Category: Business and Workplace
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.
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.
Recently, I gave a talk to the Association for Women in Communications in Springfield Illinois (aka AWC Springfield) called Getting What You Want in the Workplace. Since we focus on women in HR on this blog, I thought it was fitting to share what I discussed here as well, especially since I mention this site during my talk:
So let’s talk about today’s topic which is getting what you want in the workplace. Seeing as this is a women’s program, we will talk about it from a woman’s perspective and getting what you want as a woman. In a blog I wrote for Women of HR, I have talked about the first ten years and The Perfect 10, which was the last ten years of my then-20-year HR career. I loved having the flexibility of being able to be a mom and be a professional at the same time. I talk about credibility in the workplace and bereavement leave. Most recently, a drunk driver killed my brother and I shared what it is like for employees to take bereavement leave. It is really not flexible in most cases.
Let’s start with a true workplace story: How many of you have been engaged? How many remember the details of that day? When I was engaged, I was very excited as most would be, but when I got to work I was asked to take off my engagement ring and not wear it for 6 months! Luckily, I didn’t get married sooner than the 6 months as I had already planned to have a one-year engagement so that my husband and I could pay for the wedding.
How would you have felt if you were asked to take of your ring and not tell anyone else in the company you were engaged? I felt terrible. I did write a blog post, called Bride To Be = Discouraged Employee, about this incident. This experience brings me to my first piece of advice – DO NOT LET PEOPLE WALK ALL OVER YOU. In today’s environment, the Internet, which was not available when I first started my career, makes it possible for an individual employee to understand his or her rights within an organization. That incident would not go over well in today’s workplace. I would say stand up for what you want. If you don’t understand your options, what your rights are, look them up. There is no excuse for not knowing as you each have unlimited resources.
My second piece of advice came from the same manager that told me not to wear the ring. She was trying to look out for me and she did not want me to suffer as she had with male challenges in the work place. What she did do was give me a lot of advice. One thing I have lived my career by is to TOOT YOUR OWN HORN because no one else will. If you do well in something, make sure people know about that. If you have been honored in an organization that perhaps does not have to do with the business but is still an honor, make sure your manager finds that out. SHRM actually recognizes volunteerism and will send letters to your boss on your behalf, which toots your horn for you. Make sure you’re tooting your horn and look into those opportunities. Don’t think of it as a selfish, stuck up, or snobby kind of thing to do. It isn’t. It is the way to get ahead. Men do it. Maybe in a different way, but they do it. Maybe over beer or on the golf course. They do it for each other as well. They do not necessarily promote women like they should as much as they do each other. Women don’t promote women like men promote each other either. How many women would look to another woman to promote her? None, women are competing against each other so they are not promoting each other’s efforts. Sadly this is the truth in my humble opinion. I often ask myself, why is that?
My third piece of advice is ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT. If you want a promotion or a raise, ask for it. I’ve had to that a few times in my career. It doesn’t always come easily and it is sometimes challenging to ask. Most recently, I was honored by a call to interview for a high level political HR position that I did not seek out. The call was based on reputation and the recommendation of others. Although, I didn’t fully consider the position due to a variety of reasons, I did use the situation to my advantage. Since they called me, I let my boss know I was interviewing. It was a toot your own horn opportunity at the very least as it was an honor and reflection on the university as well as my own career achievements. Once I discovered what they pay level would be, I did take it to my boss and asked for a raise. I have used it a couple other times as well. Not just that I had a competitive offer but just simply asking for a raise that I felt I deserved. Back to the Internet resources, you can go on salary.com, Indeed, Monster, etc. and do salary surveys free of charge. You can compare jobs and focus your search criteria to specific demographics. You can go to the Department of Labor to look up salaries as well. It is important that before you go to your manager and ask for a raise, you conduct a comparison, do your homework and be prepared with answers to justify your request. You also must understand that despite the fact that you are asking, you may denied. Prepare for that and understand that there is a budget and a profit to be made. If there isn’t a profit, and you’re in a for-profit organization, it may not be possible to offer a raise; but, at least you’ve tried and you’ve asked.
Another topic related to pay is the idea that 10-20 years ago, it was not kosher to talk about salaries. Nowadays, people will talk about wages all the time and there is absolutely nothing an employer can do about it because of the National Labor Relations Boards (NLRB) current administration. There have been many cases that have been turned around on the employer where they have tried to keep the information quiet and an individual fought it. If any two or more people are talking about a workplace issue, this is what is considered a concerted effort. This used to be only with unionized organizations. But now if you go online or onto social media you will see a big campaign called Fight For Fifteen. This started in Chicago after retailers on Michigan Avenue declared they would walk out on Black Friday if their wages were not increased to $15 per hour. Now multiple organizations and people around the country are on board with this initiative. They are using social media to spread the word and becoming a concerted community with the same fight/request/desire to promote a change. Talk about it. You will not get in trouble. If they do, retaliation laws do exist. If they retaliate against you, there are legal implications in place to protect you. Talking with your co-workers can prepare you with an internal audit as well for when you do approach your manager with that pay raise request. These are your rights as an employee, so ask for what you want.
My fourth piece of advice is to BE NICE, CONSIDERATE AND UNDERSTANDING. Be the person you want other people to be and treat people like you want to be treated. Understand cultures and differences. Don’t be a bitch. You don’t have to be a bitch. There is another article I’ve written about being a bitch as oftentimes, people see you as that even if you’re not. If you are being assertive, as a woman, we are being considered a bitch. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. There are some women that tend to be bullies who are control freaks and narcissistic. You don’t want to be one of those especially if people are coming to you as their manager or supervisor. I’ve never seen myself as that and my prior employers have said I teach them why we have to do what we have to do. Just last week the departments graduate assistant said “On it, boss” but I told her I was “not her boss and if anything, we are a team player”. We are on the same team. I might have a different role but we are on the same team trying to reach the same goal. I might be a catcher and you might be a pitcher but we all have different roles on ONE team. You don’t have to have the “I’m bitchy, better than everyone attitude”. There is help out there if needed! Founder of the Bully Broads program Jean Hollands offered a class for $18k in the early 2000s in Silicon Valley for women considered to be bullies in the workplace which was featured on NBC news. These women can actually go to reform school for being a “bully boss”. So be nice, considerate and understand, and always put your best foot forward.
Finally, HAVE FUN. I remember my father; he worked for an organization for over 20 years that he absolutely hated. You could see it on his face when he went to work and when he came home from work. He was a good father and husband and he was trying to do ‘the right thing’ for the family, but he could have kept looking and found a job that he loved. I really think you should have a job that you love and that you are passionate about, one that you cannot wait to do. I love to be able to share and educate. I need to see an immediate reaction. Occasionally, 10-15 years after an event, I have run into someone who was in a class I taught and they will say “you really changed my thinking” or “you inspired me” and that makes me feel good in a “not that I am any better than any other person in the world” way, but I feel like I made a difference. You should feel that you love your job, and if you don’t, then start looking for that passion. It is out there, I know it is. If you can’t do it working for somebody else, then work for yourself. Sometimes it’s like taking a bullet to your family financials; in fact, we lost half our salary when I quit my job to start my own business, and it took a while to get back up there, but it was worth it in the end. I had more opportunities with my brand new baby boy, and I was travelling all over the country with my daughter. So I really felt like it was the happy ending for me. This, to me, is how you get ahead as a woman in the work place.
So as a summary, here is my advice in just five steps
- STAND UP FOR YOURSELF
- TOOT YOUR OWN HORN
- ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT
- BE NICE, CONSIDERATE AND UNDERSTANDING
- HAVE FUN
Enjoy your job and find something you’re passionate about. It is so important. These are things that I have learned over the years and share with you to wish you success! So to quote my favorite Dr. Seuss:
Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re Off and away!
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any directions you choose.
~Oh, the Places You’ll Go
About the Author: Donna Rogers, SPHR aka @HRWarrior. Donna is a full time Instructor at University of Illinois at Springfield, owner of Rogers HR Consulting and the immediate past Director of the Illinois State Council of SHRM. She has over 20 years in the HR field and currently teaches Human Resources Management, Organizational Behavior, Organizational Development, and Strategic HR Management. She practices what she teaches for almost 100 clients in the central Illinois area.
I am 54 years old. I have a tendency to start many of my blog posts with this information. Why? To add context to whatever I’m passionate enough about to write at that moment. I’m also an HR professional and I like to think I am progressive and strategic. I’m fairly active on social media – though I cannot tell you what a Reddit is, or what Four Square does, I do post on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and I pin a lot on Pinterest. Likely, if you are a young, hip, tech-savvy reader, you know now why I lead with my age. I’m most certainly behind the times.
But onward…in my use of social media, I try to be more than just a serial poster, creeper, or tweeter. I try to connect with my connections, and be a friend or a network ally. Not too long ago, a Facebook friend posted a melancholy post. Ok, it was scary. I don’t see his posts often, but for whatever reason, it came up on my feed. Kismet, perhaps. High school and college classmate, not a close get-together-for-lunch friend, but one I have always admired. I commented, “Are you ok?”
Many others posted and one shared with us that he spoke with this man and he was indeed okay, though troubled by a recent job loss, and challenged to find a new position. I was compelled to offer to assist – hey, I AM in HR, but perhaps there was something I could share to help this friend move forward. We connected on LinkedIn, messaged one another and arranged a phone call.
We talked for a bit and he shared his frustrations with today’s job hunt and job market. I’m paraphrasing as best as I can (I’m over 50, cut me some slack!), and here are a few of those frustrations:
Online applications. My friend lamented that looking for a job is just “not like it used to be.” At some point, this displaced salesman could walk in with his resume to a company and talk to someone face-to-face. Or at least send the resume in the mail and it would be reviewed.
- “Why must I also upload my resume when I’ve spent lots of time typing in the information on the application?”
- “Why do companies fail to take down postings after they are filled?”
- “Why am I always asked for my salary expectations up front and early in the process?”
- “Why do I never… Hear… Anything?”
- “Why can’t I call someone to convince them I can do the job?”
All are great questions. And for any of us in the age 50+ category, they are reasonable questions. So here’s how I answered them, with my HR hat on. And there are some follow-up tips for HR folks.
Why upload a resume AND complete an application?
- The job application is generally a legal document. Hint: Don’t falsify, glorify, or otherwise embellish information on a job application, online or otherwise.
- Generally, an application calls for more information and detail than is supplied on a resume. We ask for employment information including salary, supervisor name and contact info. Specific dates of employment, and education may not be included on a resume. Hint: Be detailed when you complete an application. Fill in all the blanks as best you can.
- A resume may be filled with inaccurate, inflated, or even false information. Hint: Don’t do this. Google Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson for more information. Go back to #1 – the app is a legal document.
- Why upload one if you are completing the application? It depends on the company, culture, and HR department. Some companies may not require that the resume be uploaded.
Tip for the HR Pros: It might be good to communicate information on why an application is necessary on your careers page. We are recruiting tech-savvy professionals, of all ages. But not everyone understands why we require application, irrespective of generation.
Why do companies not take down postings once the positions are filled?
With my rose-colored glasses on, I would like to think the HR folks are just caught up in the administrative process once the position is filled.
Tip for HR: Be sure your recruiter or HR tech person does take down postings that are filled. Does your system have an option to automatically send a notification to all applicants when that happens? If so, turn it on. Our brand is everything, and if we aren’t staying up-to-date on our own job openings, how can HR be seen as credible internally or externally? Same for your company.
Why am I always asked for my salary expectations up front and early in the process?
Likely, a savvy HR professional needs to know if you and the company are in the same salary ballpark. If you are seeking a job that pays $100,000 in salary, and the position you applied for caps at $45,000, there is no value in taking your time or the company’s to continue the conversation. Candidates should consider having a clear picture of what they must have in order to change jobs, and what they desire in salary. Reframe such a question with a discussion phrased something like this, “That’s a great question. I have a salary in mind, can you tell me what the minimum pay is, and what the midpoint of the pay range is?” Then continue the conversation.
Tip for HR: Are you posting salary ranges out there? Perhaps at least posting a midpoint would be reasonable. After all, your time is valuable, too.
Why do I never… Hear… Anything?
I hope (rose-colored glasses are on) that you mean after you complete an application. In today’s world, companies receive many more applications than in years past. In our company of 400+ employees, all who work within one state, we receive about 4,000 applications per year. (Frame of reference, in 2001 we received about 200 per year.) Of those 4,000, about 2,000 are considered “complete” and are reviewed by a ‘real’ human. Our system sends an automatic response to anyone who completes the application 100%.
If you were interviewed, I hope the HR professionals at minimum provided an electronic response if another candidate was selected for the position or if you did not make the next set of interviews.
Tip for HR: Employment brand is everything. Want to be remembered? Be sure to send a follow up letter, even if it is a rejection follow up. And if time allows and a candidate calls, can you/do you/should you give feedback on where they could improve next time? What if you found them to be a great cultural fit, but not right for this position? Following up with a personal phone call to ask a candidate to keep your company in mind for future opportunities – how cool is that? Imagine the brand recognition you could have if you can do this in an empathetic, professional manner?
Why can’t I call someone to convince them I am right for the job?
Candidate, beware. This may result in your being seen as overly assertive, aggressive, or needy. Generally speaking, in larger companies, the hiring manager works with HR (rose-colored glasses on here) and between them have experience in hiring and selection. You may, indeed, be the right candidate, and depending on the job, assertiveness can be a good thing. Desperation will not be seen as good. An option: follow up with a thank you call, email, or handwritten note. Ask for future consideration and reiterate why you would be a great choice for a role in that company. Send the HR person a thank you as well. In today’s world, you will be remembered.
And candidates also be aware that HR may be a credible business partner to the hiring manager. Trashing HR or following up with “did I intimidate your HR person?” Or “Did I scare HR?” will not win you any champions the next time you apply.
Job candidates, you must be tech-savvy in this day and age. At a minimum, you should know how to use a computer and be able to complete an electronic application. Seek out assistance if you are rusty. Many libraries and WorkOne offices have classes and folks ready to help.
Apply for many jobs. The more applications you complete, the higher your chance for being contacted for an interview. And prepare for your interview – this is key to moving forward in the hiring process.
Tip for HR: Be open-minded and listen to the candidate. Be professional and honest with any feedback you provide. We tend to provide little or no feedback because of the litigious society in which we live. How can we walk that tightrope best in recruiting?
Finally, my HR peeps, remember to show class and character in hiring. Your brand is important and you are often the first glimpse into your company that an applicant or job candidate has. Review your systems on occasion and have an outside, objective person complete an application in your system and give you feedback. Was it hard? Easy? Time-consuming? Did it ask for same information multiple times? Did they get an automatic reply?
HR, be open to all ages, all generations – yes, I know we are sensitive to this. Walk in the job applicant’s shoes. My Facebook friend’s questions are legitimate questions. If he’s asking them and feeling them, I’m guessing there are many others out there in the same position.
About the Author: Dorothy Douglass is Vice President of Human Resources & Training at MutualBank, an Indiana-based financial institution. She began her career with Mutual in 2001 as Human Resources Manager, and is a graduate of Ball State University. She is proud to have been in Human Resources now for more than 17 years and is continuing to “lean in” and working to influence the “people management” side of her organization. She is passionate about managing and developing people; and I have yet to be bored in 13+ years in her current job. She considers herself fairly tech-UN-savvy, though has immersed herself in Facebook and LinkedIn. She’s still working on the Twitter-sphere & has goals to blog more in 2014.