Your Calling Card-Personal Networking for HR

I’m spending time going through information from all of the amazing people I’ve met this year, and trying to organize it and make sure I connect with everyone who wants to do that. In the process, I realized that some of my closest colleagues have already changed organizations or moved across the country-I know that LinkedIn helps us stay in touch professionally, and I definitely utilize that platform for consistency of contact and keeping up with good news from my network. But I can’t help thinking that we all just need a calling card.

My business card doesn’t change, no matter which client I am working with, because I am a business owner. I have many contacts who are like me, whose information will never change. But I also have some colleagues who are starting to either share two cards, one for their own information, and one for their company’s. Or those in transition have a personal business card that conveys their brands and what they have to offer. Once example is my new friend John Quarles, who is a senior HR professional soon to be in transition, who has a gorgeous card highlighting his top skill areas, including HR specialties and other business areas like Mergers and Acquisitions and Six Sigma, as well as a tagline to sum up his brand: “Supplying your company with the HR tools it needs to be successful.”

While John will certainly be off the market before we know it (you can check him out on LinkedIn for more information) we can all take a page from his book and think about how we can represent our best skills not only on LinkedIn, our websites, and on other social media platforms, but also in a small, tangible reminder that we give to others when we meet in person. I was joking with SHRM’s Social Media Director, Andrew Morton, about a few years ago when there was this thing where you could bump your phone with someone else’s and exchange information. What ever happened with that? It’s funny that now it seems archaic, but there doesn’t seem to have been a replacement technology that’s been widely adopted, other than social media-based and app-based connections. We still like the feel of a real card in hand, and exchanging a physical item with one another to remember each other by.

Creating a unique calling card is easy. My business cards come from I love the unique feel of the designs, shapes, sizes and materials. If price is an issue, VistaPrint has a great deal on a first order of business cards. Canva is a wonderful free tool that makes it easy to create a personal design without spending a penny. If your website is hosted through Squarespace, you can utilize their free logo designer to create your own simple icon.

Once you have your card, when is it appropriate to share it? Everywhere! The beauty of a personal card is that you don’t need to be in a business situation for it to be an appropriate gift to a new connection. Here’s a wonderful example from



It’s a fun way to leave a positive impression and reinforce your delight at meeting someone new. I’d love to see your personal cards-please tweet me @KellyinBoulder and @solvehrinc. Happy connecting!

Car Photo Credit: Michael Kappel via / CC BY-ND

Inclusion is for Business Success-All Year Long #NDEAM

For National Disability Employment Awareness Month, #NDEAM, let’s recognize that people with disabilities are all around us, doing the work of our organizations and companies (here are some statistics about disability employment from the Office of Disability Employment Policy, ODEP). Held annually, NDEAM is led by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy, but its true spirit lies in the many observances held at the grassroots level across the nation every year. In thinking about disability at work, often we focus on the costs and barriers instead of the unique and valuable benefits brought to our organizations by people with disabilities. With regard to invisible disabilities, I always ask my clients to look around the table and realize that statistically, there are people right there next to them who may have disabilities that are not disclosed. Maybe one of those people is me!

Do you recognize any of these employees in your organization?

Every other month, Jeff takes a week off work. Other employees give him a hard time because this is more time than other team members are typically allowed to take. When he takes extra vacation, they forget about his contributions and complain that he is lazy or asks for special treatment. His bipolar disorder is well-managed by medication, rest and regular breaks from work.   

Jeff is his team’s highest performing sales leader. He was responsible for bringing in 30% of the annual revenue for his employer last year.

Anna uses a wheelchair for mobility. As a managing engineer, she needs to visit power plants to oversee and inspect large turbines for correct installation. Because the buildings are not accessible, modifications will be needed so she can navigate the building. Grumbling from departments whose budgets are impacted are whispered among leadership.

Anna’s expertise in design and installation of these turbines allows them to be safely and effectively installed, allowing the plant to continue to operate, preserving the jobs of everyone located there and increasing efficiency of power generation by 20%.   

Andre has applied for a job as a retail sales representative. He has two years of experience in retail sales for a car stereo company. Due to a visual impairment, he needs a screen reader on the check-out computer terminals at the store where he will be assigned. The screen reader doesn’t cost a lot of money, but the others interviewing for the job don’t require any accommodation and are equally qualified. Andre displays his excellent communications skills in the interview, and is recommended for reliability and commitment to customer service by his references.

Andre has the potential to be a great hire for this retail store, and could become one of their best employees.

Jesse needs to be off work for the next three months for complex cancer treatment. He is a supervisor at a call center for his company, and is a critical leader at his job site. Some at the company are urging that he be replaced, because it will require a lot of extra work to cover for him, and some are assuming he won’t be able to return to work because they’ve seen him using a cane after surgery. When his employees heard he needed to be away for medical treatment, they all offered to step up to help during his absence so he could come back to lead them when he recovers.   

Jesse is an inspirational leader in his business unit. He has a passion for people, and customer service. His teams routinely out-perform others at the company.

Bonita has a special chair that she must have in the room when she is assisting in surgeries as an OR nurse. This chair must be treated to sterilize it, requiring extra time and work for the OR techs before each procedure. They complain that no one else needs a chair, and it causes them extra work.

Bonita is the go-to OR nurse and is requested by cardio-thoracic surgeons at her hospital when they have extremely complex or risky procedures on their schedule.

Now, go back and re-read this section, but only focus on the information in BOLD. There are people with disabilities who are in every category of performance. But sometimes those who are your highest potential employees are overlooked because employers get hung up on costs or logistics-and they fail to see that these are high-performing, stellar employees with a great future who are committed to their organization.

So, for #NDEAM, and all year long, let’s challenge organizations to shift their cultures toward inclusion for people with disabilities, and valuing the contributions of all employees. It’s the right choice for business, for employees and for continued success of every organization!  

Photo credit:

What's on Your Bedside Table?

Hey, HR! What’s on your bedside table? Probably a glass of water. Your phone. Other unmentionables. If you’re like me, you always have books, whether in original form or some e-reader. And, as usual, the pile keeps growing as my intentions exceed my capacity to get through all of these recommended and critically acclaimed tomes.

I am a voracious reader. Sometimes it feels like I am at the bottom of an avalanche of material that I want to read and can’t get to. I consider it an important part of professional life to not only stay abreast of what is going on in HR, but also what new research, findings, analysis and tools are coming out of marketing, finance, communications, public policy and other topics. That means my reading list is long. I finally decided this month to sign up for Audible. Having the option to not only read, but also to listen to the books on my list is helping me catch up a little.

Anyone who has previously signed up knows that Audible gives you two free book selections. These are the ones I chose:

Braving the Wilderness, by Brene Brown

The Asshole Survival Guide, by Robert Sutton

I’m just now getting around to listening to these books, but I’ve heard about them from other HR pros who are reading them now. At COSHRM2017 this past week, I got some great insight about the second book from my friend Leon Cerna of HRAdvantage, in his entertaining and useful session, “Don’t Be a Jerk at Work.” Apparently, some of the survival tips include “quit your job” and “document everything.” Neither one of those pieces of advice is really all that practical, from the perspective of those of us in HR. Dr. Sutton’s first book was really a game changer for me, and his sentiments were echoed by Ariana Huffington at the Zenefits Shift conference last week-she encouraged us in HR not to tolerate bad behavior, because it has real and potentially devastating consequences, especially for women. Since she is on the board at Uber, she has seen this firsthand.

Other great books I’ve read this year are HR on Purpose !! by the great Steve Browne, Barking up the Wrong Tree by Eric Barker, a couple of books on the Cleveland and Taft administrations (I’m a huge early 20th century American history buff) and some other very useful HR books by Morag Barrett and Sharlyn Lauby. If I had to account for every word I read, then by far the most of them come from the NY Times and SHRM, including Roy Maurer’s fantastic articles and the wisdom my network imparts during #nextchat. I read and think about and discuss the information I glean from these sources all the time. Does it matter what the Catalonians are saying about secession? Why didn't Puerto Rico get the same urgency in emergency response as Houston or Tampa, and does it have to do with geographic barriers, or institutional racism? What can we in HR do about the lack of stability in the health insurance market due to the failed repeal and replacement of the ACA, and how can we minimize its negative effect on our organizations’ employees?

I’m thinking about making a commitment to read (or listen to) one book every month in 2018. I know that this isn’t a novel idea for a resolution, but I still think it would be a good way to make sure I’m broadening my horizons (and getting to the bottom of my book pile). It seems like all of the people I admire are writing about something thought-provoking and cool. I need to clear out the backlog to be ready for the next year's newly published works. Who’s with me?

What are you reading, HR?

Photo credit: Alexandru Ilie2012 via / CC BY-SA

This is Us, HR

I am so very lucky that in my travels and through my online relationships, I get to meet amazing HR and OD professionals. They inspire me and give me energy to embrace my work in a way that makes it so fulfilling and rewarding to me. I owe a debt of gratitude to all of them. I often say that HR is truly a community of generous networkers who care about their colleagues in a way that is free of the cutthroat, zero-sum-game environment that can sometimes poison a community of professionals. I’m not saying that the shadow of schadenfreude never darkens our door, or that we’re free of human emotions, which include irritation, disappointment and sadness. But we tend to use our words for good, by and large. We respond to each other when we think we can help, and we celebrate each other’s triumphs. I really like that about HR.

So, this is just a pale reminder of the message that Steve Browne delivers so passionately and eloquently, but it bears repeating and rippling throughout our profession: connect with each other. Meet in the middle of something and make a meaningful connection that lasts and turn an online interaction into a real-life friendship and professional relationship. Celebrate the great things our colleagues are doing and listen to and share the things they say on their blogs. We all make a richer environment for HR when we recognize the thinking and passion that goes on in our community. I see so much real dialogue among people who have different viewpoints and life stories. We honor it all in our profession, and the greatest gift we give each other is respectful but honest and direct communication and discourse. Seeing the human feelings, experiences and stories beneath the things we say is what we uniquely recognize as HR professionals.

I must say I am thankful. I’m grateful for the career I have today, and excited about the potential to come in the future in HR. There are a lot of things that will need to evolve and change, to be sure, but the people in our profession are capable of making it happen, and tenacious enough not to quit. We’re not complacent. This is us, HR. Let’s keep driving toward making something better, and supporting each other along the way.  

Photo credit:

Not a Thought Leader

They are all around us. People with something to say that makes us think in a new direction, and analysis of trends and data that make us better at our work every day. They share their perspectives and conclusions through LinkedIn, blogs, media outlets, conferences, consultancies and on other platforms. They’re thought leaders. And they're amazing. 

I was thinking about my work today, and what I realized is that although I write on my blog, engage online in conversations with other HR professionals about timely topics, and even speak at events once in a while, mostly (like other HR professionals) what I do is work with people:

·       I help the owner of an amazing company built from the ground up figure out how to develop his team so he can exit his role soon and his business can run without him.

·       I listen to team members when they feel misunderstood, or even vilified. I help them sort through communications to view them realistically and helpfully, and develop an action plan that makes sense.

·       I teach and mentor emerging leaders, challenge them to take their performance to the next level, give them all I can and celebrate with them when they succeed.

·       I untangle the human, legal and business complexities of reasonable accommodation for workers with disabilities and needs for leave from work.

·       I take the complex pieces of the talent acquisition puzzle and try to put them together in a way that delights everyone with job satisfaction, excellent performance results and retention of high potential employees, and increases inclusion of diverse ideas and perspectives.

·       I empathize with the real emotions that arise from life and work and endeavor to create an atmosphere of transparency and respect wherever I go.

·       I tell the truth with dignity and compassion to leaders and clients, even when they don’t want to hear it, and I don’t back away from the fire breathing dragons that inevitably try to scare me away.

Learning, thinking, collaborating and strategizing are important. But results are essential too. A good HR leader can inhabit all of these roles, taking in what wisdom we can from thought leaders and serving as a conduit for ideas and a catalyst for action and outcomes.

So, here’s a big “thank you” to the thought leaders from those of us in the trenches. You make us all better HR professionals. And to those of you who manage to be both thought leader and results-deliverer? I am so amazed by you, and grateful for opportunities to continue to learn from you. 

Photo credit:


Kelly Marinelli