TagCost of Work

The Best of the Rest — ILSHRM12

While I was posting here about the Illinois State SHRM conference this week, the rest of the Social Media team was posting on their sites about their take-aways from the event. Here is the best of the rest:

Susan Avello “My Take-Aways from ILSHRM12 — It’s a Wrap!

Chris Fields “HR Revival

Paul Hebert “ILSHRM12 — Engagement is #1 on their List

Nicole Ochenduski “ILSHRM — The Finale

Dave Ryan “Another ILSHRM Takeaway

Mike Vandervort “Illinois SHRM — Pretty Damn Good


And in case you missed any of it, here are my 3 write-ups from the event:

I hope you enjoyed taking the ILSHRM12 journey with me!

Next week will feature a 3-part series on tv character “Brenda Leigh Johnson” of The Closer. The show ended this week and I will miss it so! It’s so hard to say good-bye — but at least there are some great HR lessons in it … Stay tuned.

Everything I Know About HR, I Learned From Darth Vader

Anyone who pretends to know anything about Star Wars knows that Darth Vader is the scariest, most powerful and most memorable villain in cinema history! Who else can make his enemies wet their pants at the mere sound of his breathing pattern? Who else can choke the crap of an underperforming employee from another room without physically laying a finger on the dude? Vader is awesome — but more than that, he is a very complex character.

Yes folks, you think you know Darth Vader but you have no idea.

He’s a man looking for love, people! If it’s one thing we’ve learned from the 2nd trilogy in the saga, it’s that everything Vader loved was taken from him — his mom, his lady, his kids and they even tried to withhold that promotion to Jedi-Knight (that really pissed him off). He had some serious work-life balance issues.

Here’s what you can learn from Darth Vader…


  1. Choke employees with your hands — or the force. Violence and murder don’t end well in this galaxy.
  2. Let the distractions of your home and personal life cloud your judgment at work. Just because you’re not happy doesn’t mean you should try to rule over the galaxy — or your employees.
  3. Manage your employees with fear and oppressive tactics. Your team will rebel against you and eventually get your legs and arms chopped off and put on a ventilator  (Seriously folks, all dictators die)



  1. Think strategically and move swiftly. Vader didn’t play around — if someone disobeyed a direct order, he terminated them. Now you should not TERMINATE, terminate them — but sometimes we tend to want to build solid cases before we let an employee go and it just gets to be ridiculous.  If you have an employee that doesn’t do what you need them to do … pull out your light saber.
  2. Be passionate about your cause. You’ve got it to give the man/machine, he believed in his cause and he dedicated most of his life to it.
  3. Let love win. Darth Vader eventually wanted to be loved, and Luke showed him love. HR wants to be loved (appreciated) and often times we’re not. So when you’re at work and you’re in a sour mood, remember to search your feelings and don’t be seduced by the dark side.
  4. Use the force. Now in the movie the force was an ancient religion that allowed the Jedi to do amazing things. Part of using the force is trusting your instincts and believing in your ability. You’ve got this. Nuff said.

Follow these steps and, in the end, you’ll be a bad-ass HR professional that the people will eventually cheer for!


This post was written by Chris Fields. Chris is an HR professional and leadership guy who blogs at Cost of Work.   And he’s been a guest here a couple times before (Read those posts here and here).

Chris is my BFF — blogger friend forever! He is a great sounding-board, constant support and encourager, and all-around ride-or-die dude … I will finally get to meet IRL and hang out with him in 3 weeks at the Illinois SHRM Conference. And that is just another reason the event is going to be epic!

Contact Chris via email at chris@costofwork.com. And he’s known on the Twitters as @new_resource.


Don’t miss any of the posts in the “Star Wars” series:

It Really is Wonderful

Whenever “It’s a Wonderful Life” is on television, I know it’s Christmas time. Normally, I’d write about the feel good Christmas aspect of the movie and how it forces you to be thankful for what you have. And although that is true, this year I noticed something different. Allow me to paint the scene for you.

The film was released in 1946. It’s in black & white and the main character is played by James Stewart. It’s about a small town, Bedford Falls, and a local businessman, George Bailey, who actually longs to leave.  As a kid, he had dreams and ambition. He always looked past the present and into the future. His father Peter Bailey ran the local buildings & loans. Back then people used banks or building & loans to borrow money to purchase their homes.  Peter was a compassionate caring man that looked past people’s earning potential and financial status to lend money so they could be homeowners. That was/is the American dream, home ownership.

Other than the bank, the Bailey’s were the only other establishment that would fund a loan, well there’s Mr. Potter. He was the town’s most powerful and wealthiest man. Mr. Potter didn’t have compassion, empathy and or sympathy. All he cared about was money and power.  The only thing standing in Mr. Potter’s way of a bonafide monopoly was the Bailey’s buildings & loans.

George wanted to see the world, go to college and become an architect. He wanted to construct tall buildings and new homes. His dreams were bigger than Bedford Falls. However life had different plans — and George’s father had a stroke and passed away. This caused George to have to postpone his trip. While settling his father’s affairs, the board of trustees needed George to sign over his controlling interest in  the B&L. Potter made it clear he was going take over the B&L. George knew he could not let Potter have the B&L, because his father worked too hard to keep it away from him. Peter Bailey understood what kind of man Potter was. George knew too, and he could not allow it, so as for college … dream deferred.

The years passed and George found himself stuck in Bedford Falls. George got
married, and bought a house and had a family. It’s difficult to pursue your dreams when you have dependents. As he got older, the weight of knowing that he was never going to live out his dreams, made him cranky and resentful.

The final straw came when George’s uncle lost the B&L deposits totaling $8,000.00(remember 1940’s) which caused George to have to go and beg Potter for the money.  Potter, like a shark that smelled blood, wanted collateral but all George had was a life insurance policy worth $500. Potter pointed out that George was better off dead.  All that frustration and pressure building on George’s shoulders, he went out and got drunk, then decided to end it all.

Now for as much as I’ve told you, I’ve left out a bunch of stuff because for one, you should watch it and, two, I don’t want to spoil it if you’ve never seen it.

Watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” this time I realized how timeless and current it is. Other than the clothing and technology, it really is very similar to today.

  • Sacrificing dreams for work? Check
  • Recovering from a war? Check
  • Hard times and job loss? Check
  • People losing their homes? Check
  • Corporate Greed? Check
  • Depression? Check
  • Suicide and violence? Check
  • Insensitive jerks that need to shut their cake holes? Double Check!!


{{Spoiler Alert}}

George turns things around. It wouldn’t be a great Christmas movie if he didn’t. However, many people don’t get that chance. Many people have not survived this
recession. Suicide rates increase during the holiday season because people feel
like failures if they can’t provide for those that depend on them.  Loneliness, unemployment, foreclosure can lead to a very sad time for many.

If you’re working, be thankful. If you have a spouse and children hold them tight. If you’re feeling lonely talk to someone about it but just remember, it’ll get better and you can have a wonderful life



This post was written by Chris Fields, MLHR, HR professional, consultant, social media guru and blogger. Read more of Chris’s writings at CostofWork. And connect with him on twitter (@new_resource) and Linked In



CostofWork & The Buzz on HR presents: HR Ghouls & Goblins

Halloween greetings, friends! I have a special treat for you. You’ll get double your pleasure in this collaboration from The Buzz on HR and CostofWork. Part 1 is found below — and at the end you’ll find the link to Part 2.

So without further delay, please enjoy and do be careful…. {{imagine the creepy Vincent Price laugh here}}

At first sight, Mr. Pete was ghoulishly frightening man. He was a massive man, monsterly formidable and intimidating. His silvery grey hair was swept to the back, like the little keeper from Tales from the Crypt, the buttons on his polyester print shirts screamed for relief. He was meaner than a rattle snake, more frightening than Jason, Freddy Krueger and Judge Judy combined. He had these ice-cold eyes, kinda blue-ish gray; and a booming voice. He had long finger nails for a man, but kept quite well oddly enough.

He owned a little dimly lit restaurant off to side of the road. He ruled his staff with an iron hand. I can recall one of his servers was having a bad day, he made it worse. Seems she made an error while serving a couple and Mr. Pete was not too happy.  He followed her to kitchen area and with fire in his eyes and bass in voice he yelled,  “You wonna serve like that? You go down the road to Denny’s!” Well! Poor girl ran away in tears, headed to Denny’s I suppose.

See, I worked for Mr. Pete. I was the head dishwasher! Or maybe just a dishwasher.

I remember when I had to tell Mr. Pete that I was going to college. I was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I kept thinking about that poor server he embarrassed.

Mr. Pete was in his office crunching numbers. The closer I got to the door, the faster my heart raced. I tapped on the door, which was partially opened; he looked up, as if to say “Who the hell’s bothering me and why?”

His icy eyes felt like they were cutting through my flesh. My palms were cold and clammy. Mr. Pete barks “What is it Chris?”

I took a big gulp, and delivered the news. Mr. Pete’s cold stare turned to amazement. He looked hurt and sad. His face softened and he said “Well Chris, are you sure? You’ve been one my best employees.” He almost looked like he wanted to cry, I was amazed. Who knew big ole Mr. Pete was no ghoul at all, actually he was more like Ice Cube in “Are We There Yet?” a big ole softy.


This post was created by Chris Fields, HR professional, consultant, social media guru and blogger at CostofWork.

Now keep reading if you dare — and check out part 2 “HR Goblins” … http://wp.me/p1EP1K-b8

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