Changing Things Up

I have not been posting here much lately but am going to restart and take HHHR into a new direction in the coming months.  The first thing is to move HHHR from the Blogger platform to a self hosted WordPress platform.  This will freshen things up and give me a lot more flexibility with the things I want to do with the site.  It will take a bit to get it all up and running and I plan on playing with a couple different WordPress  themes until I find one I really like.

The second phase will be to fine tune what I want HHHR to be – details I will share with you later.  Its something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time but just didn’t have the confidence or the knowledge to do it.  I have done a lot of  research and studying on setting things up the way I want.  I’ve also figured how I want to move forward and am very excited to make it happen in the next couple of months!

2013 Review and Summary

Rich in the 1970s 

I launched Hard Hat HR on August 1, 2013 with the primary intent to create a new HR brand that focused on the hard hat industries. Its also a way to help me become a better HR professional by helping me sharpen my focus on issues that are important to me.  I also hope to become a better writer!

I have published 75 posts in the past five months – some are pretty darn good and some are pretty awful. I’m OK with that.   Some days I spend hours writing and editing a post and some days I quickly crank something out without proofing it. I’m the type of person who believes its better to start a project and work out the details along the way. I don’t believe in waiting until something is perfect before launching.  If I did, there are a lot of things I would never have done. That’s what I’m doing here at Hard Hat HR.  I acquired the URL, designed my Blogger template and started blogging right away.  I’m working out the details and learning how to improve along the way.  That’s how I work best.

I am not doing anything aggressive to promote traffic except to occasionally tweet a post.  I don’t know if Hard Hat HR will ever amount to anything but maybe it will. I’m not exactly sure what I want it to be except for my little world of HR thought and opinions. I believe that if I keep working on it it will evolve into something I can be proud of.    It is simply my small attempt to perhaps, someday, become an HR thought leader who’s focus is in the hard hat industries.

Until then, I plan to continue publishing the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Developing the Strategy for Staffing a New Mine – Establish Contact With Employment Agencies

The second thing I did, while continuing developing relationships in the communities, was to focus in on connecting with the employment agencies in the communities from which we were going to hire.

I simply contacted the Rawlins and Riverton Wyoming Department of Workforce Service offices and set up face to face meetings with the respective directors.  I also met with the regional director so that she understood our employment needs and could help.  I met up with these good folks many times throughout the process either by dropping in on them when I was in town or when I was attending the same community meetings they were also attending.  I also kept them in the loop by sending them copies of our news releases so they could more easily monitor our progress as we went through the permitting process.

This effort established trust and credibility in me with the folks at the employment agencies which was very valuable when we officially launched our hiring efforts. As an extra bonus, I can call these people friends!

Hard Hat Talent Management Strategy

One of the very first things I did when I started working as a Hard Hat HR Pro was to develop and install a comprehensive talent management strategy.  The strategy consists of a sophisticated and integrated system that helps create a culture of high expectation and excellent performance if executed correctly by HR and supervisors.

The Hard Hat Talent Management Strategy consists of the following elements which I will explain in more detail in future posts. None of this is theory. All of these elements have been used in the real world for many years and have been fined tuned – and will continue to be fine tuned as appropriate.  Some of the elements are pretty straight forward and some may surprise you because they are counter to conventional wisdom.

  1. Recruiting and Hiring Strategy
    • Recruiting
    • Interviewing
    • Hiring
    • Orientation
    • On-boarding
  2. Performance Management
    • Annual Performance Appraisal
    • 90 Day Performance Appraisal
    • Annual Objective Setting
    • Mid Year Objective Setting Review
    • Annual Talent Review Meeting
    • Succession Planning
  3. Responsibility Based Performance
    • Feedback and recognition
    • Reminder 1 and 2 (disciplinary system)
    • Decision Making Leave
  4. Training
    • Safety
    • Harassment Prevention
    • Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention
    • Understanding FLSA regulations

The Best Employees are Those Who Make it Look Easy

Have you ever watched pro golfers?  Or pro hockey players?  Or any other high level of sport?  The very best athletes make their sport seem so easy and effortless that anybody can do it – until we actually try to do it!   Watching them is a pleasure because we know the amount of sacrifice, hard work and practice they endured to get to the highest level of athletic performance. They are admired, respected and rewarded because of their excellent performance.

I often wonder why this isn’t so in many workplaces. It often seems that employees who make what they do seem easy and effortless go unnoticed and unrecognized.  Obviously, the workplace is quite a bit different from the athletic arena but my point is that we need to make sure we are recognizing those employees who make it look easy.  They are the true professionals in the workplace.

Throughout my career I’ve seen the employee who always makes a big production about the difficulty of their work.  They are seen as “putting out the fires”  and dealing with crisis after crisis (usually of their own making) and getting most of the positive recognition as a result.  By contrast, I’ve seen other employees quietly and competently getting their work done making what they do appear easy and, as a result, not “worthy” of recognition.

As a leader/manager/HR Pro it is important to recognize this situation and make the appropriate decisions regarding recognition and reward. The best at what they do always make it look easy and effortless.  Don’t let your true professionals become unhappy and leave your organization because they perceive you don’t appreciate them.

Developing the Strategy for Staffing a New Mine – Connect with the Communities

In the fall of 2012, I was ‘officially’ tasked with developing a strategy for recruiting and staffing our newly licensed uranium mine located in south central Wyoming.  When I say ‘officially’ I mean it was time to launch the strategy I had been developing and working on for several years.

I actually started developing the recruiting and hiring strategy a few years prior to my having to launch it.  We had been working on the permitting and licensing of the mine for several years but did not know exactly when we were going to receive the final set of permits that would allow us to start the construction and operation activities.  So with the luxury of time, I set out.

The first thing I did was make connections with people in the communities where our employee base would be located.  In this case, Rawlins, Bairoil, Wamsutter, Riverton, and Lander.  I focused most of my attention on Rawlins, Bairoil and Wamsutter because those communities are 45 to 15 minutes away from the mine site while Riverton and Lander are a little over an hour away.

I started the process of connecting with the economic development organizations in Rawlins by learning when they held their meetings and attended them.  I made sure I looked the part by arriving in Rawlins in the white company Ford F-150 with Wyoming plates (bad form showing up in Wyoming as a “greenie” with green Colorado plates!)  and wearing a company shirt and my Wranglers and roper boots.   The Rawlins community is a small Wyoming town with the majority of the population employed in the extractive industries and are predominately hard working blue collar.  It’s important to be deferential and try to fit in and not come off as a big shot big city type coming in to save them.

When attending these meetings, I simply introduced myself to everybody I could and explained who I was and what my company’s future hiring plans were.  This, of course, generated a very positive reaction leading the people I met to introduce me to other local influential officials.  I soon built up a solid network of influential people in Rawlins, Bairoil, and Wamsutter and kept in touch with them by sending them press releases of our progress, emailing them with company updates, and making presentations at city council and annual local “roundtable” meetings.

In addition to attending these meetings, I made a lot of phone calls and knocked on a lot of office doors.  This effort introduced me to a lot of people who would later help with my recruiting efforts and with gathering public support for the company.  I also made a lot of new friends.

I was able to build a level trust with the influencers in the communities.  This was important because they have lived through many “boom and bust” periods where companies swept in with big promises and swept out when things got tough, leaving the communities holding the bag for the infrastructure costs they incurred to accommodate the influx of employees.

Initially connecting with the communities established the critical foundation for the next steps in the strategy for staffing the mine.  Steps I will cover in a series of future posts.

2013 Wyoming SHRM Conference

I am attending the 2013 Wyoming SHRM Conference – Passport to HR Knowledge – this today and tomorrow and am looking forward to the presentations and meeting new people.  I will not be live blogging since that never seems to work for me but I will be live tweeting throughout the event.

I can’t find a hashtag so I will use #2013WYSHRM.

Slight Name Change to HHHR

I made a slight name change from Hard Hat HR – Practicing HR in the Mining Industry to Hard Hat HR – HR in the Extractive Industries.  I did this to broaden the scope and reach of HHHR to include the oil and gas industries since they attract and employ a very similar, if not the same, workforce.

I also distressed and weathered the text of the title a bit to give it a realistic looking been-in-the- elements appearance.

Introducing Hard Hat Recruiting

Over the past two months, I’ve been travelling to several Wyoming communities recruiting for positions to staff my company’s mine. While working various job fairs and in speaking with hundreds of candidates, I was reminded that recruiting in the mining industry is very different than recruiting in most other industries. There are not many people, if there is any at all, out there talking about the nitty gritty of recruiting in the industry. Most of the focus in the main stream media, blogs, podcasts, books, magazines, and conferences centers on the latest technology and mostly on professionals and knowledge workers.  While I find it all very interesting, it has nothing to do with the kind of recruiting I am doing.

As a result, I coined a phrase “Hard Hat Recruiting” to describe my work recruiting employees in the mining industry.  Hard Hat Recruiting is very different – not any better or any worse, mind you – than the typical type of recruiting most HR professionals and recruiters are accustomed to doing. Its an entirely different mindset and if you are going to be successful, you need to understand that mindset and not try to make these solid, decent, hardworking people fit into the mold of what conventional wisdom tells us a candidate should be or do.  For example, there are no suits and ties (or even khakis and collared shirts), resume’s are spotty at best, and social media recruiting – LOL, your kidding, right?!

I am starting another series of posts exploring my experiences and recommendations in the practice of Hard Hat Recruiting.

This is re-posted from

Introducing Hard Hat HR

As I mentioned in my other blog,, I came up with the term Hard Hat HR while driving home from a job fair in rural Wyoming.  My intent is to create a new HR ‘brand’ that focuses on HR practiced in the ‘hard hat’ industries.  While HR is HR for the most part, there is certainly a different consideration that has to be taken in the ‘hard hat’ industries.  The focus of this blog will be in the mining sector but I am confident it can be applied to other similar industries.

In addition to posting all my HR content here, my goal is to share my HR experiences, both successes and failures, where appropriate.  I will also be re-posting all my HR related posts from in the next few months so it will all be in one place.

I’ve discovered a niche in the HR blogesphere/social media world and I am excited to launch Hard Hat HR!

You can also follow me on twitter @HardHatHR which I’m officially launching today along with

A note on the photo accompanying this post and used as the theme of the blog:  That is a picture of me – wearing a hard hat! – out in the field at a uranium drill rig back in the 1970s when I traveled around Wyoming with my dad as he worked as a uranium exploration geologist.