Kyle Jones: The HR Interview

Blogging can be a solitary thing. Most posts require time spent in front of a computer, putting words and other content together. It often feels as if you’re in a bubble, and that others don’t understand or relate.

Part of the pleasure in doing the HR Interview series is that it’s designed to connect with real people. Whether locally or globally, this format allows participants to use their voices to connect with an audience. For me, it allows for conversation, connection, and a chance to support fellow HR professionals.

Kyle Jones is a Human Resources professional based out of Mississippi in the United States. He’s worn, and continues to wear many HR related hats. How he manages it all will be revealed in the interview. Along with this, Kyle has an easygoing manner that makes you listen to what he has to say. It was a pleasure talking with him, and I hope you enjoy the interview!

State your name. rank, and serial number (aka who you are and what you do).

Image of Kyle JonesMy name is Kyle Jones. I am from Hattiesburg, Mississippi and am the Human Resource Manager at MegaGate Broadband, Inc. I am an active member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) serving in leadership roles on both the local and state level. My latest SHRM-affiliated role has placed me on the HR Blogging highway: HR To Who. I’m a fan of comic books, science fiction and technology. Last, but certainly not least–especially for those who know me both online and off–I’m an avid fan of Doctor Who.

How do you help your organization reach its strategic objectives?

One of the many lessons I’ve learned from both my parents is the importance of hard work. My Father has often said, “If you take the time to do something, take the time to do it right.” My Mother taught me to be thankful for the job you have and to take pride in the work you do (I would note that, upon retirement, she had worked for the same organization for 47 years.).

How does the above factor into strategic objectives? It’s simple. I’m fortunate to work closely with the owners of the company who know my work and dedication. Am I perfect? No, absolutely not. What I am is someone who is willing to be a team player and always try to help others. I often say in an interview, “No one here is too good to do someone else’s job.” It is this mindset that I hope I give to others who join our company.

The role you currently occupy is a result of your rise through the company’s ranks. How were you able to achieve this level of success?

The answer to the previous question, in many ways, answers this one. It was hard work. It was dedication but it was also a bit of luck, an amount of fate, a dash of happenstance and equally loyal owners who do try to recognize those who work hard for the company. Are they perfect? No, absolutely not just as I said about myself. They recognized that I was someone who was unafraid to take a manual home and read it front-to-back if it meant learning how to do something new. (Yes….this was in days before Google and Wikipedia.) My hire date was June 05, 1996 when the company was still called Cellular One and I’ve been lucky to have worked a handful of different positions before assuming the HR role in 2005.

How do you stay organized as a “Department of One?”

Organization? What is this organization of which you speak? I’m not sure I know of this.

I’ve used various time management techniques over the years ranging from Post-It notes (yes, not too efficient), Franklin Covey planners, Franklin Covey Software for Outlook, Producteev, legal pads, etc. I currently use Apple’s Reminders as this program allows me to sync tasks between iPad, iPhone & MacBook. Otherwise, without electronic organization, I’d be lost.

You’re active in social media. What made you decide to get involved in this medium?

I call myself a social media enthusiast but I am, by far, not an expert nor do I profess to be. I do consider myself a self-taught student of SM and have taken that knowledge and applied it to three different areas of my life:

  1. My own social profiles and blog.
  2. Working as a member of MegaGate’s Social Media Team
  3. Serving as Mississippi SHRM State Council’s first Social Media Director.

One of my dreams as a child was to be a writer as words would always seem to come easy for me. I didn’t like math nor did I like science but I did find enjoyment in history and in the written word. Social Media, and blogging specifically, has opened the once closed door and allowed me to let the words flow and take me where they will. The medium may not be onto paper as the child in me thought but I am able to interact and share in ways that were never imagined as possible way back then.

Let’s take this interview for example. Without social media, what chance would it have been that an HR professional from NYC would connect with one from Mississippi? That is an excellent example of the powerful tool that is social media.

Talk about your evolution as a blogger. What’s been the most rewarding/frustrating aspect of it?

My blog has had a few starts-and-stops since deciding to blog about a year ago as I learned about the medium. The most frustrating aspect would be the common belief that a blog should be dedicated to one specific topic. If you like HR…blog HR. If you like cooking…blog cooking. If you like sports…blog sports. I think you get the idea. Well, that didn’t work for me. I am passionate about HR but I am equally passionate about Doctor Who. (Examples: I come as a Doctor on Halloween. I have a TARDIS USB hub. I have a mini-TARDIS wrapped by a Fourth Doctor scarf in my office.) I finally decided to just do what I wanted to do and launched my HR to WHO: From Human Resources to Doctor Who blog. Will it work? Will it fail? Time will tell but, regardless, it is what I want and not what others have told me I should do.

The reward is simple. I’m learning something new and am making connections with HR from all over the USA and with Doctor Who fans all over the world.

You’ve been involved with several SHRM chapters throughout your career. How has it helped you, professionally speaking?

Have you ever heard anyone say the following: “I didn’t choose HR. HR chose me?”

This is what happened to me. I was called into my boss’s office on a Friday afternoon around 4:30pm. I saw her sitting at her desk with the CEO sitting in one of the two available chairs. What would you think at this moment? Would you have been like me and wonder what have I done? I’ve not done anything??? This is, after all, the time many managers choose to terminate an employee. My heart raced knowing that I hadn’t done anything only to find out that I’d been chosen to assume the vacated HR position.

I’d learned much of what I knew about management from Aprille Lott, my boss prior to the move. I knew about management and would often follow her example; yet, I basically knew nothing about HR. It was Kevin Pack, my new boss now that I’d transitioned over to HR, who I will always thank for introducing me to SHRM. He suggested that I join the local chapter and become a national member. That suggestion forever changed my career.

On the local level, I met individuals who are great friends to this day. I was mentored by the two previous HR Managers from MegaGate (both South MS SHRM members) Karen Shemper and Crystal Crawford. Both welcomed and helped open the door to the local chapter. It allowed me to meet Jan Farve, winner of a 2012 SHRM Pinnacle Award.

My election to the chapter board paved way to my participation on the Mississippi State Council of SHRM beginning in 2007. This brought me in contact with HR from all across Mississippi. I’ve found lifelong friends and could never name them all without fear of leaving someone out. I would like to recognize Teresa Boutwell. Teresa was our State Council Director for 2009-2010 and is someone who I admire for her professionalism and dedication.

It also allowed access to national SHRM employees. While I’m thankful to have met them all, I give special recognition to Dorothy Knapp, Field Services Director for SouthEast Region. Dorothy’s words were always encouraging and equally inspiring. Maybe we just “clicked” just as I had with Teresa but, she was someone who made me want to be better – to do more.

Why lists all of these people? My intent was not to drop a name but, instead, to answer your question as to how my SHRM affiliation has affected me professionally. Each person named above–with the exception of Karen and Crystal–is someone who I met because of SHRM. These are people who, without SHRM, I may never have met. And, without them, I would not be the person writing this sentence.

Where is the HR profession headed? How do you feel about that?

The political landscape impacts HR and I attempt to remain neutral in terms of politics. I think, as HR, it is important that no one knows my political views. I might be a Left Wing Democrat or a Right Wing Republican–or neither. But, politics removed, I fear that we will go increasingly into the direction of rule enforcement. Please don’t think that I am someone who thinks there shouldn’t be any rules. No, that’s not the case. I do not like that HR is often the one to play enforcer of rules. (And, yes, I realize this is our job.) Perhaps I yearn for a day where we come to work…we do our jobs…we all get along…we all go home.

On a positive note, I think HR will continue to adopt social media by necessity if not by choice. I obviously am excited about that as it further blends two things I enjoy.

What’s the next challenge for you?

The next challenge is to continue blogging. I want to continue on this path and see where it takes me because the opportunities it creates can be limitless. It is dependent upon me on how much time, energy and resources I wish to devote.

Doctor Who–can you explain the appeal to me?

I remember watching Doctor Who on PBS every afternoon when I was probably six-to-eight years old. I remembered it being a man called The Doctor who curly brown hair, a long scarf and traveled in a blue telephone box. That was all I remembered and Doctor Who was forgotten as I grew older.

Netflix reintroduced me to Doctor Who. Next, the realization that the different actors who played The Doctor, other than the one mentioned above, were all the same character helped to make me a full-fledged, card-carrying Whovian.

So, what’s the appeal? Well, you have a program that is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary in November of this year. You have almost fifty years of episodes, books, spinoffs, comic books, etc. available. There are Podcasts devoted to Doctor Who along with many Google+ Pages & Communities. Facebook Pages and Groups abound as do conventions all across the world. This is not just a show loved in the UK but is watched in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US.

But, after taking away the companions, the monsters, the history and everything else, it is about The Doctor. He, who is over 1,000 years old, has the ability to regenerate his mind/body and has done so many times. Each regeneration brings with it something new – a new aspect of him that was not there before – while keeping all that has come before. He, who stands as a protector of the weak and an equal warrior for the wronged, is ultimately alone as he constantly travels throughout space and time. He has suffered great and terrible loss but goes onward and upward.

The Doctor changes those who travel with him and makes them better – makes them more than they ever could imagine possible.

Isn’t that something we should all wish to do? To be better? To reinvent ourselves from time-to-time? And, isn’t there a small part of all of us…a tiny small part…that wishes for the ability to recapture one single fixed moment in our own history?

Perhaps, the Doctor shows us what is best in ourselves? Yet, I don’t think I can answer it any better than The Doctor himself. The following quote is from the 2005 episode “Rose” and is a quote from the Ninth Doctor.

“Do you wanna come with me? ‘Cause if you do then I should warn you, you’re gonna see all sorts of things. Ghosts from the past; Aliens from the future; the day the Earth died in a ball of flame; It won’t be quiet, it won’t be safe, and it won’t be calm. But I’ll tell you what it will be: the trip of a lifetime.”

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