TagHuman Resources

How I Would #MakeHRBetter

I got an email last week from the awesome Steve Browne announcing that he was hosting the first Carnival of HR for 2015.

The Carnival has been around for almost 8 years now. Each week, one HR blogger takes a turn hosting. The host selects a theme and reaches out to other bloggers for either original or recently written posts on the theme … You may remember when I hosted back in February 2014.

Steve is one of my favorite HR people on the planet. He is a constant source of support, encouragement, sharing, positivity and welcome all across the social HR and SHRM space. I admire him greatly. So my response to his requests for posts in his Carnival was three words …

Count. Me. In!!

Steve’s theme? Complete the statement “I would make HR better by …”

So here goes.

I would make HR better by improving the confidence of HR practitioners surrounding the validity, importance and standards of our profession … In my opinion, HR remains the only profession who seems unsure about their very being and their value to and in business. You just don’t see Accounting or IT or Marketing or Operations people questioning if their function is needed and how they help the business reach goals. Yet HR is still having these conversations all the time — and, for the life of me, I cannot understand why.

Well, that’s not true. I kinda do understand why. The issue as I see it is two-fold:

  1. HR is focused on people — and so is everyone else. Every area of the business has people who have managers who have manager who have manager who are responsible for making sure they do right and generally get done right. When a business looks at the HR focus through this narrow lens, HR seems redundant and unnecessary … But just because it looks that way doesn’t make it true — and it definitely doesn’t mean HR should buy into that narrow-minded thinking, too!
  2. HR gets the leftovers. Although the tide is changing, HR has been the place where people without “real” business savvy were plopped. Can’t cut the mustard in Operations? Go to HR! Need a place to put the owner’s daughter? Go to HR! You say you like people and don’t want to be limited by budgets and rigid reporting? Go to HR! And in many organizations, there is still has some of that … So when you add all the fighting and debate about the need for formal and continuing education in the HR profession which leads to people not pushing their learning AND you add all the snake-oil HR salesholes pimping products not based in any business reality, you end up with stale leftovers . Why would anyone want that? Yuck (By the way, this issue of stale HR leftovers existed loooooooong before the HRCI/SHRM break-up.  Way way way before).

When HR doubts itself, the rest of the business world begins to doubt, too. Which leads to our practitioners being under-utilized and under-paid in many organizations and industries. Which leads to good practitioners getting frustrated and either leaving the profession altogether or starting their own businesses. Which leads to more debate about the necessity of HR and whether business is better off without it.

The cycle is vicious. And HR would be better without it.

HR would be better if its practitioners got educated and stayed educated about the history, theory and practical application of the laws behind our areas of influence.

HR would be better if we stopped fighting for recognition and just focused on creating and executing solid strategy to advance the goals of the organization.

HR would be better if we stopped allowing the stale leftovers to be plopped into our department causing bottlenecks, inefficiency and increased risk.

HR would be better if we found our mojo … our swag … our confidence … our voice … our truth.

When HR finds this, business will find it, too. And the world of work will become a better place.

Want to see what the other HR bloggers out there had to say? You can read all the posts HERE at Steve’s blog — or check the #MakeHRbetter hashtag on your social media channels.



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.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I love this time of year. As soon as Halloween is over, I almost immediately become reflective and grateful and hopeful about the year gone by and the year to come.

I’ve said it over and over how much my life has changed since the summer of 2012. New job. New relationship. New car. New home. New schools, activities and routines with the kids. New priorities. New goals. New focus. New attitude … No new friends, though. Read why.

As I prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday this year, I am beyond grateful for all these things and the people who encourage and support me. I’m humbled by what faith and hard work can do — and a little bit anxious about what the future holds.

I’ll be working through the Thanksgiving holiday this year. I’m fortunate that I can login from home to do the things I need to do — but I’m not taking any real time off. And when I’m not doing work for work, I’ll be studying for my SPHR exam coming up in January … I’m not complaining, just sharing. I feel blessed in the busy-ness of my life. I’ve finally accepted and committed to thriving in this new pace. I’m thankful for that too.

Remember there are people out there who don’t get a break or work from home. Please be kind to them.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Whatever your plans, be safe and enjoy yourself.

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 keptwhere 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.


This post was written by Yvonne Davis. Yvonne is currently the Director of Welfare and Chief of Personnel & Labor Relations  for the Essex County Department of Citizen Services in New Jersey. It is the largest welfare agency in the State of New Jersey, and one of the Top 10 largest Welfare agencies in the United States.  She is an alumna of Montclair State University, with a degree in Spanish and a minor in Education of the Disadvantaged and a Concentration in French. She also has professional certifications from Kean University and Rutgers University in Public Management, Affirmative Action, and EEOC Studies.

Yvonne has been recognized in Who’s Who in America , Who’s Who in American Women, and Who’s Who in New   Jersey. She is a recipient of the Patriotic Service Award for the United States Department of the Treasury. She is a 3-time recipient of the Medallion of Excellence from the America Association of Teachers. She is a 7-time recipient of the Volunteer Award from the United Way.

Yvonne is also a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a daughter and a sister. Her parents and 2 younger brothers are also current and lifelong residents of Essex County. Her husband of over 40 years grew up in the central ward of Newark, and his father and siblings still live in Essex County. Together, they have 3 children and 6 grandchildren.

Connect with her on Linked In.

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