Category: Sex + Harassment

Rules and HR… To Bend or Not To Bend: Nicole

Rules and HR… To Bend or Not To Bend: Nicole

Did you know that HR professionals are the true crime detectives of the corporate world? From solving the case of the mysterious naughty photographs to catching protesting poopers, this True Stories at Work episode features jaw-dropping stories from Nicole as she shares her most memorable investigations and leaves no case unsolved.

Learn how Nicole landed her first HR job (as a director) without even applying. Gain insight into the unpredictable and often strange investigative work that HR conducts. Reflect on when it might be the right choice to bend or break the rules for the greater good.

00:00 Introduction
01:58 Stories at Work
10:16 Nicole’s Story
16:02 More Stories at Work
30:24 Haiku for Nicole


Curious about great HR leadership + Bending the Rules at work, here are some links to get started:

What Separates Great HR Leaders from the Rest (

HR Ethical Dilemmas (

Bending The Rules | When it’s Right to do the Wrong Thing | Rice Business Wisdom

When to Break the Rules at Work – And How to Do It (

Stories are what we remember and how we connect, so please share yours with me

Let’s talk about your people strategy

Tell a story!

Make a Workplace Confession

Host: Michelle Aronson

Editor: Bella Hutchins


Haiku for Nicole

Nicole proudly solves,

workplace mysteries with a

bit of rule bending

HR is Not Your Junk Drawer: Lauren Part 2

HR is Not Your Junk Drawer: Lauren Part 2

This True Stories at Work episode begins where my last podcast episode dropped off, with Lauren on the brink of her first leadership role and her first sexual harassment investigation (at the same time!).

Lauren shares a few of the ‘insane moments’ she has experienced during her career and how reveals how these experiences have shaped her into a better HR professional.

We discuss the many challenges that HR faces, the shifting expectations of employers, and how HR is often the junk drawer for everyone else’s people problems.

The episode wraps up with a workplace confession (and debate) from a former colleague of Michelle’s that increased his empathy toward Michelle and pets left in cars.


00:00 Introduction

01:40 Lauren’s Journey to HR Leadership

02:31 Lauren’s First Sexual Harassment Investigation

03:33 The Aftermath of the Investigation

05:49 Lauren’s Reflections on Her HR Career

06:11 Lauren’s Most Insane HR Moment

15:43 Lauren’s Workplace Pet Peeve

18:31 The Changing Landscape of HR in a Post-COVID World

22:41 Workplace Confession

29:44 Thanks for Listening


Curious about the topics discussed on the show, here are some links to learn more:</p>

Company Culture Is Everyone’s Responsibility (

3 Myths About Hiring People with Criminal Records (

Guns in the Workplace: What Has Changed, and What Can Employers Expect? (

Stories are what we remember and how we connect, so please share yours with me

Let’s talk about your culture and strategy

Tell a story!

Make a Workplace Confession

Ask a question+ make a suggestion

Always Lead HR with Patience and Kindness: Tara

Always Lead HR with Patience and Kindness: Tara

In this True Stories at Work episode, you get to meet Tara, who started her career as a behavioral specialist and found the skills and knowledge transferred nicely into HR. She worked in many industries (financial, tech, and higher ed) and understands that “the work that we do in HR is ultimately about people. The industries are definitely different. The types of people that work in them are different. But, overall there’s a similar thread to humanity.”

We connect around the virtue of patience, except in disciplinary situations “We would go through a corrective action process and it would be first, final written warning, second final written warning, and third final written warning. And I would have managers say, what does the word “final mean if you’re going this far?”

Tara’s early career aspirations were to be an archeologist. However, uncovering a revealing photo of an employee was not a treasure she was seeking when he was terminated after his 3rd “final” warning. “It confirmed was they knew this was coming… but it will indelibly be in my mind.”

We discuss entitlement, and how it shows up in unusual ways across senior leadership “You know, sometimes people aren’t grateful and sometimes people don’t act so well… use their, their trash cans as toilets”.

Tara understands that demonstrating kindness is the most important aspect of her legacy, even in challenging employment situations. After a company closure, she reflects on feedback she received from an impacted employee “If that is the legacy of my career, if that I handled something where somebody came away from a very negative experience and felt that there was kindness in that experience, then you know, then I’ve accomplished everything I need to accomplish.”

We wrap up curious about why “HR people on TV tend to be represented as dull when we actually are amazing, have a lot of fun doing what we’re doing while ensuring that there’s heart in our work?” There are no answers to why our smart, talented peers are projected in media as Catbert (Dilbert’s evil director of human resources) and Cody (the buzzkill in The Office).

In the end, you’ll hear the final workplace confession from my BFF. This one is a childish prank, gone, terribly wrong. A puddle splashing that got her banned from the work site.

This episode is sponsored by Physics at Work: If you’re looking for ways to create momentum and boost performance to achieve your organization’s goals faster…. Physics at Work can help you to define and refine your people strategy. Just reach out to me at or connect on LinkedIn. Because the same laws of physics that drive our universe also drive your workforce.

Stories are what we remember and how we connect, so please share yours with me.

Tell a story!

Make a Workplace Confession

Ask a question+ make a suggestion

Join the email list,

Connect on Linked In.

Join the private True Stories at Work Linked In group to connect with guests and listeners of the show.



Tara’s background as a Behavior Specialist helped her as we work to stabilize our workforce: It’s a New Era for Mental Health at Work (

Simon Sinek: Leaders Eat Last book, and a short video describing the concept What “Leaders Eat Last” means – YouTube,

Dilbert + Catbert and the best of Toby from The Office


Haiku for Tara

Dig deeply to find,

the kindness that we deserve,

as humans who work.

You Have to Want To Be A Good Leader: Bruce Part 2

You Have to Want To Be A Good Leader: Bruce Part 2

Have you ever wondered what makes a manager truly memorable? In this True Stories at Work episode we pick up with Bruce where we left off, talking about the impact COVID had on the employee complaints at work. This episode discusses the shift from employees complaining about each other to employees complaining about their managers. If you are just tuning into this podcast, please listen to episode 5, where this story begins…

Remember, Bruce studied HR, only worked in HR and oversaw the Employee Relations function of HR for a 15,000+ person company. He had a ringside seat to watch the best + the worst behaviors at work, including the behavior of leaders. “I think the sad reality, I don’t think there are a lot of very good leaders. And I don’t think it’s easy to be a good leader. And you have to want to be a good leader, but so many people have gotten into management who don’t even like to manage people, but that was the only way they can move up.”

Bruce knows that being a good leader isn’t easy and offers some insight for reducing complaints about leaders, improving the leadership hiring success and ways to become a memorable leader (in a good way).

Bruce reminds us that when leadership is done well, it is truly magical and the memory of that leader can last a lifetime “Um, that was literally 20, maybe like 22 years ago, and I remember being in the larger meeting room. And, and the impact that those messages had. “

Want to be a better leader? Here are some links to get started:

Spoiler alert, at the end we have yet another incident of love gone wrong at work, and by love I mean a relationship that started out as an affair but was really sexual harassment all along. “it was his admin who turned him in, who we later found out he had been having an affair with. And, the relationship fell apart… and then all of a sudden she wanted to get revenge on this individual.”

At the end, you will get to hear a workplace confession, something that didn’t make it through the doors of HR. Another one from my life-long friend Zoe, where she pulls a Robinhood move with some shiny new office chairs.

Feedback is a gift. Episode #6, the final episode of my first season, so please take one minute to go to and vote for your favorite episode… The winning episode will be invited back to share more great stories!

These are the first 6 podcasts I have ever created, so please share your feedback + suggestions for future episodes.


Great managers are

hard to find… and even more

difficult to leave.

The Surprises that Happen During HR Investigations: Veronica

The Surprises that Happen During HR Investigations: Veronica

Have you ever wondered how mediating claims at the Department of Human Rights could feel like being on the Jerry Springer Show? In this True Stories at Work episode you get to meet Veronica, who worked in the military and the department of Human Rights before moving into corporate Human Resources. She is an attorney turned HR professional, and we reflect on some of the challenges of dealing with racism, the professional disaster when an executives has sex with a subordinate, and the surprises you can uncover during a thorough investigation.

Topics discussed on the episode:

Go to my website to:

Tell a story!

Record your Workplace Confession

Ask a question?

Join the True Stories at Work Linked In group to share your stories and connect with other listeners.

Haiku for Veronica

Veronica knows,

sex with your boss will always…

become harassment!