Jan 31

Seize Opportunities for Personal and Professional Development

Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity. – Seneca

We all get lucky breaks in our life and our career. I’ve found that most of my luck comes from being in the right place at the right time, or knowing the right people. The decisions I’ve made along the way have helped me get to those situations.  I’ve gotten most of my jobs through people I know and had opportunities to impact my community and my profession through my willingness to say yes and show up. I have a career that I enjoy and that allows me to spend enough time with family and in pursuit of my extracurricular activities. In short, I think I’ve been pretty lucky. Here are a few of my tips:


  1. The more you know…
    The more people that is. One of my lucky breaks came a few years at a local professional association holiday luncheon. I was approached by an acquaintance to step outside for a chat. Turns out, she was retiring soon and wanted me to apply. At the time, I was six months pregnant and not really looking for another opportunity. But, I applied anyway (see tip #2), showed up for the interview wearing my most professional looking maternity suit (no way to hide the belly at that stage), and started my new job about four months later, after delivering my baby. If I hadn’t been approached, I would have never known about the prospect. I wasn’t actively looking for a new opportunity, but one found me. And the hours and benefits turned out to be just what I needed. Being involved in professional associations has given me the opportunity to interact with many leaders in my community and my profession, opening doors for informational conversations, mentorships, and job opportunities. When you network, you are able to build professional relationships which can open doors and provide a wealth of informal knowledge.
  2. Say YES!
    So many articles I read talk about saying no to commitments to help manage your time and focus your energies. While I agree with saying no sometimes, I almost always support saying YES! Say yes to take on that big project, say yes to go to that networking event, say yes to volunteering a few hours of your time to a worthy cause. Some of my best experiences have come because I said yes, when I really wanted to say no. I have met incredible people, learned amazing things, and helped out my community in ways that I could not have imagined. I said yes, when they asked me to join the local HR professional association board (four years later, I said yes to being President). By saying YES to be the volunteer Diversity Director for HR Florida, I have been able to work on a wonderful project aimed at reducing the stigma of mental illness in the workplace (#StigmaFreeFlorida). I said yes to take on a project revising our organization’s performance management system; now that we have a strong foundation, we can make further progress by implementing succession planning and growth opportunities in development plans.  (I also recently said yes to being a Girl Scout Troop Co-Leader with my daughter’s troop even though I have no idea what I’m doing!) Our willingness to act determines what we can accomplish. By all means, protect your family time, protect your “me” time, but say YES every chance you get.
  3. Be Present
    If we are always looking at past accomplishes or mistakes, or focusing on future plans, we miss the opportunities in front of us now. Focusing on the present, we can see good luck in our daily lives and act on it. A chance encounter with a senior executive in the elevator? Engage them in conversation or ask for a quick piece of advice. Free at lunch? Invite out a colleague or someone you work with in a different department. Focus on people whom you interact with frequently. Take the opportunity to learn more about them and their role in the organization. Listen to them, really listen, and build relationships. Don’t focus on what went wrong with last week’s presentation – work today to make your next presentation better. Put your good intentions into practice. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not yet here. But starting today, you can build your own luck. When we free our mind from regrets and worries, we open ourselves up to what is right in front of us.

For lucky opportunities to come into our lives, we must be ready and willing to accept them. Preparing ourselves, by saying yes to learning opportunities and actively building our networks, is part of being ready. Paying attention to events in our daily lives can help us recognize good fortune when it arrives. Sometimes, it takes work (like turning coal into a diamond); other times, all we have to do is get up and answer the door.


Eve Sweeting is the Diversity Director for HR Florida. With over a decade of HR experience in private, public, and non-profit entities, Eve currently serves as an HR Analyst with a focus in performance management and workforce metrics. She believes that HR’s ability to impact the work environment for the better can benefit both workers and organizations.


Jan 18

Click Your Heels Together and Say, “There’s No Place Like HR!”

Can you believe it? The 2018 HR Florida Conference and Expo will celebrate a ruby anniversary this August. The HR Florida State Council has brought you 39 totally rockin’ Florida conferences and this year we are hitting 40!  Our celebration will be all about the rubies, including ruby slippers.

To kick off the fun, we’ve created a game for all to participate in.  Each chapter has been given a number of ruby red slippers in the form of a stress ball. That slipper will be hidden in photos in a “Where’s Waldo” style and posted on all social media platforms.  You can join the fun and get in on the game by telling us where, when and if you see the ruby slipper.  Our hashtag #WheresRuby will make it easy for you to find the photos.

To kick it up a notch, everyone that finds 100 ruby slippers and comments on each post by saying, “I see the #WheresRuby slipper from #HRFL18,” (make sure you are selecting public view so we will be able to see who you are and count your finds) before Saturday, August 18th will be entered into a drawing for priority seating for three at the Tuesday night concert plus 10 free drink tickets.

We encourage posts to go viral – chapter marketing ambassadors have a special prize waiting for them if they can achieve 500 likes on their #WheresRuby postings, so help them out please.  Use the “tell two friends” method and we can get them a one night hotel stay during the conference.

You can also get in on the game by wearing ruby slippers and posting a picture of them to #WheresRuby.  You know the HR Florida president and president elect have the most incredible shoes, so try and show them up.

The entire executive council cannot wait to see everyone at the fabulous Gaylord Palms for this year’s Ruby Anniversary HR Florida Conference and Expo, and yes, bring those red shoes as there will be plenty of photo opportunities. There really is no place like HRFL18.

Our Best Year Yet!

Join us for our 40th annual HR Florida State Conference & Expo on August 27– August 29 at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. This is one of the largest human resources conferences in the state of Florida attracting over 2,000 HR professionals and vendors throughout the state and across the globe.

Register at:





Sep 15

Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

This article is a part of a continuing series focusing on mental health and the impact of mental illness on employees and the workplace.


September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Each year, more than 41,000 individuals die by suicide, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death among adults in the U.S. and the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-24. Many times, friends and families affected by a suicide are left in the dark; often feelings of shame and stigma prevent them from talking openly. NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, uses this month as a time to reach out to those affected by suicide, to raise awareness, and connect individuals with treatment services. HR Florida is proud to partner with NAMI Florida on a campaign to end the stigma associated with mental illness – #StigmaFreeFlorida.

Is your workplace prepared to respond in the event of a suicide?

The suicide of a vendor, client, employee or family member of an employee can cause trauma and grieving which impact workplace functioning and productivity. Being adequately prepared to respond to this type of situation as well as to cope with the aftermath of a suicide can help an organization address any potential problems, help employees cope with grief, and bring the workplace back to normal functioning.

Potential warning signs

Suicide occurs across all age, economic, social, and ethnic boundaries. All of us have stress, family disruptions, grief, medical concerns or trauma at one time or another which can become contributing factors in a suicide. For some of us, those stressors become so unbearable that they feel they are not able to survive the pain.

An employee exhibiting the following signs, may be at risk for suicide:

  • Acting sad or withdrawn, distracted at work and not engaged in their usual work performance
  • Making statements such as “you won’t have to worry about me”
  • Giving away personal belongings; talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide
  • Threatening to hurt or kill themselves
  • Feeling trapped, like there is no way out
  • No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, or society

Key Workplace Strategies

There are some key workplace strategies that your company can implement to help employees who may have a mental illness causing suicidal thoughts or employees who are coping with the loss of a family member, friend, or co-worker due to suicide.

  • Visible and vocal leaders who emphasize the importance of mental health and actively work to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.
  • Policies and procedures that promote a mentally healthy workforce, including compassionate reintegration policies, life-skills promotion, and a culture of belonging.
  • Access to mental health services such as an employee assistance program (EAP), with few obstacles to obtaining aid.
  • Suicide prevention gatekeeper training (including front-line staff) to help identify warning signs and risk factors and confidently approach and refer a high risk person to appropriate resources.
    • Gatekeeper training can teach individuals warning signs and common causes of suicide, as well as help individuals learn how to appropriately and sensitively question, persuade, and refer someone who may be suicidal to resources.
  • Means restrictions that place barriers between those of high risk for suicide and the means to accomplish suicide (roof access, chemical and weapon access, etc).
  • Crisis response protocol and long-term “postvention” to stabilize a grieving workforce while honoring bereavement needs.

All too often today, HR professionals are too bogged down in the administration and compliance pieces of human resources to focus on the well-being of employees and how it impacts the workplace. Luckily, wellness programs, mindfulness programs, and other initiatives focused on employee well-being are becoming more commonplace. Helping our employees through a very difficult time in their lives is not only a good thing to do, it is the right thing to do. Help bring awareness to mental health issues and work to change the stigma associated with mental illness; pledge that your organization will be Stigma Free. Learn more at www.namiflorida.org




Eve Sweeting is the Diversity Director for HR Florida. With over a decade of HR experience in private, public, and non-profit entities, Eve currently serves as an HR Analyst with a focus in performance management and workforce metrics. She believes that HR’s ability to impact the work environment for the better can benefit both workers and organizations.



Aug 18



Remember the commercials that asked, “Got milk?” Well, HR Florida is asking “Got sixty?”

If you took the SHRM pathway in 2015 to obtain your new SHRM certification, your recertification date is in 2018. However, if you have your required 60 PDCs already, early recertification will put needed money into the coffers of both your chapter and state council.


SHRM will give $20 to the member’s chapter and $10 to the member’s state council for each member who recertifies in 2017. It’s free money SHRM is giving to support your local and state SHRM!

This incentive program not only benefits local and state SHRM entities, but also helps you because your new certification date will still remain 2021, and if it turns out any of your submitted activities were not credited, you have all of 2018 to resubmit.

If you are eligible for early recertification, we ask that you do so. You are eligible to recertify early if you have acquired 60 PDCs and are at least one year into your recertification cycle. Monies attributable to at-large members’ early recertification benefit their state councils.

So who’s “Got sixty???”


Aug 11

Truly Strategic HR: Toby Flenderson and Porter’s Five Forces Analysis


Truly Strategic HR: Toby Flenderson and Porter’s Five Forces Analysis

I am often reminded of the man who, I’d argue, is one of the most famous Human Resource Managers in the history of television – The Office’s Toby Flenderson. If you’re familiar with Toby, you recognize his sound judgment and good intentions On one instance Michael Scott, his Branch Manager and self-declared nemesis of Toby, invites a Boy Scouts troop to the company’s Casino Night party. Toby justifiably says,

“Actually, I didn’t think it was appropriate to invite children since it’s, uh, you know…there’s gambling and alcohol…and it’s in our dangerous warehouse…it’s a school night, and you know, uh… Hooters is catering. You know, is that not—is that enough? Should I keep going?”

As a result of this and many other instances of Toby enforcing company policies (and commonsense) thereby thwarting pandemonium, Michael finds no value in anything Toby says or does. Michael’s frequent inappropriate behaviors may seem farfetched, but if you’ve worked in HR, they are tame. Michael represents a collection of leaders who lack sound judgment, the ability to read basic social cues, and appreciation for the value HR can bring to an organization. So how do HR professionals earn respect and avoid being treated like Toby?

“Here’s how things work here: My job is to make the office fun. [HR’s] job is to make the office lame, and we have an eternal struggle, you and I, and only one of us can be the winner. Spoiler alert, I’m going to win.” – Michael Scott

In the HR world, we incessantly preach the need to “be strategic,” “get a seat at the table,” and “be part of the C-Suite.” These catchphrases, while important, don’t have the same impact they once did. We should really be assessing the threats that affect our organizations and HR departments. If we did, we would be in a position to create preemptive plans that both overcome the hazards and demonstrate the competitive advantages HR provides.

To identify these potential threats, prioritize their impact, and develop a game plan to compete, I rely on the classic book Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors. In it, economist Michael Porter presents a framework to determine the competitive intensity and profitability of a market. Called the Five Forces Analysis, this strategy model is widely utilized amongst business leaders. It is time for HR to use it, as well.

“I believe that the HR department is a breeding ground for monsters.” – Michael Scott

To implement the Five Forces, let’s begin by defining them:

The threat of substitute products. When an alternative product or service is available, there is a greater chance of people switching.

The threat of the entry of new competitors. This involves entities who have not previously competed with you.  It can be brand new competition or an existing one that begins to compete through a shift in business strategy.

The intensity of competitive rivalry. Different opponets use differnet tactics. Aggressiveness, available resources, the number of competitors, and economies of scale should all be considered.

The bargaining power of customers. Such factors as the degree of dependency on you and your services, the uniqueness of your offerings, and the availability of substitute products determine customers’ ability to haggle.

The bargaining power of suppliers. Like customers, suppliers and vendors can affect the intensity of competition through their ability to control prices and the quality of services they supply.

One you understand each Force, it is time to identify the threats and bargaining powers that surround you. For HR, we tend not to think in terms of competing outside forces, but not acknowledging them does not mean they do not exist. The chart below shows many of the parties that are actively competing with you whether you like it or not.

Now that you are familiar with the outside forces affecting your department, your staff, and your organization, it is up to you to decide how to handle it. Do you want to compete with enhanced/additional services, increased quality, profit building, and/or cost reductions, or are you going to concede without a fight? Your answer will determine whether you deserve that coveted “seat at the table.”

Our HR idol Toby accepted his low-level role; he took the abuse and reciprocated with minimal effort. I, however, prefer to think of Toby as a cautionary tale, a symbol of what not to be. Let’s win over the Michael Scotts and truly be strategic.


BIO: David Kahn, Ph.D. is a Leadership Strategist and author of “Case, Spandex, Briefcase: Leadership Lessons from Superheroes.” Additional writings can be found on leadersayswhat.com.




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