Jan 22, 2019 12:28PM
By Robert Fraass
People don’t like feedback; they like attention,” says Mike Bojanski, vice president of Finley Engineering in Omaha. “Attention comes out like this: ‘What are you working on today? Is there anything getting in your way? And how can I help you?’”
It’s a philosophy Bojanski has held throughout his 35-year career in human resources, in which he has communicated with thousands of employees and provided all kinds of motivations for their work lives.
People have been a continual source of challenge and fascination for Bojanski, who was also the 2018 president of the Human Resource Association of the Midlands (HRAM).
The HR life, he says, requires the skills of a behaviorist and the passion to learn what makes people tick.
“It’s cliché, but most people I like, and some I don’t want to be around,” Bojanski says. “I’m interested in both.”
HR professionals make a big mistake when they bind themselves to their offices, becoming the coworkers others dread who only appear when it is time to hand out disciplinary action, firings, and layoffs.
To understand workers and benefit their employers, HR professionals must adapt the philosophy of “management by walking around.”
“You do human resources work by talking to people. Going into their space,” Bojanski says. “If you understand what they understand, then you understand the challenges that management has, that employees have, and you can respond to their issues more quickly.”
He subscribes to “service leadership” as his management style—asking more questions and listening more, not asking others to do tasks you wouldn’t, and removing obstacles so people can more effectively perform their jobs. It is this service leadership that has helped him throughout his career, especially during this past year with HRAM.
Building Omaha’s HR Community
As a young professional in 1985, Bojanski joined HRAM, the local chapter of the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM). The Omaha-based regional chapter boasts more than 1,000 members, making it one of the 15 largest SHRM chapters in the United States.
Sarah Schulz, executive director of HRAM, says Bojanski was great to work with this year. Bojanski’s commitment to serving others was evident, having personally reached out to each member who joined HRAM during his presidential term.
“Mike is passionate about organizations he lends his time to,” she says. “He honestly puts his heart into the projects he leads. He strives to make HRAM a better organization by making sure that the association is serving and advancing the greater Omaha HR community through professional development and networking opportunities.”
The organization acquired 177 new members this year. Bojanski believes new membership is key to building programs that help members, such as booking quality speakers who present topics that lead to certification credits. HRAM has also worked with the Wellness Council of the Midlands, the Omaha Chamber of Commerce, and the Omaha chapter of the National Safety Council on a series of events common to both human resources and safety industry professionals.
He was head of the membership committee for several years prior to becoming vice president, and also served as head of the college relations committee.
“During his vice presidential term [HRAM presidents are vice-presidents for three years], we had a group of kids form a chapter at Creighton, and he’s been helping them,” Schulz says. “He goes and speaks to UNO frequently. He has gone and talked about recruiting, about benefits.”
Schulz says Bojanski is particularly great at helping young HR professionals learn the “human” portion of human relations that they could not have learned in college.
And Bojanski continues to learn about this “human” portion himself. He says he is among those members who benefit by building “a network of people who are smarter.”
“That’s how I’ve used it. When I have an HR situation, I can say, ‘Hey, has this ever happened to you?’” he says.
Another highlight was having Nebraska named as a 2018 member of the 100% Giving Club of the SHRM Foundation, which annually recognizes the states that give to the foundation from their SHRM state council and all chapters within the state. HRAM gave around $2,000 this year. One dollar was given for each member, and the remaining $1,000 was donated little by little, through such items as the table flowers being raffled off at the annual meeting.
Just as little things like calling members personally and asking employees how they are have added up to one big career for Bojanski.
Visit hram.org for more information.
This article was printed in the February/March 2019 edition of B2B. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.