CategoryHoliday Themed

Not Your Typical Christmas Carol

any traditions accompany the Christmas season. Events – both religious and secular – bring joy, laughter, and much more to countless women, men, girls, and boys. Music is played. Carols are sung. It is the season to be jolly as each and everyone has their own story to tell. It is our tale – our story – just like the stories of Christmas. It is our Christmas Carol. When Sarah asked me to choose a favorite Christmas movie to write about, I have to admit my mind initially went blank. Then, like the Ghost of Christmas Past, the choice came to me – but with a twist. So, sit back and relax. Be prepared to enjoy my choice, A Christmas Carol. Yet, be warned and make no assumptions. This isn’t the typical Christmas Carol.
A Christmas Carol originated as a novella by Charles Dickens. Its publication in December 1843 resulted in the rejuvenation of the “Christmas Spirit” in both Great Britain and the United States after a period of Puritan somberness. The story describes a bitter old miser named Ebenezer Scrooge and his transformation into a gentler, kindlier man after visitations by the ghost of his former business partner and the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Yet to Come. It has never been out of print since 1843. (Information courtesy of Wikipedia.org.) The story has been translated time and again into movie, animation, comic, television, and other media.

The story I tell you is about a character named Kazran Sardick. Kazran lived sometime in the future on a planet that was an Earth colony. Kazran, old in age and very bitter and alone, is first seen when a family comes to ask for one day – Christmas Day – with a family member. You see, Kazran’s family owns all the wealth on the planet and is the one-and-only bank.  A loan must be accompanied by “insurance” and that insurance was a family member – who is then frozen in suspended animation. Kazran refuses and, while doing so, receives a call from the President of Earth. A ship, carrying 4006 passengers, is headed for a crash landing on the planet and only Kazran can help. (The planet’s atmosphere could be adjusted to help buffer and ease the landing.) Kazran refuses saying “What’s in it for me? See if I care.”

The family is about to be escorted out when something – no, someone – comes down the chimney. Is it Santa?

No.  It’s The Doctor.

We see The Doctor change the present day Kazran by traveling back and meeting him as a young child. We see the doctor’s traveling companions – who are amongst those stranded on the crashing ship – take the role of Christmas Present. We see Kazran himself become the Ghost of Christmas Future. The story was ingenious, contemporary with a science fiction twist, and ultimately enjoyable. It is also a testament to the longevity of a story written over 100 years prior.

So, to all who may read this post, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a heartfelt Season’s Greetings. May your Christmases Past and Present be an inspiration to your Christmases of the Future!

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This post was written by Kyle Jones. Kyle has over 20 years of experience in a variety of roles including human resources, social media, customer service, and recruitment. He’s the current Social Media Director for the Pine Belt Human Resources Association and the Co-Social Media Director of the Mississippi SHRM State Council. Kyle has served in volunteer roles on both the local and state level since 2007. He was recipient of the 2012 Mississippi Spirit of Human Resources Award.

He has written posts for company, HR and social media blogs and shares his passion for HR and Social Media on his blog, HR to WHO. Follow him on Twitter @kylemj6977 or on LinkedIn.

All is Not as it Seems: HR Lessons from Christmas in Connecticut

One of the movies I most look forward to watching each year is Christmas in Connecticut starring Barbara Stanwyck. It’s more romantic comedy than HR How To, but there are a few potential lessons.

 

barbara stanwyck

A Quick(ish) Summary

Elizabeth Lane writes a popular column for a women’s magazine describing her idyllic life as a homemaker on a picturesque farm with her husband and young son. Unlike the perfect homemaker image she portrays, in real life she is single, lives in a small apartment in NYC, and can’t cook. The recipes she writes about come from a friend who owns a restaurant and her descriptions of the farm are based on one owned by John, a successful architect whom she has repeatedly turned down for marriage. When her publisher invites himself and a war hero to her farm for Christmas, she knows he will learn the truth and she’ll lose her job. Desperate, she agrees to marry John and host Christmas at the farm. But, before they can be married by a local Judge, the guests arrive and chaos ensues as they try to hold the farce together.

Lessons?

 

  1. There’s a reason for checking references and verifying credentials. This is too obvious not to mention. It’s never revealed how she got the job but, because of her popularity, it would have cost the magazine considerable embarrassment and credibility if anyone discovered the truth.

 

  1. Job requirements are a filter, not a guarantee. Deception aside, she was very successful because her skill as a writer and imaginative detail overshadowed her inexperience as a homemaker. I don’t condone deception, but it does raise an important issue.

 

Job requirements are an easy way to identify and separate out the people most likely to be successful at a job. But in many cases, the “requirements” are just a best guess or even arbitrary and don’t truly have much to do with job performance (I’ll spare you my rants about college degrees or personality profiles). Too often, meeting all the requirements does not guarantee a person will be successful in the job while rejecting many who might be high performers.

 

Do any of your job requirements unnecessarily screen out people who might otherwise be fantastic? It’s easy to see if those hired are successful, but hard to tell which of those eliminated might otherwise have been successful. So, how do you know?

 

  1. The best ideas are those useful to you. She had zero expertise with anything she wrote about yet her readers revered her as the ideal they aspired to be. She didn’t have the credentials but she made the information useful to her readers.

 

Today, there is a lot of HR content pumped into the interwebz. Some is good, some sounds good, and some is just noise. Too much is positioned as cutting edge, aspirational HR Truth-with-a-capital-T when there is no one-size-fits-all. Different people and different situations are, well, different, and what works for one person in one situation might be an ugly fail in another. We all need to be discerning in deciding if something is true, useful, and could work in our particular situation. Caveat emptor.

 

 

  1. Connection with customers is crucial. When one column mentioned she was looking for a specific type of rocking chair, 40 readers purchased and shipped chairs to her as a gift. That’s connection.

 

What kind of connection does your HR team have with employees and managers? Are they raving fans, indifferent, or openly hostile? If HR was about to be outsourced, would employees fight to keep your team or cheer?

 

 

  1. Performance trumps. (Spoiler!) The publisher fired her for dishonesty and hired her back at double her pay when he realized he lost one of his most popular writers. It’s a reminder that, right or wrong, people who excel are often given a degree of latitude the average person never experiences.

 

Has your HR department created enough credibility and results to be given the benefit of the doubt and be listened to even when your advice or actions run counter to what leadership wants to do?

 

 

  1. Your choice. Watch the movie and let me know your biggest takeaways.

 

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This post was written by Broc Edwards. Broc is a speaker and blogger on business, HR, and learning and development topics and has published the book “What Thinks You? A Fool’s Eye View of Human Resources”. Connect with him on Twitter @brocedwards or his website or blog fool (with a plan).

Who is the Real Scrooge? The Boss….or The Employee?

We are all familiar with the story “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens in which Ebenezer Scrooge, a miser of a boss, is visited by his dead partner and then three Christmas ghosts that help him see the error of his ways in order to turn over a new leaf before its too late.

In 1988, the film “Scrooged” starring Bill Murray took a modern spin on the story with Murray starring as Frank Cross – a cynical television programming executive who found great success and wealth, but only by becoming cold-hearted and cruel.  As his station recreates the story as a live play, Cross finds himself living out the play in his real life – mirroring the storyline.

Whether or not it was the intent of Charles Dickens when he wrote the story (which is actually loosely based on his real life and feelings regarding his father), audiences have always found themselves viewing Scrooge as the villain and his employee as the victim.  Especially in today’s job market where so many are working for low wages along with grueling hours, and thanks in part to the introduction of the Internet and social media/email keeping us connect to work 24/7, many workers find themselves feeling as if they are living the part of Bob Cratchit/Grace Cooley.  Many may even dream, this time of year, that their bosses would be “visited” and suddenly have a change of heart!

So one’s first inclination to discuss how HR plays a role in a situation like this would be to say that HR needs to address the boss and let him know just how unfair and disgruntled his employees are.

  • Is he truly blind to the workplace situation or purposefully ignoring the needs of his employees and focused solely on turning a profit?
  • If he/she knew that a “simple” act of kindness would have an enormous effect on the employees and their morale, would he/she do it?
  • Would he/she part with the money needed to upgrade the work environment, grant pay raises or even add more attractive benefits in order to keep trained and experienced employees? Does he/she really not care about the employees and doing what is needed to retain the talent or are employees viewed as easily replaceable?

 

If, as an HR professional, those are the questions that first come to mind, then you aren’t doing your job right. 

Remember: every situation has two sides to the story and one’s “perception” based on only some of the information can result in the wrong answers.  An HR professional truly is in a position to help garner change at a company so you need to first look at both sides.

Employees only see part of the situation at work and focus on what affects them and their lives.   Managers normally have to deal with much more that is rarely revealed as part of their decision process.

When people are placed into management roles, it is for a variety of reasons: based on skills/experience needed, to fill a need for someone to lead, because they are a family member, because it seems the next logical step in their career, and so many more.  Point is: not all those that go into a management role are ready for it and almost all bring with them some sort of baggage that affects the decisions in their new role.  One of the biggest factors is the manager’s past experience at the employee level – some work to change things for the better in their new position but some will use their position to control what they couldn’t control before…the ones we say are on a “power trip.”

So, when you come across a situation where the employee is complaining about their manager and “unfair treatment,” are you focusing on the solution they want….or do you try to uncover why their manager is acting the way they are or making the decisions they have made?  Employees aren’t going to focus on the manager or their problems…they only care about themselves which is, in a way, the definition of a “scrooge” even though we don’t automatically think that.  They are acting just like the person they are complaining about…do you see?

What both “A Christmas Carol” and “Scrooged” show is that the lead character didn’t start out the way he was…at one time, he was loving and hopeful.  Circumstances in his life caused him to change – and without having anyone to talk to about it, he changed for the worse instead of finding help and healing.  The ghostly visits eventually bring him down that path.

HR needs to remember that their role in the workplace is “human relations” which includes ALL employees of the company: from the owner to the managers to the employees.  All deserve the same consideration and treatment and not be labeled based on assumptions or skewed perceptions.  Remember: your job is to listen to both sides and help them see the others’ point of view so that both sides can work together – regardless of their role – to create a happy and profitable workplace.

You – Mr/Ms HR Professional…are the Ghosts of the Past, Present and Future all rolled into one! Happy Haunting!

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This post was written by Barb Buckner. Barb Buckner is has over 15 years experience as a HR professional across a wide variety of industries including: banking, retail, pharmaceuticals, professional services and real estate. Read more of her writings and connect with her at her blog “Chicago HR Coach”

It’s Time to Deck the Halls Again!

I love the Christmas holiday season. Since I started this blog, each year, I feature guest writers in December sharing HR lessons from class holiday movies.

This year, my guests are all new contributors from the blogging team at Performance I Create.

I’ve been writing for PIC since 2012. I love it because each month I get to write about how to get the best work performance out of yourself and those around you.

And I get to share creative space with one of the most talented groups of HR people on earth.

In November, PIC added 7 new contributors to the site!! Yay!! The PIC team is now 15 writers strong and posting great, new articles 3 – 5 days each week. If you’re not subscribed, click HERE and sign up today!

I’m excited and blessed to have 4 of our new contributors as my guest for this years’ holiday series. Here’s a preview of the guests past writings — so you know there is great stuff to come:

If you like those, you’ll love their holiday posts. Stay tuned. The fun begins December 17th!

In the meanwhile, check out PIC and our month of advice for making 2015 your best year yet!

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