Sunday, November 4, 2012

We Fall But We Rise Again

During the last decade, we’ve had our share of natural disasters and an economy that spiraled downward so quickly that its effect was felt around the world.  On November 6, Americans will vote on who will lead this country in the next four years.  A record number of campaign contributions for both candidates have been collected.  I’m talking, over one billion dollars total.  This includes the unleashing of super PACs, in which there are no limits to contributions.  Imagine what one billion dollars spent on campaigns could have done for so many people. Not only in the United States but in remote parts of the world were basic necessities like food and water are scarce.     

As we try to sort through all the rhetoric that we hear about each candidate, we seem to forget the uncertainty of tomorrow no matter which candidate we may choose. Some people believe that the country is going in the wrong direction; others believe that the country is recovering and moving in the right direction.  The answer of right or wrong would depend on whom you ask. 

What I’ve learned over the years is the ability to view things from others perspective, even if I disagree.  Understanding why people feel about certain subjects creates a sense of rationale that enables you to understand and, accept opinions other than your own.  I can understand all the different views on controversial subjects like socialism, repealing health care reform, abortion and gay marriages.  Our opinions and how we feel about life in general and all the nuisances that come with it are somewhat influenced by our personal experiences and interactions, our inner circle, customs, norms and traditions. It plays a part in how we view the world and can influence our decisions. 

Some people can feel so strongly about their beliefs that it creates tension with those that opinions differ.  The question is, when does sharing one’s belief crosses the line to becoming offensive to others?  Is it appropriate to share controversial opinions in a work place setting? Could it create divisiveness and unrest within the workplace if people openly shared their personal opinions on controversial subjects? The country is somewhat divided on many of these issues.  I’ve learned to never force my opinions on others, and don’t expect others to share my opinions as well. 

I can honestly say that America is resilient.  We have been down before.  Each time we have fallen, this nation has risen and become better and stronger.  Our nation is strong and our strength comes from our ability to weather the storms.  This nation was not built from bricks and mortar, but it was built on ideas and ideology. It was built on the premise that people can achieve great things when they are given the opportunity to achieve them.  It is the people that make up this great nation and our resilience comes from within ourselves and our faith that this nation will triumph over all that we have faced in the past and what we may face in the future.  It is this notion that keeps us strong.  I have no doubt that the greatest country in the free world will thrive as before and continue to show our strength as a beacon to the world. We have fallen, but we are not down. We will rise again, as we have before. No matter how divided we become on issues, we become united when we are faced with an attack on our basic principles.

~ Joseph Conrod Sr. SPHR

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A thin line between Persistence and Irritation…

Have you already met your career goals or continuing your journey of striving to achieve them? Was it carefully and strategically planned or sort of a hit or miss situation?

Have you ever suddenly felt passionate about something that seemed to appear from nowhere.  It sort of took you by surprise and the thought of pursuing it made you somewhat afraid.  You felt strongly about the ideal initially, but didn’t consider the cost.  Even considering the cost, you were willing to make certain concessions and sacrifices.  The thought of being successful was your main goal. 

If you are one of the few that happen to win the lottery or gain sudden wealth, success can come instantly.  It can come so suddenly that most people are not prepared for the instant change.  For the majority of us, success doesn’t come overnight.  It normally comes with goals, planning, hard work and perseverance.  These are reportedly the ingredients for success.  We’ve all been taught that persistence is a good thing, right.  Well, not necessarily.  My politically correct answer is; it depends.

Have we ever been taught the right mixture and when and if to continue to be persistent or when to concede?  How much pressure to apply and when is too much?  At what point does persistence become counterproductive?  It only takes one yes.  But, do we know when to change angles, take your ideals elsewhere or dismantle altogether?  The question is; how do we really know when we’ve crossed the line from being persistent to becoming irritating?  Once the line is crossed into irritation, perception becomes reality.  Just so you know; that’s not a good thing. 

Pursuing goals are highly encouraged and requires confidence in your ideals and some level of persistence in the possibilities.  Whether your chances are good or slim to none, it may still require some risks and sacrifices.  The timing may not always be right and the situation may not always be optimum.  In other words, don’t expect the red carpet to be laid out on every pursuit.  

Rejection happens.  It can happen to all of us.  If you haven’t experienced it, you will.  It does not really denote failure but simply a process toward success.  Let’s face it, persistence can be unpredictable.  It can pay off sometimes and other times it may not.  When it does happen, do we know when and if to continue to pursue, or simply walk away?  

The answer could be situational or just maybe; it is a question that is better off unanswered and left up to chance.

Joseph Conrod Sr. SPHR 

Friday, August 31, 2012

Passing the Torch

Now that the Olympic events are over, it’s hard for me to find suitable programming to watch. Like many of us, I was glued to the television watching the competition and anticipating the results. My favorite events include track and field, swimming, and gymnastics. I also enjoy the opening ceremony of the Olympic events as the torchbearer lights the cauldron in the stadium, making it the official start of the games.

The passing of the torch is exciting and contains several different symbolic gestures that relates to many things outside of the Olympics. It reminds me of our own humanness to try to hold on to things that don't really belong to us and not knowing when to pass it on. The passing of the torch can happen in a number of ways. It can happen because we lost our passion to continue, we moved on to something new or different, or we simply became ineffective.

When is the right time to pass the torch? If you happen to work in a leadership capacity, do you know when it’s your time to pass the torch when you are no longer effective, or do you wait for others to relay this message? When the message is relayed, do you embrace it and accept it gracefully or do you reject the ideal and look for ways to hang on? When you received the message, is it really a surprise or did you foresee this already but failed to respond.

Change is constant. Every day new ideals are aspired and developed. Technology is enhanced and continues to evolve, and processes are redesigned and streamlined. Did we connect or align with the changes or did we remain steadfast to our traditional values and resisted? If you choose not to evolve and adapt to your surroundings, you may find yourself in a similar situation.

Some may consider the passing of the torch a replacement or substitution. Others may consider it, simply a change in direction? As with many things, it is not the action itself but merely how we react to change. Acceptance moves us forward, whereas resistance keeps us stagnant. It is how we cope, manage and handle stressful situations that dictate the length of the recovery process. A door opens when one closes and every ending has a new beginning.

If I begin to feel that I am no longer effective, I will gracefully and willingly pass the torch. This is my promise and it is in writing. If I happen to forget my promise years from now, please retain a copy of this blog for my recollection.

Joseph Conrod Sr. SPHR

Friday, July 27, 2012

What's Your Passion?

What are you passionate about?  This question was purposed to me a few weeks ago.  At that particular time, it was hard for me to put into words or articulate the answer, even though I really knew my passion.  As a matter of fact, I’ve often purposed this question to others in the past.  When the question boomeranged back, I was caught off guard.  I had not thought about it in many years.  My passion was the reason that I chose my current profession.  It makes me who I am as an individual and encompasses all the things that I stand for. 

From as early as I can remember, I’ve always known that I would become a public servant in some sense, no matter what career choice I decided.  I would chose this route whether it was connected to my work or totally separate.  It was and still is my passion.  Even though I’ve seriously considered it in the past, I’m not referring to the traditional definition of public servant, such as working in the public sector, government agency, elected or appointed position.  My emphasis is based on a nontraditional definition.  I have fully embraced the obligation and responsibility to advocate and be the voice for all people, regardless of differences, economic or social status.  This includes being a platform and venue for those underrepresented, the voice of the voiceless and advocating for those not able to advocate for themselves.  I believe that there are certain unalienable rights that are afforded to all people, but the ideal expands well beyond that notion.  I have embraced the ideology on simple and basic human relation principles. 
  • Accepting differences – people are not the same and one group is not better than the other, just different.
  • Recognizing similarities – people are similar in many ways
  • Respecting - and valuing all people for their contributions regardless of differences, social or economic status
  • Sensitivity – being sensitive to differences.  Recognizing that some things could be considered offensive to others
  • Inclusion – representing all people Vs targeted groups or individuals
  • Fair and just treatment – a bipartisan process whereas all parties have a voice and all sides have been considered
  • Empathy – Being able to empathize and see things from another point of view
  • Rationale – Being able to apply logical reasons and principles to decisions

The world in which we live in is constantly changing.  The population is shifting and becoming more diverse than ever before.  We can no longer think and behave in isolation.  The world is truly global and encompasses more than our visual surroundings.  We have to embrace globalization in every aspect.  Globalization brings more diversity, different views on life, religion, culture, customs, norms, and many other differences.  I personally view human relations in a hierarchical order:

1) Ethical and moral responsibility– Highest level, far exceeding anything else
2) Mission and Goals – Guiding direction for the organization
3) Policies and procedures – Consistent with the mission/goals and helps us to achieve them  
4) Legal/legislative – required by law, legislation, regulatory, etc.

If you are wondering why legal/legislative is at the bottom on the order; it is because it only represents the minimum requirement.  We can do so much more.  The bottom line is that everyone wants to feel valued.  That’s the commonality in all of us.  My passion is quite simple.  It revolves around spiriting positive relations to all people and helping individuals reach their full potential.  I’ve never considered it a job, but a responsibility.  It is the reason that I remain vigilant and committed in my efforts. 

I will end this blog with the same question that I started; what are you passionate about?  I’d love to hear your story.

Joseph Conrod Sr. SPHR  

Monday, July 2, 2012

Your "A" Game

I recently watched the NBA basketball finals.  Even though only one team will triumph as the winner, the fans expect nothing less than each member of the team to bring their "A" Game to each and every game.  Although, I love all sports in general, high-energy sports seem to ignite my interest.  It requires a high level of physical and mental ability.  In order to compete in high-energy sports, one would need an extreme level of energy, passion and a level of commitment beyond words.  It requires practice and a training regiment far beyond what normal spectators can visually comprehend.  Most sports are about teamwork and not only to coexist but also to sync together to achieve one common purpose.  

While watching the playoffs, I had an epiphany.  What if every employee in your organization brought his or her "A" Game to work every day?  Can you imagine the high level of productivity and extreme outcomes that could be achieved?  Outcomes could be measured at multiple standard deviations beyond the norm, or the average day on steroids!  What if “exceptional” becomes the new norm and each of us is expected to perform at that level.  If your job is performing life saving procedures, sterilizing equipment, mixing medicine, performing laboratory tests, caring for patients, providing information technology, providing nutrition to patients, or making sure that the facility is clean and orderly; every job is important and contributes to the mission of the organization.  Each of our roles sync and contributes to a team environment with one common purpose.  

This reminds me of just a few exceptional people who bring their "A" Game to work each and every day and go well beyond what is expected.  It reminds me of the physical therapist that postponed her honeymoon to serve a patient, the registered nurse that came in on her day off to see her patient leave the hospital after a lengthy stay, the registrar that gave encouraging words to a customer throughout her child's visit, the environmental service worker that went through the trash dumpster to help find a customer's lost wallet, and the information technology (IT) worker that performed a life saving medical procedure in a parking lot at an out patient care center.  All are above and beyond expectations.  Their acts are truly exceptional!

In health care miracles continue to happen, lives are enriched, dire odds are turned upside down, negatives are changed to positives, wounds are healed, emotions overflow, tears of pain, sadness and joy are shed, love is expressed, prayers are answered, and lives are spared.  Each new day bring challenges and opportunities.  Each day affords us another opportunity to excel to greater heights…

~ Joseph Conrod Sr. SPHR   

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother’s Day – The Origin and Purpose

On Sunday, May 13, 2012, most people in the U.S. celebrated Mother's Day.  Although many other countries celebrate Mother's Day with different traditions, Anna Marie Jarvis originally created the core tradition in 1868.  The original purpose of Mother’s Day was about reuniting families that were divided during the Civil War.  Anna later campaigned to have Mother’s Day a U.S. national and international holiday.  In 1914, the U.S. Congress passed a law designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. 

Anna delivered 500 white carnations on the first celebration of Mother’s Day.  It soon became the official flower of Mother’s Day.  With the shortage of white carnations and in part to help boost sales of other flowers, most florists began to promote wearing a red carnation if your mother was still living and a white carnation if your mother had passed away.   Later the holiday had become so commercialized that Anna was an opponent of the commercialization.  She spend her last days fighting what she thought was an abuse of the holiday.  She was even arrested for disturbing the peace while protesting against the commercialization of Mother’s Day.

Even though Mother’s Day has become commercialized, I highly doubt that it has lost its true meaning.  It is still a day that unites families and mothers are given some appreciation of what they contribute to the family.  Single mothers contribute so much more and their struggles are deeper.  They have to assume other roles in additional to being mom.  Mothers who work at home, never seem to get time off.  Their work is continuous.  Married mothers with absent fathers struggle as well.  I mean those fathers who are present in the household and contribute very little. 
Moms are also a significant part of the working population.  Women account for over eighty percent of the workforce with my current employer. The company could not exist without them.  Their value to the organization is notable.  Mothers also play an important role in the family unit.  They provide the strength, nurturing, caring, cohesiveness and commitment well beyond words.  Child bearing years can be tough for moms.  They have to deal with day care issues and all the things that go with raising young children.   Without a strong family support system, it can have devastating effects on their employment.  When children are sick, the mom automatically assumes the role of comforter and healer.  Moms assume this role for the adult male in the household as well. 

It takes a special person to put everyone else first, and sacrifice themselves for others.  This is what a mom does constantly, consistently and without any regression.  It’s a lifetime commitment that goes without saying.  Is it really a “women’s world,” and men just happen to live in it?   

Whether your carnation is red or white, we honor our moms in life and death. I applaud all the moms in the world from every corner of the globe.  You are unique and intriguing.  Your purpose of being is the heart and cornerstone of life. 

I not only applaud you, but if you could see me at this moment, I’m giving you a standing ovation!     

~ Joseph Conrod Sr. SPHR

Friday, April 13, 2012

Moving Past the Fear

I attended a leadership symposium a few days ago.  The guest speaker, Dr. Nick Hall talked about many things during his presentation.  One of the things he spoke about struck a chord in me.  He spoke about the fear of failure and success.  In one of my previous blogs, I talked about the ‘F Word,” (failure).  During my graduate studies, I researched, read books and looked toward subject matter experts on this particular topic.  Saying this, I have never really thought about fearing success prior to Dr. Hall’s presentation.  It was thought provoking.  He spoke of fear as the emotion of the future and due to the inability to predict the future; it can have an effect on your ability to advance.  This was powerful for me, because I have never really feared a possibility of failure, so I didn’t connect with failure personally.  This is not because of an inflated ego, but because of my own unique definition of failure.  I have always associated failure as only a step toward success.   

I discovered an interesting fact that I have been reserved at times, as I did have some fear of being successful and the unknowns that came with success.  How many of you thought about the fact that if you got that promotion, it included additional responsibilities, additional hours away from family, added stress, and an increase workload?  How many of you had to consider the balance between promotion and sacrifice?  Whether we are willing to admit publicly, there is a high probability that most of us have contemplated this in private.  

Dr. Hall also talked about personality traits and generational differences and how we view life, work, family, etc.  With generational differences and more women in the workplace, balancing work and life is becoming extremely important.  Past sacrifices, such as children being postponed to pursue careers, extended work hours, missing important family events, and multiple relocations to other areas around the U.S. and foreign countries are less attractive to the next generation.

Do we indulge so much into our work life that it becomes interconnected with our personal life?  Is the interconnection so great that there is little distinction between the two?  Is that good or bad?

My common HR answer is, it depends.  I love what I do and chose this profession because it has the ability to influence the entire organization and its most valuable resource; it’s employees.  I also have a passion to lead, coach and mentor others to reach their full potential.  My work life and personal life is highly interconnected, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Over the years, my definition of success has changed from earlier in my career.  The focus is less about me but what impact I can have on others.  Personal recognition and achievement has shifted to inspiring others to excel.

I measure my own success by how many others that I can help reach the next level that they aspire to achieve.  It’s ironic that my most significant leadership experience goes back to my military service where it was instilled in our training that mission first, people always.  People can only be lead, not managed.  When it comes to managing, it is strictly reserved for resources.  This means that you can only manage resources.  I’ve learned and transitioned from tactical leadership to strategic leadership. 

The principles are simple.  If you take care of your employees, your employees will take care of you.  When you inspire them, they go above and beyond expectations.  Whether it is a fear of failure or success, fear is a natural emotion.  So much can be achieved when we move past the fear and challenge ourselves and inspire others as well. 
After all, inspiring others was the purpose I created my blog.

~ Joseph Conrod Sr. SPHR

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Career of Passion

I recently attended an employee recognition event at my employer.  The Chief Nursing Officer spoke at this event and I could feel the passion in her voice as she thanked employees for their contribution in caring for our young patients.  The passion she revealed and the passion of all the caregivers that I have came to know over the years have resonated with me. 

I am not a nurse or clinician and not involved in direct patient care.  When I began my career in human resources, there were many career fields available.  Human resource professionals are needed in every industry, so the options were abundant.  I can say that I am truly fortunate to have worked in health care and believe that it has given me a tremendous advantage.  I have been involved in some of the most complicated employee relation cases that most industries never encounter.  This includes the high complexity involved in sentinel events.  I have also experienced passion in a way that’s very difficult to describe.  There is no other field that I am aware of, that impacts people in such a significant way.  Miracles happen everyday in our facility and other health care facilities across the nation.   Working with children brings even more synergy and a greater degree of passion. 

The passion that nurses, aides, physicians and other clinicians exhibit transcends within the entire organization.  It’s so strong, that you can feel the emotion.  They connect with every patient, every time, and the tears they shed for joy and sometimes sadness are powerful.  It reveals their true passion and commitment.  Their primary role is healing, enhancing and saving lives.  The role goes far beyond the physical aspects of healing.  It includes the social, emotional and psychological aspects as well.  It’s a responsibility that they do not take likely and often take home with them every night.  It’s not just a job for them, but a commitment. 

Working in this capacity is indeed hard work, the hours are long, and it requires great skills and coordination.  All of this is achieved through extensive training.  It is also one of the most rewarding careers I’ve ever known.  Even though I chose a different path, I tip my hat to all who are directly involved in saving lives.  I give my Kudos to our employees and all of the direct caregivers across the nation.   You rock! 
~ Joseph Conrod Sr. SPHR 

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