Ignite HR 5: Unleashing the Power of Positivity

Mike Caracalas, a former HR pro who is currently an executive and leadership coach at the Alexcel Group in Texas, made it clear where his Ignite HR presentation at the HR Reinvention conference was going from the get-go:

“I’m going to talk (today) about Unleashing the Power of Positivity, or as I like to call it, Liberating Corporate America From Hell.”

As Mike noted, this sounds like a strong statement but whenever he says it in a presentation, he gets a lot of knowing nods of recognition, or knowing laughs, and then he gets stories from people about their own corporate Hell. These include things about “bad bosses, poor communication, and bad morale,” as he recounts it.

What makes corporate America hell?

He added that the data shows that about a quarter — 25 percent — of the people working in corporate America hate it and are “actively disengaged.” And what makes corporate America Hell, he noted, “is not physical — it’s psychological.”

Mike Caracalas’ talk at the 2012 Omaha HR Reinvention conference last November was one of seven (7) Ignite HR presentations that were each in some way related to the theme of “putting the human back in human resources.” We’re featuring them here on TLNT this week and next and this is No. 5. The earlier ones, in case you missed them, were:

Great insights in just 5 minutes

In case you’re just seeing an Ignite HR presentation for the first time, what makes Ignite HR work is that the format is tightly constructed so that presenters get only five (5) minutes, 20 slides and exactly 15 seconds per slide, maximum. Yes, that may sound like an odd way to present, but it is the tight format that really makes the presentations memorable because the presenters have to get to their point very, very quickly.

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Mike Caracalas’ presentation was great because it focused on the key role HR plays in the organization. If you care about that — and since you are here at TLNT, you probably do — then this Ignite HR video is for you.

There’s a lot of great insight in this presentation, but to give you a better sense of where Mike was going here, consider this portion of what he talked about:

I was a successful HR executive for 18 years, and I would be lying if I said that I always put the needs of human beings ahead of the needs of management and short term profit. … I actually think HR has sold out for that coveted ‘seat at the table.’ I think we’re trying to earn respect by acting like finance, by acting like operations, instead of truly embracing the unique contribution that we have to offer. I think we’re afraid of looking weak. We’re afraid (that) talking about feelings, and humanity, and the workplace, is just a little too touchy-feely for the business. I think we doubt our ability to quantify the impact on the bottom line of this work. And the truth is, it’s difficult to put a dollar figure on the impact to the business — but that doesn’t make it any less real.”

Want more? Then check out this interesting Ignite HR video.

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.

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