Actionable Tips to Grow Your Networks

Posted on March 24th, by a Guest Contributor in Career Advice, Networks, Mentors and Career. 1 Comment

“It’s not what you know, but whom you know,” is a phrase with which many of us are familiar, and in today’s hyper-connected world it’s truer than ever. The power of one’s network can’t be diminished, an essential part of professional life that can further your career like nothing else. The right network can solve business problems, expand your knowledge, and catapult your career. It’s a personal advantage that shouldn’t be understated.

With all that said, I find most of us relegate networking to the bottom of our to-do lists, buried under other items that require more immediate priority. But I’d urge you not to delay developing this powerful tool. Building and maintaining one is easier than you’d think and, as I’ve recently discovered, one of the best endeavors you’ll ever undertake.

In the past 18 months, I’ve spent a great deal of time building my own professional network. Truth be told, I previously gave little thought to the power and importance of my professional network when I was in a corporate role, but once out of the daily grind and starting my own enterprise, I’ve realized the incredible value of active networking.

With that said, I’m keen to provide some quick networking strategies that can help you build a successful network, simple time investments that should benefit you for years to come:

Market yourself – Begin by identifying what you have to offer. Look at networking as a way to build your personal brand, which in today’s social media-driven world is incredibly important. Your network is your means of building connections that matter, regardless of your current level or position, so take stock of yourself and understand what you bring to the table.

Know what outcome you desire – Networks work best when viewed as reciprocal relationships, and you should understand what you could contribute as well as wish to receive going in. Here are the criteria that shape my choices:

(1) I create networks that are international in scope because global reach is important to what I do
(2) I wish to connect with people keen to disrupting traditional thoughts and business ideas, sharing ideas centered on changing how we think about the world of work
(3) I wish to embrace connection with other senior executive women across various industries and interests. I am passionate about what women can do in the workplace, and wish to support other women in our professional endeavors
(4) I desire to build a powerful portfolio of HR professionals at various levels. Giving back to my profession and shaping its future direction is something I am keen to do.

Be clear on your objectives – It’s important to be clear on what you wish to achieve. If it’s building your personal brand, select connections that can raise your profile. Identify people of prominence, and not necessarily in your same field. Also, set clear goals for yourself when it comes to building this aspect of your personal life. For instance, this month’s goal could be connecting with five new female technology executives across the industry. This helps you stay focused and provides you with tangible metrics you can track.

It works if you work it – A network is not something you turn on and off when you need it; those who are successful know it requires a regular investment of time and effort. Be consistent, as you’ll have a harder time reestablishing connection if you disappear for an extended period of time. A minimum of an hour a day networking with others via social media and/or in person via events helps to build your network tremendously over time. View your networks like any important relationship: get to know them, learn what’s important to them, and assess how you can help them reach their goals. The more you give, the more you’ll receive. That’s the true ROI in networks.

What are some of the best ways to connect with people?
Connection is easier than ever. Social media and networking sites, numerous professional associations, charitable connections, online meeting groups based on interest, etc. Before you find yourself overwhelmed with choice, decide on which means suit your intended result. I’ve found LinkedIn to be a superior means of interaction, both professionally and personally. It keeps you active in the eye of a good number of professional bodies, and it’s a great means of maintaining your professional contacts. It’s also a bit less intrusive and overwhelming than email, which can be challenging due to the size of everyone’s inboxes these days.

Twitter is an acquired taste: you either love it or you hate it. For me, Twitter is less about building lasting networks than a means of receiving and sharing real-time information. If used for networking, be certain that communication stays brief, and move it into private conversation as swiftly as possible so others aren’t disconnected by a connection that’s best fostered one-on-one.

Measure the ROI of your network – It helps to periodically take stock of your efforts. Some tangible ways to assess good networking ROI include an increase in connections and social media followers; more requests to contribute and/or share your expertise; an uptick in invitations to network events and in-person gatherings; and an increase in opportunities and social events, from coffee dates to interviews and/or business meetings.

Creating an ecosystem of peers, mentors, business advisors, friends, and advisors will reap rewards far beyond your dreams if you take the time to develop your approach, work diligently, and nurture it well. This ecosystem can support your career for years to come and bear opportunities you can’t imagine. Start networking today!

 

Photo Credit

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.


Appreciation Shouldn’t Need a Day…But Sometimes It Does

Posted on March 17th, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace, On My Mind. 3 comments

Over the past few weeks, there have been a number of days dedicated to recognition and appreciation of various sorts.  Employee Appreciation Day was observed on Friday, March 6th – a chance to “support, thank and reward workers” for their hard work and dedication throughout the year.  Sunday, March 8th was International Women’s Day, a “global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women.”  And most recently, Wednesday, March 11th was Randon Tweets of Kindness day, an online event created in 2014 by Lars Schmidt, the founder of Amplify Talent, as a way to call out and recognize and thank publically individuals who have impacted or influenced you in some way using the hashtag #RTOK.  This year’s iteration was nothing short of amazing, reaching the point of trending worldwide on Twitter as countless folks shared the love for people who have supported them, helped them grow and succeed, or have just simply been there as good friends.

Personally, I’m a little torn on the idea of these “official” recognition-type days.  I mean, in theory, we shouldn’t need a specific day to appreciate those around us who make our lives better in some way, right?  Employee recognition should be on ongoing process, not a one-time event that happens because a designated day tells you that you should do so.  We should appreciate the achievements of great people (not just women) on a regular basis, not once a year.  And hopefully we’re thanking the people that help us, impact us, teach and mentor us, and support us as they do it, not just on a day designated for that.  Right?

In theory, yes.  In theory.  But then reality steps in and rears its ugly and hectic face.                      

I don’t know about you, but my days, weeks, and even years fly by quickly.  In the day to day hustle and bustle of life, as the frenetic pace of life is filled with personal and professional obligations, as days and weeks are filled with both the necessary and the fun, sometimes before I know it weeks have passed.  And sometimes I realize I haven’t been in touch with this person, or that message I meant to send hasn’t yet gotten sent, or a connection I planned to make hasn’t yet been made.  It’s not intentional, but it has happened nonetheless.

In the workplace, sometimes we are so consumed by all of the “stuff” that needs to get done that we forget to take a step back and appreciate those around us that are helping to get that stuff done, helping make projects happen, helping goals to be achieved.  We don’t mean to do it, but we plug along and neglect to stop and say thanks in the moment.

So SOULD we need to have days set aside to appreciate those around us?  No.  DO we need them?  I don’t think they’re such a bad idea.  But the true key to success is to take the momentum generated by these days and try our best to keep it going…to ensure appreciation doesn’t fade as the sun sets on that day.

What do you think?  Are appreciation days a good thing or bad thing?  A necessary evil, something that shouldn’t exist in the first place, or an opportunity? 

 

Photo Credit

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR 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.


Warning Letters: What Can You Do If You Get One?

Posted on March 12th, by Judith Lindenberger in Business and Workplace. No Comments

In many cases, there are signs that can signal a problem at work. If you are not included in meetings, if your boss ignores your calls or doesn’t meet with you, if you learn about changes after everyone else, and if you feel excluded by your co-workers, a warning letter may be coming your way.

If you do get a warning letter at work, here are some things you can do:

  1. Seriously and honestly reflect on the concerns that your boss voiced.
  2. Write a response to the warning, stating what you agree with and what you do not agree with, and copy Human Resources.
  3. For concerns that you agree with, state your intention to turn things around and list specific actions that you will take.
  4. Defend yourself against concerns that are not true by stating the facts.  Keep your opinions and feelings out of your response. Include facts like dates, times, and others who were present.
  5. Ask your boss to put in writing what success looks like by giving metrics and time tables so it is crystal clear what you need to do and by when.
  6. Ask for help and support. Ask what your boss will do to support you. Prove that you have not been included in meetings or have not had access to important information, etc. by stating the facts. Ask for regular check in meetings with your boss and give suggested dates and times to meet.
  7. Ask how you are doing and what you could be doing differently each time you meet with your boss.
  8. Start looking for another job to keep your options open.

Warning letters can be the beginning of the end, but in some cases, if you can discern exactly what your boss wants you to do that you are not doing, if you are willing and able to make changes, and if your boss is willing and able to help and support you, you might be able to save your job.

Tell me your experiences with warning letters and what you have done to turn things around.

Photo Credit

 

About the author: Judy Lindenberger is the President of The Lindenberger Group, an award-winning human resources consulting firm, located near Princeton, NJ. They are experts in career coaching, customized training workshops, online training programs, mentoring, 360-degree assessment and feedback, HR audits, employee handbooks, and more. Learn more about them at www.lindenbergergroup.com.

 


Women on Top

Posted on March 3rd, by Shauna Moerke in Business and Workplace, On My Mind. 1 Comment

Let me start by saying that no, this isn’t some 50 Shades of Grey reference in an attempt to capitalize on it’s odd popularity.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the impact a shortage of women in crucial management and executive levels can have on a company’s culture and treatment of it’s female employees. But I’m not going to spend time in this article going on and on about why this is needed, even though I do believe it is, because ultimately, it makes me feel like a bit of a hypocrite. You see, for all my conviction, I don’t want to step up and be in management myself.

I have zero desire to manage employees or a company. None. I don’t want to “Lean In” as it were. I’m not really entrepreneurial minded. It’s not because I am being pushed out by a male dominated industry, wanting to raise a family, or any other legitimate and concerning reason there aren’t more women in executive roles. In the end, management is just not something that I personally want to do.

And to be honest, I’m tired of feeling guilty about not wanting it. On all sides of the issue is guilt. If you have kids but want to work, you are a bad mother/wife. If you don’t push for management you are slacking and are not doing your part for other women. There are no winners in this game; there is only more societal pressure and insecurity that holds us back from living our lives the way we want to. I know I’m not alone in this either.

But as much as we truly do need women in management, important public positions where they make the decisions, management is not the only path to leadership and influence. All women, regardless of their career level, employment status, personal beliefs and convictions, can be leaders in their own way. All women can have influence, even if it is only within their own circle of friends or family. All women can choose to speak for themselves and be advocates for others. Every one of us has that power and should use it. Frequently.

Leadership and influence is not solely for those in positions of power. I don’t have to be a manager to influence the culture and direction of a team. But it sure does help to have someone in a position of power to help back me up. So how about we make a deal? I’ll will be an advocate for other women in the workplace and I will encourage others to do the same, if some of you out there with the desire and drive to be in those positions of power promise to listen to our collective voices and help enact real change. Sound good to you?

 

Photo Credit

 

About the author:  Shauna is an HR professional with a diverse work history, a Master’s degree, and a PHR certification. She is also a huge geek, social media advocate, and infectious giggler. Besides being a co-founder of the Women of HR she also serves as the current Ringmistress of the Carnival of HR and is the former co-host of the HR Happy Hour blogtalk radio show.  

 


Limiting Mindsets: Do We Set Our Own Glass Ceiling?

Posted on February 24th, by a Guest Contributor in Career Advice. No Comments

In our personal career path, we can be our own best friends or our own worst enemies.  This is largely due to our mindset and what we believe about our ability.  In working with leaders, I find that people have often set their own glass ceiling.  Researcher Dr. Carol Dweck of Stanford University confirms, “Much of what might be preventing you from fulfilling your potential grows out of your mindset.”

 

Often, the difference between success and failure is your mindset; those with a fixed mindset will be limited as to how much they can achieve, while those with a growth mindset will not limit their ability to succeed. According to Dr. Dweck’s research, those individuals with a growth mindset outperform those with a fixed mindset. Those with a fixed mindset tend to do what validates their talent and are consumed with proving how good they are.  Those with a growth mindset have the attitude that they’ll do what it takes and will apply what they learn from mistakes to develop their talent.

 

Where do you fall? Ask yourself the following questions: Do you believe intelligence is a fixed trait, without room for improvement or growth? When you make a mistake, do you try to cover it up or hide it? Do you make a point to conceal your deficiencies and take on projects only if you are sure you are capable of doing it? If you answered “yes”to any of these questions, you likely are limiting yourself.

 

Even if you feel that you have a growth mindset, we often limit ourselves in ways that aren’t as obvious. For example, how often do we say to ourselves,No, I cant go for that promotion. I dont know enough. Im not good enough. What if they find out Im really not that smart? That’s a limiting mindset.

 

Limited mindsets manifest themselves in all kinds of environments. Take, for example, the world record for the 100-meter dash. For years, it was believed that man couldn’t break the “10-second barrier”— it was commonly accepted that no runner could complete the 100-meter dash in under ten seconds. But that record was defied in 1983 by runner Carl Lewis. Once that glass ceiling was shattered, six more sprinters completed the dash in less than ten seconds during the 1980s. Since that time, nearly 100 sprinters have broken the 10-second barrier. All it took was one person defying the “unbreakable”record, and numerous others followed suit.

 

Our mindset ties directly into our emotional intelligence. Think this is all just mushy, soft- skills stuff? Think again. According to a recent study1from the University of Bonn, published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior in November 2014, individuals who displayed emotional intelligence were more likely to bring home a bigger paycheck than their emotionally-stunted colleagues.  Emotional intelligence is a measure of your self-awareness and awareness of others.  Are you self-aware about your own limiting beliefs?

 

So what can you do to grow your mindset? Set “stretch goals”that force you to stretch outside your comfort zone. Try to set goals that are focused on process and mastery, not goals that are solely focused on outcome. And finally, look for opportunities to fail. Yes, you read that right! Although most of us fear failure, we often learn more from our mistakes and failures than from our successes. Mistakes can lead to great ideas and new opportunities. So start looking for these kinds of opportunities. Your brain will find what you tell it to look for.

 

What can be learned from this? Bottom line: If you think you can’t, you won’t. When you limit yourself and your capabilities, you won’t break that glass ceiling or defy the odds. But when you unlock your mindset to allow for all opportunities, the possibilities open up to allow for remarkable achievements.

 

 

Further Reading: Mindset by Carol Dweck

1Momm T., Blickle G., Liu Y., Wihler A., Kholin M. and Menges J. I. (2015) It pays to have an eye for emotions: Emotion recognition ability indirectly predicts annual income, J. Organiz. Behav., 36, pages 147–163. doi: 10.1002/job.1975.

 

Photo Credit

About the Author: Kerry Goyette is the founder and president of Aperio Consulting Group, a human capital consulting firm based in Columbia, MO.  Aperio’s mission is to help organizations increase effectiveness of their biggest asset, their people. Kerry holds her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Missouri with post-graduate studies in neuroscience and psychometrics. She was also recently elected to the executive MBA Advisory Board for the University of Missouri’s Trulaske College of Business.


An Idea Without A Plan Remains An Idea

Posted on February 17th, by Rowena Morais in Career Advice. 3 comments

It seems rather obvious, yet year after year, many people feel compelled to greet the start of a new year with grand ideas about losing weight, travelling more, catching up on their reading or spending more time with their loved ones.

I read this the other day and it begs sharing here :

 

“Most people like the idea of being exceptional, but not enough to do what it takes to get there… everybody says they want to be slim, healthy, attractive, and rich, but few people are willing to do what it takes to attain those things, which suggests they don’t really want those things as much as they say or think.
Paul Arden, former creative director of Saatchi & Saatchi, sums this up nicely by explaining that typically when we say we “want” something, we actually just mean we want to have it, but with no implicit assumption that we’re willing to do any work to get there. In reality, wanting something should equate with being prepared to take the necessary steps to achieve it. If you are serious about your goals, then you will do whatever it takes to attain them; your confidence is secondary. What matters is the desire you have to attempt to achieve your goals.”
- Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, a professor of business psychology at University College London and author of the outstanding book “Confidence: Overcoming Low Self-Esteem, Insecurity, and Doubt

 

I agree that it is about how strongly we desire something.  Oftentimes, it seems easier to just say that we want that something. You could look at a given situation, and realise that person has been very clear about her desires thus far and yet, failed to achieve them. It would be easy to conclude that their desire was simply not strong enough.

The problem with such analysis, though, is that it’s based on what is perceived, on what is on the outside. We see the successful tennis champion and their runaway success but we don’t see behind the scenes – their struggles, their passion and what they do on a daily basis.

What do you do with the person with real desire, who keeps failing yet keeps trying over and over? What do you make of that person, from the outside looking in?

While it is important, and I cannot stress this enough, to be clear about what we desire and to be relentless about it, I think there are two other critical aspects we need to consider if we are to make our desires real.

 

The first is that any desire or goal needs to be backed by a plan. I know firsthand, how easily your desires crumble by the wayside when there is no plan in place. A plan is simply a framework for how you will achieve what you so desire. The mere intent is simply not enough, you need to do. But thoughtless, rudder-less action is not the way to go. Your plan need not be cumbersome or overly complex – all you need to be clear about is a direction and a method for achieving what you seek.

Where applicable, I base my plans on the Five Ws and One H, or the Six Ws. I need a clear guide as to who this is for, what that involves, when I plan to start and when I expect to finish, in what areas this will apply and importantly, how I will put all of this together. If you wanted to take this a step further, a SWOT analysis would also be useful.

Granted, this may seem to make the whole exercise a tad theoretical and arduous. But if you go through the motions here, you will achieve clarity about what you’re doing and strengthen (or otherwise) your resolve for doing so. Either way, you know where you really stand.

If you decide that :

  • the idea is not worth the time and effort to do so;
  • it’s a lot of work, perhaps a tad unnecessary; or
  • you’ll get to it later

then, the idea just remains an idea. It stays in your mind, cluttered with the other big picture goals or ideas you have, and it runs alongside the daily stream of to-do lists, emails, pings and emotional weather you sustain. Over time, the idea loses focus and it becomes a hazy option, one that will slowly but surely fade into the recesses only to resurface at the start of another year.

 

And the second thing you need to do is, quite simply, to act. Yes, you start with an idea, you back it up with a plan but things only start moving, when you do. There’s only so much you can understand and absorb on a theoretical level. There’s only so many days and weeks you can delay the onset of action while you prepare to ramp up before you begin to lose the momentum so needed to get started on your journey.

When you put all this together -  an idea, the desire, a plan and action – you have a powerful combination of factors that can help you get closer to what you want. In isolation, each serves some purpose but lacks the strong foundation, if you will, to make progress.

I can’t help but agree with the powerful words of Seth Godin, who is a huge proponent of getting things done and of taking action:

“Ship often. Ship lousy stuff, but ship. Ship constantly.”

When you make the conscious decision to do what it is that you need to do, you wait for no one to tell you the things you need to hear. You don’t let the failures get in the way of your journey. You just keep moving, getting stronger, getting more focused, getting more traction.

So, why not take that next step you know you should be taking? Why not make that idea more real, to yourself, by embracing that desire, crafting a plan and just going for it? You will be glad you did.

 

Abou the Author: Rowena Morais is the Editor of VerticalDistinct.com, helping individuals develop their professional abilities and career to the fullest in either Human Resources or Technology. She is also Editor of the quarterly human resource magazine, Accelerate. She graduated from the University of Glamorgan, Wales with an LL.B (Hons) and is a regular blogger on personal growth.

LinkedIn | Facebook | Google+


Do Recruiters Still Care About the Relationship?

Posted on February 10th, by Kimberly Patterson in Career Advice. No Comments

relationship buildBack in the day, while working at my first job out of school, I became bored. Shocker for a young person, right? I made the decision that since I had one year of real life working under my belt, it was time to move on and change jobs. I was scouring the Sunday Classified Ads and snail-mailing my resumes and cover letters — printed on the perfect shade of buff-colored stationery — to companies. No internet or job boards back then. How painful would that be if we had to do that today?  I digress.

A friend suggested that I call someone she knew who worked for an employment agency. She proceeded to explain that companies who had open positions would call these agencies looking for candidates to fill their jobs. “Wow, how easy is that?” I thought.

I called the agency and spoke with a gal named Donna. Donna and I spoke frequently and she wanted me to succeed. She gave me feedback after I interviewed and even coached me on negotiating a job offer. It was a win for both of us. This was my first experience working with a recruiter and it was first rate. In fact, I recently connected with Donna and was glad that she remembered me from back then.

Throughout the last 20 years, I’ve had calls from recruiters who were looking to fill positions and I have reached out to recruiters who have posted positions to fill. My experiences have been scattered. I’ve spoken with some who were detailed and emphasized the priorities of the job, details about the company and style of the hiring manager. They also took the time to get to know my background.

I’ve also had some disappointing experiences. The recruiters I refer to as the “resume collectors”. It’s obvious when a recruiter is simply adding your name to a stack of other resumes that are being submitted to a manager so that it appears as though the recruiter is working on filling the open position. They’re the ones who don’t ask many questions about your background and you rarely hear from them again.

As I mentioned in a prior post, recruiting is a role that requires excellent relationship-building and sales abilities. Great recruiters maintain relationships for years and many will work with the same professionals over the course of their careers.

I often wonder if new recruiters building their careers understand what this gig is about. It’s about people. Whether you’re working with hiring managers to fill positions, or interviewing candidates — all people. Success will be difficult to reach without building these valuable relationships.

I admit that I had a great first experience with a recruiter. And yes, I also get that recruiters don’t work for candidates, they work for clients. But let’s remember that candidates are people too and we’ll never know if our paths will cross again with these folks throughout our own careers.

Bring it.

 

About the Author: Kimberly Patterson is the founder of Unconventional HR. An HR pro turned consultant, she has 25 years of progressive experience as a strategic HR and business leader in a variety of industries. Her hands-on and innovative approach allows her to create and deliver HR solutions to meet business challenges and needs by managing human capital, talent acquisition and technology. Connect with her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/kimberly_patt, or at kim@unconventionalhr.com.

HCM Excellence Conference Day 3 & Closing Thoughts – #Excellence15

Posted on February 2nd, by Jennifer Payne in HR Conferences. No Comments

The final day of the Brandon Hall 2015 HCM Excellence Conference wrapped up with a final set of breakout sessions, one a two-part workshop on driving business performance through leadership development, the other an executive roundtable and an unconference session.  I attended the latter two.

 

High Level HCM Perspectives

  • Agility & integration: As we look to the future, talent management will need to be accomplished much more quickly, and in a more holistic and integrated way, from talent acquisition, to learning, to competency development.
  • New Paradigms: Be willing to consider new approaches to more traditional processes, especially as related to learning and talent development initiatives.
  • Talent Acquisition is both internal and external: Finding the best talent isn’t always about bringing it in from outside the company, it should be just as focused on finding and leveraging the best talent from within.
  • Business speaks the language of numbers: First, understand your business and what’s important to your senior leaders.  Then get comfortable with data, and learn to speak that language of business.  But also understand that data will never be perfect, so don’t wait around for perfection and just start working with it.  Focus not just on data and numbers, but also the business outcomes you’re trying to achieve; be a business person who happens to work in the functional area of human resources.
  • Alignment: Find a way to help employees see the link between the work they do on a day to day basis and the overall goals, mission, and broader strategy of the organization.  Appeal to the hearts and minds of your employees to drive engagement, and don’t discount the importance of meaningful work, career development opportunities, mentoring, and feedback.

 

“What Do YOU Want to Talk About?”

For anyone who is not familiar with the unconference concept, it’s an approach to conferences and sessions in which very little, if any, agenda is pre-determined, and the direction of the session is dictated by what the participants want to discuss.  Brandon Hall’s Trish McFarlane and Ben Eubanks led just this type of session to wrap up our final day.  In true unconference fashion, it began with participant introductions and “what’s top of mind for you?” and morphed into a lively discussion that flipped between learner engagement, employee engagement, training evaluation, learning as the intersection between instinct and motivation, and what drives behavior – beliefs/values or  compensation.  But the true value of this format is the collaboration it facilitates, and maybe the question we should be asking ourselves is how we can harness a similar format in our organizations to drive collaboration and innovation?

 

Final Thoughts

It was truly an honor to be invited to help cover #Excellence15.  In keeping with the theme, the Brandon Hall folks did an excellent job pulling together valuable and varied content with a host of strong, smart presenters.  The sessions were a nice combination of research/trends and real-world success stories from proven HR leaders.  And with the number of award winners and HR executives in attendance, the “smart-factor” was certainly amped up.

 

Though Brandon Hall Group has historically focused on learning & development, the sessions on talent acquisition, talent management, and leadership proved that they have moved beyond those roots to become a resource for all things human capital management.  I look forward to seeing how this conference continues to evolve in the future.


HCM Excellence Conference Day 2 – #Excellence15

Posted on January 29th, by Jennifer Payne in HR Conferences. No Comments

Day 2, and the first official full day of the Brandon Hall 2015 HCM Excellence Conference, was one jam-packed with content, research, innovation, and knowledge.

 

The day kicked off with Brandon Hall’s CEO Mike Cooke’s overview of HCM strategies and priorities for the coming year, which will include a focus on attracting and retaining talent, succession management and leadership development, team development, employee engagement, a stronger link between learning and performance, and compliance training.

 

Project, Prepare, Persevere

Susan Erschler then gave the opening keynote.  I’ll admit, I had not heard of Susan prior to this event, but after hearing her speak, I’d encourage everyone to look her up and read about her journey.  Susan, who is a business women and by no means a professional mountain climber, set out on a quest with her mountain climber husband to scale the Seven Summits – the highest mountains on each of the seven continents, a goal achieved in 2002.  Her graphic description of the experience climbing Mt. Everest had me sitting there and wondering why anyone would want to put themselves through that ordeal, but at  the same time her compelling story provided inspiration for business leaders.  Her trademarked approach of “Project, Prepare, Persevere” is a framework applicable to achieving any major goal or objective:

Project:  Have a vision, commit to it, put it in writing, and then let the vision drive your actions.

Prepare: Just as there’s no big mountain you can scale in one day, no major business objectives you can be achieved that quickly either.  Break it down into bite sized, manageable pieces, realizing that sometimes you have to climb up, then back down, then up again to get to the top.

Persevere: How much time and effort are you willing to put in to achieve your goals?  How many times are you willing to be knocked down and still go back again?  You can’t lower the mountain to match yourself, so you have to figure out a way to elevate yourself to match the mountain.  And most importantly, surround yourself with people who won’t let you quit.

 

High Performance Leadership Development

Madeline Laurano, Brandon Hall VP and Principal Analyst facilitated this panel which included Meribeth Germino of Genetech, Steven Smith of Capgemini, and David Wright of CIBC.  Madeline kicked off this panel of Excellence Award winners with the startling statistics that 60% companies have leadership development programs in place, 82% of them for over 3 years, but yet 75% feel they are ineffective.  The panel then shared highlights of their own programs and the keys to their success.  Though all three had unique and different element to their programs, some common themes emerged:

  • It’s not a one-time event – leadership development needs to be a process that provides ongoing support and coaching
  • Focus on personal transformation – leadership is very personal, and a self-discovery component is critical
  • Focus on business issues – connecting to the real problems the business needs to solve will reinforce the program’s relevance
  • Consistency – programs need structure, but also allow for flexibility and adaptability
  • Measurement – have a method in place to measure how effective your efforts are; how are you impacting business performance?

 

High Performance Onboarding

A recent Brandon Hall survey indicated that 75% of companies surveyed felt that their onboarding programs were than moderately effective.   Kyle Lagunas, Brandon Hall’s Talent Acquisition Analyst led a panel of experts, including Amanda Reynolds (CareerBuilder), Bud Blom (MUFG), and Emily Cates (Zebra Technologies) in discussing some of their best practices in using onboarding to drive employee engagement and retention.  Some of the key takeaways:

  • Onboarding begins before the first day; leverage the momentum from the recruitment process using “pre-boarding” elements; engage as early as the offer
  • Move from “single day class” mentality and repeatedly connect with new employees over the course of the first several months; use tools such as “welcome websites” to provide resources before and after first day, new hire communities, and automated reminders for key actions
  • Use new hire and manager guides; ensure new hires understand what they need to do to achieve proficiency, and ensure managers have the right coaching tools to get them there
  • Develop a customized and interactive orientation experience that center on the specific class of new hires and get the leadership team involved in the process

 

HCM Measurement and Analytics

The final panel of the day was facilitated by Trish McFarlane (VP of Human Resource Practice, Principal Analyst) and included Steve Boese (HR Technology Conference and LRP Productions), Mike Psenka (Equifax), and Edward Pertwee (BT).  The panelists aimed to answer the questions what is big data, how are companies using it, and what are the pitfalls of misusing it?  Some of the recurring themes were:

  • Consolidating data into one place is a challenge, and existing systems often make it difficult to obtain useful information.  However, more providers are investing in the ability to provide better reporting and dashboards.  Some of the trends to look towards are role based, in-process, decision support, and predictive analytics.
  • One of the biggest challenges in analytics is that HR metrics are not defined and standardized; all organizations have data problems, and we need to learn to manage that expectation in ours.
  • Measure things that impact or drive the business, are observable, and are actionable.  Less is more; pick one thing that matters and run with it, and learn how to market results and answers to the organization in a way that makes it easy to visualize and tells a story.   It’s all about facilitating better business decision-making.

Checking In From #Excellence15 Day 1 – Technology Selection & Implementation

Posted on January 28th, by Jennifer Payne in HR Conferences, HR Technology. No Comments

I’ve arrived in sunny Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for the inaugural Brandon Hall Group HCM Excellence Conference, and Day 1 kicked off with two powerhouse pre-conference workshops.  I had the opportunity to attend “Making The Right Technology Choice: Key Practices in Selecting Your Next System,” facilitated by Brandon Hall’s Michael Rochelle (Chief Strategy Officer), David Wentworth (Senior Learning Analyst), and Trish McFarlane (VP of Human Resources, Principal Analyst).

 

This workshop alone was worth the price of admission with its hands-on approach and the framework provided to assist participants in selecting new technology.  Too often, too many of us flounder through selection and implementation, without a solid plan in place.  Or maybe we’ve never had the opportunity to lead an implementation and have no idea where to start.  Either way, without a solid plan the risk of implementation failure is high.  Michael, along with the help of David and Trish, walked us through a very thorough framework for the selection process.

 

Not to give away all of the secrets (hey, you had to be there for that!), but some of the keys to this process included:

 

Planning & Alignment

Build a business case, including a champion and internal team, a list of “must-haves” with a clear focus on the unmet business needs you are trying to meet, and develop a solid change management and communication strategy.  Keep in mind that the best technology solution is useless if you can’t get folks to buy into using it, and good technology doesn’t fix bad processes.

 

Discovery

Educate yourself about what’s happening in the technology landscape.  Don’t rely on vendors alone, but rather take it upon yourself to get up to speed to put yourself on a level playing field with the providers.  And then identify and prioritize your requirements: ask yourself how you are going to use the system most of the time, and focus your priorities on the functionality you can’t live without.  Build a use case, putting yourself in the role of your various stakeholders/users and ask what each needs from the system, and use that to prioritize your requirements.

 

Vendor Evaluation and Selection

The biggest mistake that organizations make in deciding whether or not a provider is the right fit is focusing too much on their current needs and failing to think about what their future needs may be.  Take the time to set your demo agenda, including a focus on features, navigation, ease of use, integration capabilities, technical support, and implementation timelines and responsibilities.  Again, have an excellent and current understanding of the providers in the market, and realize that there is no “perfect provider,” so be prepared to go in with eyes wide open.  Use requests for information to begin aligning your business needs with the solutions that providers offer.  Then use a technology selection scorecard to ensure that your needs and requirements are met and to compare providers, compare pricing, and think longer term when you’re negotiating contracts.

 

Implementation

Have a change management strategy in place that includes stakeholder analysis, a risk mitigation plan, and a communication plan.  Realize that not everything is going to go well, so try to predict the potential pitfalls and be prepared to address and neutralize the naysayers.  Assess your organization’s change readiness, then communicate why the change is happening, the importance of it, and what the benefits will be.  And remember that implementation never actually stops; user adoption is continuous, and winning the hearts and minds of your users is an ongoing project.