Bring the Flame Thrower…Every Day!


Culture can make or break a company. As the “keeper of the culture” where I work, I find it imperative to sustain, maintain and enhance our culture – our culture is one of the things that makes us the apple of our patient’s eye and the regional employer of choice. Like many HR pros, I am always looking for new and inventive ways to enhance corporate culture. I am open to ideas.

In January, I had the pleasure of seeing Jim Knight (, @KnightSpeaker) speak at the January GMSHRM meeting. Jim has many years in training and development including a long stint at Hard Rock (which explains the “rock and roll” style and language he uses). He is dynamic and has good ideas. He uses energetic style to convey how he sees culture – and he sees culture the way companies should. I had a few takeaways that I want to share. These are some thought provoking quotes from his presentation. The title is another one Jim shared.

  • Hire rock stars, not lipsynchers
  • Great sustainable brands create memorable experiences
  • Brands must differentiate themselves from the rest in order to survive and thrive
  • Don’t terminate employees, promote them to customer
  • Brand ambassadors are cultural amplifiers
  • Every life has a story, if we stop to read it
  • Position your brand to be tattoo-worthy

And one of my favorites…

  • Plant seeds today to create an army of giants tomorrow

I left with so many ideas, I thought I would bust! Jim kept the conversation going and was gracious enough to hang out afterwards to answer questions and interact with the audience. If you get the chance, see Jim Knight. He was great!

What culture enhancing ideas do you have to share? I am interested in hearing from you.

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#19 in the Fortune 100 Best Places to Work For in 2014!

For those in the know, Baptist Health South Florida (BHSF) is a great employer. I have worked for BHSF since October 2011 and have seen first hand the great things we do for our employees and their families. As the article states, BHSF has “Culture of Caring” Caring for patients, guests and employees. With so many great benefits and other perks, our employees can have long, fruitful careers at the “Best Place to Be Your Best”. Find out more at

Here is some of the press

CNN Money


Great Rated

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Hate Speak For the World to See

I have to admit that one of my many, many guilty pleasures is reality TV. The trashier the better, it makes for fun conversation fodder and helps me forget about the drama and stress in my day to day life. After all, the dramatics on the Real Housewives of (insert any city anywhere) is quite funny to watch. This season, I have gotten into Big Brother – a new franchise for me. And I have gotten an earful of “scary” remarks from the contestants.

Having lived in different places in the US, I have seen and heard firsthand accounts of racism, homophobia and general bad comments related to gender, ethnicity and race. As an HR professional, I have actively worked to help reduce – and hopefully extinguish – this type of activity in the work place. Well, this year Big Brother has brought these types of comments and feelings front and center for all of America to see. According to some blogs I have read (yes, I have to read about what Perez Hilton and TMZ have to say about it), three of the contestants who were major culprits with using the hate speak have had negative employment actions happen to them as a result of what they said in the Big Brother house.

The Big Brother house is available for your viewing pleasure 24/7 on the network’s website and anyone can sign up to watch the “showmances” and alliances to their heart’s content. I don’t know if the contestants don’t realize that America and the world is watching or if they are so wrapped up in their little world that they let their feelings go. There have been many comments made that are hurtful, stereotypical and sometimes filled with pure hate. Ironically, those contestants who have lost their jobs due to their mouths will not find out about it until they are evicted. Not only do they lose their chance at the grand prize of $500,000, they go home to no job and a community that has heard what they said.

I wish I had the ability to video and record employees speaking with each other so that I could use it in investigations. I am sure employee relations would be easier! Until then, I will continue to watch the antics of Big Brother until the season finale. I hope I get to see those who said these things go home. I will sit on the edge of my seat each week to see if they are voted out.

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The Twitter

Generational viewpoints and issues are not limited to the workplace. The melding of the generations happens everywhere and has no boundaries. In the workplace, the generations can be at odds or in harmony. Out in the world – people are freer to be who they are and want to be. When people are free to be themselves, there can be friction. People can rear their ugly head in the oddest of places or can bring eye opening realization just in time. Have you ever waited in line at the deli counter at the local grocery store? You will see some amazing things. People watching is great, isn’t it?

Here is a good generational story that I experienced. I just got back from a nice weekend in Sarasota, FL and encountered an interesting group of people sitting next to us at dinner. One of the things I like about Sarasota is its casual hodgepodge of generations. It never fails me. So, at dinner the table next to us had 2 ladies and 1 gent, all probably in their 50s. (Yes, Baby Boomers). They were having a spirited conversation about the singer and her band and started talking about the way music used to be. One of them had found that YouTube was a good way to find some of their favorite music. The other two were entranced. Then came the question – one lady asked the other if she used, “The Twitter”. At this point they realized that I had overheard them and the lady who asked shouted to our table, “Hey do you use The Twitter?” To which I replied, “Why yes I do.”

After a good laugh, they shared that they were all pretty tech savvy and used social media regularly. They were merely sharing a story about a conversation with one of their nieces. Obviously, the Millennial niece thought their Baby Boomer aunt was in the stone ages. I wonder if the niece will edit what she writes in her accounts now that she knows her aunt is watching.

I was thrilled to see these 3 people having such a good experience with social media. Sometimes that is not the case but with them, there was nothing to fear about using it. I hope they found the Jefferson Airplane song they were talking about on YouTube. If not, I am sure the niece would guide them. As we were getting ready to leave, the man pulled out his flip phone. And yes, it had an antenna that you had to pull out to get signal. Old school, indeed.

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What’s a Little Pot?!

One thing that drives me crazy about some people is their intermittent inability to face reality and own up to things they have done to plot their own demise. There are times that humans will blame anything and everyone else for their situation and not take ownership. Sometimes there are factors that influence people’s lives that are out of their control. This is not one of those situations.

“What’s a little pot?” was the question I had heard from the employee who “happened” to test positive in a drug screening. It is something that so many of us have heard in our careers and it usually does not end well. This is when either the EAP kicks in and we get help for the employee or we move to terminate. The sad part is that employee’s life at work will likely never be the same again. Regret. Fear. Apathy. We see all sorts of emotions in situations like this.

For many years, the line of what was legal and and not was clear and well known. When the urinalysis results come in, there is little room for grey. Marijuana is illegal and using it for recreational purposes likely would lead to a change in job status. And then there is Washington and Colorado. In 2012, the states of Washington and Colorado legalized forms of marijuana. Is this a flash in the pan or a beginning to a national momentum of cannabis legalization? The new legalization has surely impacted the way companies and businesses operate in these states.

As HR professionals, many of us have been programmed that the use of marijuana is probably the most common substance that shows up in drug screenings. Now companies in Washington and Colorado are faced with not only allowing employees to use cannabis, they might start offering marijuana in vending machines in or near these companies.

Check this out –

Imagine how surreal it would be to have employees smoking pot in the designated smoking areas. It is a culture shift that will prompt HR professionals to utilize our change management skills to modify the status quo. Imagine the generational brouhaha this could create! Thank goodness we are flexible – just be careful not to get too chill….

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Higher Return on Investment

On March 15, I attended the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s HR Insights 2013 at Jungle Island in Miami. It was a nice event – good presenters and 2 valuable panels. A half day of learning that proved worth the commitment.

I found the Legal Update and Executive Suite panels to be filled with pertinent and timely information. The lawyers who presented were very up to date – and passionate – about the legislation that is impacting HR professionals locally and nationally. Topics surrounding the Affordable Care Act (ACA), NLRB, FLSA and social media. I even learned a new term – “textual harassment”. This is when sexual harassment comes in the form of texting and social media. While it is different from sexting, it can have a similar impact in the workplace. Social media continues to be steps ahead of many HR people and companies.

The Executive Suite panel was of particular interest to me. We had 5 well known, senior HR leaders talking and discussing the factors they see as indicators of good talent. The resounding theme was that HR professionals need to know and understand the business to have long term success in our profession. As we all know, transformation and change management are vital tools for all HR people to have. The integration of these with business acumen can lead to a fruitful career in human resources. Thank you to the panelists who shared their jewels of wisdom to help build our next generation of HR talent leaders.

The session closed with the CEO of Florida Blue, Patrick Geraghty, presenting his view on the value of diversity and human capital in the operation of a prosperous operation. His presentation was filled with energy and examples of how diversity participated in the successful transformation of Florida Blue. I would love to hear speak again!

And lastly, Baptist Health South Florida won the award for Outstanding Employee Engagement Strategy – what a great way to end a nice day of learning. Employee engagement can be the cornerstone of customer satisfaction and optimized market share. What is your company doing to improve and sustain high employee engagement?

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“Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

Last week, we had a Leadership Development Institute (LDI) and the theme was “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” the title on Dr. Seuss’ last book. The book talks about the journey of life and its ups and downs. It is a perennial gift for any graduate; I got one when I graduated with my undergrad. If you haven’t read it, check it out. Like every other Seuss book, it is relatable to almost everyone and can teach valuable lessons. This is part of the reason why we chose this theme – that and the ability to whimsically decorate the room and tables with colorful nonsensical things.

The focus of the learning was communication among the generations in the workplace. Of the 30+ leaders in attendance, the room was almost split evenly between Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers. That may sound well proportioned but what about the other generations? We only have 2 Millenials in leadership roles – and as we all know Millenials are part of the future of our workplaces. Their time is coming to move into leadership roles but they are battling the perception that they are listless and unmotivated.

Getting input from Millenials is necessary for success. In Millenials Rising, Howe and Strauss, talk about the image of the Millenials moving from being downtrodden and alienated to upbeat and engaged. They consider Millenials to have “potentially seismic consequences for America.” In reality, the Millenials need to have this impact. They are coming on heels of generations that won wars, built our physical and technological infrastructure and pushed the economy to places unheard of. To get this point, our Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers have to let the Millenials show their true colors. Of course, they will have to stop texting at work, first.

Wow – we have some places to go.

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March Came in Like a Lion


When I was a kid – and even as an adult with children in my life – the month of March started and ended as either a lion or a lamb. Coming or leaving as a lion meant the weather was cold, blustery and tumultuous. Coming or leaving as a lamb meant it was calm, mild and serene outside.

March 2013 certainly entered like a lion in South Florida. When I mentioned this to my friend who was born and raised in Venezuela, he looked at me like I was totally nuts. He was wondering where I encountered a lion in South Florida – perhaps it was roaming the streets and was in wait to pounce on me.

Um, no. There is/was no lion. It is just a figure of speech.

Living in South Florida has been a valuable learning experience for me as a person and an HR professional. Having been raised by Midwesterners in the Northeast and coming from a family that has been in the U.S. for several generations, I sometimes forget that not every country or region have the same colloquial intricacies that I grew up with. While not everyone knows that March comes and goes like two animals, everyone has some sort of childhood mnemonic to explain and rationalize weather, experiences and memories. It helps grow my mind and soul to hear others share their stories and history.

I wonder how March will end… If it ends as a lamb, I have promised my Venezuelan friend that we will have lamb one night for dinner to celebrate. I hope March ends as a lamb because if not I will have to look for a lion to eat!

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Kissin’ Chicken

The recent statements made by the president of Chick-fil-A have spawned a firestorm of reactions. Whether pro or con many Americans have an opinion of the events. Last week, those who support marriage equality staged formal and informal Kiss-Ins at Chick-fil-A restaurants to show their disagreement – and, in some cases, disdain – for Mr. Cathy’s opinions. Ironically, Chick-fil-A made a swift and solid statement that the corporation does not discriminate against any groups including sexual orientation. After Mr. Cathy made his statement,  his supporters organized Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day which produced record setting revenues. Taking into account Chick-fil-A’s business model, this is not a surprise but it will lead to a further rift between the LGBT community and those with certain religious leanings. Throughout the Appreciation Day, I wonder if the customers realized that Chick-fil-A had a policy indicating protection of sexual orientation.

Does policy trump the words of senior leadership? The company’s inclusion statement does not include support of same-sex marriage and Mr. Cathy’s statements do not directly discriminate against the LGBT community, only their right to marry. Technically, Mr. Cathy did not violate the policy but what message does this send to the employees of Chick-fil-A who are LGBT? I can only imagine how they might feel. Even with policies to protect from discrimination, it has got to hurt when the president of the company you work for acknowledges that he will not support your marriage happiness. While Mr. Cathy is entitled to express his opinion (thank you Bill of Rights!), the consequences are higher because of his position. The company’s policy to protect diversity might not be enough to counterbalance his statements. After all, he is the boss.

The LGBT community is one of the last large groups in America that does have protection in the form of legislation. Some of the people who oppose LGBT rights and same-sex marriage are the same ones who supported segregation and viewed interracial marriage the same way they view same-sex marriage. I hope the LGBT employees of Chick-fil-A and their supporters can find solace.

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Terms of Endearment

“I’ll have my girl call your girl.”

It you ever watch Mad Men on AMC you might have heard Don Draper say this to clients. In much of the 20th century, this type of phrasing and labeling was commonplace. My grandfather referred to his secretary as his “girl” and the man who ran the copy machine as the “copy boy”. He also uses some off color words that were acceptable and widely used in the past to  describe some people and groups. My how times have changed! Thanks to legislation like Title VII and Executive Order 11246, labels like “girl” are not part of the employment vocabulary. There are still people who use terms like this and others to designate a person or group of people. Many have made the switch to more appropriate – or politically correct – words but some are still stuck in another era. How do you change this thought pattern? Is it possible to teach “an old dog new tricks?”

It is important to know why the person uses inappropriate labels for other people. Is it out of ignorance or malice? The approach to and the way to address these two extremes is different. Ignorance may be easy to explain away, but may be harder to influence change in. Most of the time, it is the lack of knowledge that fuels the usage of these labels for people. Labels exist for gender, age, race, national origin, sexual orientation and numerous other groups and situations. Changing the behavior of an adult takes time and effort. It will not happen overnight.

Diversity and sensitivity training might help. There are exercises and activities that can help identify labels and show potential reactions to those labels. I have used training drills that proved to be quite effective but had the ability to be volatile. Labels are usually tied to stereotypes and can bring about emotions, sometimes extreme, in those involved in the exercises. Be sure to monitor the group to ensure tempers and reactions are in check. Providing a safe learning environment might still not remedy a potentially unstable activity. It is best to be on guard and maintain control as the activity unfurls. There are many options out there for labeling sensitivity development and it is best to know your group when selecting the one you want to use. Not all the activities will work for all situations – and some could even become explosive!

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