My Interview with HR Bartender

Organizations today are going through a lot of changes within their structures with the state of the economy and realize they need to start adapting to change. This change occurs by focusing on creating a dynamic workforce of employees, and learning how and when to properly manage them by generating a sense of engagement between individuals. So, what are the best methods to manage employees in today’s workplace to help increase overall performance?

In the beginning of August, I had the pleasure to sit down and chat with Sharlyn Lauby, a HR professional known as “HR Bartender“, at the 2010 BlogHer conference. Sharlyn answered a few of my questions on the topic of Human Resources and how it is changing along with the marketplace. Here are her responses to the questions I had:

1. What do you think the biggest issues will be in HR within the next two years?

One of the trends that I’m watching is the ‘gig economy’ – the idea that companies will look for freelancers/contractors/consultants versus staff employees to help them with work projects.  If we continue to have a slow recovery, it could be a dynamic that lasts for a while.  And if it does, it has a lot of implications for businesses and individuals.

For companies, they need to have a clear understanding of when best to utilize contractors, how they will select a freelancer, and evaluate their overall performance.

For individuals, they have to decide if this is a desired way to earn a living.  And if so, how will they manage themselves and their lives successfully.

2. How should employers seek to gain more employee empowerment?

I’m very torn on the idea of empowerment.  Companies made this a buzzword years ago and IMHO the concept never accomplished what it set out to do.

I like using the term self-management.  Employees understand the expectation and manage themselves to achieve the result.  Instead of giving employees permission to do a task, take it a step further and teach them how to manage their own actions.

3. What methods should companies use to engage their Gen Y employees?

When it comes to managing employees, I suggest keeping three things in mind:

First, we are all human.  Managers need to use skills like emotional intelligence and empathy to connect with fellow employees.  It’s just one way to improve communication and build relationships.

Next as it applies to Gen Y (or any generational group for that matter), keep in mind that there are certain things and events that groups of people relate to.  For example, my father taught me how to use a slide rule because he thought I would need that skill.  Then, the TI Calculator came out.  And now there’s the iPad.  We need to understand, appreciate, and possibly even adapt, to what others relate to.

Lastly, while we are all human and we all relate to certain groups, try to remember that everyone is an individual and wants to be treated that way.  It’s important for organizations to understand that ‘one size fits all’ -or even “one size fits many” isn’t always a good way to approach talent issues.

4. What is your advice for current job seekers?

Learn how to network.  Building and maintaining relationships is so important.  Make time to do it.  I learned every early in my career the value of networking.


Sharlyn Lauby, SPHR, CPLP is the HR Bartender, whose blog is a friendly place to discuss workplace issues. When she’s not bartending, Sharlyn is president of Internal Talent Management (ITM Group) which specializes in employee training and human resources consulting. Her off-hours are spent searching for the best hamburger on the planet, fabulous wine that cost less than $10 per bottle, and unusual iPhone apps.

Interview by Julie Skowronek, Marketing Coordinator at Whiting Consulting.

Photo credit: Sharlyn Lauby


2 Responses

  1. Thanks so much for the interview! It was a pleasure meeting you.

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