When A Colleague Gets Their Just Rewards, Graciousness Wins

We’ve all dealt with a colleague or boss who treated us poorly. It hasn’t been the norm in my world, so when it has happened occasionally, I’d channel the five stages of grief in 48 hours:
  • Denial: Did that just happen
  • Anger: Eff that guy!
  • Bargaining: Was it me? Man I stink, do I need to talk this out with said person and explain to get things on track (twist:I bargain with myself)
  • Depression: Oh, my goodness, this hurts my heart, this isn’t fair, why me, imma buy me a happy from World Market, and listen to The Smiths, and sequester my husband who will need a cocktail after enduring my tragic soliloquy…
  • Acceptance: It is finished, let me hug my husband for his support while I worked this out at home, buy him a happy from World Market, and get back to work…
Wuh…that lost me about 325,000 brain cells.
Seriously though, what if you really, sincerely, were wronged in a big way. Something that may have impact on your dignity, reputation or even your employment. This is really tough stuff and I don’t care how savvy, put-together or calm your general demeanor it, how you react can be a struggle.
And Double Bonus: What do you do when life catches up to this person? Aw, snap. Where Instant Karma did get them? When they finally do get their just desserts? Sometimes, as the song says, “We all shine on…”. You take the high road.
How do you handle it?
  • In my corporate experience, I’m am a believer, in most cases, to address the situation or at least what my perception of the situation has been, with that person. Let’s address it, set it straight, and move on. It takes courage, skill and practice, but it is the fair thing for both parties. If you are a leader in an organization, this models the right behavior, can create great employee experiences which hopefully creates solid cultures of trust.
Also, face it, in a professional setting you have no choice but to move on, so for your physical and mental health #justdoit.
  • Determine if you innately are a “low-sensitivity” or “high-sensitivity” person. A great friend and mentor of mine, an up-n-comer named Kris Dunn, taught me this. If you are a high-sensitivity person (Richard Simmons?) and they are a low-sensitivity person (Jeff Bezos), which are both OK by the way, this gives perspective on how you may have perceived the situation. More importantly, it gives perspective on how you should go into handling the situation.
  • Know their reaction may not be good and may not solicit the result or closure you want. This happened to me once. When I addressed issues with a powerful, low-sensitivity person at work, he just didn’t know how to react. He was a bit shocked, said the right things in person, and then.. laid on some passive aggressive consequences later. Ouch.
  • Talk to a friend, advocate, counselor – it’s cool. I’m even OK with you talking to someone how knows both parties. But set the record straight — you want them to call you on your B.S. if necessary.
  • Move on. It is done. As a strong advocate for mental health awareness and wellness at work, really this stuff will cause harm to your physical self if you don’t. Triple that if you have to see this person every day at work. Quadruple that if this a person in a position of power. This may take longer than you hope, but with some tools/skills you will make it through till the feeling passes. And it will pass.
Then the real test: What do you do when this person finally gets what is coming to them?!
Be gracious and people have likely been gracious with you. Cy Wakeman says, “channel your higher self”. In my leadership experience, it is not a good look to gloat, brag, or belittle them, especially on social media, even if you deserve to. And if you want to be rightfully selfish about it, it will serve you no long term purpose nor make you feel better in the long run.
Remember, all things shall pass including these situations. Courage, grace and humility will serve all best, especially you. Sticking with the Beatles theme, just listen to Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, grab some cookies and…get back to work.

HR On The Run >Starbucks Diversity Training & De-escalating Anger

Now that I work from home, there are times I have to get out of the house. You guessed it, I do the rest of my work from Starbucks. I’ve talked to a handful of Starbucks employees and got their take on the diversity training given a few weeks back.

One of their responses had me thinking – how do you de-escalate anger at work? Check out this episode to find out. I give you 4 tips to de-escalate situations that become tense, including if they are due to inappropriate harassment language.



@Dawnhburke #SHRM18 Spotify Playlist

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OK – I bit.

Someone challenged me to create a #SHRM18 conference playlist.  Since I love music, and listen to lots of it – I said sure thing.

So, here is my playlist.  Songs can be attributed to HR functions, summer songs,  songs you’ll wanna play as you walk 4 miles across the conference center through 18K people (GOT Theme!), songs to get you through your morning hangover (Save a Prayer !), songs to help you get up at 8am for the keynote, songs about Chicago, songs by Chicago artists, songs about baseball, of course just stuff I like!

And of course — Pentatonix, the SHRM conference entertainment.

There is a little something for everyone. Enjoy!




Corporate Diversity Leaders: Less Focus On Demographics, More On Belonging

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“There are champions of “diversity” and there are champions of a “demographic”. We need to be more concerned when something happens to one of us; it’s really happened to ALL of us. Being a champion of diversity means being a champion for everyone across ALL inter-sectionally, not just the familiar” — Candi Castleberry Singleton, VP of Intersectionality, Culture and Diversity – Twitter.

My professional HR relationship with diversity initiatives has always been, “meh.”

For that reason, I was thrilled to attend the “Beyond a Corporate Initiative: Making Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Real For Employees” panel at WorkHuman 2018. The panel included some mighty star power including Candi Castleberry Singleton, VP of Intersectionality, Culture, and Diversity at Twitter; Barbara H. Whye, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer and VP of Human Resources at Intel; Willard McCloud III, Global Lead of Diversity & Inclusion and Culture at Pfizer; and Barbara Williams Hardy, Global Head of Global Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging at Netapp.

I was sincerely inspired by this panel. To understand, you need to know more about my “meh” relationship with D&I initiatives, which I imagine that some of you have had too. It was not for lack of believing in their human value nor for a lack of believing all should be given equal opportunities to work, live, and be respected. My “meh” HR relationship was driven by the feeling that no matter what HR “did,” the task at hand was too big to tackle, too time-intensive, and, frankly, would drive limited results.

More importantly, I’m not sure I related enough to the stereotypical demographics affected. I’m a white woman. Yes, women are included in the “stereotypical” group, but to date, I hadn’t felt any professional pain because of my gender. How could I relate enough to lead diversity programs? Frankly, I didn’t feel I belonged.

The panel’s insights, given to a packed crowd, made me sit up in my seat. A D&I work theme loudly heard was that in addition to giving the oppressed a “voice,” D&I is also about creating safe workspaces for ALL to belong. For if one truly feels they belong, they can be their true selves. When you are your true self, you have more courage to speak your story to others. That’s the magic.

Belonging is a human issue, not just a demographic one. This was very powerful to me and to the crowd. So much so, I regretted not having this revelation in my earlier HR days, where the story I had in my head of “not belonging” in the diversity world was really off-base.

The panel also agreed that the issues we are seeing in society (#metoo, Charlottesville, transgender equality) are impacting diversity and inclusion initiatives in the workplace. For new generations of workers are demanding companies to respond to social injustices in a very public way. This is new territory for stereotypically risk-averse corporations. They will need to navigate these waters now, or risk talent acquisition and retention problems in the future.

In the end, the panel hit home that no initiative or program, whether diversity-related or not, succeeds without the help and support of all. And for those leading D&I programs, it’s time to get clear on who your programs are championing. If your answer is not “all,” you may need to reframe your purpose towards creating a culture of belonging.

>>>This post was originally published on Globoforce’s WorkHuman Conference Blog.  To learn more about Globoforce and the WorkHuman Movement — click on the links.  Also, to continue the WorkHuman conversation, join your peers on LinkedIn by visiting workhumancommunity.com.


#SHRM18 > 4 Speakers #HR Can’t Miss If You Want To Re-Skill

Screen Shot 2018-06-06 at 2.44.22 PMHello Friends!

I am going to be covering the SHRM National Conference this month in Chicago, IL (yes, one of my fav states).  Since I go, speak, and write for a lot of conferences (I’m a nerd), I want to share some love with you.  I mean, we know HR pros and leaders need to sharpen skills to handle the modern organization.  Take a little time for yourself (for a change) and get your learn-on.

Here are four speakers I have seen whose sessions I recommend you attend at SHRM18.  They have smarts coupled with research.  They are entertaining and will keep your attention. They have books! So go see them. Pronto. Tag these on folks on your SHRM18 App asap.

  • Tim Sackett
  • Cy Wakeman
  • Jamie Notter
  • David Rock

To read all the reasons why — you must check out my full piece originally published On the SHRM Blog.  All of the links to these speakers and their sessions are just a click away.

Also, let me know if you are going! Let’s hug it out —

Top 3 Areas #HR Pros Should Master Now – Talent Vlogs w Dawn Burke

*My VLOG below, can be found on the Saba Blog as well.  Check them out for great content too! -DB

HR pros, when’s the last time you attended a training and development course? When is the last time you checked to see if your skills were up to par? For most of you, the answer is likely, “not lately”. I mean, for real, where is the time? However, changes in the workplace have placed training and development programs at the top of executive’s lists. The speed of work, the pressure of competition and the rise of new and improved technologies are forcing companies to re-skill employees continuously just to keep up.  HR pros talk continuously about re-skilling our workforces but forget to include themselves in the mix!

In this Saba Talent Vlog, I’ll share with you the top 3 areas all HR pros should master now. Not only will these skills be fairly easy to navigate, but you can likely use resources within your own organization to acquire them.


WEBINAR! Join me > L&D “Selfies”: How To Customize Programs To Make Employees CEO of Their Careers

Hey Gang! 

If you are a leader of Culture, Engagement, HR, Learning and Dev, don’t miss this one.  I’m happy to host this webinar:  L&D “Selfies”: How To Customize Programs To Make Employees CEO of Their Careers.  This one is brought to you by the great folks at Clear Company and HR.com. 

This one is Thursday, May 10th, 1pm – 2pm Eastern Time (12pm – 1 pm Central).


Today, all generations in the workforce are smack in the middle of the “i” generation. From the iPhone to Amazon, our world is tailored to individual needs. New ways of receiving information (Facebook, anyone?) have also changed how we absorb information. That includes how employees interact with learning and development programs within the workforce. 

Join me, to examine how we should be empowering employees to drive their own development. She’ll discuss how this method is not only what most modern employees want, it’s also key to retention and engagement of your top talent. 
We’ll Discuss: 

  • What makes up the modern “career”
  • How developing leaders has risen to the top of executives’ priority list
  • The top current ways adults absorb information
  • New employee-driven learning and development techniques that not only teach skills but also drive employee engagement
  • Why creating great employee experiences, including learning and development programs, is critical for success




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*My post below, in its entirety can be found on the Globoforce blog as well.  Check them out for great content too! -DB 

After 20 years in corporate HR, I needed a change of scenery. Now a member of the “gig-economy,” working for myself has been an adventure. Most “consultants” tell you the biggest adjustment they have switching from corporate-to-home is being alone. I am no exception.

As someone who is energized by people, loves leading teams, and enjoys sparing over the latest “Black Mirror” episode, it was a bit jarring. The fact is, at times I’m just plain lonely. As I tell some people, my cat Emma has become my “Wilson.” (Actually, since she runs the house, I’m probably her Wilson!)

I’ve come to find, loneliness isn’t just a work-from-home issue, but also a workplace epidemic. We are more connected than ever yet are failing to make human connections. Don’t get me wrong, being alone is OK. But when alone-ness turns into loneliness, the workplace consequences can be rough.

Why should HR care? I mean, if an employee doesn’t let you know he is lonely and still gets his work done, is it HR’s business? The answer is yes.

2018 job growth is better than expected and the unemployment rate (4.1%) is the lowest in the last 18 years. Employees can easily find greener pastures where they won’t be lonely.

Being ignored (a cause of loneliness) for long periods causes significant burnout. Most people equate burnout with physical exhaustion, however, loneliness causes an anguish that takes up mental bandwidth leading to a decrease in cognitive abilities. Yikes.
Loneliness creates employee disengagement. A disengaged employee is never good for business.

Loneliness is bad for your health. It is a literal killer. One HBR article stated, “Research by Sarah Pressman… demonstrates that while obesity reduces longevity by 20%, drinking by 30%, and smoking by 50%, loneliness reduces it by a whopping 70%.”
HR, it’s time to put down the policy book and focus on your most important work. This is the work of building connections, inspiring trust-base practices, and creating positive employee experiences.

Here are seven ways HR can mitigate loneliness in the workplace…

To read the rest of Seven Tips To Prevent Loneliness – , read the rest of my post here on the Globoforce Blog 

5 Reasons To Attend #WorkHuman 2018

Hello DBHR Friends! I will have the pleasure of attending the Globoforce Workhuman conference this April 2-5, in wonderful Austin, TX. See my VLOG below that shares with you 5 GREAT reasons you should attend as well.
Also, below is the Dawn Magic Discount Code. Use when you register to get a lovely discount.

The HR Rebellion Includes Engaging Employees. Here’s A New Playbook To Help You.


Rebels are few and far between.  But when they stick, they stick.

Rosa Parks, David Bowie, #metoo leaders, Galileo, the Star Wars Rebel Alliance, Abe Lincoln, and the rebels in the Paris Uprising of 1832. (OK, they lost, but we got Les Miserables). There is something these rebels have in common:  They take action. They do something. They don’t talk, they do.

And now, with the rise of the internet, we’ve witnessed in real time, our latest rebels – the modern worker.  And this has been very good. Freedoms afforded all through social channels, including instant access to knowledge and the ability to vote through “likes” have become the norm everywhere.  Everywhere, except the workplace. This has been very bad. But never fear, we’ve got a new bunch of rebels changing that. Corporate leader/rebels that have decided to do something to make the workplace a better and more profitable place to work.

These “rebel companies” are highlighted in a new book I a happy to introduce, Build It: The Rebel Playbook, For World-Class Employee Engagement.  Written by Debra Corey and Glenn Elliott of Reward Gateway, they have used their expertise creating employee engagement solutions as a basis for their “Rebel Playbook”.

Why is this important? The playbook spells out to us curious, yet time-crunched “trench HR” pros, how 59 “rebel companies” took baby steps to create engagement cultures. From McDonalds to VaynerMedia, and Krispy Kreme to Brewdog, there are plays for everyone. Did I mention the book spells this out for you.  Did I mention, baby-steps? It makes the impossible, possible.

I had the pleasure of speaking to Debra Corey, and very much liked what she had to say.  She’s what people in the South refer to as, “my people”. A trench HR vet herself, she has worked for the likes of big players like the Gap in addition to smaller tech companies – so she’s seen most everything.


Debra stated, “The companies represented are big and small.  We didn’t just want (to highlight) the “biggies” on purpose.  That being said, all who created successful engagement experiences had a few common themes:

  • They had a strong rebel driving the change.  Sometimes is was HR, sometimes other leaders, but they said things boldly to get attention.
  • There was support from leadership.
  • A majority of the companies saw connection between employee engagement initiatives to the total company engagement experience — including the customer experience”.

Although Debra is seeing a shift in a less “risk-adverse” HR culture, there are still pros that enjoy their place as risk mitigators and rules regulators. This is OK.  “However, some of these people may not be your workplace “rebels”.  These may not be the ones who will lead a cultural shift that centers on employee engagement”.  

Personally speaking, as an HR vet and someone who has read the book, I feel the “non-rebels” will still benefit from The Rebel Playbook. The best risk mitigation is to create an engaged workforce, one that understands the purpose of their work, feels they are being heard, and are connected to the organization.

So go get the book!  It’s a fun, practical read that will be worth the $10 Kindle price! That’s the cost of 2 Starbuck’s Tall Flat Whites. Then let me know what you think. Then be on the lookout for more of my posts about The Playbook, Debra and employee engagement topics.