5pm meant that you were unplugged. Each day was one day closer to Friday night and a few days of mostly uninterrupted freedom.

Then email arrived and cell phones became more prominent… you can see where this is going.

It’s not that a standardized work day doesn’t matter now, it just matters less. It matters less because the weekend matters less. It matters less because time has changed. Information is processed and transmitted quicker, tasks get accomplished quicker, conversations are completed through different mediums, and being present can get you further.

Check this out:

I can wake up and have a quick discussion at 7am with a colleague via text, phone, slack, or a number of other platforms. Then, I can work out, take some spiritual time, eat breakfast, and be ready to go for my 9am (did I mention that I used a 7 minute workout app?).

I can be present in meetings and play catch up all morning while also quickly staying on top of my social feeds. I go out for lunch around noon simply because I have the time to do so. I jump back in around 1pm, catch up on more tasks and handle my meetings until around 4pm.

Feeling tired, I swing through a coffee shop. I decide to read a few books for the next hour or so.

I swing home to take care of my dog and while he’s eating I realize it’s probably a good time to eat my dinner too. I’m done with dinner around 7pm. For the next hour or so I catch up on a few outstanding work items, of which I’m not the least bit concerned on timeline because I forgot to mention, I was keeping tabs and taking care of “quick hit” items from my phone while reading at the coffee shop.

From 8pm – 10pm I exclusively work on my stuff. I’ve been getting into real estate investment on the side, so I need to plan out some next steps. I lazily watch TV until around 11pm and go to sleep. I wake up around 6:30am the next day to do something similar. I get 7 hours of sleep (variably), and I am getting just as much, arguably more, completed as the 9-5er.

This is a huge reality now.

Obviously not everyone’s day is like this. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that many of my current teammates, all of us which are in a rather progressive company, don’t necessarily have the freedom to be remote. It’s all in perspective, but adjustments can be made.

I feel that days like this are perpetuated by my generation’s ability to multitask and briskly cross back and forth on the line of personal and work time, not only as a result of technology, but an increased exposure and utilization of that technology.

I’m not damning the office environment and saying a total remote workforce is the future, but flexibility is, and it’s destroying 9am – 5pm.

It also isn’t completely accurate to say that the concept of the 9-5 work week and the weekend doesn’t matter at all. But now, there are so many ways to productively enjoy each day as much as professionals enjoy the weekend. Ultimately, we can plug in and answer a few emails on the weekend, but we can also take a few extra hours here and there during the 9-5 while also remaining plugged in.

Monday, Tuesday, Saturday… they’re all just another day.


Quintin Meek a talent consultant at Pillar Technology (part of Accenture Industry X.0). Also an active member of Detroit’s startup and tech community. Every day is something new and challenging, and I am learning more than ever before. I’m finding that I’ve become a lifelong student, and I’m excited to see how that continues to shape the road ahead.

 

 

 

Career Confessions of Gen Z: Are We Too Busy For Fun?

A few weeks back I came across a video of a guy that put a giant ball pit downtown New York City to see if people were too busy to have fun. On that same day, I had a conversation with my fiance about how I always have a million things on my mind at once. None of which are ever fun things. It’s more like a chore list that constantly runs through my mind.

To say the least, I am constantly stressed and feel like I am moving a million miles an hour without time to breathe. What stresses me out the most, is that I don’t have time for me. I don’t have time for fun. And I’m only 22! Is this how the rest of my adult life is supposed be?

My fiance asked me what things I want to do aside from completing things on my chore list. What do I want to do for me?

It made me think. There are a lot of things that I would love to do. I can’t remember the last time I did something for myself or even spent decent quality time with my family.

And why?

Because I am always to “busy”. Busy prioritizing the needs of everyone and everything except for myself. It brought me to question why we as humans get so caught up in all of these other things and forget about ourselves. Do we really not have five minutes out of our day for ourselves? Five minutes for fun?

I’m sure that I am not the first person to ever get caught up trying to keep up with the speed of life and as a result let my own enjoyment fall off the wagon.

The question is, how can we bring that enjoyment, the fun, back into our lives?

It’s really up to us to prioritize it. We are responsible for our lives and how we run them. For people like myself, we need to start saying no to things that can wait and start putting fun first. We need to say, “yes,” to that vacation we so badly need. “Yes” to drinks after work. “Yes” to catching up with friends. Work and house chores will still be there tomorrow.

I am not saying throw all of our responsibilities out the window and run wild. I just mean we need to do something for our own enjoyment every once and a while.

It’s also up to employers to encourage their employees to unplug and have a healthy life outside of work. Below 10 things that employers can do to help employees prioritize themselves without feeling major guilt.

  1. Don’t allow employees to have their work email on their phones.
  2. Don’t call employees or expect them to respond to emails after hours or on their days off.
  3. Require that employees leave the office for at least half of their lunch hour.
  4. Offer work from home days.
  5. Offer flexible work hours.
  6. Make the workday shorter by a half an hour.
  7. Don’t require employees to take PTO for appointments.
  8. Have fun at work. Throw office potlucks, cookouts, or go for a group walk.
  9. Have team outings.
  10. Don’t let that ping pong table in the office get dusty. Encourage employees to take at least 10 minutes out of their day to play a game and give their brain a break to recharge.

Ask yourself, are you too busy to have fun? If the answer is yes, it may be time to re-think your priorities.


Hallie Priest is a digital marketer for HRU Technical Resources, a leading engineering and IT staffing firm based in Lansing, MI, using her skills to create content to serve all involved in the job seeking/hiring process. When she is not strategizing campaigns, going over analytics, or talking about her dog you can find her at the nearest coffee shop fueling her creativity. Connect with her on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/halliepriest

Do you remember your first time!?

I was twenty-six years old.  At the time, I was living in Michigan and working in my first job right out of college.  I had been doing pretty well for myself and began moving up in the company.

I had just got put into a position where I had a couple of people reporting to me, and I had to hire a new person to report to me as well.  I hired this smart, young person right out of college. Their passion and energy immediately attracted to them.

Oh, wait, you think I’m talking about…

Okay, let me start again.  This post isn’t about sex! This post is about my first termination!

Can you remember yours?

In my career, having to terminate individuals are some of my most memorable experiences.  I think if you have half a heart, you’re probably the same.  When I talk to upcoming HR graduates, I always try and forewarn them about this part of our job.

Terminating employees leads HR pros to heavy drinking or other forms of stress relief. That is a fact.

From time to time I hear HR pros talk boastful about firing someone, and it makes me sick to my stomach.  While I’ve had to terminate individuals that clearly deserved it, I never took pleasure in doing it.  It’s the one thing that really sucks about having a career in HR.  We get to see people at their weakest moments.

Most of us pray that no one ever has to see this side of ourselves.  Let alone, be in a position, where you frequently get to see this side of humanity.

When you terminate someone, there is a good chance you’re going to see this person’s biggest fears.  I have enough of my own fears. I don’t need to carry around the fears of others!

My first time?

I had to fire the young kid I hired with all the passion and energy, hoping they were going to change the world, fresh out of college.  This person just couldn’t come up to speed as a recruiter. It happens. I worked with this person, encouraged them, but eventually this person was ‘dead-employee’ walking.

Their body kept showing up for work, but their mind and heart had given up.  No matter how hard they physically worked, it wasn’t going to happen for them.  So, I pulled them into the conference room and told them it was time.

No real emotion to make this termination more memorable than any other. The person was upset, and you could see this was not something they had written on their bucket list.  They stood up, walked out, and my life went on.

Nine years later, I’m working at Applebee’s in HR.  I was responsible for seventy restaurants, and I happen to stroll into one of the locations and there is my first termination working behind the bar!  I saw him before he saw me, but once he saw me he froze.

I went over to say ‘hi’, and catch up.  It was awkward and clunky, but I’m an HR pro, I was trained to do this.  After me letting him go, he bounced around for a few years, and finally decided to go back to school, and had taken the bartender job at Applebee’s to make ends meet.

I saw this person a number of times after, and on one visit, he asked to talk.  He said that the day I walked into the Applebee’s, and he learned who I was, in my new position, he assumed I was going to fire him again.  I said, “For what?!” He said, “I don’t know, just because.”

It hit me hard.  This wasn’t about terminating a poor performer and moving on.  This person carried that termination around like a backpack for nine years, and as soon as they saw me, all that fear and feelings of failure flooded back to him.

Welcome to the show kids. Sometimes working in HR sucks.