Month: July 2017

Don’t Lead with Bias. Just Stop.

This morning when I giving my 2 year old a frozen chocolate chip waffle, America’s elected leader was making an announcement via Twitter banning transgender people to serve in the U.S. military because it’s a “burden” and “distraction”. No, it’s not a surprise, but that change the fact that it’s damaging and dangerous.

Once again, individuals are impacted by someone who allows his personal opinions affect the decisions he makes as a leader. This article is a couple of years old, but it doesn’t take away the accuracy of it or the way that it almost describes the current administration’s decision making over the past six months. I’m sure there are more than Five Common Unconscious Biases That Lead To Bad Decisions, but this is a really great start. If you don’t want to read the article and think about how closely it relates to the person that lives part-time in the White House, then read it and apply it to your own decisions that you have to make as a leader or as an HR professional. Here’s another article full of 7 Cognitive Biases That Impact Your Decision Making.

We often say biases are unconscious, but I don’t really know if that’s necessarily true. Merriam-Webster defines unconscious with other phrases like “not knowing”, “not aware”, “not deliberately planned out”, or “free from self-awareness”. The thing about all of those phrases is that each person, including you, has the power to eliminate things like that once you become aware of them.

You don’t always know what these biases are or one would assume you wouldn’t have them. If someone approaches you to call you out for your bias, hear them out. Listen to them. Understand them. Now your bias isn’t unconscious. It’s out in the open and you have privilege of being aware of it. You’re now equipped with the power to change it.

I know this doesn’t apply to everyone. There are people that will go to their grave with amazingly inappropriate biases that will make a negative impact every single day, but they’ll never acknowledge it. Those kind of people apparently wind up in the White House.

And What Do You Do?

My wife and I are expecting are second child together sometime in late December/early January, so we’ve been to a multitude of different doctors in the last several months, both pre-pregnancy and normal prenatal stuff. Normal prenatal stuff for parents in their late 30s/early 40s is a lot more involved than parents that are below what medical professionals deem “geriatric maternal age”. Some doctors are nice and replace the word geriatric with advanced, which is something we don’t quite hate as much. “Advanced” in school meant you were smarter than people, didn’t it? With all these visits, they always ask my wife what she does, then ask me what I do. It’s happened twice so far.

The first time:

CNM: And what do you do, Wendy?

Me: I’m in Human Resources.

CNM, with a slightly tentative tone to her voice: Oh, here at (insert name of clinic)?

Me: Uh, no. For a credit union.

CNM: Well, somebody has to do it, right?

Yep, someone totally has to do it. And I do it every day and I really love doing it. Those are the things I wanted to say. And then I wanted to say, “Yeeeeeah, and someone has to do your job, which I would never want to do because health care? That’s a big ew for me, ma’am.”

The second time:

X-Ray Tech: And what do you do, Wendy?

Me: I’m in Human Resources.

X-Ray Tech: Ohhhh.

It’s funny/not funny really. I never thought I’d want to be in Human Resources up until I was actually in Human Resources, but here I am. And I’m not going anywhere, so I’m gonna have to work on making it sound a little more exciting to people that don’t quite get the same excitement towards HR that I do.

#SHRM17 All Wrapped Up

I say #SHRM17 is all wrapped up and it almost sounds like I’ve put all the Christmas decorations in a box and put them in that closet in the basement that I only go on once a year. That’s definitely not the case. It’s more like the ornaments that have fallen off the tree, either by way of cat or toddler, and hung out in the living room with us all year ’round unbeknownst to any of us until the aforementioned cat or toddler manage to find them. (Note: add “awesome at analogies” to resume.)

I’m still referencing notes and slide decks, sometimes quoting the speakers I heard (with appropriate attributions, of course), listening to podcasts (which I’d always avoided in the past), asking questions outside the walls of my office, reading blogs and Twitter with intention and not because I’m bored. I loved HR before. That’s why I stay in it. But I feel like I LOOOOOOVE HR now, even more than I thought I could.

Did I just manage to get lucky in the sessions I went to? Did I just accidentally stumble upon this group of people that feel like my kindred HR folks? Are there constantly little HR Jiminy Crickets sitting on my shoulder all the time and reminding me that it’s important to be intentional as opposed to provide some immediate rapid response? I don’t know and I don’t even really care. I came back from this conference feeling motivated and inspired and all of those words that most people walk away feeling from things like this. And I also felt like I was coming back to my same job and my same company with a new sense of purpose and abilities I might not have realized I had six weeks ago.

I’ve been back for over a month. Life has been crazy because it always is. Work has been crazy because, hi, HR. My kitchen is clean right now, which I feel like is notable. (I’m also using this as documentation, documentation, documentation in case my wife doesn’t believe that I did actually clean the kitchen. Most of it anyway.) I finally managed to put together summaries of my days there, including most of the sessions I went to. There were a few where I didn’t really feel even remotely equipped to summarize the takeaways, because new ones are continuing to pop up.

Here they are, listed by day:

  • #SHRM17 Bound: I literally wrote this on the first leg of our flight to New Orleans, somewhere between Minneapolis and Atlanta.
  • #SHRM17 Upon Arrival: Arriving in New Orleans and making myself “network”, which gave me a great start to this whole conference.
  • #SHRM17 The Conference Commences: New Orleans, Kat Cole (so much love), more “networking”, more New Orleans.
  • #SHRM17 A Full Day: Otherwise known as The Day I Met All of the HR Blogging/Tweeting People I Love, with a subtitle of “and also learned HR stuff”.
  • #SHRM17 Another Jam-Packed HR Day: Most of my favorite sessions had been strategically scheduled on this same day.
  • #SHRM17 The Final Countdown: Soaking in every last bit of knowledge and a hell of a lot of rain thanks to Tropical Storm Cindy.

 

The Annual SHRM Conference was leaps and bounds more inclusive, comprehensive and enjoyable than any other conference I’ve ever attended. Truthfully, that’s not comparing it to a lot, but I’m cool with that. This experience has completely revitalized the way I look at my own HR skills and my own leadership skills. I’m trying to decide if I have the intestinal fortitude to get the 2018 Annual SHRM Conference approved this early in the game, because I really enjoy saving money, but I also can’t imagine not being back in 2018 in Chicago. I gotta hang out with these people again!