Dear Social Media Peeps

Dear Social Media Peeps,

If you put yourself out there expect people to respond. Otherwise don’t put yourself out there. Social media is social by nature. People share, discuss, learn etc. We cannot exist in a vacuum.

It is okay if you want to be on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. and not engage in controversial topics. Plenty of people do that. I have seen many a picture of someone’s oatmeal they made that morning.

AlI I am saying is don’t post stuff that is provocative and expect everyone to agree. I only say this because I know someone who is doing that. He even asks people to only respond when they agree. In essence, he wants to influence others without being influenced himself. He wants to promote ideas and limit other people’s ability to express themselves.

Obviously we should all be respectful, but social media is one of the most democratic or representative of platforms. So if you have got something to say expect that others do as well.


Brad Federman


The Importance of Proper Preparation

Just as a good chef carefully prepares all aspects of a meal before plating each dish, successful HR professionals carefully map out every aspect of a task before executing it. In fact, HR professionals are probably some of the most well-prepared individuals in an organization—or at least they should be.

While thorough preparation is undoubtedly stressed in most professions, HR veterans have learned the value of being able to “expect the unexpected.” HR professionals know that all tasks require preparation. That’s true regardless of whether you are implementing an unfamiliar system, conducting a routine meeting with an employee, or pitching a new idea to senior management.

Although every situation requires specific preparation, here are some universal tips to keep in mind when approaching a task:

(1) Know the background. Being the most knowledgeable person in the room never hurts, but that is not always possible. Get as much background information as possible so you will understand the story behind the situation. Walking into a meeting without understanding why the meeting is necessary in the first place is not just uncomfortable, it is also irresponsible. Always take the time to research events leading up to a meeting, especially if you are a latecomer to the situation. Do not hesitate to reach out to other employees for a rundown of the situation. Keep in mind, however, that everyone has a different perspective, so it is a good idea to check several sources.

(2) Organize the evidence. Organization and preparation go hand in hand. When doing your prep work, make sure you stay organized so you can use those hours of preparation effectively. For example, if you spend hours investigating and preparing a response to a grievance, sitting down and writing the response will be much easier if you take the time to organize your notes into meaningful categories.

(3) Anticipate possible counterarguments and reactions. It is absolutely critical to anticipate push back from others. Sometimes laser focus on a matter prevents us from taking a step back and evaluating other perspectives. A lack of preparation will be noticed immediately when you are unable to effectively manage adverse reactions or counterarguments. For example, during a termination meeting with an employee, don’t take any chances. Hope for an amicable conversation, but prepare for the worst.

(4) Develop a Plan B. Being fully prepared means that you have already thought through a Plan B. Most of us have experienced situations in which our original concepts either didn’t pan out or were not accepted by senior management. Ideally, you should come prepared with several alternatives, but you certainly should have a solid Plan B. If you end up needing a Plan B, you will be very thankful you prepared one in advance.

The better prepared you are to tackle a challenge, the more successful the outcome will be. Your preparation (and resulting success) will not go unnoticed. Developing preparation skills will enhance your reputation as a reliable “go-to” person in your department and organization. Being a “go-to” person will allow you to know that you are valued by others and that you bring value to your organization. As an HR professional, it is your job to be an expert. Make sure you are prepared.

Originally Published in Words on Wise

Guest Columnist: Cassandra Lewis


Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. –

Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman Picture

Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman Picture

Jelaluddin Rumi

Wow!  What a powerful thought.  As I look at the state of affairs in this country and the world at large Rumi’s advice seems timelier then ever.  Needed now more then ever.

We seem to be stuck in a rut.  Everyone wants to win more than they want to solve problems.  Everyone would rather be right than get things done.  No where is it more prevalent than the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman debacle. 

A civil rights movement will never be worked out via a murder case.  Our court system was never meant for that. Why was it utilized that way?  Because we can’t work through and discuss the real issues.  We should be upset and angry whenever anyone is murdered. If we did a better job reaching out to one another, being a stronger human community we could do more to help all victims by not allowing them to be victims in the first place. So why don’t we?  Because we misrepresent people and problems just as we have in this national debate.

I am dismayed by the caricatures, half truths and even lies from both sides. I have seen the information regarding Trayvon Martin. Some sources paint him as a saint and others a punk. It just depends on who you listen to and believe. When I look at him as a whole he was somewhere in between.

The same is true when it comes to George Zimmerman. Some use facts to make him look like a racist, others a humanitarian. When I view him in a balanced way,  I see someone entirely different.

It is like a tale of two cities.  Like Dr. Jekyll “OR” Mr. Hyde.  What made Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde an interesting story was the “AND.”  The idea that generally someone is not all good or all bad.   The complexity of a person is interesting.  That is why many people loved Tony Soprano as a character in the HBO hit series The Sopranos.  Yes he was despicable, but he also had endearing qualities.  He was human.

So why do we paint people as caricatures?  As simpletons?  As sinners or saints?  It is rarely for story telling purposes.  I think it is for four main reasons:

  1. We want answers, not questions.  Complex people and situations often conjure up questions and uncertainty.  The problem with simple answers is that they often discourage asking questions, let alone good questions.  And good questions are what lead to real answers.
  2. We want things to reflect our experience.  Answers that we can not relate to feel wrong.  The problem with this desire is that we are willing to negate all of those people who have a different experience.  We tell them they do not count.  And we are a nation of differing backgrounds and experiences.  We can not afford to disenfranchise large amounts of our population.
  3. We make decisions based on emotion and comfort.  We are willing to throw out facts to make ourselves more comfortable.  Emotions are important, but they are not and should not be our only or even main decision making tool.  Some of our greatest leaders made decisions that were right, produced real change, and were very uncomfortable.
  4. We want to win.  If we want answers that reflect our experience and make us feel emotionally comfortable then we have a need to win.  Too many times to win at all costs.  Our ideas, our version has to be true!  We see it played out on our news or should I say entertainment.  Bill Maher and Ed Shultz versus Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.  They do not offer news.  They do not offer the truth.  They offer each of us a chance to win…to be right.

And that is what has happened here with this tragedy and court case.  The terrible truth here is that we do have two sides that see this tragedy differently and the difference in these views will not be worked out over the outcome of the trial or on people perpetually saying they are right and thinking tough talk solves problems. It will occur when we can have honest conversations about the issues without everyone trying to get their way first.

  •  When people who are white conservatives really ask themselves, “Why 86% of African Americans feel that justice was not served?’
  •  When African Americans begin to ask themselves, “Why is this case more important than all of the other murders going on everyday?”

But more importantly, it will be when we are all willing to ask ourselves:

  • How can we together reduce the number of homicides in this country regardless of color?
  • What is the best way to build our youth up?
  • How do we increase individual accountability?  For our actions and the results of those actions?
  • How do we progress as a nation in order to be a more perfect union?

Too many times on Facebook and in our organizations we come across as self oriented and narrow minded. It takes real strength and conviction to try and see things from a balanced perspective. It also takes more work to find a balanced perspective.

  • Every time we explore an issue it is important to proactively listen to the various sides, especially the ones you tend to disagree with.
  • Try to go to the original sources.

Then if we can sit down and actually answer the question, “How do we move forward from here?” Maybe we will get there. But that is hard work. It is easy to tell others that disagree with you they are wrong, or that they are being stupid, or cry babies. But those words are not strong. They seem like it. But they are just a disguise for weakness and a willingness to be right rather than get something done.  We have real problems to solve!

We need to remember there is a difference between a verdict which is about winning a court case and accountability which has to do with personal responsibility. Just as I believe Trayvon could have avoided this by making different choices, I also believe that George Zimmerman could have as well. He disregarded police instructions after all. I think it is about time we own up to the fact that we have a low set of expectations regarding ownership and accountability for our actions and their results in this country. We need to raise the bar. And that has little to do with left or right, black or white, politically correct or not. It has to do with being honest with ourselves…brutally, looking at the whole picture and situation, holding our own bias in check (and we are all bias), and looking curiously for the truth rather than just winning. These two caricatures live to support the lefts and rights viewpoints, they fill a vacuum because we are so fragmented we have lost the quest for truth. We have lost the ability to reason and look at all of the facts. We have moved to a blame society. One where people and parties are holier than thou, yet act as if they live in the gutter.  When we choose to simplify things to the point that it no longer represents the whole truth, only the portion we are comfortable with, we buy into the nothing more than hogwash.

And that is what we have.  A great deal of hogwash!  Everyone wants to win and so we all lose.  And the Trayvon Martin case is just a microcosm of the broader ills.  This mindset is infiltrating our entire society.

“Don’t compromise.”

“Engaging the other side makes you look weak.”

These beliefs are so far from the truth.  Almost every great movement or change has come from hard work, building buy-in, collaboration,  and creativity.  Not control, fear, name calling, and extreme metaphors.  People say that unless you take a side you are giving up.  Unless you take a side you are weak.  I say it is the opposite.  Taking a side at all costs is weak and easy.  The difficult approach is looking at all of the root causes, even the ones you don’t like to know about. And working with all of the stakeholders who want real change and solutions to come up with something new.

So when you want to solve problems.  When you want to do something of value.

When you move beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, and find that field. I’ll meet you there.

Cheerios, interracial marriages, and the wisdom of children

When a Cheerios internet commercial came out recently that featured an interracial family it was a test.  And as a society we failed.

It was a simple message.  Cheerios is heart healthy.  For those of you who have not seen it, there is a link below and a summary of the commercial as well.

A mother sits at her kitchen table writing when her daughter walks up with a box of Cheerios.

“Mom,” says the girl. “Yes, honey?” says mom. “Dad told me Cheerios is good for your heart. Is that true?”

Mom looks at the box, and answers that it says the whole-grain oats inside are “heart healthy.”

The commercial picks up with dad asleep on the couch.  He starts to wake up notices a pile of Cheerios on his chest covering where his heart is located.

The commercial sounds harmless enough and similar to other commercials aired in the past.  The difference in this commercial is that the mom is white, the dad is black and the daughter is biracial.  Disappointingly, the comment section had to be turned off due to the vitriol spouted by anonymous racists out on the internet.  While the overwhelming majority was supportive of the commercial, I can only say I was saddened by the strong reaction of a few.

We have a ways to go.  We struggle in our personal and work lives to be included.  The idea that every citizen and employee should be able to feel valued, heard and have a safe place and a space available to them is an important one. This is one of the reasons we have discrimination lawsuits and engagement levels are so low.  Those that spread hate make us all uncomfortable.

There is hope.  My faith was restored when I watch a follow-up to the commercial (link below).  When the commercial was shown to children not one of them could see anything wrong with the commercial.  To say that these children were confused, stunned, and shocked when told what the reaction to the commercial was and why is an understatement.    Here are some of their reactions:

“It’s just the color of their skin, what matters is if they’re nice or mean”

“I thought Martin Luther King spoke against this and fixed this already”

“Underneath it, you’re literally the same. You have organs and a heart.”

“Some people just fall in love like that.”

Leave it to the next generation to demonstrate the wisdom and caring that ours still needs to learn.  Hopefully, they can out beautify the ugly spouted by those still living in a past world that lacked the understanding and value of others that differed from them.  Hopefully the next generation will continue to make this world a more inclusive place where everyone has a safe place and a space to contribute.  Thank you for restoring my hope.

3 Ways Employees Can Drive Their Own Engagement

Whose job is it to increase employee engagement?

Typically, the focus has been on company-wide initiatives from HR and the role of the manager.

Those are definitely good starting points, but what about the individual employees themselves?

The cynics will say this is just pushing it all on the employee or that it enables out of touch C-level executives to say, “It’s their fault not ours!”

But we can’t be afraid to have an honest conversation around the importance of intrinsic motivation, and an individual’s obligation to be engaged and to drive the engagement of others.

Taking lessons from the positive psychology movement, there are three things people can can to proactively increase their own level of happiness and engagement at work.

First, employees need to identify the motivation triggers that matter to them most. While research will tell us what drivers are most important for the masses, we are all individuals. For example, I may really crave growth opportunities at the early stage of my career, while you might be more interested in recognition as you approach retirement.

Second, we need to teach employees to be mindful of all that companies and managers are already doing to drive engagement. One effective activity is to ask employees to write down all the things the company does to foster a specific area, like Communication. Some employees will write “Nothing” or “Weekly staff meeting”. But then share a long generic list of what many companies do, including items like:  one-on-one meetings, team meetings, town hall meetings, company newsletter, intranet, annual performance reviews, yammer, and on and on. Then ask employees to circle all the items that their own company is indeed doing, and usually the revised list is much longer than their original list. An “aha” moment occurs when they realize, “I guess they are doing a lot more on communication than I realized.

Third, we need to teach employees how to proactively partner with their bosses. You think communication is lacking? Great, huddle with your supervisor to suggest specific actions that can improve the situation. Don’t think the company is supporting your growth? OK, how can you hold a career path meeting with your supervisor to discuss your goals and what it’s going to take to accomplish them. What individual workers need is the understanding that they actually have an obligation to contact their supervisor if they aren’t satisfied; we can give them tools like model emails and “conversation starters” to help them navigate these conversations.

Employee engagement should have C-level support and management training and evaluation is critical, and we must also recognize what each individual brings to the table and teach them that driving engagement to higher and higher levels is a job for everyone.

Kevin Kruse [link:] is a New York Times bestselling author. His newest book is Employee Engagement for Everyone: 4 Keys to Happiness and Fulfillment at Work. [Link:]

Should Paula Deen lose here job with the Food Network?

This is inherently an employment issue, as well as, a cultural and moral issue.   What are your thoughts?  Should she have been let go based on her behavior?

I Will Huff and I’ll Puff! The Challenge of Re-Engagement!

3 Little PigsRe-engagement: Coming Back from a Difficult Time and Culture in an Organization

We have said that engagement begins with the individual, grows among team members, and shapes the future of the organization. However, this is not always a smooth progression. What happens when there is a loss of engagement? The loss may be due to a difficult relationship or event, or the more far-reaching impact of a culture shift in the entire organization.

How do we re-build when there is not only a lack of trust, but a loss of trust? Can the promises that once worked create a sense of confidence among employees who are “once bitten, twice shy”?

There is good news and bad news about re-engagement. To offer the bad news first, regaining trust has special challenges. The process must begin with an understanding of what went wrong, and the dedications to make the necessary changes to be sure it won’t happen again. As in the story of the “three little pigs,”  the right materials must be found to make sure the house isn’t “blown down” each time a storm of controversy arrives at the door.

The process of identifying the problems and their impact must be sensitive to the fact that different people may have been affected in different ways by the events that created the loss of engagement. Those affected by the problems and those responsible for them must find a way to identify solutions which everyone can accept, in spite of their differences.

It is only as plans to move forward and implement the solutions materialize, that there is the opportunity to re-establish a spirit of engagement. The good news is that as this happens, there is the opportunity to reap the rewards of what has been learned to create a stronger and more “storm proof” environment for the future. Individuals will be able to apply what they have learned about themselves, their team members, and the organization, as they seek to make a greater contribution. Heroes can emerge in this process who had not assumed this role before. Employees can assume a greater commitment to not only create a spirit of engagement, but to recognize its fragility, and their role in building the engagement culture “brick by brick” each day. In this way, employees can see how their contribution is needed more than ever to keep their work environment safe and sound.

As with individuals, fluctuations in engagement in an organization are inevitable. They create difficulties, but also opportunities for insight and growth. They point to weaknesses, and highlight areas of strength. The important thing is to approach them with more engagement and openness, not less, and to build engagement strength through increased resistance. In this way, employees will not to be left with no structure to support them, like the pigs in the woods!

In building your culture of engagement, it is important to discuss in advance what you will do when the wolf comes to the door. What are the values and outcomes you will protect at all cost? How are individuals in your engaged culture empowered to identify and communicate concerns before they increase in size? What resources are dedicated to reviewing the issues of concern and determining what action, if any, should be taken? How will this process be monitored? What result is anticipated, and how will this contribute to the success of the organization and its engagement  culture?

Dr. Edward Morler, an organizational psychologist who works with leadership teams, refers to “integration” or “disintegration” in describing individual personality characteristics. His point is that as individuals assume a more “win-win” mentality, they adopt the best characteristics of other personality types. On the other hand, if they are less committed to what is best for others, they may adopt some of the less desirable characteristics of other personality types.

The challenges faced by an organization suffering a loss of engagement present the opportunity for the to move to a more “win-win” environment, adopting new positive characteristics along the way..  It is a process that requires patience and commitment, but is well worth the effort.

What challenges to engagement does your organization face? How are they addressed? In what ways can they help you to become better, and stronger in your commitment to engagement, than before?