Thought Leadership Blog

The HRS Thought Leadership Blog delivers validated findings, visionary perspectives and op/ed commentaries related to HR, Leadership, Organizational Development and Employment Law. To enjoy the full volume of available articles, please enter topic keywords in the search box to explore our body of work. Articles are regularly presented by the HRS team and guest experts.

Workplace Power is Up for Grabs!

Tear down the thought of a management "ivory tower."   Workplace power is available to all!

Whenever I hear employees actually criticizing a co-worker for "kissing up" to a supervisor, I either scratch my head or roll my eyes.   The ambiguity of this phrase leads to derogatory interpretation of sometimes highly successful workplace practices.

If this term refers to recognizing and playing to workplace power in an effort to augment one's own career power, then every responsibile individual with a hint of motivation toward self-interest should "suck up."   However, it is certainly controversial to sacrifice one's integrity and core values long term for workplace advancement.  That situation would be a great topic for a new blog entry and needs to be excluded from this argument.
While it's clear that "employers of choice" create teams where employees and employers work together willingly toward clear and collaborative goals, I certainly agree many employers -- and employees -- "miss the boat" here.   Where an employer hears employees derogatorily tossing this term around to incumbent coworkers, an employer must ask "am I doing something wrong?"  The answer could lie in failing to communicate and create an appropriate system of performance outcomes.  The answer could also lie in hiring the wrong people.

Where an employee finds his/herself actually thinking that playing to and respecting power is not beneficial, the employee should re-evaluate his/her own career advancement methodology, goals or work ethic.  That employee might also wish to question if s/he is working for the right employer.

More info at

Jessica Ollenburg - Sunday, July 06, 2008


Must You Call Me "Kiddo"?!?

Some find it endearing, while many find it insulting.

The terms "kiddo," "dear" and "hun" are controversial, incurring a wide range of audience reactions.  Know your audience. 

Inherent in our culture and language is the bad habit of hearing some "cute" catch phrase, adopting it and then repeating it without ever really thinking about it.  Business relationship building clearly suffers from this damaging practice.

Calling someone "kiddo" is often interpreted as disrespecting and demeaning, a borderline attack on anyone over the age of 5.  The target of this term often feels defensive, conjuring such objections as -- "If you’re going to choose to disrespect the number of years I’ve endured, please don’t disrespect the challenges I’ve overcome, the good deeds I’ve contributed, the studies, accomplishments, dedicated parenting, charitable efforts,"... yadda…yadda... I rant to prove the point.

The point is... language sets the tone for workplace, customer service, negotiation, leadership and all business relationship building, so as always, choose your words and your tone carefully.  Condescending words such as "kiddo" and "hun" have no respectable and respectful place in business relationships.  Even children aspiring to maturity don’t like this label, so why would we assume a positive response from any adult?

With 25 years of validity and correlation studies including regression analysis and t-testing, the HRS Assessment Center (HRSAC) has established norms and preferred indicators for relationship building behaviors. I can assert with complete certainty that behaviors pointing to demonstrated respect are overwhelmingly the most underused toolset in our culture – and yet the most important to relationship building on the whole. 

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Jessica Ollenburg - Sunday, July 06, 2008