Archive for April, 2012
My friend Mark Stelzner, an HR consultant, travels a lot for his job. Because he spends so much time in airports, he often posts hilarious – and kind of sad – stories on Facebook about people and their airport behavior. Like this one:
But one thing I have never seen Mark post about is similar strange and/or obnoxious behavior from TSA agents. Others, like my frequent flyer husband, confirm that while TSA agents may not always be chatty and effervescent, they are generally respectful, well-behaved, and take a lot of crap from members of the flying public who are the real behavioral problems.
So why does the TSA get such a bad rap? When I posted about having a great experience with TSA in Detroit recently, at least one Facebook friend thought I was joking. Others were skeptical. Here’s what happened:
I tried to return to Florida from Detroit with one carry-on bag and one small under-the-seat item, just like the rules say. When my bags went through x-ray, a TSA agent grabbed my carry-on and waited for me to get through the scanner to where he was standing at the end of the conveyor.
“You have 3 jars in your bag. What’s in them?” was his question.
I smiled and said, “Jelly. Preserves.” I said it with a smile because I was absolutely confident that you could bring food through security. After all, my meat processor husband never checks his bag, which often contains odd food items like corned beef, pastrami, or salami. Once he brought 5 pounds of bacon to me in Florida in his carry-on.
But Kevin, the TSA agent, explained to me that jelly, jam, and preserves violated their “no liquids/gels” policy, an idea which had never even occurred to me. Shampoo and toothpaste, yes! I had my little quart bag full of 2-3 ounce containers out and x-rayed. But Michigan sour cherry preserves and cherry butter? Not in my wildest.
Kevin apologetically insisted that I had to check my bag. But instead of leaving me to handle the issue on my own, he walked my bag (and me) back to the front of security, then moved the rope line so I could quickly get to the Delta check-in desk. When I was finished, I just walked back up to the front of security where Kevin was waiting for me. He escorted me back through x-ray and the scanner, pushing me up to the front of all of the lines and staying with me until I cleared security. He was pleasant and professional the entire time.
So why do people complain about the TSA? Because they pat down grandmas and children? If they only patted down Arabic-looking men, wouldn’t they be racist and stereotypical? Wouldn’t you complain if some nut case sacrificed their small child and blew up a plane because TSA never searched kids? Let’s face it, people do scary and awful things to their children sometimes. I’m a grandma, and I have been patted down several times. You know what? I’m still here.
I was breaking the rules, even if it didn’t enter my menopausal brain while I was packing. But when I was called out on my error, I was polite and humble with the TSA agent, and he was extraordinarily kind and accommodating with me.
So the next time you are inclined to TSA-bash, think about that Facebook post at the top of the page, and remember how many thousands of people like this the TSA sees every single day. Then remember my experience with Kevin Goins in Detroit, and wonder if you could possibly do that job any better.
(Thoughts or comments? Want to share a TSA experience? Go for it.)
Our topic for the April #SHRMChat on Twitter was SHRM’s recently unveiled Social Media Starter Kit. Look here if you need the theme and questions for the chat. Our guest was the gracious Curtis Midkiff, who has been an enthusiastic supporter of #SHRMChat since the beginning.
We started with a discussion of Twitter, since that is the first tool listed and discussed in the Kit. Curtis explained that Twitter was addressed in the Kit first, because, according to his experience that is the platform that chapters and councils consistently want more information about. The majority of the chatters decided that is likely because Twitter is hard to learn and hard to do. Some chatters felt that chapters shouldn’t plunge into Twitter without the guidance of someone who was already experienced in its use, which may prevent groups from embracing it totally or properly. But the chatters were, naturally, passionate about Twitter use that is done properly. One of the best things a chapter or council could use Twitter for is to drive engagement at events and meetings.
We moved onto LinkedIn, which also created a lot of difference of opinion from the chatters. Most of the chapters represented at SHRMChat were already using a LinkedIn group with varying degrees of success. One of my favorite comments of the night came from Lyn Hoyt, Social Media Director for Middle Tennessee SHRM, who said that her chapter’s group was like a “bloated Rolodex.” Another chatter mentioned that their LI group broke down from “spam and drift.” Chatters agreed that LinkedIn was the least engaging of the tools and that chapters and councils need to work hard to manage their group properly. Curtis mentioned that using a “velvet rope” could keep the spammers and outsiders out, while becoming an excellent tool to recruit new chapter members.
Facebook and blogging didn’t get as much attention, because chatters were still busy with Twitter and LinkedIn. Facebook, in particular, suffered from a lack of discussion. Curtis did take time to mention that administrators of Facebook pages should check the insights frequently to see who is engaging on the page and how/why. One of the chatters also offered a great tip on using the new Timeline format to create a history of the chapter/council.
Blogging is a subject that definitely needs to be addressed, although chatters struggled a little with specifics. It was agreed that blogging is a great platform for engaging individual members. Some of the chat discussed requiring chapters to submit blogs to councils and how to get chapters to comply with such rules. It was suggested that councils tie financials to blog submission, and both chapters and councils could create incentives to blog contributions.
Finally, it pleased me to no end to see four new chatters. We have discussed the need to break out of our bubble and spread. Please continue to encourage others to attend #SHRMChat.
We aren’t dangerous.
(Next SHRMChat is May 8th at 8 pm EDST/7 pm CDST. Check back for the discussion theme and questions.)
Wait . . . what?
You’re probably thinking that whatever link or feed you used to get here is totally screwed up, because I write about HR and workplace issues, not television shows. I don’t even watch television. Except Mad Men. And that just started, because I watched the first 4 seasons on DVD, not on television.
So what’s this all about, Joanie?
Hopefully you know a little bit about Mad Men, that highly stylistic and realistically detailed look at the business and personal life of an ensemble of characters who work together at a New York ad agency in the 1960′s. There was no separation of work and personal back then, either. But because the show takes place in the 60′s, we tend to be forgiving of all of the negative workplace behavior that does take place at the ad agency of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. After all, it’s the 60′s, and everything has changed for the better, right?
Well, maybe not everything.
One of the earlier characters on the show was Salvatore Romano, a deeply closeted homosexual man. When Mad Men started he was the agency art director, who later showed talent directing television commercials. He married, as closeted gays of the 60′s did, and laughed with his co-workers as they disparaged another openly gay male who briefly worked at the agency. He joined in demeaning sexual conversations about women with his co-workers. He did what the culture of the times demanded he do to keep his true self a secret.
But in the 3rd season, Sal is forced to rebuff the drunken sexual advances of the firm’s largest client. Sal is then fired by Don, the main character in the show, who has recently witnessed an encounter between Sal and a male bell boy during a business trip. At the end of the episode where Sal is fired, we see him calling his wife from a Central Park pay phone, gay men cruising in the background. He tells her he will be home late.
Sal hasn’t appeared on Mad Men since.
So why do I want Sal Romano to come back?
Because sexual orientation remains a common source of workplace discrimination, and it still is not a federally protected class that enjoys the same anti-discrimination rights as gender, national origin, race or color, and religion. I would like to see Matthew Weiner, series creator, use his considerable influence to take a stand against sexual discrimination in the workplace.
That same influence would also send a message of hope to the current working population that bad things happen at work, but sometimes those bad things can be overcome through perseverance, hard work, a positive attitude, and not being afraid to fail. Career and workplace writers trumpet those messages all of the time, particularly in the last few years when so many workers lost their jobs. It would be nice to see some examples in popular culture of how things can get better. In fact, Sal could return as a successful television director, while we view his setbacks and struggles through flashbacks or dreams. Matthew Weiner likes to use dreams and flashbacks, and this could be done without any compromise to the authenticity and artistic quality of the show.
After all, sometimes there really is a happy ending.
My apologies, folks, but I have been sicker than a dog for the past 10 days or so. I know I’m sicker because my dog got well in about a week and I am still fighting this.
Writing anything readable is hard -for me, at least – under any circumstances, but when you have to jump up and run to the bathroom every 15 minutes or so it becomes an impossibility.
But like a white knight in the nick of time, the fine PR folks at the HR Blogger Network are allowing the network to share the following video with you, so I won’t leave you high and dry this week. It’s a preview from Joshua Waldman, author of Job Searching With Social Media for Dummies.
Take two minutes to check it out – especially the part that reminds you that it is called a headline on LinkedIn – not a job title. One of my pet peeves.
As Curtis Midkiff, Director of Social Engagement at SHRM, promised in a previous SHRMChat, SHRM now has a Social Media Startup Kit available in its Volunteer Leader Resource Center (VLRC). Before you read the rest of this post, or immediately after, I encourage you to download and read the Kit before participating in SHRMChat, because the Kit is the exclusive topic for this month’s chat. Curtis has graciously agreed to be our guest, so you can hear about the Kit from the proverbial horses mouth.
The Kit starts out by giving a brief overview of social media and how its use can benefit the state and local chapter. Yes, this is truly a kit for the chapter who doesn’t have any handle on social media. The kit then discusses the importance of strategy, and cautions readers to make sure that strategy is clear before implementing a social media program. I like that part a lot.
The rest of the Kit is divided by platform or service: Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook. Unfortunately, only the Twitter and LinkedIn sections are currently available. LinkedIn and Facebook are still being developed.
Here are a few questions, but feel free to develop your own after reviewing the kit:
1. Twitter is the first specific platform mentioned in the Kit. But SHRM chatters agreed several months ago that Twitter is a hard platform for a beginner to understand and use. Should SHRM consider re-ordering the discussion of platforms to reflect this?
2. LinkedIn is still being developed, but most chapters agreed previously that is was the one social media application that the members were embracing in large numbers. What advice would you offer Curtis about LinkedIn as he develops this portion of the kit? Open or closed group? Company pages?
3. Facebook comes up last, but is likely the app that most members across the country feel comfortable with. How should the Kit address the whole personal/professional divide that may keep Facebook off their members radar. What other tips could you give? Do you have a page with a Timeline? How is that working for you?
4. Blogging isn’t mentioned at all, yet many of the chatters are chapter bloggers as well as personal. Should there be a section devoted to blogging?
Remember everyone – Tusday, April 10 at 8p Eastern/7p Central! Hashtag= #SHRMChat
I received my first one about 18 months ago, when my blog was around a year old. It came in the mail without note or explanation. I knew that other bloggers in the HR/workplace space got books to review, but I couldn’t understand why I was one of them. I had never appeared on a top 5, 10 or 25 list – and still haven’t. I had (and still have) a comparatively small readership. I am not winning any awards, monetarily or otherwise, writing this blog.
What I like to do is tell stories. I start far too many sentences with the words “when I . . .” in my posts. So it’s obvious that the book publishers haven’t read my blog, or they wouldn’t waste their money sending me their books. What am I going to say? ” When I read your book I . . .fell asleep?”
I don’t even like to read business books. Like most motivational books, I find them to be overly simplistic and over-generalized. Transformation, either personal or professional, rarely comes from reading a book or following 5 simple steps.
So why am I writing about The Start-up of You?
One reason is because the publishers actually sent me a email asking me if I would be interested in receiving a copy of the book. They may not have read my blog, but at least they took the initiative of actually finding my email and sending me a request. I was dazzled by the politeness of it all.
And author Reid Hoffman founded LinkedIn. I like LinkedIn. So I started reading his book.
I made it through the first chapter and stopped.
I stopped after that first chapter because a good chunk of the chapter is devoted to the domestic automobile industry and the city of Detroit. The author basically states that the decline of the auto industry caused the decline of the geographical region. He admits, in one whole sentence, that “there are other complicating factors” in that decline, and that “the story . . .isn’t simple.”
There are a lot of Detroiters who get really upset about this kind of bashing, but I’m not one of them. The region is very, very sick – and admitting it is the first step to recovery, right? What bothers me is that this guy from California thinks he knows anything about Detroit and its ills, and that if you behave like Silicon Valley instead of Detroit, as he ultimately advocates, everything will be better.
Mr. Hoffman, I lived in metro Detroit in 1967 during the race riots. I watched our region suffer immensely in the 70′s as the now-polarized political and racial factions fought with each other over direction and control of the entire region. When the businesses that drove the regional economy, like the auto industry, began to suffer no one was paying attention because they were still fighting over turf. I could go on, but I hope you get the point. After living my first 57 years in Detroit, I know there are lots of reasons why the auto industry and Detroit declined and Silicon Valley – your hometown, by the way – succeeded.
So I quit reading after that, because anything else the book may have said wouldn’t be credible, in my opinion.
I guess that’s my story.