31 August 2008

Johnny Bunko Trailer

I recently reviewed Daniel Pink's Johnny Bunko. Here's some fun bonus stuff.

HR Minion reminded me that she had been faster (and Dan Pink even left a comment). Same as with our Wanted movie reviews: hers was published 3 weeks before mine.

However, and I think this is important, I managed to mention the red stapler in both reviews ;-)

Below the infotaining Johnny Bunko trailer.

And this part still cracks me up every time I watch it:
In the 70's and 80's people asked: What color is your parachute?
In the 90's people asked: Who moved my cheese?
Now a new generation is asking a new question about their work and their lives:


Something I Wanted To Say...

I suck at marketing. Or call it self-promotion if you like.

And my memory is terrible. There's something I wanted to announce for the last couple of weeks, but I just can't put my finger on it...


For immediate release
The "The Happy Employee" blog has found a new home at

About the THE blog
"The Happy Employee" is a blog about Human Resources and combines wisdom with weirdness. It's not yet a mainstream success but does enjoy the much appreciated patronage of a small but extremely loyal, intelligent, beautiful and competent circle of regular readers.


Oh yes, now that I think of it, did I tell you that I bought myself a domain name for my birthday?

27 August 2008

Alltop Thinks I'm Kind Of A Big Deal

I'm featured on Alltop HR!
And I'm allowed to display their badge on my blog!
This is awesome!

In case you didn't hear about Alltop
It's basically a homepage with lots of links to blogs. Like a blog directory.

Guy Kawasaki
But since Guy Kawasaki is involved, everything about Alltop is pretty exciting. Guy is a venture capitalist, author, used to work for Apple and so on. He's also the one who put Bob Sutton's ARSE (Asshole Rating Self-Exam) online which I used for my ARSE Challenge.

Neenz is Alltop's gatekeeper. Convince her that you should be listed and she will add you. She's also got a great sense of humor. For example, she said that they would be honored if I added their badge to my blog. I mean, the reason I wanted to be featured in the first place was to display the "confirmation that I kick ass" badge ;-)

Okay, but what is Alltop again?
Alltop is described as a digital magazine rack of the Internet. Choose from around 180 categories and you will be presented with the top blogs on this topic. You can then hover over the title of a post to read the first sentences and click to visit the blog.

Oh yes, did I mention that Neenz is an incredibly nice gal?
(hint: check the Alltop badges)

25 August 2008

Employees Are A Necessary Evil

Employees are human, but at the end of the day they're just a resource.

Don't get me wrong, I love working in HR and since I don't want to start my own company, I'm happy being an employee. Of course, I don't mind the monthly paycheck either. But sometimes a cold shower of tough reality can't hurt.

Maybe the company you're working for tells you that employees are its most important resource.
That's wrong! Some companies can exist without staff, but no company can survive without money.

Believe me, if your employer could make money without you, you wouldn't be on his payroll. In fact, if I started my own business, I would do everything to avoid having employees.

Like I said, I'm happy to be an employee. I'm also grateful for working with some very capable and dedicated people who have all my respect.

But if you're in charge of a business, especially if its your own company and your livelyhood is on the line, you will approach staffing decisions very carefully.

Now the good news is that if you have a job, you're necessary. But it doesn't mean that your employer is happy about it.

And remember: Necessary is not the same as irreplaceable.

21 August 2008

New Job: Arrive On Time (Not Too Early, Not Too Late At All)

I talked about this before, but punctuality is extremely important. For some it's natural while others will always struggle with it. And of course, the perception of punctuality varies depending on the company, country or culture.

But especially if you're unsure about the company or are just starting your first job in a new country, I would recommend the accountant's approach: be precise. If you're supposed to be there at 9:00 am, don't be there later than 9:00 am (not 9:01 am). On the other hand, you shouldn't show up before 8:55 am, otherwise you will look like you're overeager, desperate or simply can't manage your time.

And keep in mind that the people expecting you might be nervous as well. Maybe your new boss is desperately looking for the perfect thing to say when he greets you. Or the person who will train you is trying to get as much done as possible before you arrive. Don't show up at 8:25 unless you want to annoy them. Hint: not the best strategy for your first day.

On your way to work, come up with a good password. This way, when you get your new laptop and the IT guy tells you to choose a new password NOW, you won't freeze, feel embarrassed and finally use your birthday.

And it will keep your thoughts busy so you might forget to be nervous for a few minutes. Because, lets face it, there are so many things that could go wrong on your first day ;-)

Previous posts in the New Job Series
Part 1: Before The First Day
Part 2: Maybe Your Manager Is Nervous Too?

18 August 2008

Book: Johnny Bunko (The Last Career Guide You'll Ever Need)

Daniel Pink could have written a classic business book about choosing a career, but he took a risk, tried something new and wrote a manga!

The ad for The Adventures Of Johnny Bunko (The Last Career Guide You'll Ever Need) says that it's "Americas first business book as manga". It contains very nice and expressive art in the style of Japanese comics as well as fun dialogues. But it's also full of valuable advice presented in a very engaging way.

In Daniel Pink's own words:
Today the question at the center of work is: WTF?!
The book explores this question resulting in the "six lessons of a satisfying, successful career". You probably heard them before in one form or another. But believe me, never like this. Or has any career counselor ever said to you that
when it comes to work, you're as clueless as a cucumber.
I really liked how Pink introduces Johnny Bunko as a hardworking but disillusioned and somewhat clueless knowledge worker and then walks him (and the reader) through the six lessons.

I also enjoyed seeing the name of Martin Seligman (Learned Helplessness) and the face of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Flow) in a manga.

But the absolutely coolest was of course the red stapler! Okay, it's in black & white, but it was so obvious, it had to be a red stapler.

The only bad thing about the book is that it's too short. But I always say that after reading a great manga.

17 August 2008

Tech Tip: Simple Org Charts In Google Docs

Google Docs & Spreadsheets lets you create simple org charts in a matter of minutes.

I wouldn't use this in a presentation for the board of directors, but it can be useful if you need to visualize something on the spot.

I did this simple and mostly fictional org chart in less than 3 minutes. Hopefully my friends at HR Bloggers won't mind...

How to do it
  1. create a new Google Spreadsheet
  2. add 2 columns: first for employees, second for managers
  3. select the data you want to use
  4. click "insert", "gadget"
  5. click "diagrams", "organization chart", then "add to spreadsheet"
  6. insert a title and click "apply and close"
...et voilĂ !

16 August 2008

HR Challenge: Compliments To Annoying People [update]

The newest HR Challenge is still up at JT's. What are you waiting for? Go post your reply so you can stop worrying about the scary gun from the future.

Brazen Careerist mentioned our challenge (see the "In The News" section).

Replies so far (see JT's comment section for the replies):
And a former coworker left a comment, but refused to make me a compliment. Thanks ;-)

But wait, it seems that one very important contribution is still missing... yours!

15 August 2008

New Job: Maybe Your Manager Is Nervous Too?

So you arrived a bit early for your first day at the new job and are walking around the block like I recommended. What is going on in your head?

Maybe accepting this job was a huge mistake? Or you just realized that you were creating a "what could go wrong" list in your head (you just finished reason number 37). What if you just went home and hid under the bed? Would anyone notice?

Relax, if this happens it only shows that you're still human. Which is a good thing, really!

Did you actually consider that your new boss might be nervous as well?
Maybe he's pacing in his office right now having thoughts like:
  • Did I hire the right person? If not, will I find out before the end of the probation period?
  • Did I do a good job at explaining the position during the interview or will he leave before lunch?
  • Should I have talked more about the downsides? After all, it can get pretty chaotic around here.
  • Why didn't I ask IT to confirm that the email address is set up and the laptop is ready?
  • And, believe it or not, many managers worry about: Will he like me and think that I'm a good boss?
Oh, and what if they just forgot that today is your first day at the new job?
Nah, these things only happen in movies...

14 August 2008

New HR Challenge Is Up At JT's

The newest HR Challenge is a team effort between JT O'Donnell and yours truly.

Like I already said on Twitter:
It sounds sweet, it's totes tough!
Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, and I know you're way too cool not to accept it, is to read this and then to post your reply.

And in case you're still hesitating, there's a gun from the future pointed at your head!


13 August 2008

Quote: Connolly, Write For Yourself (And Have A Self)

Better to write for yourself and have no public,
than to write for the public and have no self.
-Cyril Connolly

I truly love this quote, even though it's probably the most hypocritical thing a blogger could say. But lets analyze it from a career point of view.

Write for yourself and have no public

This is the starving artist syndrome. Some may actually enjoy it for a while. But someday they realize that they don't know how to get out of this situation or they fall into the other extreme.

Write for the public and have no self
This is the artist or employee wanting to be successful at any cost and defining success as fame and fortune. Have you ever seen a former rockstar on a talk show desperately trying to get back some of that long lost glimmer?

Write for the public and have a self
I believe it is possible to write for the public or to deliver your weekly TPS reports with the appropriate cover sheet and still have a self. But only if you have something else that motivates you. It can be going home to your family or writing a blog at night.

But if your job makes it impossible to spend time with your family or to write, you're losing your self and you know that you're living a lie. Your means has become the end and your passion is dying.

Write for yourself and have a public

In a perfect world, your job is something that you would do anyway and it doesn't even feel like a job. It might take you a lifetime to find out what you really want or to gather the courage to go for it.

Just keep in mind that those who are living their dreams usually worked as long and hard as the ones aiming for fame and money. But they were reaching for something they truly wanted and continue to be disciplined and dedicated to this day.

11 August 2008

5 Reasons To Be Nice To The CEO's PA

My post 5 Advantages Of Being Nice To IT (And How To Do It) resulted in many more comments than usual (i.e. > 0). It must be true that using numbers in the title is a good idea ;-)

So here's why you should be nice to the CEO's Personal Assistant / Executive Assistant / Office Manager (I combined the positions because I'm lazy. Outraged comments from offended Executive Assistants are welcome).

How to be nice to the PA / EA / OM
  1. Always take the time to say hello in a friendly way
  2. Never ever give her flowers on Secretary Day. You can call her Assistant and maybe Coordinator, but not Secretary!
  3. When she's on the phone, step away but make sure she sees you. This shows that you know what she does is important and that you will wait as long as it takes
  4. When she's busy ask her if she's busy and then mention that you understand she has a tough job. Complain that nobody ever notices all the things she does.
  5. Don't overdo it. She's most certainly susceptible to flattery, but you can bet your lunch money that she is no idiot!

Advantages of being nice
  1. Even though lots of people think of her as arrogant and unfriendly, you will realize that she's quite nice once you make the effort to get to know her
  2. She has a cool sense of humor flavored with just the right amount of cynicism (this is necessary to survive this kind of job, just like in HR)
  3. The day you urgently need to talk to the CEO it will be much easier to get an appointment
  4. You will get plenty of information about what's going on in the company
  5. And finally, and I swear it happened to me, instead of waiting a couple of minutes until she gives you half her attention, can't seem to find the key, walks slowly to the cabinet and gives you one single pen, it will take her less than three seconds to hand you the key and say "Help yourself" with a smile
This is very important, so I'll say it again: Don't overdo the flattery!
Just like Will Smith in the movie I, Robot, she's allergic to bullshit.

10 August 2008

HR Hater Not Too Hateful After All

Sasha at cccritique critiqued posts by Wenchie and Laurie while displaying a generally anti-HR attitude. Well, so what's new?

My HR colleagues didn't start an embarrassing flame war and Sasha joined in the discussion. The fact that both parties were open to dialogue made it not as entertaining as it could have been, but all the more interesting.

And he promised to post job ads he wants to use, so I'm looking forward to The Critique being critiqued by HR people. Lets see how the feedback pros give constructive criticism.

Oh yeah, and Sasha got lots of comments. Lots and lots. I'm jealous.

And now comments, please ;-)

06 August 2008

04 August 2008

5 Advantages Of Being Nice To IT (And How To Do It)

Be always nice to the IT guys. You can be rude to the Sales and Marketing people. In fact, they might even like you for it. But don't ever risk getting on the bad side of the Geeks.

How to be nice to the IT guys

  1. Before asking for help, take a moment to admire the disassembled monstrosity lying around somewhere. Ask what it is and show interest.
  2. From time to time, start a conversation with "I don't really know anything about IT..." and then say something most users wouldn't know. For example "Should I activate the BIOS password? You know, in case my laptop gets stolen?" Or "I noticed that you don't broadcast the SSID on our WIFI network. Do you recommend that I do this at home?"
  3. Once you've established an informal relationship, you may call them jokingly geeks (but never ever use the work "nerd"!).
  4. When they tell you that they will try to take care of your problem if and when they have a minute, say that you know they're incredibly busy and appreciate their help (instead of bitching and making threats like everybody else).
  5. And most important: If required, always open a ticket instead of (or before) barging into their office.
Advantages of being nice to the geeks
(no guarantees here, but it worked a couple of times for me)
  1. Your problems will be solved in less than 30 minutes while others wait 2 weeks with the same problem.
  2. They will let you beta-test cool new software.
  3. You will get additional RAM or a second screen.
  4. You will get admin rights to your machine. Or was it just the trainee who messed up this one time ;-)
  5. When you ask for a new keyboard they won't tell you to open a ticket but will walk over to the shelf and hand you their best piece.
If your ticket gets ignored send reminders until the problem is solved. They don't mind being reminded as long as you're polite and don't contact them several times a day. This doesn't help if you have an ultra urgent problem, but it will pay off in the long run.

And if your IT guy asks you: I never said any of this!

03 August 2008

Wanted, The Movie

I finally saw Wanted tonight and this post is not HR related, except maybe for the stapler.

I really enjoyed the movie and smiled like an idiot most of the time. But although it's about finding what you're really good at and not caring about what others think, I forced myself to display a neutral face when leaving the movie theater. After all, sleeping in my own bed is much more fun than spending the night in a mental institution.

Plenty of spoilers ahead as well as some "bad" language. So consider yourself warned.

The bad thing about the movie is that I already read the graphic novel (GN) twice. So some disappointment was unavoidable, just like when reading a book and then watching the movie (after all, comics are books too).

The main story is the same. It's about a loser wasting his life in a cubicle, being verbally abused by his boss and too dazed and confused to stand up for anything. One day he's being recruited by a criminal network (the Fraternity) who tell him that his father was one of them and that his own assassin training is about to start.

Compared to the GN, the movie's story is completely different and much simpler. It's also quite tame. While the GN is absolutely fucked up, the movie is simply crazy. But they managed to keep the coolness factor high. Having Mark Millar and JG Jones, respectively writer and artist of the original GN, participate in the creation of the movie was definitely the right decision.

Now for a few random observations:
  • based on the GN, Halle Berry would have been perfect for the role of the Fox. But Angelina Jolie brought just the necessary mix of arrogance and coolness.
  • Terence Stamp plays a mostly good guy who's involved with a criminal organization. Just like his role as Stick in the (absolutely terrible) Elektra movie.
  • and finally for the stapler: there's absolutely no doubt in my mind that Wesley's boss is the female management version of Milton. But I think Milton's red stapler was bigger.
HR Minion asked "Wanted: It's not about recruiting? Or is it?".
I'd say the Fraternity tried to make it look like it was about recruiting and training as part of a succession plan, but it was really about (permanently) terminating an unwanted employee.