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Confessions of a paranoid, antisocial, perfectionist blogger

Posted by Ken Klaus on January 19, 2009

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Perfectionist – one who has a propensity for being displeased with anything that is not perfect or does not meet an extremely high standard.

 

Paranoia – extreme, irrational distrust of others.

 

Antisocial – unwilling or unable to associate normally with other people.

 

I have yet to fully embrace the mainstream social networking revolution.  By mainstream I mean the average individual who blogs for work, to earn a living, or just for the simple pleasure of writing.  I do not mean the people who share every moment of their lives through word and picture.  Frankly, you people scare me.  Many of my colleagues have already jumped into the deep end of this pool where they gently and persistently call to me: ‘Come on in, the water’s fine’.  For a time I took comfort, and not a little snarky pleasure, with others who embraced the antisocial lifestyle, like Kathi.  But as I’ve watched our numbers diminish over the past year – even Kathi now has a Facebook page – I wondered why I was still so hesitant to dive-in and join the fun.

 

The truth is I very much want to be all in – a fully vested and contributing member of our virtual community; but I’m afraid and my natural response to fear is to move away from and not toward other people.  Now I don’t think my paranoia and antisocial tendencies are engrained personality flaws – though I have my fair share of these as well – rather I’ve come to see them as a by-product of the perfectionist rooted to the core of my being.  And believe me when I say this is way more than a mere tendency.  It’s part of my DNA.  This means that no matter how trivial the task I almost always create an unreasonably high set of standards and as a consequence end up feeling disappointed and ashamed when I fail to measure up.  So when I post a blog or a comment and later find a typo or misspelled word I feel every bit as bad about myself as when I make a mess of a relationship or fall short of my performance goals at work.  With perfectionism there is no sense of proportionality – every failure, real or perceived, leads to the same crushing sense of defeat.  That’s when the paranoia begins to seep into my consciousness – “they’re laughing at you” – which then leads to antisocial behaviors like lurking.

 

Rationally I understand that I am mostly successful at the things I do and that generally I am a competent employee, friend, and blogger.  But I also understand that I cannot simply get over being a perfectionist.  I have to learn to live with it and accept that I am going to make mistakes.  This won’t be easy, but I’m committed to doing better and commitment requires a plan – and a good plan needs a set of goals.  So to that end I’m setting the following goals for myself:

 

1.   I will not give in to fear or isolation.  Solitude is okay, monasticism is not. 

2.    I will participate, not just lurk, in our online community. 

3.    I will create a Facebook account.  Understanding that I may have to spend a few weeks chanting my first goal before I’m actually ready to do this.

4.    I will not feel bad, anguish, or obsess over the small mistakes that are simply a part of being human, like typos, spelling errors, grammatical gaffes, forgetting to buy half-and-half, misplacing my keys, or counting that box of Raisinets as part or all of my five daily servings of fruits and vegetables.

 

It’s an exciting time to be working in talent management and the wonderful, quirky, sometimes scary, world of social networking holds almost endless possibilities.  So to all the other paranoid, antisocial, perfectionists lurking in the shadows, I too say, “Come on in and join the conversation, the water and the people are exceptionally fine.”

 

Peace

 

Posted in community, personal, social network | Tagged: , , | 12 Comments »

Who moved my job?

Posted by Ken Klaus on December 24, 2008

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I’ve been in the same role now for nearly twelve years and I have a pretty good idea what you’re thinking, because lately I’ve been thinking it too: How could I possibly have stayed in the same job for twelve years without losing my mind?  (Okay I totally set myself up here, so feel free to enter all the snarky responses to this rhetorical question in the comments section.  I totally deserve them.)  I guess the easy answer is I haven’t really been doing the same job – because the job I was hired for in 1997 has changed – a lot.  In some ways this has been a blessing, because for starters I probably would have lost my mind.  But there’s a downside as well, what I think of as job creep – when the requirements of the job grow or change so dramatically that you wake up one day and realize you’re no longer interested in, or worse no longer qualified to do, your job.

 

Part of me wants to blame the HR department for this problem; because, after all, aren’t they responsible for ensuring the job I was hired to do is actually the job I’m doing?  But the truth is the overworked, under-appreciated and mostly befuddled HR department probably can’t even provide me with a copy of my job description, let alone ensure it’s still valid.  This leads me to wonder whether there’s something I can do to help control job creep, or a least soften the impact of accepting that the job I fell in love with more than a decade ago has left the building.

 

Optimist that I am, my heart (and my head) tells me there isn’t going to be a quick fix for this problem.  The world and the market place in which we work are evolving so quickly now that successful companies, with any hope of remaining competitive, require an adaptive and agile workforce.  Though the speed of this evolutionary trend varies by geography and industry (the technology sector for example moves at nearly the speed of sound – or at least the sound bite) few organizations will be completely immune.  So, if fixing the problem is at best a long shot, then perhaps the next best thing is to find ways of coping with it.  Here are a few survival strategies I’ve tried to adopt. 

 

First, you have to become compulsively proactive in assessing and developing your core competencies.  To start, ask yourself, when was the last time you participated in some form of learning (formal or informal) that resulted in a tangible improvement in your proficiency level or performance?  If your answer is, “more than three months ago”, or “I can’t remember”, then it’s time to dust off the login ID for your leaning management system and enroll in a course or two.  Don’t have time to attend a class?  Then head to your local bookstore or library and try a little self-directed learning.  Unless you’re fortunate enough to live in France, where employee development is a legislated benefit, you have to own and manage your learning and development plan to same extent you do your 401K.  It’s your career after all, so hop in the driver’s seat and take it out for spin.  Oh, and don’t be afraid to head in an entirely new direction – new skills often result in new opportunities.  

 

You should also be constantly mindful of your attitude.  Most managers will tell you they would rather have an average employee who has a great attitude than an extraordinary performer with the personality of a baboon (surly, anti-social, arrogant – you get the picture).  Change is always stressful and when the job you have loved and nurtured changes to the point where you no longer feel capable of managing your responsibilities, it’s easy to respond by lashing out at others.  Don’t’ make this mistake.  Remember, that keeping your attitude in check is one way to demonstrate (and develop) you’re ability to adapt and change.

 

Finally, you need to be brutally honest in accepting that you and you alone are master of your vocational destiny.  Most of us are hired at will – meaning the company for which we work, as a general rule, does not need to provide any reason to end our employment. But at will employment is a two way street and you ought to be ready to make a change when an opportunity presents itself – even if you’re still totally in love with your job.  You’re résumé, list of references, academic transcripts, social networking profiles, and nicest business suit should always be ready for their close-up – long before Mr. DeMille (a.k.a. the next round of layoffs, reduction in force, restructuring, or whatever euphemism your company uses) arrives.  As our preeminent Punk Rock HR expert says so succinctly in her post, Signs you need to start your job search, “you should never stop looking for a job.”  Great advice Laurie!

 

In the mean time, if you find yourself standing on a soccer field in your ballet slippers and tutu, don’t despair.  There’s a very good chance that just down the hall there’s some poor guy standing on a beautifully polished stage in cleats and knee high socks, anxiously wondering what he’s going to do when the curtain goes up!  Cheers!

 

Posted in Career Development, learning, performance | 7 Comments »

Bangers & mash, gooseberry fool and talent review – one magical week in London

Posted by Ken Klaus on December 13, 2008

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It was my first full day in London.  I left the hotel around 8:00, expecting I would stop for a quick English breakfast before losing myself in the wonders of a brand new city (did I mention this was my first trip to the UK?); but the clear blue sky and bright sunshine blanketing Gloucester Road instantly made me rethink my plans.  First a strong cup of coffee: Venti, white, filtered (i.e. a large drip coffee with plenty of cream, thank you very much!) – made with love at the Starbucks across the road from the Millennium Bailey’s (a fabulous Victorian hotel in North Kensington).  With caffeine in hand I strolled a few blocks north and entered Hyde Park.  The air was cold and crisp and the treetops glowed in the bright morning light.  It was like a beautiful illustration from a favorite childhood storybook and just like the young boys and girls that inhabit such stories, I was instantly smitten, with the park, the city, the whole of this magical Kingdom (with apologies to Mr. Mouse).  I absolutely, positively, unreservedly fell in love with London.  The kind of love where you abandon reason and forget that in the real world there are bills to pay and employers who actually expect you to show up for work!  Thus, inevitably, as with so many of the great Bard’s plays, the story came too quickly to an end and the lovers, only newly acquainted, had to part.  I’ll give you a moment to feel my sense of loss, as poor Juliet must have done when she believed Romeo was dead and took up his dagger to join him.  Sigh.

 

Well that’s probably more drama than we need in one post and since I was in fact there on business, I suspect my manager might appreciate a few thoughts related to the work I was actually there to complete.  So, last week I was in London and Birmingham to chat with our customers about their talent management strategy and more specifically on how they are using talent review meetings to measure, motivate and manage their workforce.  Though the talent review process in general varied widely across geographies, industries, organizations, and business units; I found that the customers who saw the greatest return on their investment (and believe me you have to invest in the talent review process if you want to see the benefits) had some interesting things in common.

 

First, and perhaps most important was executive sponsorship and participation.  This was not simply support for the idea of talent reviews; in almost all cases c-level executives were actively involved in defining the purpose and outcomes for the talent review meetings as well as actively participating in one or more reviews.

 

Next, each organization had a set of clearly defined goals and outcomes for the meeting.  Without exception the companies who saw the greatest benefits from their talent review meetings were those who had a clear set of goals laid out before the meeting and an actionable set of outcomes at the end of the meeting.  Participants knew in advance why they were meeting (performance calibration, risk assessment, succession planning, etc.), what they had to do before they arrived, and, more importantly, what they had to do after the meeting was finished.  Kim Lamoureux over at Bersin & Associates had some great things to say on this subject in her post Succession Management – Making the Talent Review Work and the conversations I had with our customers certainly matchup with her findings.

 

Almost without exception the talent review process was owned and managed by HR.  The customers I spoke with all viewed the HR department as a critical partner that could not be left out of the talent review process.  Recruiting, retention, compensation, and employee development are all driven from HR, which means many of the actionable outcomes of the talent review meeting will need the support of the HR department.  Not surprisingly, most of the customers I spoke with told me the entire talent review process was owned and driven from within the HR department, in some cases by a dedicated Talent Management team. 

 

Calibrating performance and potential scores is only the beginning.  Most organizations focus on performance and potential calibration as the starting point of their talent review process.  But the talent review meeting can be leveraged for so much more: succession and career planning, creating talent pools for key roles and positions within the organization, mitigating risk of loss, developing diverse organizations and working teams, managing compensation plans and much, much more.  The companies who saw the greatest benefit from their talent review process were those who moved beyond performance calibration toward total talent management. 

 

Talent reviews are for everyone.  Many companies first implement talent reviews for their c-level executives, but most never get beyond the senior levels of their organization.  By contrast, most of the customers I spoke with had either already implemented organization wide talent reviews or were planning to do so in the immediate future.  Remember, the goal of the talent review meeting is to identify key talent and help them reach their full potential, which means every worker in your organization should have the opportunity to participate in your talent review process.

 

Before I wrap up, I want to offer my sincere thanks to all of the customers who participated in the feedback sessions we held in Birmingham as well as those who gave up part of their day to meet with us in our London office.  You are true pioneers in this arena and we wish you much success.  I also want to thank the kind and friendly souls who taught me how to enjoy a proper pint of British ale and for introducing me to gooseberry fool and bangers and mash.  I already miss you more than I can say.  Cheers!

 

Posted in Career Development, hr, performance | Tagged: | 8 Comments »

Taking the number out of the equation: Performance evaluations without performance ratings

Posted by Ken Klaus on November 22, 2008

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As this year’s performance evaluation fades into blissful insignificance and with my next evaluation still six months away, I am convinced (a lie) my manager will forget all about this post long before we meet again to discuss my competency skill gaps and developmental shortcomings.  So here’s a heaping bowl full of healthy honesty – I don’t like performance evaluations.  Not any part of them.  I would not like them by a lake; I would not like them served with cake.  I do not like them, Ken I am.  And without a doubt the worst part of the whole business is that loathsome, nausea inducing, numerological abomination: the performance rating.  Why do we feel the need to apply these over-simplified labels to people, when there is an abundance of evidence that a label cannot possibly convey the whole truth about the person or their achievements?  Can it be this ponderous process of perfidious personification has its roots in the education system where grades and achievement were forever linked together as a reminder of our academic success or failure?  Are we still trapped in the endless cycle of report cards and parent / teacher conferences?  If so, then I think it’s time for our performance management process to do some growing up!  I simply do not want anymore report cards.  I’m done with grades, and ratings, and the whole lot. 

 

Wow, that was really cathartic.  I feel much better now.  Thanks for listening.

 

So now I think a healthy dose of reality is in order, because I do understand and accept that managers, like teachers, must have a way to measure a worker’s performance.  I also understand the importance of comparing one worker’s performance with another’s, especially when the results impact compensation plans and promotions (though I think the whole bell curve model is pile of horse manure – but that’s a topic for another day).  As such, I am willing to accept that assigning a rating value is an easy and (mostly) objective way of evaluating worker performance.  But I can see no need to ever share the rating assessment with the worker (me) – because the rating is not meant for me, it’s just a tool for my manager.  I also think we do far more harm than good when we share the rating with the employee, because most of us cannot separate what we do from who we are.  I think this is especially true in the United States, where our work ethic has litterally become an addiction.  Think I’m wrong?  I’ll pause while the crackberry and iPhone (ab)users finish sending those emails. 

 

Wow, more ranting and a little “holier than thou” name calling.  I feel like a new man.  My apologies to the Blackberry / iPhone community. 

 

So I guess this is the point in the blog where I’m supposed to bring it all home.  Layout the answers to all the hard questions and penetrating issues I’ve raised in the last two paragraphs.  The easy answer of course is for the corporate world to embrace my idea and abandon performance ratings, with immediate effect.  I’ll pause while HR sends out that announcement.

 

Did you get it yet?

 

Okay, so maybe I won’t hold my breath.  But I still think we would all be better off if we dumped our rating systems and found a healthier, more mature way of evaluating and developing our workforce.  In the mean time, while the really smart people figure this stuff out and because you took the time to read this entire post, I’m giving each of you the tippity-top most, highest, super-achiever rating available.  Well done, you have seriously exceeded my expectations.  So feel free to print out your favorite badge from the options below.  Wear it proudly, but remember that what makes you amazing is who you are and not what you do or even how well you do it.  Peace!

 

you_rock__you_rule   winner-win   grades1 

Posted in performance | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

HR Carnival – National Bosses Day Edition

Posted by Ken Klaus on October 16, 2008

The HR Carnival has rolled back into town, hosted by Totally Consumed.  This edition coincides with National Bosses Day, so we’re tipping our hats to the good and bad, funny and sad, the bosses we’ve loved as well as those we’d like to forget.  Kudos to Vivian for making the cut this round with her post, Who’s the Boss Enjoy!

 

Posted in carnival, hr | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Leading the Informal Learning Revolution

Posted by Ken Klaus on September 19, 2008

Last week I attended the CLO Breakfast Seminar in San Francisco, hosted by CLO Media, where we discussed how to define, deliver and measure learning’s value to an organization – essentially how do we justify the time and money we spend providing learning opportunities for our employees.  Now the hippie in me needs to tell you that there is absolutely no reason to ever defend the time and expense of training your workforce.  Learning is an end in itself and I think in this case the ends definitely justify the means.  But the reality is most of us hippies moved out of the commune and into the corporation a long time ago, which means we do have to justify how we spend our company’s training dollars.

 

Truthfully, this used to be a far easier task, because the way learning was consumed (mainly in the classroom) gave instructors the opportunity to immediately evaluate the impact of the course material using surveys and assessments; but over the past several years learning has undergone some significant changes.  The classroom is no longer the center of the learning experience.  Social networking, the new informal delivery methods like blogging, wikis chats, forums, etc., and the introduction of millennials into the workforce have radically reshaped how employees both work and learn.

 

At last weeks CLO seminar, Bob Lee, Learning Solution Strategist for Cisco, stated that today most companies are still investing nearly 70% of their learning budgets in traditional learning methodologies (classroom training, self-paced desktop courses, webinars, etc.) even though nearly 70% of the learning employees consume is now through informal methods, like blogs, wikis, forums, chats, etc.  This means learning executives not only must adapt their learning programs to accommodate these new methodologies, but they must also lead the way in demonstrating the value these new tools bring to the organization.  The question is, how do we measure the value of informal learning?

 

At Oracle we’ve been using social networking and informal learning tools for a good while now, at least within the applications division, and from what I’ve observed there are some easy ways for learning administrators to gauge the value of informal learning brings to their business.  They can start by simply asking their employees – ask them which of these tools they are using, how often they use them, and how effective they are.  They should also ask how often the employee simply consumes information vs. how often they contribute to the knowledge base as authors, responders or reviewers; because I think active participation vs. passive consumption is the best measurement of the value these tools bring to your organization.

 

In addition to employee based valuation, learning executives must also link these informal learning methodologies to the employee’s profile, performance and development plans.  The simple fact is people want credit for the learning they complete and today most learning management systems only record the learning in which an employee formally enrolls.  Very few solutions provide a way to capture the informal learning (the 70% or more) employees consume; not to mention a way of integrating this content with performance goals and development plans.  Oracle’s Enterprise Learning Management application includes a supplemental learning tool that allows administrators to define and configure non-traditional learning methods like blogging, wikis, and forums which employees can then use to create custom learning records.  Afterwards, these entries can be associated with specific learning objectives and performance goals which are in turn reflected on the employee’s profile record.  This is one way to give employees credit for the informal learning they complete, but learning management solution providers must get beyond the traditional enrollment model and begin to rethink the way learning is delivered and consumed.

Finally, learning executives need to make a commitment to informal learning.  Peruse any edition of your favorite talent management publication, attend any talent management conference, or browse any of the talent management blogs on the internet today and what you will find is a vast dialogue on the social networking – informal learning – web 2.0 revolution.  This revolution is not something that’s coming – it’s here already; and learning executives ought to be the architects and champions of these new methodologies.  They should be leading the fight to demonstrate the value and effectiveness of informal learning – not only in reducing costs, but also in supporting and achieving the business objectives of their company; because learning methodologies will come and go, but good leadership will always be in-style.

Posted in leadership, learning, performance, profiles, social network | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

The Paradox of Perfection: Learning to Give Your Best Performance

Posted by Ken Klaus on September 5, 2008

If you’re a foodie, love to travel, or have absolutely no problem grabbing some serious couch time on the weekend, you’ve probably seen Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. In the fifth season, which wrapped this week, we join our host as he eats his way around the world, touring Uruguay, Saudi Arabia, Laos, Spain and my personal favorite Japan – where he goes “in search of the relationship between a perfect piece of sushi and a perfect knife blade, the common ground shared by the martial artistry of kendo and the subtle aesthetics of Japanese flower arranging.” Indeed throughout the episode Chef Bourdain returns again and again to the idea of perfection, asking each of the masters he interviews (sushi, kendo, and ikebana) if they believed in the concept of perfection and whether they felt they had ever achieved it in their field of expertise. Paradoxically, though all of them believed in the idea of perfection, they universally agreed that achieving it was very unlikely and, more importantly not the point. What truly mattered was continually improving your performance – doing a better job each time you took up the task at hand.

 

Recently, I’ve been reading the new book from Mark Sanborn author of The Fred Factor and You Don’t Need a Title to be a Leader. In his latest book, The Encore Effect, Mark offers insights reminiscent of the philosophy shared by the sushi, kendo and ikebana masters of Japan – that giving an exceptional performance has less to do with achieving perfection, and more to do with focus, passion, discipline and the desire to do your job better with each new day. The exceptional performer embraces the idea that there is always room to improve and they apply the same level of focus and discipline equally to each task, no matter how small the job or great the reward. As Mark states, “Remarkable performers focus on the outcome they’re striving to achieve and say no to any activity that would divert their efforts. They know exactly where they are going and they focus on how to get there.”

 

In addition to focus and discipline, outstanding performers also have passion. In an early post I wrote for the TalentedApps blog, Helping Happy Cows Stay Happy, I talked about my desire to find a deeper passion for my work. What I discovered, am still learning, and Mark far more eloquently describes in The Encore Effect is that passion does not derive from our work, rather passion is something we must bring to our work, even if the job we’re doing today is not necessarily the one we want to do; because the passion, discipline and dedication we bring to our job today may be the key that unlocks the door to the unknown career for which we are still searching. Mark says it even better: “By doing your job with all the passion and enthusiasm and creativity and energy you have, you will make yourself increasingly valuable in the eyes of those around you. And as that happens, your opportunities will expand. When people are excited about you and about what you have to offer, the possibilities that will open up may surprise you.”

 

I firmly believe that our vocations and our performance are entirely ours to manage. I also believe that we can provide an exceptional performance, one worthy of an encore, no matter what the job or how often we have been tasked to complete it. We simply need to raise the bar, set more challenging goals, and strive to do a better job than we did the last time; remembering that improvement and not perfection is the goal. Again citing the master, “The fact is that no matter how good you become, you can always get better. And that’s a good thing. It keeps work and life interesting and challenging, because if you have become as good as you would ever get, the balance of your days would be pretty monotonous. Perfection is not a goal but a process – one that never ends.” Thanks Mark!

 

Posted in performance | Tagged: , | 7 Comments »

Coping with change through sophomoric behavior

Posted by Ken Klaus on August 15, 2008

Over the past several weeks my organization has undergone some changes as development plans were refined and priorities reassessed. As a result the project I’ve been managing was delayed in order to redeploy resources to assist other teams with their assignments. Even though we have come to accept and even expect changes like these, when I broke the news to my team they were understandably disappointed.

 

Coincidentally, my organization is also in the midst of our annual performance review cycle and one of the core competencies on which we are evaluated is our adaptability to change. Honestly, just saying this phrase makes me want to stick my finger into the nearest pencil sharpener and give the crank a good turn or two; fortunately my desire to remain employed proved greater than the urge to mangle a digit. So I dutifully completed my evaluation and even managed to avoid giving into cynicism. Let’s just call it an act of sincere, if cowardly, professionalism. Thus, in an effort to redeem this act of cowardice, I offer these more candid, if less refined, thoughts on managing change.

 

Coping with change is best handled like a Chinese fire drill. Stick with me. If you haven’t had the pleasure of participating in this modest prank, there are essentially three steps: 1) stop the car, 2) run around the car (The number of times the occupants must circumnavigate the vehicle is a matter of some debate. Personally, I think each occupant must complete at least three revolutions around the vehicle, lest those who witness the maneuver fail to recognize the beauty and complexity of the drill.), 3) reseat yourself. Implementing these steps in this exact order is critical. Trying to complete the second or even the third step, before the car has come to a complete stop is not recommended.

Coping with change requires us to follow much the same process. First, we have to stop what we’re doing. Often this first step can be sudden and unexpected, much like the aforementioned drill; but it is a necessary prerequisite to the rest of the process. Next we must get out of our seats and move in a new direction, which may include running around in circles a few times until we know for sure where we need to be. The key to this step is to ensure everyone is moving in the same direction, so if in doubt, follow the driver. The final step is finding a new seat. Often this can be the hardest step, as it may require giving up the driver’s seat and occupying the passenger seat or perhaps even the backseat for a while. If this happens, don’t get discouraged. Instead accept your new position as an opportunity to gain a fresh perspective and broaden your experience. On the other hand, if you suddently find yourself in the driver’s seat remember to buckle-up and enjoy the ride. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your fellow passengers for help, because trying to manage everything by yourself is the shortest route to burnout, and perhaps even career limiting accident.

 

As a rule change is good, though it is rarely ever easy. Learning to accept change as an opportunity and not just a cause for disappointment can help to ease the distress and frustration you feel when projects, organizations, and even cars come to a sudden or unexpected stop. What’s more, the experience may also prove useful during your next performance evaluation or job interview when asked to assess your adaptability to change – unless of course there’s a pencil sharpener handy.

 

I’m kidding! Kids, please do not attempt this, or any other car related prank, at home!

Posted in competency, performance | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

HR Carnival 40!

Posted by Ken Klaus on August 7, 2008

The latest HR Carnival is now posted on McArthur’s Rant. Be sure to stop by and enjoy some cotton candy, funnel cakes and corn dogs along with a liberal helping of HR goodness. This week’s topics include:

  • Web 2.0
  • Women in the workplace
  • The role of HR in talent management
  • Workforce planning
  • Creating a business case for HR – a shout out to our own Meg Bear. That’s two in a row!
  • Succession planning
  • Managing conflict, on and off the job
  • Email etiquette and much more!

So don’t delay – this may be a limited time offer.  The less time you have, the more time you should spend reading HR blogs. Enjoy!

Posted in carnival, hr | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Oddities, Hyperbole, & Eccentricity: 8 Things You Probably Didn’t Need to Know About Ken

Posted by Ken Klaus on July 18, 2008

The elder bloggers on TalentedApps, Meg, Mark & Amy (and by elder of course I mean wiser, more experienced and sophisticated!) suggested we younglings might like to participate in the “8 Things About” series begun back when the leaders of our great clan launched TalentedApps. Louise, the best looking and cleverest of the newbies was the first to complete this assignment, so I’ll try not to disappoint.

  1. I’m an army brat. I was born at the army hospital in Heidelberg, Germany and, like Meg, I moved around quite a bit when I was a boy (Meg and I share the bit about moving, rather than the boy bit – she’s a girl, full of sugar and spice and everything nice) – though she beats me hands down on the number of schools she attended!
  2. I have a fraternal twin brother; but please don’t mention this to my mother who swears we’re identical. He of the olive complexion, straight black hair, and athletic build and me, the pudgy, pasty, bookworm. I wonder if he’s still angry with me for calling him “gypsy boy” when we were growing up?
  3. I really, really dislike cold weather. After finishing graduate school in Boston I moved to California and vowed to never again live in a city where the local weather person used words like snow, sleet, freezing rain, or frostbite. Never. Ever. Again.
  4. I’m mostly a vegetarian. It started back in 1992, when I went home to Germany to visit my family. (Did I mention my father met my mother while he was stationed in Germany and that my mother has nine brothers and sisters and I have a gazillion cousins?). Anyway, after spending five weeks eating (and loving) bratwurst, knackwurst, liverwurst, Braunschweiger, and sauerkraut, I decided to make a few changes. Fifteen years later and I’ve given up most meat products, though I’m still eating fish, mostly because of item #3 – moving to California, where I was introduced to Sushi – which is like crack, only good for you!
  5. I was an extra in the movie Great Balls of Fire. We spent all day shooting a scene that took up less than five minutes in the actual movie; but dressing up in penny loafers, Levi’s with the cuffs rolled-up, an argyle sweater vest and then watching Dennis Quaid light that piano on fire was totally worth it!
  6. I bought my VW Jetta in 2003 and it still has less than 12,000 miles. I’m fortunate to live about four miles from work; but the truth is I hate driving. It could be that all the years I lived and drove in Los Angeles and here in the Bay Area have tainted my feelings on this subject; but I start to feel really agitated whenever I hear certain phrases, like: the 405, the 101, the 238 interchange, the San Mateo Bridge, police action or Friday lite.
  7. I spend way too much time and money on video games, which has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I’m single. Absolutely none! My favorite games include Myst, Half Life, Oblivion and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. BTW: Linking these sites to my blog is really about attribution, as any good writer would do, and not about driving up our hit rate!
  8. My current favorite guilty pleasures include Punk Rock HR and Coffee Heath Bar Crunch. Nothing blows the gray clouds away faster than a great blog and your favorite pint of ice cream! Thanks Laurie, Ben and Jerry!

Well now you’ve gone and wasted at least ten minutes of your day, when you could have been doing something truly engaging and productive. So don’t be like me; learn from your mistakes and make a commitment not to spend any more of your valuable work time reading blogs! =) Happy Friday!


 

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