It’s Hard to Unplug From Work

I just returned from a week-long vacation. We spent several days in Nashville, visited family in Indianapolis, and got home a few days early to just get stuff done around the house. I was able to get out for some good runs and even squeak in a yoga class. And, while I enjoyed the physical time away from work, I found I don’t really turn work off when I’m on vacation. Because everywhere I go, I can’t seem to get away from Human Resources.

If you follow the advice of all the leadership and entrepreneur gurus, they will tell you that you need to unplug, when you get a chance, from your super busy work life. You can’t flip through the latest Inc. or Forbes articles without bumping into a post about the “6 Ways to Totally Unplug and Get Away From the Hustle.” Or, the one about the “13 Things Every Super Successful Entrepreneur Does on Her Vacation Before 6am.” Those are great tips, but I’m not really interested in what these people do every morning. I have my morning routine and it has made me the super awesome HR guy I am today. Want to know how I do it? Maybe I’ll create my own post on that one.

One of the things I notice when I am away from work is that I’m always observing work. When I jump in that Uber, I’m chatting up the driver about her experience in working for Uber or other ride-share companies. When I was out for a morning run around Nissan Stadium, I ran around a remote parking lot for UBS employees. They park there and and a shuttle take them across the river to the office building. I was curious about what this experience was like for them. What were the drivers thinking as they picked everyone up? Did the employees make their coffee at home, did they get it before the shuttle, or wait until they get to the office? Yes, my running mind is wacky.

One evening, we had dinner at The Southern in downtown Nashville. Our waiter introduced himself and noted this was his first night on the job. He mentioned he worked days at the restaurant and this was his first time working the evening shift. I immediately thought about what his training and on-boarding experience was like. How much training did he receive before they let him loose on the customers? While it wasn’t my job to determine that, I decided to give him as much on-the-job experience I could provide. I asked questions about the different items on the menu. I asked about the specials and the various cuts of meat they had. And he nailed it. When he didn’t know the answer, he admitted it and asked one of his colleagues to explain further. By the way, if you ever get to The Southern, ask for Austin. He’s awesome. And, get the double cut smoked pork chop.

I wasn’t doing this to be difficult or be a jerk (my wife may disagree), I was just fascinated to learn about other industries and how they train their people. As I write this, I realize I must really be a pain to be around. Again, ask those close to me.

I’ve been in HR for 20+ years. I’m passionate about what I do and I truly enjoy what I do. Sure, there are days when I’m not feeling it, but those are to be expected. When you truly enjoy what you do, it shouldn’t be a grind or a hustle. For 85% of my career, I have not felt this way.

So, I’m curious about you. As an employee, are you watching how other employees are treated? Leaders, do you observe other work environments and see how others may be doing something different or unique? Are you learning something when you’re not at work? If not, just ask someone about their experience. People love to talk about themselves. Just ask them!


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