A Little History of Presidents Day

by Michael Haberman on February 20, 2017 · 0 comments

Today is President’s Day, a Federal holiday. The origin of the day was the celebration of George Washington’s birthday, February 22nd. Although an unofficial observance at first, it was made an official holiday in 1879 by Rutherford B. Hayes, but even then, only applied to the District of Columbia. In 1885 it became a national federal holiday, and the first holiday to celebrate a specific individual. The only other holiday to do that was Martin Luther King, Jr. day. Today MLK is the only person to have a day solely named in his honor.


Because Abraham Lincoln’s birthday was also in February, when the holiday was deemed to be President’s Day rather than Washington’s birthday, many thought it was changed to include Lincoln in the celebration. In 1971 the Uniform Monday Holiday Act took effect and assigned Presidents Day to the third Monday of February, although the day was initially supposed to be Washington’s birthday still.

Not really celebrated

Only about 33% of the companies in the U.S. grant Presidents Day as a holiday. Even fewer companies grant this holiday to nonexempt hourly employees. The biggest recognizers of the holiday are state and local governments and banks.

The biggest celebrators of this holiday are retailers who see it as an opportunity to sell merchandise using the images of Washington and Lincoln to sell furniture, mattresses and cars, among other things.

My favorite president has been Theodore Roosevelt. I will end this post with a quote from him that many may find apropos to today.


From the Archive Future Friday: Hot Job of the Future

by Michael Haberman on February 17, 2017 · 0 comments

Piloting drones will be a major job of the future in the business world.

There is a new show on television called APB. It is about a tech billionaire, who after witnessing his friends death, signs on the help fight crime. One of the tools he uses to fight crime is a drone. Watch a sports show and you will likely see live shots taken by a drone. Travel shows frequently use drones for photography.  In 2013 I wrote this post about drones flying being a job of the future. I thought it was time to republish this. 

How many hours have you, when you were younger, and your children now spent sitting at the computer or game console with a joy stick in hand flying some on screen plane or space ship? You probably didn’t think about this a preparation for the hot job of the future, but it has turned out to be just that.


Futurist Thomas Frey, in his book Communicating with the Future, says the day of the drone is on us. We have seen a great deal of press on the use of drones by the military but there is a rapidly increasing use of drones in the private sector and other government sectors. Frey says we will soon see some version of this help wanted ad:

Help wanted: Full-time aerial drone drivers needed to help manage our growing fleet of surveillance, delivery, and communication drones. We are also looking for drone repair techs, drone dispatchers, and drone salesmen.”

We will forgive Mr. Frey his non-HR correct ad, but he is very correct in this being an impending job category. There are an ever increasing number of companies that are creating and selling drone technology.

Some of the industries that will make use of drone technology include:

Cruise ship communication– from what I understand most cell phone service is poor on cruise ships once they have gotten out of U.S. waters. What if communication drones flew above the ships on a constant basis providing cell phone connectivity?

Communication over land- Drones with cell phone connectivity capability could eliminate the irritating “dead spots” in cell phone communication. You would not have to rely on towers.

Lighting drones– How about concerts, movie sets, political rallies all being lighted from above by drones? Strobe drones could provide special effects. You could even have drones dropping fireworks from the sky instead of having to shoot them into the sky?

Advertising– Ever get annoyed by an airplane pulling a banner? What if you had a drone with electronic advertising?

Firefighting drones- The forest fire situation could be significantly altered by having a fleet of drones with heat sensitive cameras and sensors looking for hot spots. Once spotted a fire could be extinguished by drones equipped to put the fire out before it got to be any size.

Photography drones– Some photographers today hire full size planes to do aerial photography. Much of that could be replaced by having a camera drone make that flight more cheaply and more often.

Other drone possibilities include environmental monitoring, weather drones, search and rescue drones.

In reality we are only going to be limited by our imagination in how drones are going to be used. As a result a lot of people are going to need the skills needed to assemble, fly, repair, maintain and sell this equipment.

Hmmm… I wonder how your joystick skills have held up?


Perhaps my view is “Pollyannaish”

On Valentine Day, of all days, I wrote a blog post called Who do you report harassment to if the harasser is the CEO? That post sparked some interesting responses for a couple of reasons. The most notable response came from, Chris McKinney, a Texas attorney who represents employees in EEO cases. He paid me a compliment when he said:

It is a thoughtful article and it makes the excellent point that HR for every company needs to bake into their policies a method by which an employee can internally report sexual harassment being committed by the CEO or owner of a company without risk of retaliation. I think that is an excellent goal to strive for and I hope that all HR departments set that as a goal.  There is only one problem with the premise of the article….The effort will almost certainly fail.”

Differing points of view

I respect Mr. McKinney’s point of view, but he has a view of HR that I don’t ascribe to. He says that the reason HR will fail in helping employees with claims of harassment is that “HR serves two masters. On the one hand, HR is designed to serve as a helpful ombudsman to employees. To assist employees who are being mistreated. To conduct thorough investigations and correct inappropriate behavior against employees. On the other hand, HR is required to defend management against accusations of unlawful employment practices.” I disagree. HR has only one master, if you will, and that is the company. Some companies have Ombudsmen, but that is not the stated role of HR. It is the mistaken role of HR. That is why I tell my clients and my students that they have to be up front with people if anyone comes to them with information that can damage the company, and they wish that information to be kept confidential. An ethical and effective HR professional cannot make that claim.

“Sometimes that means that management has to be exposed and gotten rid of in the process.”

McKinney also says that HR has to defend management. There I also have to disagree. HR has to defend the company from damage. Sometimes that means that management has to be exposed and gotten rid of in the process. No individual should be allowed, regardless of position, to destroy the enterprise that supports so many lives. Their behavior needs to be corrected or they need to be gone, even the CEO.

“HR is, in my opinion, possibly the most challenging role”


McKinney is correct when he says “HR is, in my opinion, possibly the most challenging role for any manager to do and do well.” I wholeheartedly agree with that statement. HR is under appreciated in many, many organizations. Pressures are put on the HR professional from both sides. Employees provide numerous challenges when they have expectations that HR is their champion. Management provides challenges when they use the power of their position to force the HR professional to do something they know is ethically, and perhaps, morally wrong. HR professionals get put in ethical dilemmas that sometimes results in sliding ethics. The poor single mother HR manager who is being forced to choose between her job and her ethics gets my sympathy when her ethics slide for the moment. It is tough to face the prospect of losing a job and not putting food on the table versus letting a manager get away with some harassment just this one time.

Issue of Trust

“I have known of some HR people who were not trustworthy”

There are posts all the time about not being able to “trust HR.” Employees are encouraged by other employees not to go to HR because you cannot “trust” them. These are the people that Mr. McKinney represents and they need him. I will be the first to admit the quality of HR people runs the gamut. I have known of some HR people who were not trustworthy because they had their priorities in the wrong places. I have known some HR people who talked behind others backs; cheated on their expense reports; had affairs with employees and more. But those are individuals, not the profession. I have known people who made mistakes out of ignorance and others that made mistakes intentionally as a form of revenge. But these people are the minority. The rest of HR does good work in an often tough situation.

My view of HR

“a business manager whose role is HR”

The role of the HR professional, in my opinion, is to make sure the company (organization) is successful as it can be, by having the best employees it can have, with the best management team possible, where everyone is treated fairly and ethically. Everyone has an accountability to make the company successful, and those that do not contribute to that effort need to have their “feet held to the fire” regardless of position within the company. I don’t view myself as an HR manager; I view myself as a business manager whose role is HR. I take that role seriously.

This may be a “Pollyannaish” view. My friend Steve Browne always exhorts HR professionals to be positive about HR.  I think the best way to do that is to approach HR in this manner. Sometimes that requires that you call out managers for harassment. Sometimes it may require you report the CEO’s behavior to the EEOC. Sometimes it requires you to terminate poor performers of all ilk.

It is not any easy job, but it can be a rewarding one.


4 Ways to Project a Stronger Leadership Presence in HR

by Michael Haberman on February 15, 2017 · 0 comments

Proper image can be important to your credibility and career.

Today’s post is brought to you by my friends at SocialMonsters.org These are tips to increase your presence in HR. It is not everything but it does have impact.


When you work in human resources, the presence you project has a major impact. Human resources personnel represent the face of a company to job applicants and new employees, and new employees look to HR for answers to important workplace questions. HR leaders set the tone for their whole department and when they project strong, confident leadership, it boosts the confidence of everyone else. But how do you project an executive presence if you’re not a natural leader or lack confidence? Here are four ways to help make sure you’re projecting a strong executive presence to your team and prospective employees.

Make a Strong Visual Impression

55 percent of others’ first impression of you is visual, according to UCLA researcher Dr. Albert Mehrabian. Making sure you’re leaving your best visual impression can be a big boost to your self-confidence.

A strong visual impression begins with good posture. Keep your head up and look people straight in the eye instead of dropping your gaze. Stand up straight, so that your head, torso and thighs would be in a straight line if you were looking at yourself from the side. Keep your chest high and forward. Flatten your stomach.

Power poses” where your arms are open make you look relaxed and confident, while folded arms look defensive, according to Harvard Business School’s Amy Cuddy. Make sure you engage people you’re talking to by looking at them during the conversation and providing feedback cues such as nodding while you listen.

Your clothes and hygiene also contribute to your visual presence. Keeping your hair well-groomed and wearing nice shoes will go a long way in maintaining a strong visual appearance. Dress appropriately for your work environment in the best clothes you can afford, fitted to your body type. Pay attention to what color you select, as color has a strong emotional impact. Pick colors that go with your eye, hair and shoe color. Hire a fashion consultant or talk to a knowledgeable friend if you’re not sure what to wear. Once you settle on a look, dress consistently so that you convey a consistent “brand” image.

Use a Strong Voice

Your tone of voice and what you say also play a big part in the impression you leave. A University of Glasgow study found that tone of voice creates an instant impression even from just saying “hello.” Men with lower tones of voice come across as more dominant, the study found, while for women, a higher-pitched tone conveys dominance. Men who raise the tone of their voice and women who alter their tone are perceived as more trustworthy, however. Whatever tone of voice you use, breathing slowly and deeply and articulating clearly will make you feel and sound more confident.

The vocabulary you use also communicates your confidence level. When men and women in the workplace want to assume leadership, they use language that is more direct, decisive, goal-driven and authoritative, says Aston University applied linguistics professor Judith Baxter. But more indirect language can also be used to deliver a point more softly when appropriate, she adds.

Practice Public Speaking

Practicing public speaking can be another effective way to build confidence and project a more executive image. Most people fear speaking in front of a roomful of people, where everyone’s attention is fixed on you. Overcoming this fear can make you feel more comfortable leading a group of people. Joining public speaking groups such as Toastmasters can give you opportunities to practice public speaking.

Build Confidence Practicing Sales

Sales is another activity that can build your confidence and project leadership. Selling involves the practice of persuasion. When you’re experienced in persuading other people to buy things, you gain confidence in your ability to lead others, and your confidence comes across in the way you present yourself. You can gain sales experience in a low-pressure environment by becoming a representative of a direct sales organization such as Amway. Taking sales lessons is another way to build your skills.


Who do you report harassment to if the harasser is the CEO?

by Michael Haberman February 14, 2017

Tweet I wrote back in 2015 about the importance of having multiple ways for an employee to report sexual harassment. This was based on another post I had done in 2011. In 2015 I said: “…it is important to have multiple ways an employee can report harassment. With many companies this is reporting to HR. […]

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Will “Right-to-Work” become Federal law?

by Michael Haberman February 13, 2017

Tweet I have written a number of times on the subject of “right-to-work”. Here and Here. To quote myself “The concept of “right-to-work” is that you cannot force an employee to have to belong to a union and pay union dues in order to keep his/her job. In a non-RtW state, after a probationary period, […]

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Future Friday: HR skills needed in a VUCA world

by Michael Haberman February 10, 2017

Tweet VUCA is an acronym which stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. The term was established by the U.S. Army war college in the Cold War era. Since that time it has been applied to business, particularly as it applies to development of strategies. Meanings According to Wikipedia a more detailed explanation of the […]

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The “gig” economy takes another blow

by Michael Haberman February 9, 2017

Tweet Uber, the darling of the gig economy, and the model on which many other companies established themselves, has been sued by the Federal Trade Commission for deceptive practices. Oops. Admission In the settlement with the FTC, Uber has admitted to substantially inflating the earnings possibilities for drivers who go to work for them. According […]

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If your OSHA 300 log from last year is not on the bulletin board… OOPs

by Michael Haberman February 8, 2017

Tweet The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requires that employers post, for all employees to see, their safety record from last year. That was supposed to be posted on February 1 and is to remain up through the end of April. If you had more than 10 employees and are not in the exempted […]

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Two for Tuesday + One

by Michael Haberman February 7, 2017

Tweet I am pointing out to you two blog posts by a prolific writer and attorney. I follow her (among others) for updates from a legal angle. Robin Shea, with Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP, publishes the firm’s daily blog Employment and Labor Insider. She has been publishing what she calls Trumpdates. It is […]

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