CategoryPassion at Work

Back To Blogging Basics

2016 is going to be a back to basics year on at The Buzz on HR.

When I started this blog almost 5 year ago, my dear friend about Jamie Gaymon gave me three pieces of advice that have always stuck with me:

  1. Write about what you’re passionate about … Writing isn’t easy. Most people dread it. If you’re lucky enough to like it and be good at it, choose to write about something you enjoy. Otherwise, you will burn out and resent the work involved in building, maintaining and growing a blog.
  2. Know your audience … When you write, you need to have an idea in your head of the person you’re talking to. Of course, you want anyone and everyone to read your work. You want people in all 4 corners of the world to read it and love it! Initially and immediately, that won’t be the case. So make sure you know who you are talking to — and what you’re talking about.
  3. Be consistent … Whether it is once a day or once a week or once a month, set a consistent schedule for when you will post new content. You can always add more if/when you want to — but reducing the schedule will hurt your following.

I’ve violated rule #3.

I’ve said over and over that stuff of life and other demands zapped my creativity and pulled me away from writing. It’s my truth.

It’s also my truth that my inconsistent posting and occasional hiatuses hurt my following and cost me opportunities. This is the year that I right the ship.

I’m going back to basics.

I’m going back to writing weekly posts directed at active managers, leaders and human resources professionals. I will sprinkle in humor and sarcasm and pop-culture references. I will share real stories from my escapades in the HR trenches but change the names to protect the innocent. I will connect my every day happenings with management lessons for practical wisdom.

But that’s not enough. That’s not all.

Because part of the reason I took those hiatuses was because I wanted to share other stuff but didn’t know how. Stuff about my faith and my frustrations and my fears. Stuff about my perspective on race and gender in our world at large and especially in the world of work. Different stuff. Uncomfortable stuff. Stuff of life stuff.

Now that I’m back, I’m going to share that stuff. I need to share that stuff. It is scary. I’m going to have to change my style, my approach and push myself. I’m going to have to trust the message will find its way to its audience and that it will resonate with anyone who chooses to read it. I’m going to have to trust my audience to both rebuild and grow with me.

I’m going back to basics. Will you go with me?



Bringing that “Back to School” Magic to HR – part 3

In Part One, I gave tips on orientation and onboarding.

In Part Two, I talked about the importance of setting the tone through expectations.

I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss the part of ‘the student’. So that’s what Part 3 is about … “Back to School” magic is not just about the teachers, the same way that new job isn’t all about the company. The student and the employee also have to play their part. Each has to bring their own magic to the occasion for the first moment and all the moments after to have the greatest effect.

Here are a few things you can do at your new job or new promotion to bring that “back to school” magic:

  • Prepare yourself. Research the job you’re going to do and the typical duties you’ll perform. Find and talk to people already performing the work to learn from others. Read relevant books and articles. A clear picture in your mind’s eye of what you’re getting into will build your excitement and anticipation.
  • Bring  inspiration. While I don’t encourage a whole lot of office decoration, when starting a new job or position, it’s a good idea to bring a few items to liven up your workspace, show some personality and keep you motivated. Keeping reminders of who you are, what you do and why ensures you’ll stay engaged even after the newness wears off.
  • Choose a friend. Find someone to bond with early on so you won’t feel so alone. Even if you don’t remain friends with the person forever, it will help in the first few days to have someone to talk to and ask questions. Try to pick someone in your department and/or on your same responsibility level to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
  • Dress the part. To the extent your budget allows, refresh your wardrobe when starting a new job or promotion. Consider a change up of hairstyle and grooming as well. When you look better, you feel better … so if you look different, you’ll feel different. This will help you embrace the change brought by this new role.
  • Have a plan. You know what you were hired to so you should have some idea of how the job should be done. Not all organizations will have a thorough orientation and training plan ready and waiting for you. Some may not have any plan at all! Don’t wait or stunt your progress waiting for them to catch up. Know what you want to do and start figuring out ways to make it happen from the moment you begin.

You’ve got to bring more to the first day than just “what’s in it for me.” It’s work — not a concert. No one is there to engage or entertain you. If you bring your own ideas and enthusiasm, you will be happy and you’ll make a difference.

What HR Is To Me … Now

Each year, on the Anniversary of the launch of my The Buzz on HR, I look back at my very first post and reflect on how my views on the profession have changed.

This is my very first post ever.

Here’s the post for my 1st bloggiversary.

Here’s the post for my 2nd bloggiversary.

Sadly, I missed my 3rd bloggiversary because I was in a bad head space and y’all really didn’t want to know what I was thinking then. It was nothing nice!

Instead, I’m going to take this day to reflect. Because it is my actual birthday — and there’s no better time to think about where you’ve been and where you’re going than on the day you’re born.

So here goes … What HR is to Me – the 2014 Edition

I still believe the function of Human Resources is to balance the rights of the employee with the needs of the employer in order to ensure the protection and productivity of the employer. As hard as many have tried to tell me otherwise, I just don’t think that will ever change for me. The reason any job exists is first and foremost to enthusiastically excel the goals of the company. If you can’t deal with that, find a way to become self-employed. You’ll be much happier — and so will your boss.

I still believe in sharing knowledge, caring about our companies and the people in them, actively practicing, proper timing in our planning as well as professional development/networking. These are crucial things for any professional who wants to stay positive and progressive in their career. Nothing and no one benefits when you don’t put forth effort to get better and help others.

Now I’m ready to add these items to the list:

  • Metrics … It still baffles me to see HR professionals fighting against providing detailed reports and data to back up their recommendations and requests surrounding trends and department needs. It befuddles me when we get shocked and disappointed when we don’t get the approvals and support because of this. It’s past time for HR to show and prove our stuff through tangible, irrefutable data.
  • Money … This one is two-fold. First, HR needs to pay attention to how much money is being spent. The initiatives and projects we propose, create and maintain cost thousands and thousands of dollars. We should know these costs and whether this is a good or poor investment of resources. We should be as involved and enthusiastic about budget decisions as any other in our function… Second, HR needs to look out for compensation. Both the people in the organization — as well as their own. Far too often, HR fails to fight to the battle for fair, appropriate wages across the board. Money talks; HR needs to holla back!
  • Mindfulness … HR has a responsibility to speak up and out when appropriate. We must be direct and candid. We should be guard our reputation and impressions we make without losing our authenticity. We should not hide our criticism and disappointment in sarcasm. We should share our truth while still being considerate of others, the environment and the situation. The day of the uptight, handbook toting, policy quoting, condescending, aloof HR person is dead. Rest in peace.

As I start a new journey, I am excited to put these things into practice and see success. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. I will learn, I will grow and I’ll be better because of it. And I will share the wisdom nuggets every step of the way.

It’s True! She’s Really Retiring!

After over 40 years as a Human Resources professional, my mother is retiring on September 30th.

For real this time.

My mom has always been my secret HR weapon. One of my very first and most popular posts ever was a summary of her advice (Read that HERE). Having mentors and colleagues is great — but there’s nothing like being able to pick up the phone and call your momma for workplace advice. Because she not only knows the HR struggle is real, but she also knows me and my history and motivation like no one else in the world. It has been invaluable to me and makes our relationship even more awesome.

More recently, she’s actually called me for advice a few times. She’s used my tips and recommendations — then come back later to tell me they worked. That was even more awesome. I valued and looked forward to our conversations. It’s meant more to me than she’ll ever know. I’ll miss it.

But I am so happy for her! If anyone deserves to rest and do everything or nothing that she wants to do, it’s my mom … So please join me in wishing her all the best as she closes this chapter and begins the next. And take a moment to re-read her guest post “HR After 40 Years Along the Way”


I am officially a senior citizen.  I have an AARP membership.  I should be basking in the sun on the beach in Aruba or playing the slots in Las Vegas.

Instead, I am in charge of one of the largest Social Services agencies in the nation, overseeing Employee Services (our new, fancy name for HR) and many other things for 1200 employees and social services benefits for close to 150,000 active clients, after 40+ years as a career public servant.  Along the way, I have been the “first” this, “first” that, “only” this, and “only” that … Still am sometimes.

It has been, as Paul McCartney said, “a long and winding road”.

Why am I still working?  Because I believe I make a difference in people’s lives.  I believe that if I bless you, I have blessed myself.  If I help you, I have helped myself.  The Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have done unto you”.  I believe I can help the world, one person at a time.

I am a linguist.  I fell in love with all things Hispanic at the age of 13.  My degree is in Spanish.  I also speak French … a little German … and a lot of profanity.  I love people and their diversity.  I’ve been “different” all my life and I celebrate the individuality of people and their life stories.  I know words can bring us together or tear us apart, start wars or bring world peace, harm or heal.  What better place to communicate than in HR — where people’s lives and livelihoods are within your oversight … where secrets are shared and kept … where you can coach and teach and learn something new every day about yourself and people…

Along the way, I’ve become a resident expert in Disciplinary Action, Performance Appraisal, Equal Opportunity, Staff Development, and Labor Relations.  I’ve learned that discipline is a last, painful resort.  That most people have no self-awareness regarding their performance.  That we should use every opportunity to create a teaching moment, and that there is usually one alternative to every circumstance.

In 40 years, I’ve welcomed new babies — and in later years, I’ve hired them.  I’ve made lifelong friends — and said farewell far too many times.  I have let people go who didn’t fit — and have mentored those with potential.  Along the way, I’ve met three people I truly disliked.  I blessed them, too.

I will retire.  Moses took 40 years and only glimpsed the Promised Land.  He showed his people they could have more, be more, parted the Red Sea, and left!  I have worn out my ears listening, enriched my soul with empathy, led with wisdom and compassion, and hopefully, blazed a path which others can follow.

I can leave confident that I have helped many people, along the way.

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