Below is an interview with Chris Ferdinandi, a human resource professional based in Boston, Massachusetts. Chris works at EMC Corporation, a global Fortune 500 technology organization. Besides his day job, Chris blogs at RenegadeHR.net and tweets at @ChrisFerdinandi.
I asked Chris a few questions about his job and we had a great conversation. Because I worked internally in human resources for many years and now work as an outside consultant, the first thing I wanted to know were what issues Chris, as an inside guy, wrestles with.
Chris: The interesting thing about HR is that you end up having two sets of clients – the business and the employees. One of the things I find so fascinating is matching those two pieces of the puzzle. I create strategic career management resources. We are a technology company so there is a business need for our employees to constantly upgrade their skills. Our employees have an innate need for career management; they don’t like sitting still and are curious about learning new things.
We have 15,000 people globally and they work in small teams or by themselves. There is a huge body of institutional knowledge but employees don’t always have the opportunity to interact with one another or get to meet one another. I try to figure out ways to bridge those gaps. I also provide tools to people who are insanely busy and may not have time to take training.
Judy: One of my roles is acting as “The Dragon Lady,” giving out career and business advice, on the LinkedIn group, Women-in-business. The last question I answered was about how to encourage Chinese workers to share information. Do you have strategies you can share?
Chris: I contact people and ask to interview them using web cams – I have video chats with people all over the globe. I edit those conversations down to anywhere from 30 seconds to five minutes in length. Some of the conversations are focused on things like how to develop yourself if you don’t have a lot of time or how to build your network if you work by yourself. I ask managers for the names of strong performers and I ask people if they wouldn’t mind talking about their career success. I frame the interview as recognition and that often helps overcome people’s hesitation at sharing information.
Judy: Great idea.
I have been thinking about leaving a legacy lately because I am on my local school board and at every board retreat the superintendent asks us what legacy we want to leave from our term on the board. What legacy do you want to leave at your company?
Chris: As long as I am helping people in some way, shape or form, I am happy. I like to create tools and resources that last a long time and help people do whatever they want to do better.
One of the things I have been thinking a lot about recently is that there is a tendency in Human Resources to want to get buy in from key stakeholders and make your case before launching a new idea. One of the things that’s helped me do cool things in my job is the “ask for forgiveness not permission” mantra. My boss has been fundamental in encouraging this thinking. It makes it really easy for me to execute ideas and helps keep the scope small. This allows ideas to evolve naturally.
For example, Fast Company has a really cool video series called 30-Second MBA and I thought it would be fun to do something similar internally. That’s how the video interview series I do got started. I began noticing trends in the videos around what it takes to be successful at my organization – things like networking and learning in small chunks of time every day. We ended up taking all of those interviews and creating short, practical PDF guides for people – real advice from real employees.
I sometimes think about the fact that earlier in my career I had to have a big plan and get buy in. I love what I do and how I do it now.
Judy: It sounds like your job is a perfect fit for you. You and I are two of the lucky ones.
I am curious … do you love your job? If so, what makes it wonderful? If not, what is missing? Let me know by posting a comment below.
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I have just read this comment.
I do think that a job is a real opportunity to learn from yourself and blossom.
That is why managers should take employees’ motivations, needs… into consideration so that they can get to work with happiness.
That is the key to productivity and effectiveness.
[…] asked Chris Ferdinandi, tech guru and blogger at RenegadeHR, if he loved his job. See his answer Do You Love Your Job? Maybe you will have similar reasons for loving […]
I enjoyed the interview you had with Chris, especially his use of webcams to have this Global reach. At MarketReach, we are going to look into Skype and the like, to have more personal communication with our clients around the country that we may never meet. To your question about work culture, I think it’s more important now more than ever to make your employees feel like they’re heard & appreciated. Among the many benefits- they will not run off the minute the economy turns around.
[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by JasonCBlais. JasonCBlais said: Great article about the motivation behind great HR practices: Do You Love Your Job? http://t.co/zsZYlrj […]
Great post Judy! I love my job. It has been a great opportunity for me to break into Human Resources. My company gives me the freedom to make decisions and keep our department current.
People who love their jobs give a common set of reasons for their satisfaction: they enjoy the challenge of what they do, they feel that the work that they do matters, they think that their boss and co-workers are great, they have flexibility and work/life balance, and their company’s and their values are in synch. And in today’s economy, just having a job can make you happy.
I have not been happy in my job for some time and it is reassuring to hear that there are companies out there that still consider how their employees ‘feel’. It is my #1 issue with my company. It’s unfortunate that the economic concerns of the past year have overshadowed the need to have a heart.
The current economy has changed the culture of some workplaces. How have the rest of you fared?
I love my job because it is not a job. It is work that I love and I wake up in the morning eager to get to it.
Lois, I know the work you do as a leadership and mentoring guru and understand completely what you say and why. I look forward to interviewing you next week!