What’s in your HR Toolbox, Trish McFarlane?

Trish McFarlane is always in the middle of the action, much like the ringleader in the title of her HR blog. She’s an active social networker, volunteer, mother and revolutionary. When she’s not busy juggling all of those different things she’s gracious enough to share with others. So she’s here today to offer best practices and resources on how to be more effective, both online and off.

The spotlight’s on you Trish-take it away!


When CCC asked me to weigh in on the tools and tricks I use to stay effective in my roles, I jumped at the chance. I know that by sharing ideas, other working HR practitioners and parents will try them and be able to more effectively manage their time.

From a HR standpoint, here are the things the HR Ringleader just can’t live without:

  • My Twitter Network of HR pros – I cannot recommend strongly enough that each HR person out there should sign on to Twitter and begin connecting with their HR peers and colleagues across the country. The HR network is willing to share ideas and information, so it would be a challenge for someone to connect and walk away without having gained something valuable.
  • A connection with your CFO and/or Accounting department– It is critical that HR professionals have a solid understanding of the financial aspects of running a business. Being able to understand the financial metrics will enable the HR pro to make recommendations to leadership decisions on recruiting, compensation, and training that will support the overall goals of the company. It is very easy for HR to stay isolated, but I challenge you to learn more about finance. I regularly read CFO Magazine and MSNBC business online. If you are not strong in understanding the financial metrics of your employer, there are many seminars available to get you up to speed.
  • Franklin Covey planner– I know it’s old-school, but I still love it. There is something special to me about being able to actually write something down. I am very visual, so I can picture how I wrote something when I need to go back and look it up. I also use a trick of writing each entry in a different color ink so that helps me easily remember where the information is in the planner.
  • Tools to Manage Information– Others have mentioned this before but it’s worth saying again. Google Reader is a MUST for managing information from multiple blogs and other news sources. Also, you’ll need a good method of managing your Twitter account. I use Tweetdeck and it is outstanding. My favorite feature is the search function where you can have multiple searches going at once. I use this feature to identify job opportunities for laid off workers, to research for presentations and training courses I am writing, to follow updates on #HRevolution, #HRHappyHour, and #HR_Tech, just to name a few.

From a working parent standpoint, these are things I find most helpful:

  • Online grocery shopping– In my area, you can order groceries online and have them delivered to your home. The grocery store website offers coupons and saves your “regular” shopping list to make your experience move quickly. They deliver the bags right to your door for only $15.50 same day delivery and $12.50 for next day delivery. This is a real time saver for a busy working parent. The extra hour or two I gain is well worth the money if I get to spend it with my kids.
  • Housecleaning/ Maid Service– I have someone clean for me every two weeks. It helps with the chores that I don’t make time to do like cleaning windows and baseboards, ceiling fans, etc. Then, I take care of the normal “day-to-day” cleaning. Again, it is worth the expense because it gives me more time with my kids.


So, that’s all from me. As you can see, having a stocked tool box is critical for managing any three-ring circus.

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