So You Think You Can Dance …. your way into a career in HR?


The first thing I wanted to be when I grew up was a Rockette and dance at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. However, I didn’t take dance lessons and my dancing ability is only slightly better than Elaine Benes from the TV series, Seinfeld. If you’ve seen Elaine dance, you know that my career as a Rockette never took off.

I made my way into Human Resources instead by getting an MBA in Human Resource Management and taking jobs as a trainer, HR generalist and HR director.  It took a lot of education, experience and mentoring to get it right. Yet, as a human resources consultancy owner, I often work with companies that have a person with little or no background or training in HR in charge of HR.  So it shouldn’t surprise anyone if their “dance moves” sometimes include limbs flailing, arms akimbo and spasms like Elaine. It’s not their fault. They haven’t been taught how to dance smoothly.

One important job of HR is to protect the company from employment lawsuits. You don’t know what you don’t know and a wrong move can mean trouble. One client called us after a former employee complained that his boss gave him an offensive nickname. The company thought it was safe because “nobody seemed to mind” and the boss made up derogatory nicknames for all of his team. An HR expert would have recognized this as harassment and taken immediate steps to discipline the boss.

Human resource professionals also need to stay up to date with employment laws. In just the last year, we’ve seen private sector employers being required to provide paid sick leave, statutes regulating employer access to social media, adoption of wellness programs, questions about employees using their own Smartphones and Blackberries to conduct business, and litigation challenging the use of unpaid interns. Just as in the TV show, So You Think You Can Dance, where contestants have to test their ability to adapt to different dance styles each week, human resource professionals need to learn and perform new moves continually.

In my experience, HR also needs to give advice about managing difficult employees. One client, who’s responsible for finance and HR, but whose educational background is just in finance, asked how to manage an employee who continually disregards dress code policy. Our client knew what she wanted to communicate but did not know how to say it. We walked her through the conversation. Human Resources, like dancing, gets better with practice sessions.

A good HR person will make recommendations to enhance your employees’ morale and productivity. We helped another client implement quick, low cost ideas including a suggestion box, performance appraisal process, regular department meetings and Town Hall meetings, which increased employee satisfaction and performance.

IMHO the best HR leaders are experts in their field as well as good business people. If you want to manage your company’s HR, but don’t have formal training, you have a leg up because you already know the business.  To dance your way into human resources, take classes, keep up to date on employment law, and hire an HR firm to guide you from performing like “a full body dry heave set to music” (George Costanza describing Elaine’s dancing on Seinfeld) to having “the moves like (Mick) Jagger” of the Rolling Stones (song by Maroon 5).

Judy Lindenberger is President of The Lindenberger Group, an award-winning HR firm in New Jersey that helps companies manage small to complex HR issues. She can be reached at 609 730 1049,, or learn more at

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Learning from the Best HR Bloggers

blogIf you search the Internet for the best HR blogs, two that make the top of every list are Evil HR Lady and HR Bartender.

In her blog, Suzanne Lucas, otherwise known as the Evil HR Lady, answers questions, posts tips, and has garnered a large following.

Sharlyn Lauby, creator of HR Bartender, cleverly compares herself to a bartender – “that friendly face who’s there when you need them” – and blogs about human resources and social media, as well as food and drink.

Because I want to attract more readers to my blog, Open Door HR, I contacted Suzanne and Sharlyn to ask them a few questions about how to be a more successful blogger.

  1. When did you start your blog?

Suzanne – I started my blog way back in August 2006. It was completely anonymous back then because I was employed at a very large pharmaceutical company and I didn’t think the people there would take kindly to my blogging.

Sharlyn – I began blogging in 2008 after my husband, who is a marketing professional, starting nagging me about writing an electronic newsletter. As a busy professional, I know what often happens with newsletters – we have every intention of reading it but time gets away from us and the newsletter is deleted. So over dinner one night, I suggested starting a blog.

That being said, I should clarify. We do have an electronic newsletter but now with the blog we’ve really defined what each accomplishes. Every communication medium does not have to do the same thing.

Me – I started my blog in 2010 when my website designer told me that it was one of the newest, best ways to market my business. I love writing so it was a fun task to take on.

In 2012, I was listed as one of the Top 25 Women HR Blogs and my blog was described “taking a “more professional, serious approach to Human Resources (where) visitors can scroll through … a broad range of topics.” That description is accurate and complimentary and I’d also like my readers to think, “Ahhhh …. I’m finally here and I can get my questions answered and she’s going to understand!”

  1. What is your goal for the blog and how have your goals changed over the years?

Suzanne – My goal, at the beginning, was to have fun. I always wanted to be an advice columnist, and then suddenly, I was one! Cool. My goals have changed over the years. For a long time it’s been financial. You’ll notice I’ve done a shift from full articles on the blog to links to articles posted elsewhere. Why? Because other people pay me. To be honest, I’m kind of unhappy with that situation right now, so my goals are evolving. I still want to make money, but I may move back to my own platform and see what I can accomplish alone. But, my overall goal has always been to help other people. That’s why I went into HR in the first place–I like people. I want them to succeed. I want bad managers to go away. I want bad policies to go away. I want more brownies in meetings. :)

Sharlyn – Great question. I originally started HR Bartender to be a marketing tool for my consulting firm, ITM Group. And while I write about our business (being leadership and management training), it’s not exclusively focused in that area.

Over time, HR Bartender has become a place for me to talk about human resources and share information. I get a lot of reader questions and really enjoy answering them in the “Ask HR Bartender” series.

Me – My goals have always been to drive more readers to my company website,, to share best practices, to start interesting dialogues, and to have a creative outlet. Human Resources lets you view first-hand the some of the craziness of the human race so I also want to have fun with my readers!

  1. What do you attribute to the success of your blog?

Suzanne – Consistency, humor, and the ability to explain things to non-experts. This is a problem in all fields–we all get so wrapped up in our own lingo and with our own knowledge that we forget that not everyone knows everything we know. Sometimes I think, “How on earth can you not know that FMLA is only 12 weeks!” but then I remember that this person has probably never dealt with FMLA before, so why on earth should they know?

Sharlyn – I try to include a takeaway in every post. I’m asking people to take a few moments of their day to read HR Bartender. The least I can do is provide a takeaway.

Me – I’d like to achieve greater success with my blog. I define success as having a large number of loyal readers and new readers, who “Like” and share my posts, relay their experiences, ask questions, enjoy reading the posts, and get something out of them.

  1. As a relatively new blogger in the HR space, what do you recommend that I do to increase my readership?

Suzanne – Lots of links to, of course! But seriously, write things of interest, and keep your own voice. Don’t try to copy other bloggers, do what works for you. Post often and on a schedule, and make the most of social media.

Sharlyn – IMHO, here are 3 things every blogger should do:

Market your blog. I wish I could say that writing is enough, but it’s not. If you’re serious about blogging, you have to put together a plan to market your blog.

Write regularly. When I first started blogging, I wrote one day a week. Then when I knew I could handle two days, I added another post to the schedule. I believe part of success is publishing regularly. Readers want to feel like they are getting to know a blogger. You can’t do that if you publish once every four months.

Read other blogs. Adding to my last point, if you’re having trouble finding topics to write about, start reading other blogs. There are tons of lists available about HR and business blogs to read. Find the ones you like and use them as creative inspiration.

Me – I’ve gotten some great advice from these two smart, funny women who are masters at blogging in the HR space. Thank you Suzanne and Sharlyn! My takeaways? I’ll keep working on posts that let my readers know more about me, The Lindenberger Group, and what’s new in HR. And I’ll try to do it on a regular schedule!

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What We Can Learn About Happiness from Costa Rica

happy-girl-costa-rica1My family and I just got back from a week-long vacation to Costa Rica. We hiked through the rain forest, went white water rafting and swam under a beautiful waterfall, spent lazy days on gorgeous beaches and shrieked with delight each time we saw a sloth, parrot, lizard, crocodile or pelican. But what made the trip so fabulous were the people. Costa Ricans are genuinely kind, easy-going and happy.

In reading up on Costa Rica before the trip, I learned that Costa Rica is rated as one of the happiest countries in the world. What contributes to its high rating are its beautiful landscapes, access for all of its people to good nutrition, health care and education, a deep belief in peace (in fact, they have no army), a commitment to ecological sustainability, and living long lives.

Costa Ricans have and enjoy spare time, strong social networks, and long and healthy lives. “Costa Rica enjoys a privileged position as a mid-income country … that allows most citizens to satisfy their basic needs,” says Costa Rican economics professor Mariano Rojas. “Costa Ricans,” he adds, have not entered the “race for status and conspicuous consumption.”

Coming back from vacation, I have thought about the pace in Costa Rica … not just our pace while on vacation but the pace of the Costa Ricans we met and talked with.  I believe that I am a happy person … and that my happiness comes, like Costa Ricans, from having my basic needs met, not taking on more debt than I can manage, staying healthy, spending time with friends and family, and giving myself regular down time. In addition, I have found, personally, that running my business and doing volunteer work gives me a sense of accomplishment and purpose that adds to my overall well-being.

What about you? What makes you happy? And how is that similar or different from what we can learn from Costa Rica?

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Nine Reasons to Outsource HR to The Lindenberger Group

  1. Our consultants have extensive experience & continually upgrade their knowledge in HR best practices so we can provide high-quality service & trusted advice.
  2. You use us on a scheduled, as-needed basis.
  3. You save on staff costs including tax contributions & benefits.
  4. We set goals, manage consultants, & give you quarterly updates for free.
  5. When your project is completed, you choose whether or not to renew your contract, making the transition easier & legally safer than terminating an employee.
  6. We are trained to mediate workplace disputes, can save you time & legal costs, & advise you on proactive measures to enhance employee relations & employee satisfaction.
  7. It’s easy to fall into employment decisions rather than developing your HR practices from a cohesive & strategic outlook; we bring a fresh perspective & measure your policies against best practices.
  8. We streamline and coordinate your HR functions so you can leave HR in capable hands.
  9. Time spent on HR is time you could spend on business development or professional expertise.

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