How High are her Heels and other HR Nightmares

HR nightmareWith  gulp, over 25 years of management experience I think I’ve seen just about everything.  This  incident, which occurred in an office setting of a manufacturing plant, is one of my fave stories.

Against all objections, I hired a woman from the manufacturing floor into a customer care position in an office environment. She was so proud to have made that leap, and dressed like a movie star every day.  Full makeup, hair done up, blouses, skirts and heels.

So what’s the problem?  First, she had a drop dead gorgeous body that men could not tear their eyes away from.  Her clothing tended to be tight, and her heels high.

I get the dreaded call from Human Resources:  “Can you please speak with (Diane)?  When she walks down into manufacturing everyone stops to stare at her and it’s affecting production.” “Oh,” I say, “the men ogle her and somehow it’s HER fault?” I got the infamous HR sigh in return, asking if I’d seen her today.  “Yes,” I said, “she’s worn that outfit before.”

Getting nowhere, the HR rep tried a different approach.  He asked if I knew the dress code, particularly as it applied to high heels.  Why yes, I did.  I asked Diane to come into my office, explained there were safety concerns about her heels, and together we measured her heel height which, as you might guess, fell within the standard.

Told the HR rep that her heels fell within guidelines, and he was stumped.  He felt that her dress simply wasn’t appropriate even though it met all published guidelines, rules & standards.

I asked a thought-provoking question, “If I wore the same outfit that Diane is wearing, with the same heels, would that be a problem?”  “No,” he said, “it wouldn’t look the same on you.”

In addition to feeling somewhat disrespected while acknowledge that I’m not nearly as shapely, i retorted, “Well, it isn’t her clothes then, is it?  It’s her body you object to.”

Case closed.

It’s Not Magic – Being a Great Leader

leaderThere’s so much talk about leadership, research, books, classes, maybe even degree specializations in university.  The truth is, it’s not magic.

Leaders come in all shapes and sizes, all colors and races, all socioeconomic classes.  They aren’t defined by their appearance or station in life, but rather by their actions.  They may be ‘official leaders’ who are voted in or who take the spot via political coup, or ‘unofficial’ leaders who are simply recognized by others as having something new and interesting to say.

Marks of a great leader (to me):

  • Speaks the truth.  No matter how uncomfortable that truth is, manages to speak it without denigrating, hurting or offending others.
  • Offers constructive feedback in private.  Publicly supports whoever they consider their team, company or group.  Offers any constructive feedback to the group or an individual in private.
  • Energizes. Leaders inspire by projecting energy. I’ll not argue that the energy is always positive, but that’s the goal here.  They are not lazy, they are enthusiastically and unequivocally passionate.
  • Humble.  Many leaders have significant doubts and do not suffer from arrogance.  That’s what makes them open to listening and hearing others’ ideas.
  • Inclusive.  Not tolerant, but rather accepting of every other person and event with the inherent knowledge that everyone is doing the best they can in that particular moment.

SOEHT; not exactly the acronym of a marketing professional but hey, this isn’t about marketing is it?

What other traits or attributes would you add?

Those Uncomfortable Times When…..

uncomfortableWe all face them; uncomfortable situations.  Whether at work, home, shopping for groceries or clothes we come upon someone or something unfamiliar and we freeze.  We might stare, immediately drop or avert our eyes, or try to act like we’re cool by nodding our heads or smiling.

I’ve experienced the uncomfortable-ness when out with my mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease.  At first, three years ago, no one noticed us at all.  We we just people out to lunch or out shopping.  As her disease progressed, it became more visibly apparent that ‘something was wrong’ with her; she didn’t exactly look like everyone else.  Her friends stopped visiting, even most of her relatives stopped visiting.

Continue reading

Life Lessons from Zentangle

zentangle imaginationDrawing zentangles may at first seem a bit intimidating, but it’s nothing other than ‘pumping up the volume’ on your sketches.  To learn more, see or see my fave getting started book.

On my drawing journey, I’ve had time to think about how the evolution of my drawing relates to my life….both my homelife and worklife. I hope these ponderings will resonate with you:

  1. It’s fearsome to face a blank page.  That first step to beginning is often the most difficult to take.  Putting ink to paper, scheduling the first meeting of a project, all of the ‘firsts’ in our lives must be overcome if we are to progress.
  2. We all need a little help from our friends.  In my case, those include resources like websites or books, but also the trusted opinions of those who are (sometimes painfully) honest.  None of us can do it alone.
  3. Less is more.  In zentangling and in life, it helps to leave white spaces.  Those are times when you are unscheduled, unplugged and quiet.
  4. To each his own.  Art is very subjective, but so is the work that we do.  One boss may love every single thing that you say, write or present while another may have no such appreciation.  We need to learn to accept that you can’t please everyone.
  5. The journey is worth far more than the destination.  Regardless of the outcome of your work, HOW you got there really is important.  Did you treat everyone fairly and with respect? Did you spread love?  Did you stand up for the ignored or maligned?

You might not think that drawing would evoke this thinking, but there is learning available in everything we do.  You just have to look for it.

My Heart is Bursting with Joy: Jaxon Strong

Jaxon StrongYou may have seen the story of little Jaxon “Strong,” but if not it’s certainly worth a read at

When I first read the story last evening, and looked into his beautiful eyes, my heart just busted open realizing how Jaxon’s parents have dealt with what others might consider devastating news.

Woke up this morning with poem/song lyrics in my head and just had to share.  Can’t sing it for you, but here goes:

Jaxon Strong

Your first years has passed and you looked up at me
No matter where we look, you’re all that we can see
You weren’t supposed to be here, at least we were told
But holding you we’ve watched you grow to one year old.

You may not look like others but you are our Jaxon Strong
As long as you are with us will keep holdin’ on
To our precious little baby who fights so hard to stay
Nestled in our arms with each passing day.

Each day that you’re with us brings us such pride and joy
You are just our beautiful, blue eyed little boy
Our love knows no bounds and we treasure each day
Your little heart shines and brightens our day.

So keep on fightin’ and please stay with us long
That’s why we call you, the Jaxon strong
You’ve shown us your courage, your strength and your love
Guided by God who looks down from above

You’ve proven so much that we can’t understand
You have reached milestones that were not planned
So keep up the fight and stay with us for more
Our love just expands from our every pore.

One Way to Address Employee’s Undesired Behavior

social stylesNow that you’re reading, let’s be real, sometimes employee behavior is just way out of line.  Some might call it bad.  We all have our moments, but there are always those employees who will keep pushing, leaving, misbehaving, arriving late, and wreaking havoc with other undesired behaviors.

Many years ago, I worked at a manufacturing company as a Manager of Shipping.  For those of you who know me, you might be asking why?  Long story for another time.

I had many employees who were responsible for packing international shipments of product.  These were high end products, in very large quantities that required them to crate.  These orders were often a problem since items were sometimes pilfered at their ports of arrival so these employees needed to be highly accurate and knowledgeable.

Jacob, not his real name, loved to draw cartoons.

Continue reading

It’s Not What You Teach, But How You Teach

teach light bulbMy life is filled with anecdotes, and if you haven’t noticed I tend to make my point with stories.  It’s natural to me, even during a conversation, to slip in a short (and hopefully not boorish) story to illustrate a point.

I’ve been thinking about teaching.Not necessarily the ‘going back to school’ kind but the teaching that we encounter throughout our lives.  Whether learning from a paid teacher, friend, partner, business associate, corporate trainer or just every day experience, I’ve found that the method of teaching is far more important that the topic itself.

In keeping with that, here are some of the things anyone teaching should NOT do (and all of these have happened to me):

Point 1:  Don’t pull people’s legs out from under them.

  • When learning to swim as a child, I reached the minnow level.  That meant that I could swim two laps, tread water for 60 seconds and generally keep myself from drowning in the deep end.  The next level was ‘shark.’

Continue reading

Business Reasons for Gamification

teach by being

Companies sometimes struggle with gamification since it’s often a ‘new and shiny toy’ in the marketing toolbox.  Once even hinted at being available, everyone wants it….the race car game, the puzzle, the ‘get a badge for visiting three consecutive booths at a convention.’

The last is my favorite. Not.

What is accomplished by visiting three booths at a convention consecutively?  Do we have any idea if the visitors stayed, engaged, spent enough time to get whatever message we’re sending?  Or did they have an almost pathological need to achieve that elusive badge?

Gamification, like every initiative or project, has some basic business components that are often overlooked in the rush to provide an awesome experience.  Let’s face it, companies love to provide awesome experiences but we must learn to PLAN for business value.

Some ideas:

Continue reading