We all know that HR technology threatens to make many in our function obsolete. We’ve heard that HR tasks can be outsourced or that systems can take the place of people. What I don’t believe anyone has pointed out is that Finance weathered this storm beautifully a long time ago, stepping in front of their transaction-based business into the role of core management, disseminating and becoming indispensable as advisors who use the tools to make the business faster and more agile. We’ve never tied these two departments together in their migration from transaction-based to innovation-based. I think it might make for a good read.
As HR professionals, we’re often threatened by obsolescence. We hear threats of outsourcing, that we’re mere paper pushers, that we can’t keep up with our internal business partners, nor do we speak the language of the business. Many of us seek our own counsel, gathering together to figure out what best practices could lift us into higher esteem with our C-suite, breaking our organizational structure and twisting our business models to appear more productive and current. But there’s a simple solution not many of us may have considered, another division who was much maligned for years until they rose to prominence over the past few years: why don’t we ask our friends in the Finance department?
Those of us who’ve been around for a couple of decades or more can remember how maligned our financial partners were: seen as necessary number crunchers who just ran reports, they suffered much the same threats as HR does today: outsourcing, deconstruction of the department, reengineering because they didn’t understand the business. But one look at the transformation of the Finance department of today, and they’re some of the most respected individuals in the business. Why not follow their lead?
Before we go further, I understand in many organizations the Finance and HR departments might be at loggerheads. Where Finance sees HR as the defender of decisions that might be better for the workforce than the bottom line and where HR may have issue putting return on investment on their activities for the needs of their Financial partners, I argue that a closer partnership is invaluable, and that we can learn a lot from our math-savvy teammates.
We’ve suffered many of the same failed reorganizations, by the way. Massive IT overhauls, shared service centers, process reengineering, etc. But where Finance has evolved is the focus on what the team can offer their clients versus how they offer it. Back office transaction processing is virtually invisible to the internal client, and the most client-savvy among them are front-facing with their C-suite and management team, offering analysis and decision support. They operate with a clear vision of the activities which create value and drive business outcomes and those that don’t. Finance understands the skills and competencies their staff needs now and in the future in order to build stronger talent capabilities in areas of weakness. They evolve as a service provider. They keep their eye on how their processes and tools can help their clients succeed. They mind the bottom line, and they speak the language of the business.
The evolution of the back office of the Finance department is a critical example of what is possible if you maintain a client focus during a transformation. Both Finance and HR have undergone massive technological revolution. The differences between these processes is simple: HR technology brings HR processes to the desktops of the masses, while Finance technology brings the mindset of the masses to financial processes. Their job is to make it easier to enter data and run reports. General ledger information is rarely visible when filling out an expense report. Can we say the same about HR desktop technology? Are benefit, compensation and performance management desktops that fluid? We could learn something.
But the most crucial item to come of the evolution of the Finance department is their migration into the C-suite as consummate business partners. They know their businesses, and they’re able to forecast where the business wants to go and what it will take to get them there. They’re quick to suggest process improvements, technological advances, and tough decisions that will lead to the fortitude of the company. They’re one of the first to be pulled into a crucial decision-making meeting. They’re involved in all the major moves of the business because they’re seen as a trusted advisor and a crucial aspect of the business. It’s admirable. It’s also repeatable for the HR side of things.
I believe strongly in HR as the business partner that Finance has become. We must evolve and use our tools to solve the problems of our corporate clients. Align with Finance and follow their lead. Where their success has taken them, we only have to follow and surpass.
About the Author: Rita Trehan is the Founder and Principal of Rita Trehan, LLC, a change management and leadership advisory firm focused on corporate leadership, emerging technology, and cutting-edge organizational design. As a seasoned top executive that has successfully transformed organizations at the Fortune 200 and beyond, she has extensive experience working with CEOs and top corporate management on process and organizational improvement for maximum profitability. A soon-to-be published author, Rita regularly speaks at industry conferences around the world. You can contact Rita on twitter at @rita_trehan and connect with her via LinkedIn. Rita’s blog can be found at www.ritatrehan.com.
How do I ‘hook them’ when interviewing, vying for a promotion, or closing ‘The deal’?
As many may know, ABC has a real hit on its hands with The Shark Tank! The stars are a ruthless, shrewd collection of diverse, self-made millionaires who judge, qualify, and either select or ‘de-select’ budding entrepreneurs for further investment. If you haven’t watched it, you will either love it or hate it. This show can teach us a lot…..whether we are selling a concept, a product, or ourselves….let’s face it: who isn’t in sales in one form or another?
I have several clients who are currently interviewing for a new position/promotion within their existing company or in some cases other positions outside their current employer. Many are seasoned veterans who have not had to formally interview in quite some time. How can they get noticed and stand out when so many of the individuals they are up against are equally qualified? This is an art – not a science – as we all know. Yet, there are a few easy tips to keep in mind:
- The devil IS in the details. So, when you are presenting yourself or your idea – in person, electronically, or in hard copy format – be polished in every way. No typos. Prompt thank you notes and emails. Be on time. Be prepared. All the details we often let go by the wayside the higher we climb in the corporate chain, COUNT. I am here to tell you – these small details and nuances matter.
- First impressions count. How are you showing up….do you look and act successful? Are you confident? Do you act confident? (Not with false bravado and arrogance….with authentic knowledge of who you are and security that what you have to offer is of value.) Are you respectful? Are you dressed appropriately? Are you calm, cool, and collected? Are you well-spoken? Do you look them in the eye – personally and sincerely?
- Have a compelling value proposition. What are you selling – about you or your idea? Why and who cares? What makes you and this product/service different? Who is your competition – and how do you ‘trump’ them? What need are you filling? What desire are you squelching? Why you? Why now?
- Stay curious and open. Interviews and sales calls are often not so much what you tell them about you – it is what you ASK that makes the difference. Go broad and deep…industry, company, culture, leadership, current challenges, etc. The questions show your thoughtfulness (or lack thereof), and this is a sign of maturity and executive thinking.
- Pre-briefing calls and phone interviews are not casual get-to-know-you conversations. Treat every interaction like it is the real deal. Smile while talking (they can tell….even if over the phone). Keep the energy high – without being an “eager beaver.” Be prepared and professional.
- Know your stuff…..particularly the facts, figures, and data. If you are selling your concept, idea, or product – how much money have you made so far, i.e. what is your revenue stream? How much profit comes from that top line revenue number? How are you getting your product to market? What is your price per item? What percentage of that is profit? How do you plan to scale? What do you see your greatest challenges to be at this stage- and what do you recommend to fix it?
- Raw, controlled, passionate enthusiasm. Areyou real? Do you LOVE what you are doing? Do you LOVE the product/service/job you are representing? Do you believe your offering is the ‘bees knees’ and will knock their socks off…..really?!! Do you engage your audience like real people….and possible consumers? Are you meeting them where THEY are (not where you are)…i.e.: are you engaging them like the decision makers they are? Are you bubbling over…..in a contained, professional way? (Remember: energy begets energy….and enthusiasm SELLS.) Are you happy to be there?
- Finally,have your answer to the “So what?” question well engrained in your mind. In other words…Why YOU? It is not enough to share what you have done, where you have done it, etc. You need to be clear on what it is that you uniquely offer and the results you can bring to the table. Full stop. In preparing for your interview, ask yourself at the end of every question asked – did I make it clear what I uniquely offered and delivered? If the answer is “I’m not sure,” then start over and create sharp, crisp answers which leave your mark.These steps guarantee nothing.However, what I know for sure, is that if we don’t hit each of these steps with all we have; we will never make it to 2nd base…..much less make a home run. Sure, there are at least a hundred more points of advice to offer in order to get that second round of funding, secure the non-profit donor in order for you to ‘break ground’ on the new facility, close the first multi-million dollar deal in a new account, or secure the promotion you have been working toward for years…..for whatever the sale is we are trying to make. Yet, those bits need to be developed and strategically customized for the sale.These steps are simply the basic blocks to get the door opened. Whatever profession we are in….software startup, non-profit organization, charter school system, or volunteer effort…..these steps are the constants. THAT is how you will be remembered when stacked up against others of equal tenure and experience.
About the Author: Kristin Kaufman is founder of Alignment, Inc.™, formed in 2007 to help individuals, corporations, boards of directors and non-profits find alignment within themselves and their organizations. A prolific writer, Kristin’s first book, Is This Seat Taken? Random Encounters That Change Your Life, was released on 11/1/11 to national acclaim, and endorsed by Stephen Covey and John Maxwell, among others. Her second book in the series, entitled Is This Seat Taken? It’s Never Too Late to Find the Right Seat was released 1/13/15. It has already been endorsed by notables such as Marshall Goldsmith, Sean Covey, and Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines. This book shines the light on late in life reinvention and encore ‘second half’s’ of diverse individuals. The individuals are in some cases widely known and others are somewhat anonymous to the mass public. The common thread is their ‘post-50’ resurgence in life and in some cases their ‘fork in the road’ is quite serendipitous. Kristin’s third book, a sequel to ‘Is This Seat Taken?’ will follow later in 2015. Kristin is on Twitter as @kristinkaufman.
Editor’s Note: Please welcome Jacqueline Clay, our newest contributor, with a new feature for 2016. Each month, “From the Desk of a Woman of a Certain Age” will take a light-hearted look at HR of yesterday vs. HR of today. We hope you enjoy it!
Hello HR Professionals!
We Are Still Here…..
Office Management, Personnel, Human Resources, People Management, Business Partners. We have lasted decade after decade. We are like the watch, “we take a licking but keep on ticking!” Yes, our name changed, but we are still the same folks that interview, hire, fire (aka terminate, layoff or downsize), listen, coach, counsel, advise, train, write policies, procedures, rules, regulations and stand as the target on the firing line when things go “left”. We are the keepers of the flames of objectivity and provide the ethical, moral, “do the right thing” barometers’ that helps to develop, strengthen and maintain the best practices company acumen. We have walked, strolled and skipped hand and hand with our business leaders for many years…sometimes tripping over bad behavior, falling in the hole of subjectivity or stepping over the grate of ethical concern. Sometimes we have had to go “undercover” and operate in covert ways to make sure that our HR badge of honor, trust and credibility did not become tarnished. We start our profession bright eyed and energetic like Mary in the beginning stages of the Mary Tyler Moore Show and later look like the mature Aunt Bea from the Andy Griffith Show if we don’t come to realistic terms about what we can and can not do. (Yes…I said I am a woman of a certain age).
Life Literally Abounds In Comedy…
Don’t be dismayed though. Personnel, HR, Business Partner….it is a great opportunity and through my many, many years of HR experience, I have encountered and been a part of a ton of humorous and thought provoking observations. We deal with people and people can be unpredictable and very funny. We handle relationships between prospective employees, current employees and the employer and trust me, often times these relationships can fall unexpectedly into the pit of comedy.
Who Am I?
I am a senior level HR professional and have worked my way up the HR ladder to Director/Chief HR Officer for a myriad of companies in my over 20 year career. I have seen it all and trust me, sometimes I wish I hadn’t! From the 1980’s through the decade of the 2010’s, HR has had to make and made tremendous adjustments to stay viable. With some of these changes, we kicked, screamed and were dragged to the change table. Sometimes we just sat at the table of an executive meeting and thought to ourselves, “they know not what they do”. (I must add this one note… once when I was asked to attend an “Executive Meeting”, I noticed that my chair sat lower than the other executives. My chin was not far from the top of the table. There were no other chairs available. I felt like a little kid at the Thanksgiving table! Were they trying to tell me something? However, at the time, I was just happy to have the always desired “seat” at the Executive Meeting., albeit it low). I digress. More on having a seat at the executive table in a future article. In any case, we HR folks stayed afloat.
Going Forward…Please Don’t Shoot The Messenger
Now understand, the upcoming articles, just like this one, will be opinion pieces. I want to make it clear…it is just my opinion…my view. These may not be your experiences…so don’t ask for my SHRM (Society of Human Resources Management) card back! I have lived a very observatory life. I am always looking, seeing, questioning, analyzing the whys and why nots of the full realm of this business. The good, the bad, the ugly, the funny.
This series will be an observatory view comparing some aspects of yesteryear HR to today…with some comedic undertones. Or is it overtones?? I love to laugh and hope you will join me on a trip down memory lane as it pertains to all things HR. I am so thankful that I am old enough to take the trip and young enough to still remember!!!!
See you next month!
An HR Woman of A Certain Age!
About the Author: Jacqueline Clay is a freelance HR business consultant working with small and midsize organizations to assist them in meeting the challenging responsibilities associated with the full realm of HR management. With over 20 years leadership experience in all aspects of the HR business, she has helped organizations in a myriad of areas, including on boarding, labor/employee relations, policy and procedure development, organizational effectiveness, coaching and training. She holds a BA in Psychology from Fordham University.
Workplace surveys have become an integral part of participative management, especially in today’s world of smart business. Some of the most critical questions surveyors or employers want to know from employees is what they think about the employer, their job, and the management. Many corporations are also increasingly looking for ways to further explore the usefulness of surveys, such as those involving employee attitudes to increase productivity, streamline management and increase workforce efficiency. However, just like any other well thought management concept, surveys can also cause serious harm; more so, if it is misconstrued or misused. Below are some of the benefits as well as disadvantages of workplace surveys.
Benefits of workforce surveys
Employee surveys are critical for the well-being a business or organization. Most corporate surveys provide an anonymous system through which critical or sensitive matters in a company can be address without exposing anyone’s identity. Some of the benefits of a survey in the workplace include:
- Get feedback
Employers can provide employees with a satisfaction survey on a regular basis to receive valuable responses about how employees feel about senior executives and their immediate supervisors. This close working relationship can spark new employee recognition ideas and increase employee appreciation, since most top level managers do not work on the floor with their employees. Employers can also use workplace surveys to compare responses, with those obtained from previous years, to gauge if the company is meeting its financial or non-financial goals.
- Encourage accountability
Workplace surveys normally helps keep managers on top of their game. This is the reason why satisfaction surveys are used by senior executives to address leadership inefficiencies or evaluate the performance of managers. Through the surveys, corporations can also learn more about the employee’s working conditions and expectations.
Conducting a workplace survey can easily open the channels of communication; for example, between the management and staff. This is important because employees may not be in a position to face their bosses with straight up questions concerning the choices the management makes.
- Identify problems
Inclusive workforce surveys can help the management identify areas of weakness before they develop into serious problems. For example, a survey about employee workforce environment can help the management identify teething problems and get around them in a subtle or controlled manner.
Disadvantages of workforce surveys
If the results of a well conducted survey are implemented, they can help a business or company move towards attaining its set obligations and goals. For example, a survey can help a company determine the kind of service or products the consumer’s want. The survey participants, on their part, need to find value in the undertaking before them. Some of the shortcomings of workforce surveys include:
- Poor word choices
Compared to most visual surveys, a written survey may confuse the participants, especially on matters that require clarification. The misunderstanding can be overcome by accounting for every word order, punctuation or dialects used. Surveyors can also ask the same question in a different way to gauge the thinking behind the responses.
- Surveyor preconceptions
Although surveys may be conducted in a random or unbiased fashion, it is very important to get the right representative sample. Case in point, you may get an inconclusive response if you ask a group of athletes what they think about a new brand of running shoes, while leaving out the other groups of people.
- Refusal by management
In certain cases, candid responses obtained from employee feedback can be rejected by management. This is especially true if the management takes the responses personally, instead of using the information to improve on their service. On the same vein, pointing fingers as a result of unexpected responses from a survey can impact a business negatively, thus reversing the intended gain.
- Lack of action
When a workplace survey is initially introduced, employees are likely to invest their time and efforts, giving their response as directed. The exercise may then lead to high employee expectations and hope. However, if the management does not act on the collected views, the lack of response can breed cynicism and jeopardize the ability to obtain accurate feedbacks from employees in future.
All and all, when planning a workplace survey, know your audience and environment to gain the appropriate responses. And don’t forget to listen and act on your survey results to further business innovation.
About the Author: JP grew up in a small town in Washington. After receiving a Master’s degree in Public Relations, she has worked in a variety of positions, from agencies to corporations all across the globe. Experience has made JP an expert in topics relating to leadership, talent management, and organizational business.
Another New Year is upon us, and with it a plethora of goals being set and resolutions being made. I’ve written about this each of the past couple of Januarys, both in the context of resolutions vs. goals and real change as well as changing mindsets. Call it what you want, but come January 1st of each year, most of us are thinking about what we want to do differently in the upcoming year.
This year I’m taking a little bit different spin on resolutions, goals, and mindsets. For at least a part of 2015, the idea of comfort zones (and breaking out of them) was a theme in my own life. In fact, I wrote a piece a few months ago about that topic, a personal one inspired by events happening around me in my own life and the lives of others I know, and one that based on feedback and comments resonated with quite a few other folks who read it as well.
Several months later, I still stand by what I wrote. Too many of us linger in what’s comfortable and familiar rather than pushing ourselves into what could be a little scary at first in the spirit of bettering ourselves, our lives, our situations. But I now also think that recognizing the tendency to linger in a comfort zone and wanting to do something about it is one thing. Actually doing something about it is another thing altogether.
“It Takes Guts to Get Out of the Ruts”
A couple of months ago I stumbled across this tidbit in the form of a fortune cookie. Most of the time fortune cookie fortunes either make me a chuckle, or just make me say “huh?” But every once in a while I come across one that I find to be a little more poignant in its message, and this was one of those times. I kept that fortune and hung it on my refrigerator. I knew there was something about it I liked and that inspired me, but it took me some time to put my finger on exactly what was resonating. Eventually what I realized is that it caught my attention because it actually related directly to that concept of pushing out of comfort zones that I had already explored earlier in the year.
Call them comfort zones or call them ruts; perhaps there is a subtle difference between the two, but both imply a sort of being “stuck” in one place. The difference as I see it is that that generally “ruts” are something we consciously want out of, comfort zones, by their very definition, maybe not so consciously. But either way, whether we want out of them or not, they’re preventing us from moving forward.
But again, the desire to break out of a rut or comfort zone, to make changes, is just the start. What’s required to actually do it? That’s often where the guts come in. It’s often not easy. It often requires taking action that scares the hell out of us. It may require strong will, tests of character, and gumption to make it happen.
Sometimes it means needing to finally stand up for ourselves and say “what about me?” It may mean having to confess feelings…to others, or even scarier admitting them to ourselves. Many times it means facing the possibility of being shot down, of facing rejection, of being told no, of having a door closed in our face. Of facing the possibility of failing. It may mean spinning our wheels in one place for a little while to build up the momentum to move forward. It may leave us exhausted, frustrated, or even at wits end.
But with persistence, it can also pay off exponentially. At the very least, it may provide us with clarity and answers for where to go and what to do next.
So as we face a new year, a blank slate waiting to be written upon, which ruts do you find yourself in? Which comfort zones are you ready to push yourself out of? And more importantly, what are you willing to do to, even sacrifice, to make that happen?
2016….bring it on!
About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has almost two decades of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry. She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.
Why is it from the time we are children we are always striving to reach the next milestone. We can’t wait to lose our baby teeth, only to find we look silly and can’t successfully chew.
Reaching double digits comes next accompanied by gaining entry to a coveted seat at the grown up table. Where consequently we are introduced to chores and responsibilities and often where the conversation is quite boring!
Fast forward, we speed through our high school years. Our new focus becomes getting accepted into to the college of our dreams. We are warned by our family, teachers and trusted advisors that these are the best times of our lives. We do not heed their warnings and fail to truly savor the simplicity of the time.
We then become excited for college graduation. This is when real life will begin! We will build up our resumes, network and interview like a madman and woman. The next thing we know we are drones on the train station platform, ordering coffee on auto pilot, and entering the Monday morning rat race.
Finally comes grown up life. True independence; life on one’s own terms. In reality this means mortgages, bills, car payments and more. Often this is followed by cohabitation or marriage. “If only I was in a relationship and had kids then my life would really start,” might become the next goalpost or mantra. Like all other milestones, does anything truly prepare you for this? Who provides you with the warning labels and fine print?
So net net my dear reader is this; whether you are 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50, in Childhood, Adolescence, Young Adulthood, Marriage, Divorce, Parenthood or Old-Age, the one thing you can undoubtedly count on is that life will continue to raise the stakes.
What are you going to do when life throws you a curve ball? Are you going to lie down and take it or are you going to raise the bar?
One can never truly know what life has in store; nevertheless, you need to be prepared to face each challenge head on. Always bear in mind that adversity bares vast opportunity.
Here are my favorite tips for dealing with life’s ebbs, flows, curve balls and bombshells while continuing to raising the bar:
- Recognize the signs:
Get real, life does not usually fall apart overnight. There are signs. Do not ignore the red flashing lights from the runway.
- Read between the lines:
Look for the hidden signs. They are there, you just might not be looking hard enough.
- Be realistic:
Face reality. Whatever the facts are deal with them head on.
- Get some rest:
Change is exhausting. Get some rest and by all means schedule in some fun!
- Save yourself first:
When you get on a plane they tell you to put on your oxygen mask first. This is good advice. If you are ok, you will have the strength to do what needs to be done. You can then help those around you get up to pace and follow your lead.
- Practice Self-Care:
This is no time to let yourself go! Make sure to continue or adopt self-care rituals that helps revive and rebuild your energy stores. Exercise, Eat Well, Walk with a friend, Spend time outdoors, get a massage, and fill in the blank:_______!
- Fake it till you make it:
My late Aunt Phyllis taught me that if I did not know how to play tennis to get a great tennis outfit, learn how to jump over the net and then get lessons. “You will catch on” she explained.
I do this with everything in life. I decide what I want to do or be next and then I the figure it out in the trenches. Consequently I always get there!
- Be Your Personal Best:
Learn, Explore, Read, Stay Relevant, Repeat …………
- Outsourcing and Lifelines:
If someone offers to help you thank them and say yes! You do not have to be a hero. I have not done a load of laundry or a stitch of housework in the two years that I went back to school to change my career. Relinquishing control is difficult, but necessary. Something has to give!
- Let go:
There are things that you will need to let go of along your journey. These may be people, places and things. You cannot be all things to all people. You cannot divide yourself too thin or you will lose focus and you may not succeed. Remember you are the one on the Journey and you are the one that is undergoing Transformation. Trust the process. Let others catch up.
- Contact & Thank your Supporters & Personal Board:
You put a Personal Board together for a reason – this is it! During times of transformation you need your closest supporters and accountability partners the most. They will keep you going, talk you off the ledge, cheer you on, and be your best sounding boards. All this, while keeping you honest and sane.
My grandfather taught me at a young age the importance of finding the people you admired the most in life and your career and bringing them into your inner circle. More importantly I learned on my own that in order to have a good friend you needed to be a good friend. I value my close relationships above all else in life, and give relationships my all. I treasure each and every one of you. You all know who you and I know you are reading this. Thank you, Thank you, Thank You!
- Welcome New and Fabulous Fellow Travelers!
Wow, the people you will meet! Doctor Seuss might have said this first but boy was he right. I have met the greatest people during my transition into my new career. When I walked into NYU that first Sunday morning two years ago I did not realize the door I was truly opening. I have met the greatest people, some I believe to be lifelong friends. Through opening up to new networking opportunities I have again met fabulous people, joined a board and again made fantastic new friends. I have had lunches and coffee dates that have been like warm comfortable sweaters and long deep exhales. Yes, there are people out there that will truly get you, and get what you are going through. Be open to them and let them in. Your will expand and new opportunities will be endless.
- Steal and savor all and any Peaceful Connected Moment:
I coined the phrase Peaceful Connected Moment when I had small children. By definition a Peaceful Connected Moment, is a very small window of time when the wheels stop, the noise in your mind slows if only for a moment, and you can savor a moment of quiet peace and contemplation.
You will know when one arises. Learn to recognize it, and enjoy.
- Be willing to take a risk:
At the end of the day, when the preparation, contemplation, and analyzing is over, you must be willing to roll the dice. (I can’t take credit for this, it came from a board member)
You must trust the “Net Will Appear” -Zen Saying
“Learn to Swim or Build a Boat” me
- Let go of dead weight (kindly), but beware of the carnage:.
When you emerge from the rubble and dust yourself off, not everyone will be there to cheer you when you take your victory lap. This is ok. The ones that are supposed to be there will and the ones that aren’t won’t. That’s life.
You will survive.
My life has imploded and I have reinvented myself so many times, I can hardly recognize myself. This is a good thing; adversity has brought me great opportunity! I have been knocked down and have gotten up each time from my face down in the ring moments stronger, wiser and more resilient from the fight. I have faced adversity and won. I have raised the bar each time and clearly understand there is no finish line or end game in sight. There are only targets, goals and lots and lots of surprises. I am excited for every new challenge. Bring them on, I’m ready willing and able!
I challenge you to do the same.
About the Author: Joan Axelrod Siegelwax, a previous guest contributor to Women of HR, is the Executive Vice President of Love & Quiches Gourmet, and the Founder and President of Powerful Possibilities Coaching. In her role at Love and Quiches Gourmet she leads the Human Resources Department with the primary goal of increasing employee engagement, accountability, retention and improved corporate culture. Through creation of Powerful Possibilities Coaching, she has made these skills available to a larger audience through Transformational Executive Coaching, specializing in personal growth, organizational development, career coaching, leadership development, managing transitions, executive presence, personal branding, personal empowerment, life balance, organization and productivity.
Editor’s Note: Women of HR has partnered with Spherion on a series of sponsored posts to bring you highlights and commentary from their 2015 Emerging Workforce Study, which contains a great deal of interesting data and statistics about future trends in the workforce and our workplaces. This is the final post in that series.
Social media and technology are not new topics in the world of Human Resources. If you haven’t been thinking and talking about them for at least the last couple of years, I ask – where have you been? Early adopters have been talking social for years now, and even those that were a little later to the party have been at least marginally aware for the past couple of years that there is something to this “social thing.” Companies and HR departments are slowly becoming more tech savvy and realizing the value of technologies and how they can make our companies, departments, and processes more efficient and effective. However, despite that there is still a ways to go and progress to be made. As we’ve seen time and time again throughout our examination of Spherion’s 2015 Emerging Workforce Study over the past several months, there continues to be a gap between what employees believe and expect, and what employers realize and act upon.
Looking at some key statistics from the Emerging Workforce Study, we see that social and technology appear to be key drivers in attracting talent and keeping them satisfied, engaged, and productive once they are on board. I suspect these numbers will only continue to grow as time goes on. And employers seem to realize that, but sadly aren’t sure exactly how to address it:
- 50% of workers believe social media outlets at least somewhat influence their view of a company for whom they may work
- 47% of employees expect their user experience with their HR department to match what they are accustomed to in the outside world; however only 24% report that their HR departments provide mobile applications for work related processes
- 54% of workers indicate they spend anywhere from less than an hour up to 6 hours in a typical workday using social media tools or mobile applications to get their job done
- 50% of employers admit they still struggle with how to address social media policies or practices in their workplaces
What Does This Mean For HR Leaders?
There are a few things that become evident from these statistics, and become key takeaways for HR leaders. The first is the importance of employment branding and social engagement. If 50% of potential job seekers place at least some merit in how companies are portrayed online, it seems rather important the HR departments have a handle on what’s being said about them. This might mean taking on responsibility for owning the company’s Glassdoor or LinkedIn pages. It might mean creating and managing Facebook and Twitter career pages and accounts. Or for public facing companies (i.e. retail, healthcare, or other public services) it very well may mean partnering with your marketing department to ensure your messaging is consistent. Think about it – if a customer has a bad experience with your company, are they likely to want to work for you, or refer someone else to work for you?
The second key takeaway is the concept of the consumerization of technology. As our outside world and our lives become more and more dependent on technology and the efficiencies it provides, our expectations in our work worlds tend to align with that. In this app driven society in which we live, in which we can use our smart phones for almost anything we need to do, it stands to reason that what we need to accomplish in our jobs should reflect that as well, and the statistics show that almost half of us believe that. However, only about a quarter of employers are providing this reality. So as HR leaders, we need to stay on top of latest trends and technologies and constantly be evaluating ways we can implement and upgrade our existing processes to reflect the reality of the outside world. And it doesn’t need to be all or nothing, all at once. It might mean starting with one system or process that touches the most employees and upgrading that, and then continually evaluate other options going forward. However you approach it, technology is not going away, and it’s our responsibility as savvy HR leaders to be aware of our options and how they can make our workplaces better and more productive.
And the third key takeaway is the social media is not going away. Not only that, but many employees expect and need to use it to be productive in their jobs. Not being sure of how to address policies and practices is no excuse. Blocking social media sites in the workplace is no longer the answer. You can equate it to the use of the internet in the workplace…was there a time when companies did not provide access to the web? Sure. Is that acceptable now? Of course not; workers rely on the ability to research online and access sites to do their jobs. Social media is just the next evolution of workplace productivity tools. Many people rely on crowdsourcing, networking, and information mining that is possible through social media sites to enhance their productivity. Can social media also be a time suck and productivity deterrent? Perhaps. That’s where good guidelines come into play. Managing for the exception is never a good practice in any aspect of HR or leadership.
As I’ve said throughout this series, it’s a changing world out there. We as employers we need to be aware of, on top of, and embracing the tools and resources available to us to keep us competitive and effective. We need to understand the trends and changing expectations of the workforce to position ourselves to attract and retain the best talent available. Using the excuse that we just don’t understand is no longer acceptable if we want to survive.
This post was the final in a series of six posts over the past several months relating to Spherion’s 2015 Emerging Workforce Study. If you’re interested in reading the previous posts, you can find them here:
Disclosure: Spherion partnered with bloggers such as me for their Emerging Workforce Study program. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about any idea mentioned in these posts. Spherion believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Spherion’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.
About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry. She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.
Human resources is an exciting field that offers leaders the ability to optimize their professional potential while inspiring employees to do the same. However, attaining profound success as an HR leader necessitates the consistent use of proven strategies and systems that will generate the ongoing growth and optimized operations you seek. With that idea in mind, you should consider the value of implementing some or all of these growth strategies:
- Optimize your meetings
It’s no secret that holding regular meetings is the key to ensuring that everyone understands the company’s vision and goals. However, this does not mean that all HR leaders have developed the great habit of optimizing the meetings they hold. Don’t commit this oversight. Developing and implementing strategies that will make your meetings more effective can have a wide range of desirable outcomes, some of which include enhanced daily operations, elimination of miscommunication, and the development of a company culture conducive to open discussion and debate. Luckily, there are hundreds of ways that you can optimize your meetings. Some of them include:
- using PowerPoint presentations
- holding virtual meetings
- optimizing engagement by asking questions and requesting feedback
- scheduling strategically so all employees are present
- employee appreciation ideas for staff members who have performed exceptionally well
- Establish a vision
If you’re serious about operating effectively as an HR leader, establishing a vision is a must. The vision is important because it provides you with a simple yet thorough understanding of what you are attempting to accomplish. In many cases, HR leaders find it helpful to develop both a personal vision and a company vision. The personal vision involves you defining what you will do for the company as an individual participant within it. The company vision is much more than deciding on administrative items like who will provide your payroll software or cadences for employee appreciation. The company vision states how you and all of the other employees will work together to generate a specified outcome that promotes the organization’s perpetual expansion.
- Be more goal-oriented
In addition to establishing a vision, HR leaders who are ready to excel within the workforce must become goal-oriented people. No matter how internally motivated you are, it won’t matter much if you do not develop objectives and then work towards realizing them. Goal-oriented people are more effective in getting work done because they have a clear understanding of what they’re attempting to do and the steps they must take to get there. This is one of the reasons that the development of SMART goals has become so popular amongst career coaches. The acronym SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Sensitive.
- Prioritize for staff development
A company is only as effective as its individual employees are. Since this is true, HR leaders who want their organizations to succeed must focus on optimizing the personal and professional aptitude of their employees. This objective can be accomplished in numerous ways, such as providing staff members with incentives to operate in excellence and expedience. Holding regular “Employee of the Month” contests is a great way to make this happen. Consistently offering employees opportunities to enroll in ongoing education and training courses is another effective strategy you might employ. Also remember that employee recognition is an integral part of the staff development process because public praise motivates people to consistently operate in excellence.
- Update technology
HR leaders who are ready to take their companies to a new level of efficacy and excellence should focus on updating their technology. This strategic approach works for numerous reasons, including the fact that it enables your company to maintain a cutting edge image in the eyes of the general public. Finding great technological updates also makes life easier for your employees by enabling them to get more done, in less time, and in a more convenient manner.
- Take feedback seriously
The most successful HR leaders are so because they are regularly obtaining feedback from trusted counselors, mentors, bosses, and other important individuals in their sphere of influence. Since this is the case, strategize your own success by taking this feedback seriously and learning how to optimize and expedite everything you’re doing for the company. In addition to making the organization more effective, taking feedback seriously improves your efficacy and functions as motivation for employees to operate at a higher level of excellence.
- Think outside the box
Although the phrase “think outside the box” is trite, it’s stated over and over again because the methodology is oftentimes effective in helping people generate results, overcome obstacles, and break through barriers. With this idea in mind, make sure that you’re not operating in a conventional, cookie-cutter manner as you lead your staff. Rather, be open to new ways of thinking and acting that are relevant, effective, and fun.
If you’re an HR leader who wants your company to be a smashing success, you should know that thinking strategically is a great way to make it happen. Since this is so, be sure to consider using some or all of the strategies outlined in this post. Doing so will likely take your company’s level of excellence and efficacy to a new level!
About the Author: A previous guest contributor to Women of HR, JP George grew up in a small town in Washington. After receiving a Master’s degree in Public Relations, she has worked in a variety of positions, from agencies to corporations all across the globe. Experience has made JP an expert in topics relating to leadership, talent management, and organizational business.
The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same – What Matters to Employers in the Hiring Process #EWS2015
Editor’s Note: Women of HR has partnered with Spherion on a series of sponsored posts to bring you highlights and commentary from their 2015 Emerging Workforce Study, which contains a great deal of interesting data and statistics about future trends in the workforce and our workplaces. This is the fifth in that series.
ln the last post in this series, we examined the changing face of the job search from the job seekers perspective, and what we as employers need to know about how and where to find candidates. This month we’re going to flip that around and look at the hiring process from the employer’s perspective. Because, as we’ve seen throughout this year’s Emerging Workforce Study, what employers think and what employees/workers/job seekers think don’t always sync up. And it appears that the topic of the job search and hiring process is no exception.
According to the study, often job seekers believe that their current employment status weighs pretty heavily as potential employers assess their qualifications. After all, common wisdom suggests that it’s always better to look for a new job while you’re still employed, right? Gaps in employment on a resume are bad, right? If you’re not currently working, that suggests that there’s something wrong, correct?
Maybe not so much.
Most employers and HR leaders realize that in today’s world, in the uncertain business climate in which we all operate, sometimes there are factors outside of an employee’s control that contribute to current employment status. Good people get laid off. Downsizing happens. Mergers and acquisitions lead to reductions in force. Spouses get transferred, often forcing the other to abandon their own employment to follow along to a new city or even new country. There are plenty of talented potential employees out there who may not be currently employed. And furthermore, in a climate where we all want the best talent available, we’re more interested in what you can offer, what you can contribute to our company’s goals than what you may or may not be doing right now.
In fact, looking at the 2015 Emerging Workforce Study, here’s what really matter to employers in the hiring process:
- 33% are influenced by interview performance
- 33% say cultural fit in the organization
- 13% say the jobseeker’s resume
- 9% say personality assessments
- 8% say current employment status
What Does This Tell the Job Seeker?
First and foremost, the interview matters. There’s no arguing this. You could have the most solid resume and credentials, but if you can’t connect with your interviewer or articulate the value you would bring to the organization, you probably won’t get past the interview process. Basic interviewing skills are still necessary. So before you walk into one, take some time to prepare, to brush up on possible questions you may be asked, to fully understand how your past experience relates to the position available and how to articulate that.
Secondly, skills and experience will only get you so far. More and more employers are putting an emphasis on the importance of whether or not someone will fit within their given organization. On paper you could be a perfect fit, but if in the interview you don’t come across as someone who will gel with the culture of that organization, you may not move on in the process. Speaking from my own experience, one of my most important roles in the interview process is to assess whether or not the person sitting across the table from me will connect with the manager, team, and overall organization. Once the minimum qualifications are met, the other technical skills can be trained. Cultural fit cannot, and the cost of a bad cultural fit goes well beyond the basic costs of onboarding and training, potentially having a negative impact on the productivity of others on the team or damaging morale. So beyond prepping for questions that may be asked during the interview, job seekers need to do their homework about the organization as a whole. Use resources like Glassdoor to get a flavor for the organizational culture. Examine your own networks for contacts within the organization to get an insiders perspective on what it’s like to work there. Prepare to demonstrate not just the technical qualifications you bring, but how your personality and work style may complement the culture. All other things being equal, the candidate who demonstrates the best fit will likely be the one to move on in the process.
The face of the job search may be changing for both employers and job seekers, but there are still some things that remain constant, and the interview is still the critical moment that can make or break the process.
Disclosure: Spherion partnered with bloggers such as me for their Emerging Workforce Study program. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about any idea mentioned in these posts. Spherion believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Spherion’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.
When it comes to annual performance reviews, it’s clear we’re at a major crossroads in the workplace. With 95 percent of managers dissatisfied with the process — and 90 percent of HR leaders saying annual reviews don’t yield accurate data — companies are quickly eliminating them (like GE, Accenture, Adobe, The Gap, and Microsoft already have). In a 7×24 world with an increasingly younger workforce, “annual” and “review” need to be replaced with more frequent conversations and performance partnerships.
Yet, simply telling managers to have regular 1on1 meetings isn’t a panacea. While HR executives and senior leaders are more expert at constructive coaching, young and middle managers may not be. Fortunately, 57 percent of employees prefer corrective feedback and 72 percent say their performance would improve with feedback. So even the 50% of managers who don’t want to give critique for fear of being the “bad guy” now have official license to put peoples’ success in front of the desire to be liked.
To boost your people and their performance, use a framework for 1on1s that connects, calibrates and coaches team members. Before the meetings, do two things:
First, make sure you’ve shared goals for the quarter to frame progress and priority discussions. Without clarity on what you define as success, people need to guess what matters and what the purpose of their work is.
Second, prepare for the meeting itself. Using in-person meetings to run down a list of what someone’s working on or throw more on their plate before understanding what’s already cooking is a formula for unproductive 1on1s. Instead, use weekly status reports or embrace performance and productivity apps to quickly see priorities, workload, and progress before the meeting.
Then use your 1on1 meetings to help you team members achieve their best with this framework:
- Start with “how are you?” Instead of a token opening, really listen to the response. Connect simply as humans to set the stage for coaching and constructive feedback. People are more receptive and engaged when they know you care about them.
- Ask what’s in their way and how you can help. Help people resolve priority conflicts so they can increase their impact. Get roadblocks out of their way so they can deliver the results you’re expecting. This doesn’t mean doing their job, but rather removing obstacles outside the sphere of their responsibility.
- Sync on performance, alignment, and engagement level. If you’re not talking about alignment, you can’t expect it! Your employees want to perform well and be on the same page with you, so be open and compare your perceptions. Letting people know where you think they are in terms of their performance and contributions to work helps them move up and forward.
- Uplevel to longer range goals. Use the time together to help people think above the “action item” level. They’ll find it rejuvenating and be able to make better decisions day to day.
- Coach for career growth. Help your employees get to the next level by deepening their skills and competencies. What’s the next step they can take and what will you do to help them get there? Follow through on the help you commit to providing and you’ll foster great loyalty and have a lasting impact on their career.
Leading people is more important than ever as business gets faster and more complex, but leadership is far from dictatorship. Leaders at all levels must excel at setting clear goals, coaching people to their highest level, and creating a culture of high recognition and accountability. These are the essential elements of performance partnerships within high achieving teams; 1on1s create the conversation around these ingredients that enable leaders, teams, and each member to contribute their best.
About the Author: Deidre Paknad is CEO and co-founder of Workboard. She shapes its product strategy, customer engagement model, and thought leadership efforts. With decades of experience leading enterprise and startup teams on strategic pursuits, Dedire is passionate about providing tools and insights that help leaders engage their teams in great achievement.
Deidre is a serial entrepreneur and has founded and led several companies. As CEO of PSS Systems, she and the team created a new market category and inspired deep customer loyalty from ExxonMobil, Citigroup, Travelers, Novartis, Wells Fargo, and many other large enterprises. The company was acquired by IBM in 2010. At IBM, Deidre was Vice President of a fast-growing global business improving information economics for IBM’s enterprise customers. She has been recognized by the Smithsonian for innovation twice and has more than a dozen patents. You can connect with Deidre on Twitter, LinkedIn, or learn more on the Workboard website or blog.