As I sat at my desk processing new hire paperwork, I was wondering if I was dreaming. Did I really hear a cat on the second floor of the suburban building my office was located in? Thinking I must be hearing things I continued to work on my paperwork. What I should have known is in the world of Human Resources, there is no typical day and that day was no exception.
Eight years earlier, on a hot and muggy day in Bowling Green, Ohio, I was sitting on the floor with a college catalog. I was struggling to figure out what career I would pursue after I graduated with my undergraduate degree. There were so many options available and it was easier for me to create a list of what I did NOT want to do, then create a list of careers I would enjoy. As my roommates were teasing me for being uncharacteristically indecisive, I found an advertisement for a Human Resources internship program at Six Flags. The brochure listed the internship’s job duties and for the first time I was excited about a specific career. I eagerly filled out an application and rushed to the local post office to mail my application. The bad news is I was not selected for that internship and the good news, no great news, is I had finally found a career path!
After graduation I moved home and worked as a temp in the HR department for a large hospital system. They had 50 young, eager, new college grads sitting in desks with blinders (the adult equivalent of standing 2 folders on your elementary school desk so you couldn’t see your neighbor’s work!) We spent half of our days photocopying employee files and the other half data entering those same files into the new Human Resource Information System (HRIS). If we performed particularly well on those tedious tasks we were promoted and would conduct reference checks and type new hire letters on a relatively new program called Microsoft Word. I learned many things at my first HR job including how to handle the press when a famous baseball player’s girlfriend worked in the same office and that I was allergic to the toner used in copy machines – it made my eyes swell shut!
I’ve had many other adventures in my HR career. Thankfully most of them have been fun and interesting. Human Resources is an exciting field that requires a diverse set of skills. To be successful you will need soft-skills like the ability to work on a team with a diverse group of people and the ability to work in a fast paced environment while applying knowledge to new situations.
Since HR professionals work in most career fields it is essential to learn about your specific employer’s business and understand your role in their processes. While working for an insurance company I completed basic insurance courses so I could understand the business model I was supporting. This helped to make me an effective interviewer because I could identify candidates that had the skill-sets we needed for our open positions.
One year I was responsible for recruiting over 300 new employees to staff a new location. I interviewed local candidates to fill entry-level positions while working with a national search team that enticed a highly regarded medical professional to move from the sunny land of California to cold and snowy Cleveland. The team worked with this professional to secure a job for her spouse and help ease her fears of moving 2 elementary age children across country to a city they were unfamiliar with while leaving friends and family behind. I held days-old babies as the beaming new parents filled out paperwork to add their bundle of joy to their insurance plans. One of my favorites was celebrating the professional accomplishments of my coworkers– any excuse for a break and a yummy homemade snack!
You are probably wondering what happened with the meowing I heard…
A few minutes later someone stopped in my office and asked if Mary had told me she was keeping kittens in the mail room. I am sure the perplexed look on my face quickly told my coworker her answer. I wandered over to the mailroom and found a cardboard box and lifted the lid to find 6 adorable kittens. When Mary came back, she explained Sarah was taking these kittens home that afternoon to be adopted by several different families. Since Mary and Sarah lived an hour apart they decided Mary would bring the kittens to work, keep them quiet in the mail room during the day and Sarah would take them home after work. There was not a specific policy in the employee handbook to guide me on what to do. After taking a few minutes to gather my thoughts (and play with the kittens) I spoke with Mary and Sarah. I explained I understood they had the best intentions and unfortunately it would not be appropriate to keep the kittens in the box all day in a mail room. Instead, I gave Sarah the afternoon off so she could take the kittens to their new homes. Mary and Sarah were both apologetic and Sarah worked through her lunches the rest of the week to make up the time she missed. At the end of the day, the kittens had a new home, Mary and Sarah felt they were treated fairly and they continued to be exemplary employees for our company.
As for me – I went back to my office to process more paperwork ready to handle whatever new adventure would come my way!
Completing Bryant & Stratton College’s Human Resource Specialist program is one step along the life-long learning journey in the exciting field of Human Resources.
About the Author:
Tracy Sedor is in her 10th year as an Instructor for Bryant & Stratton College. She started on campus and has been online for 7 years. Ms. Sedor earned her Master’s degree in Labor Relations and Human Resources from Cleveland State University. Her extensive background in Human Resources as a practitioner and in management helps her to connect with students interested in the HR field by challenging them with real-life scenarios.
The longer you work, sooner or later it’s going to happen to you: the major mess-up. You did something that was the result of perhaps not quite paying attention, missing a major detail, skipping a step in a work process to beat a deadline, or figuring that it wouldn’t really make that much difference if you just relied on someone else’s information rather than verifying it for yourself. The result: a classic screw up, the kind that’s going to be embarrassing at best, send your boss through the roof at worst.
It’s happened to all of us who’ve spent any time in the workplace, and after being read the riot act several times, you realize that the best way – in fact, the only way – to handle this type of career crisis is head-on. As soon as you realize you’ve made a mistake that may have an impact on the company, you want to pull together the following information, and be prepared to lay it out for your boss:
Your goals in mastering your “I screwed up” statement are to make it clear to your boss that you know you messed up, and you intend to take responsibility for it (thus building your boss’s confidence in your honesty and reliability). Also, you want to make sure that you’re the one delivering this information rather than the woman three cubicles down who’s got it in for you.
So start rehearsing your speech now: “Boss, do you have a moment? I need to tell you about a situation that came up and how I’d like to handle it if this meets with your approval….”
About the Author
Acclaimed Career Coach, Kim Dority is a frequent presenter for Bryant & Stratton College Online. Dority is an information specialist, consultant, career coach, published author and adjunct professor at the University of Denver in Colorado. She has written extensively on career development for students and new graduates and is a frequent presenter, lecturer and panelist on career-related topics. Kim’s areas of expertise include professional branding, career transitions and career sustainability.
“Negative workplaces often frustrate managers, disengage staffers and generally demoralize the entire group, causing an uncomfortable and low-performance work environment,” said Scott Traylor, Associate Campus Director for Online Education at Bryant & Stratton College.
Acclaimed career coach Kim Dority discussed in depth, multiple strategies to help managers and staff work together to improve workplace morale with acclaimed career coach Kim Dority. Kim is a frequent presenter for Bryant & Stratton College Online and has been writing about and teaching courses on career training for more than a decade.
Registrants who attended this free event learned more about the best practices on how to improve the workplace, including assuming personal responsibility, engaging with fellow colleagues and creating strategic plans on both the individual and team level.
This webinar will enable attendees to:
Kim’s Resources from the webinar for High-Performance Contributors, Managers, and Workplaces:
Buckingham, Marcus and Donald O. Clifton. Now Discover Your Strengths and Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance.
Dorsey, Jason R. Y-Size Your Business: How Gen Y Employees Can Save You Money and Grow Your Business.
Goleman, Daniel. Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More Than IQ and Working with Emotional Intelligence.
Lencioni, Patrick. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team.
Pink, Daniel H. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.
Allen, David. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.
Leeds, Regina. One Year to an Organized Work Life: From Your Desk to Your Deadlines, the Week-by-Week Guide to Eliminating Office Stress for Good. (The “Zen” organizer)
Levit, Alexandra and Julie Jansen. They Don’t Teach Corporate in College: A Twenty-Something’s Guide to the Business World.
Klauser, Henriette Anne. Write It Down, Make It Happen: Knowing What You Want and Getting It.
Tracy, Brian. Goals! How to Get Everything You Want – Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible.
For more recorded webinars or to register for our next event click here!