Life’s Too Short to Live With Conflict

Posted on July 13th, by Donna Rogers, SPHR in Business and Workplace, On My Mind. 3 comments

Like most, Conflict Management is not my favorite subject. Nor am I an expert as I have my own unresolved conflict currently brewing that I need to heed my own advice on. However, in Human Resources you often need to be a mediator of conflict between coworkers and manager/employee disagreements. Other times you simply have to provide advice to other managers who need to help their employees deal with conflict.  Finally, conflict almost always shows up in the board room regardless of how well we try to avoid it.

So unless you are the king of conflict denial or the queen of pushing conflict under the rug, you may have a desire to fix your conflict situation at the earliest possible opportunity. If not you should…life is too short to live with conflict. If you don’t have a desire to resolve, then get ready for the big explosion that is bound to happen sooner or later. You can be sure someone will get hurt post explosion because something is almost always said that is not meant the way it comes out or is taken.

Some studies say we are about 75% responsible for how others treat us. If the emotion is negative then most likely some of that responsibility is in your reaction to the situation. If you are a person who tends to allow others to treat you in a way that causes inward or outward conflict, it may be time to put them in their place and make them think twice about doing it again. Of course I don’t mean to do this in a negative way because what does that do? It feeds the fire and causes more conflict. So here is a quick list of suggestions I recommend based on my own experience, education, and practice resolving conflict.

  1.  Use Your Words – you cannot resolve anything without expressing how it makes you feel. The key word here is you as in “I”.  Choose words that will express but not shame or blame the other person.
  2. Seek First to Understand Then to Be Understood – this is one of the best Steven Covey habits for exceptional people. If you are always trying to be right and never care to understand the other person(s) point of view, resolution is not in your cards.
  3. Understand Differences in Perception – just because you see a situation one way doesn’t mean others will see it the same as you. Everyone comes from a life of difference and that may be something you are not aware of.
  4. Remember It’s About Impact Not Intent – take responsibility when someone shares that you may have offended them. You may not intend to hurt them but consider that you may have.
  5. Maintain Your Credibility and Respect – this is especially important when your conflict is in the workplace, but it can affect family member relationships for years to come as well when reactions go over the line.
  6. What, What and Why? Feedback Framing – this was a tip from a past boss that has always stuck with me and I even use in disciplinary action documentation at times. Explain WHAT happened then go directly in to WHAT could or should have happened in the future (don’t focus on past) and WHY this new suggestion is a better response.
  7. Restate What You Have Heard – say “What I hear you saying is…” to help the other person understand how you may be perceiving what you said as well as helping you further dive into #2 above.  It’s a clarification technique that slows you down from reacting negatively to something that may not have been intended.
  8. Gain an Understanding of Emotional Intelligence – the higher your EQ is the better able you will be in managing conflict.  The skills can be learned if you know what they are and how to work on them.  Some are above but there are more.  Free EQ tests are available online.
  9. Practice, practice, practice – whether or not you need to practice any of the tips above or something you learn by taking your EQ test, practice it every chance you get.  Set reminders on your phone if you must but keep the ideas on the forefront so you learn to make them a habit when the unexpected happens.
  10. Know When to Give Yourself a Time Out – there are times that you heart starts to race or your blood pressure rises and you can physically feel the signs that you are about to blow due to conflict.  This is the time to walk away and let the other person know you need some time.  The time is healthy for both sides of the conflict to help give perspective and determine a plan for resolution.  


Even if these suggestion are just reminders of what you already know, I hope it’s a good refresher and can help maintain a relationship that may be on the verge of being broken.  Remember, life is too short to carry conflict for long.  Take responsibility now and move forward.  I have lost several loved ones (mom, dad, and brother to name a few) in my life recently who I wish I had hugged one more time than I had fought with them.

Don’t have regrets and make a difference in your life and others.


I Need To Hire An HR Manager – Get Me Anyone!

Posted on July 5th, by Jacqueline Clay in The Funny Side of HR. 3 comments

Hi, it’s an HR Woman of a Certain Age again giving you my perspective on issues relating to the HR profession, with a tinge of humor.

 

Over the years, HR has changed for the better in some aspects and stayed the same in others.  There are so many areas that as an HR professional with over 20 years (actually 30…but who’s counting), in the business, I have seen experienced, expertise-laden, Human Resources leaders gain stronger credibility, professional strength and organizational influence. Many of us are seen as impactful, strategic business partners who are critical to the executive management of the organization as a whole.  However, this is not routinely the case and as such, I have a bone to pick.  Yes, I found a bone with quite a bit of meat on it that requires picking.

 

Let me start the “pick” by saying that HR Management is a PROFESSION.  It is not  something that is just done.  It is on the same caliber as other professionals who have undergone specialized training and gained experience in their fields of choice.  We have our own societies, professional groups and certifications that help keep us engaged, entwined, enlightened, envisioned and enveloped in the many facets of the field.  As professionals, we trudge through the labyrinths of the organizational halls providing the expertise necessary to carry out the business of human resources management in a manner that adds value, legitimacy and strategic acumen to the entire organization. We are able to do this because we have gained the education, training, experience and specialized knowledge required for our profession.  We didn’t just fall off the HR truck (similar to idiom “falling off turnip truck”) and begin our practice.

 

My question then becomes, why do companies feel that we are interchangeable with other professions or just general people lacking any knowledge or experience in the profession?   Would a company hire an accountant to handle their legal work?  What about a marketer to head up the legal department?  Would a company put someone who has no experience in business at all as their CEO?  No.  However, many companies feel it is fair, just and okay to put anyone who can barely conduct an interview as the leader of the Human Resources Department.

 

In my experience (vast as it has become), I have encountered situations where the head of human resources was someone who had no….count it….no experience, training or education in the field.  Not only did they lack the prerequisite knowledge of regulatory requirements or best practices in people management, they had no expertise in basic HR acumen.  However, this individual was given the power to conduct critical interviews, handle employee relations issues, develop organizational policy, engage in conflict management matters, etc.   Yes, it was horribly, haphazardly and in many instances that I witnessed (or was intimately involved in), illegally carried out.

 

Unfortunately, some (hopefully not many organizations) consider HR as a “throwaway” part of the business and anyone with a smile, the employee handbook and willingness to do the job is considered fit to handle the intricate, delicate and legally sensitive business of running their human resources department.   Organizations such as this are therefore, in many instances, infected with litigation and poor morale and riddled with distrust of management and employee lack of respect for the organization as a whole. The business leaders then scratch their cumulative heads in wonder.  Why is this happening to us?  I say, check out who you have running your HR Department and what role you allow them to play in the people management of the organization as a whole.  Do they have prior experience as a strong HR leader?   Are they fair, just and objective?  Do you allow them to be?  Do they have the expertise necessary to be a strategic partner that can offer insight in people management areas of potential organizational liability and exposure?  Can they provide you current best practice options?  Do they even know what “best practices” are?  Most importantly, do you provide them the opportunity to express and implement “best practices”, i.e., are they an integral part of your executive management team?

 

Business leaders, do not fool yourselves.  HR is a profession just like accounting, marketing, legal, etc.  If you want HR….get a true HR professional and not a poor facsimile.

 

Note:  no names were mentioned to protect the guilty!

 

 

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.

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 


A Follow-Up Discussion on Workplace Bullying #SHRM16

As part of my blogging team coverage of the 2016 SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition, several weeks ago I conducted a Q&A with Catherine Mattice, one of the conference’s concurrent speakers.  The post served as a preview of her session, titled “The Real World: Case Studies of Real Organizations Who Solved Their Workplace Bullying Problems” and gave us some insight into her thoughts on the reality of workplace bullying.  You can read that initial Q&A post here.

 

So naturally at the conference I took the opportunity to attend her session.  What was immediately apparent to me is just how passionate Catherine is about this topic.  This wasn’t something she was presenting on because it’s trendy or simply a hot topic amongst HR pros right now, she really, truly believes that not only is this a very real issue, but it’s one that can be solved.  Her enthusiasm for the topic came across in our Q&A, but once I had the opportunity to see her actually speak on the topic, and how she at times spoke on the brink of emotion, it became very obvious that this is something she is dedicated to educating, addressing, and alleviating in our workplaces. (One point to note: Catherine herself was at one time the victim of a workplace bully, and that is what initially sparked her desire to start talking about it).

 

After providing attendees with a summary of her own background, experience with bullying, and how she arrived at where she is now with her work against workplace bullying, Catherine described the three characteristics of bullying and the three buckets of bullying behavior.

 

The Three Characteristics:

 

  1. Bullying is repeated. According to research on the subject, behavior that qualifies as bullying typically happens at least once a week over the course of at least a six month period.  Certainly it could vary somewhat from that, but the point is it’s generally not a one-time event (not unlike what is generally recognized as a hostile work environment – it usually has to be severe and pervasive behavior).
  2. Bullying creates a psychological power imbalance. The bully uses his or her voice to “squash” the voice of the victim.
  3. Bullying causes harm. This may seem obvious, but the behavior significantly impacts the victim.  In fact, Catherine cited a fact that often, if not addressed, the behavior continues to a point in which the victim can no longer take it and quits to get away from it.

 

The Three Buckets of Behavior:

  1. Aggressive Communication. In other words, attacking emails, invasion of personal space, harsh finger pointing.  Any sort of communication in which the bully exhibits characteristics of that psychological power imbalance.
  2. Humiliation. These are behaviors that promote social isolation, pointing out mistakes in public, or even – taken to the extreme – hazing.
  3. Manipulation. Perhaps one of the more common bullying behaviors and the most difficult one to identify includes things such as giving impossible deadlines or continually changing deadlines, impossible workloads, and providing (unwarranted) poor performance reviews.

 

Catherine then went on to describe four real scenarios at real companies in which bullying behaviors were present.  I won’t give away all of the details (you just had to be there for that!) but how the behaviors were addressed varied and largely depended on the type of behavior that was present.  Was in one specific individual or a prevalent culture of bullying that was being allowed?  What was the state of communication within the organization?  Was there a distrust of leadership present among employees?  Solutions raged from communication and prevalence audits (in the case of toxic workplaces with individual predominant bullies or an overall culture of bullies); engaging peer advisors and a “peer listening scheme” in environments with a distrust of leadership; committees with members from all levels of the organization where a culture of bullying required a social vision and update to corporate values; and supervisory training, coaching, and mediation.

 

The final thought attendees were left with, and one that is critical for us as HR pros to recognize is this: If someone witnesses bullying and doesn’t speak up, they are not a bystander, they are a reinforcer.  We must create environments where our employees feel comfortable and know how to speak up for each other, and we need to train our managers on creating environments within their control where bullying is not allowed, and how to stop it  if it in fact appears.

 

If we focus on creating a positive workplace, the bullying behavior goes away.   

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has almost two decades of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, learning & development, and employee communications, and currently works in talent management 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


#SHRM16 Day 3 – Why HR Pros Should Care About the Political Climate

Posted on June 22nd, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace, HR Conferences, SHRM Chapters and Conferences. 1 Comment

I’m going to preface this by saying I am not a political junkie by any stretch of the imagination.  I generally keep my thoughts to myself and don’t engage in political debate.  However, I was totally and completely RIVETED by Tuesday morning’s keynote at SHRM16.

The keynote paired Fox News’ Tucker Carlson with CNN’s Paul Begala in a lively, and at times heated point/counterpoint discussion on the current political climate, the implications of the upcoming election, and why HR pros should care about it all.

This was the second keynote that paired two speakers together, in both cases with individuals that would seem to be more different than alike, but in the end pulled together some common themes.   Though Carlson’s and Begala’s political leanings were glaringly on opposite sides of the spectrum in most cases, the dialogue was, as I mentioned earlier, riveting, and both came through with some common themes for the HR professionals in attendance.

So why exactly should we care and be paying attention to the state of politics in today’s world?  Well, the simple answer is this: our organizations are a microcosm of the nation at large, and what’s happening in the larger electorate is also happening in our organizations.  So what are some of those things that are happening?

 

Median Income Has Stalled

Our middle class is under unprecedented economic pressure, and income equalities exist throughout the nation.  Median incomes have stalled for a large proportion of American citizens, and without a thriving middle class, it’s difficult to have a thriving economy.  For many of us, a large percentage of our workforces very well may fall into this struggling middle class (if not even lower middle class for those with a large percentage of hourly wage workers).  Income/finance concerns are very real to these folks.  Do we recognize that?  Are we aware and sensitive to their realities of working paycheck to paycheck in some cases?  How in tune are we with the reality of the makeup of our workforces?

 

An Explosion of Diversity

In both the larger electorate and within our organizations, there is a fundamental shift in the makeup of those populations.  The new electorate has a much larger percentage of younger people, people of color, and unmarried women than ever before, and that diversity translates over to our workplaces.  The challenge is that there are still people, including people in our workforces, who have a difficult time adapting to these changing times.  It doesn’t make them bad people, it doesn’t make them “haters” or “bigots,” in many cases it just makes them people with a difficulty adapting to change or shifting the view of reality they’ve just always known.  As HR pros, we have an obligation to promote diverse and inclusive workforces, and help those that struggle with adapting learn to adapt and accept the new reality (at least in the workplace – we can’t control what happens outside of work!)

Tucker Carlson noted that people generally are not wired to handle the current pace of social change, and the single largest failure of the “elite” is not recognizing that fact.  I wonder how many of our organizations are guilty of this very thing?  Do our leaders recognize those that are struggling?  Though it may not be possible to slow down the pace of change, what can we do to help our folks accept it?

 

Your Background Shapes Your Outlook

The final point to be made is that where you live has a profound impact on your outlook.  If you were raised in, or now live in a fairly affluent area, that reality shapes how you see the world and the issues that matter to you.  However, most of our organizations include a cross section of people from all walks of life…are we as HR pros and leaders equipped to be able to understand their versions of reality?  What matters in an affluent area varies greatly from the issues that matter in Middle America, and that varies greatly from lower income/impoverished areas.  Many of us in leadership positions may tend to bias towards the view of a more affluent populations, but can we put ourselves in the positions of those with a very different world view?

So much food for thought and points to ponder for everyone in the room Tuesday morning.

 


Highlights from #SHRM16 Day 2 – Power Poses, Corporate Delegates, Certification, and Engagement

Posted on June 21st, by Jennifer Payne in HR Conferences, SHRM Chapters and Conferences. No Comments

Day 2 (and the first full day) of SHRM 2016 had me jumping around in various directions.  Here are some highlights…

 

Power Posing

The morning keynote was Amy Cuddy, author of the book “Presence” and known for coining the phrase “power pose” through her well known TED talk.  I’ve had the opportunity to see Amy speak previously, and recently finished reading her book.  Amy presents a convincing case for the power of connection between the body and the mind in bringing your best, most authentic self to work, especially in difficult, challenging, or nerve wracking situations.  She encouraged attendees (and especially encouraged us to teach our daughters, who tend to fall into restrictive posture and body language as they move into puberty) to “take up their fair share of space in the world” by opening up and focusing on expansive posture and body language.  A fair takeaway for anyone looking to continue to increase their power and influence in their own lives and organizations.

 

Corporate Delegates

I had the opportunity to attend the Senior Delegate Luncheon, part of the Corporate Delegate Program.  Not knowing much about it prior to attending, I did a little research and learned that that Corporate Delegate Program is something SHRM offers for companies who send a minimum of five attendees to the annual conference.  Along with discounted rates, there are a number of additional benefits, including an exclusive networking luncheon for the most senior leader in each corporate delegation.  This year’s luncheon also included a presentation from Deloitte on tax implications and tax breaks as related to the Affordable Care Act, a topic no doubt on the minds of many in the room.  I’d highly encourage any company who regularly sends more than one attendee to SHRM Annual to check out the Corporate Delegate Program and the potential benefits of sending maybe just a few more of your folks to the show.

 

The Value of Certification

As most SHRM members probably already know, a couple of years back SHRM rolled out the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP certifications based on the SHRM Competency Model and body of knowledge.  Monday afternoon some of the members of the SHRM Certification team visited the bloggers lounge to give us a preview of some of the soon to be introduced developments pertaining to the SHRM Certification.  Amongst the most exciting are a dedicated app to track certification activities (no more thick manila folders to hold onto certification materials!) and an online library of virtual certification activities that can be used for up to half of your required credits.  Good stuff!

 

Employee Engagement

The last session I attended Monday afternoon was “Living for the Weekday: The Employee Side of Employee Engagement.”  Though the session didn’t turn out to be exactly what I thought it would, speaker Clint Swindall was engaging, entertaining, and had a number of good points.  Though his focus was on ensuring that we ourselves are engaged contributors to our companies, what his message boiled down to is that engagement is far more complex than just work/life balance.  He spoke of five components that contribute to engagement: career, relationships, health, finances, and spirituality.  If any of those five are off, we can’t possibly bring our full selves to work and be fully engaged.  That’s an important concept to think about regardless of whether you’re considering your own engagement or the engagement of your employees.  Work/life balance is too abstract and means different things to different people, so why not take a more holistic approach?  Now how exactly we do that is the key question!

 

Overall, a full day of activities with much more to come!

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has almost two decades of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, learning & development, and employee communications, and currently works in talent management 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.

 

 


Checking In From #SHRM16 – Macro & “MikeRowe” Breakthroughs

The 2016 edition of the Society for Human Resource Management Annual Conference and Expo is well underway.

The annual pilgrimage of 15,000 human resource pros to experience everything HR related kicked off with a Sunday opening general session featuring Alan Mullaly (of Ford and Boeing fame) and “Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe (who was, for the record, the most entertaining keynote I can remember in recent years).  What was seemingly an odd pairing to speak together turned out to be a wonderfully complementary approach to breakthroughs (which, incidentally is the theme of SHRM16).  We’ll call it the Macro and the “MikeRowe” approach.

 

The Macro Approach

Alan Mullaly began with a narrative about his days when he took over the Ford Motor Company.  At that time, the company was losing $17 million dollars, no sign of success by any stretch of the imagination.  However, if one were to review their business charts, everything was marked as “green,” meaning all was well and good and on target.

What?

The approach that Mullaly went on to describe involved an intense focus on people.  In fact, he cited Human Resources the biggest competitive advantage an organization can have, as it’s their role to managing the resources – the people – that make things happen.  Nice to hear from a successful CEO, isn’t it?  He talked about first and foremost about being honest about your failures.  Blissful ignorance is not going to help your bottom line, and if your people don’t understand the reality, they aren’t going to know what needs to be worked towards.  Then you need to believe in your people to get the job done.  You either believe or you don’t believe, and if you don’t, you better get to a place that you can.  The next question is does EVERYONE know the plan to accomplish the goals that need to be reached?  Communication and setting of expectations is key.   Then empower them to listen, help, and respect each other and understand their role in working towards the necessary outcome.  Lastly, make sure they feel appreciated for what they do.  His approach was everything we as HR pros should already be practicing and preaching, but to hear it from someone as successful as Alan Mullaly really drove it home.

 

The “MikeRowe” Approach

Mike Rowe then came on stage and entertained the crowd with his hilarious and vividly detailed description of hosting “Evening Magazine” (his former show) in the sewers of San Francisco that ultimately led to the creation of “Dirty Jobs.”  Amongst descriptions of everything you’d expect when talking about sewers (there was much simultaneous laughing and cringing in the room), he talked about having a “peripeteia,” a concept used in fictional narratives that essentially means a change in fortune or change in direction.  Call it a breakthrough of sorts.  In the filth of the sewers of San Francisco, he realized that there are unsung heroes in all manners of work who not only do what most of us would never dream, but many do it happily….more than can be said for a large percent of the unengaged workforce today if we’re to believe the statistics.  His peripeteia led to the creation of “Dirty Jobs” where he highlights many of these such people.  He took his message further by encouraging the HR pros in the room to find their own peripeteia and breakthrough the fundamental disconnect with work that’s present in so many organizations.  Many of our organizations don’t value all work equally, yet the job that everyone does is important and ultimately drives organizational success.  How do we as HR pros recognize this, and ensure that everyone is valued for what they contribute, no matter how “small” the job?  This particularly resonated with me, coming from a retailer with over 16,000 employees.  The cashier that regularly waits on the same customer in a small, rural community is just as important to overall company success as the Category Managers at the corporate office or the District Managers in the field.  In their own corner of our organizational world, they make a difference.  Do they know that?  Are they recognized for that?  Do we as HR pros do enough to ensure this?

The theme of everyone contributing to organizational success and the importance of communicating and recognizing that was the thread that tied the two speakers together in my mind.  And it was also my biggest takeaway from Sunday’s session.

 

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has almost two decades of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, learning & development, and employee communications, and currently works in talent management 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.

 

 

 

 


Understanding the Reality of Gender Discrimination in Performance Reviews

Posted on June 14th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace, Workplace Culture. No Comments

The act of reviewing an employee’s performance regularly and objectively has many benefits. The assessment can help the employee gauge their progress and make appropriate adjustments to the way they approach their work. Ultimately, this can lead to a motivated, skilled and active workforce.

With this in mind, it is clear that having objective and constructive performance discussions is something every organisation should work toward. Unfortunately, this does not always happen. Managers carrying out the reviews are human beings, and as such are subject to both conscious and unconscious biases. Even those who believe themselves to be completely egalitarian can still be guilty of unwitting bias based on preconceived stereotypes, as was demonstrated in a series of Implicit Association Tests carried out by Mahzarin Banaji. Often, this prejudice is levelled at women.

 

The impact of gender discrimination on employees

Given that a favourable performance review can affect an employee’s chances of progressing within an organisation, the issue of gender bias needs to be addressed. An employee who feels unfairly treated will be demotivated, so it makes good business sense to try and remove unconscious biases wherever possible. Hidden biases such as gender discrimination, according to Caroline Simard, the director of research at the Clayman Institute, also create “cumulative disadvantage over a woman’s career over time, resulting in lower access to key leadership positions and stretch assignments, advancement and pay.”

Despite this, it has been found in a 2015 study that only one-third of employees feel that gender equality was a priority within their organisation.

 

Addressing stereotypical language

Recent research demonstrates that  female employees are assessed differently to their male counterparts. This difference presents itself both in the language used to describe an employee and the quality of constructive feedback provided.

It was made clear in a 2014 Fortune article that women were much more likely to receive a critical performance review than men. The data collected for the study was analysed by a linguist, who examined both the type and frequency of the words used in a sample of performance reviews. It was found that female employees were much more likely to be negatively described as ‘abrasive’, ‘strident’ and ‘aggressive’  while demonstrating behaviour that, in men, was considered ‘confident’ and ‘assertive’. The linguist discusses how the word ‘abrasive’ was used seventeen times to describe thirteen different women. Only the word ‘aggressive’ was used in the men’s performance reviews, and this was used to praise and encourage. Interestingly, the gender of the manager was not an issue — both female and male managers were generally more negative toward female employees.

 

Addressing unhelpful, critical reviews

The study mentioned above also reflects the reality that when men are given negative reviews, there is generally a constructive element to be found. Should they be found lacking in certain areas, they are given clear instructions on how to develop their skills to perform better in the future. The feedback provided to women, conversely, was more negative and far less specific. They were notified of areas where they were not performing as desired, but they were not given the tools necessary to improve. Such behaviour not only does the employee a disservice, but it also guarantees that the organisation does not reach its full potential.

 

How HR can eliminate gender discrimination in performance reviews

In an ideal world, all biased behaviour, both conscious and unconscious, would be eliminated overnight. Unfortunately, this is impossible, but equality is certainly something we can work toward in order to ensure a fairer, better functioning organisation. It begins with addressing the issue head-on and promoting a conscious awareness regarding gender bias.

One method of tackling gender discrimination is to encourage managers to be mindful of their language. Words used in a performance review should be constructive and objective. Judgemental and emotive words should be avoided, and the review process should prioritise communication both ways. Open communication allows the employee to respond, while providing a balanced and accurate view of the situation.

In a similar vein, the HR department could benefit greatly by introducing a means of providing anonymous feedback to employees. This system enables staff the freedom to report behaviour that they are uncomfortable with, without the possibility of facing any personal repercussions. Such feedback may highlight important and concerning issues when it comes to the running of an organisation; for example, it may come to light that the staff believe that men are consulted far more regularly than women when it comes to important business decisions.

Managers should also ensure that their reviews are specific. The evaluation of the employee’s performance should be considered against agreed objectives, behaviours and values. In this way, performance reviews are less subjective and a far more fair way of evaluating performance.

 

About the Author: Stuart Hearn heads up a team who designs innovative performance management software. He has been working in the HR sector for over 20 years, previously working for Sony Music Publishing and co-founding PlusHR.

 

 


When to Say “No”

Posted on June 9th, by a Guest Contributor in Career Advice, Personal & Professional Development. No Comments

Whether you’re just starting out in your career or whether you’re well into it, it’s important to take on new opportunities. Joining a task force, working on a cross-departmental project, taking on a group presentation to a new client . . . things like that give you a chance to find out what you like and what you’re good at. Taking on such projects tests your will and your fortitude, especially those projects that are likely to stretch beyond the usual forty- or fifty-hour workweek.

The key is to take on projects that you know you can complete. You need to feel confident that you can deliver. You don’t want to be the one who volunteers and then doesn’t carry her own weight. Whatever you take on, you have to follow through. You have to push yourself to do it, even if it means you might have to sacrifice your personal time as your work week extends to seventy or eighty hours for a certain period of time. The last thing you want is to sign up for an extra project and then be the one who always leaves early or never shows up. You don’t want to be the one who makes a lot of promises but never delivers. You don’t want to be that person.

Opportunities and risk go hand in hand, and saying “yes” to opportunity means you’re taking on some risk. Saying “no” also can be risky, even when it’s the right thing to do.

Sometimes you don’t have the luxury of volunteering for extra work. Your boss volunteers you instead, saddling you with a project or a presentation that you have little time for. Some of these projects might not be to your liking, or they might not provide you with the kind of visibility that will put you in line for a promotion. Sometimes you just know that there’s no way you can take on another project and give it your all.

So what do you do when you know the right thing is to say “no”?

The key here is to decline politely without actually saying “no.” One way to do this is to say something like, “This sounds like a great project, and I’d be happy to help. I’m working on Project X, Y, and Z right now, and so I could take this on early next month. Would that work for you?” or something like, “I’d love to work on this. Do you see this as a priority over Project A, which is due at the end of the week?” Responses like this let your boss know that you’re both enthusiastic and willing while at the same time prompting him to consider your workload and how much time you could reasonably dedicate to the project and still get the job done.

Saying “no” can be uncomfortable, but it’s often necessary. Only you know how much you can really handle. While you don’t want to be afraid to push yourself, it’s important to know when to say enough is enough—just so long as you say it in a way that keeps your good reputation intact.

About the Author: Jena Abernathy is a nationally recognized leader in human capital management, performance excellence, and organizational development. A sought-after speaker, she is a passionate advocate for women in executive and governing board roles. She has written for and been featured in a wide variety of media, including CNN, the Financial Times, CBS Money Watch, FOX Business, and the Miami Herald.  You can connect with Jena on Twitter or at www.jenaabernathy.com.


Finding Your Breakthrough Moments #SHRM16

Posted on June 7th, by Jennifer Payne in HR Conferences, SHRM Chapters and Conferences. No Comments

I will once again this year be attending the SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition in Washington, D.C. from June 19-22 as part of the social media and blogging team.  Stay tuned over the coming weeks for more updates and coverage from the show.

 

When I think back over the course of my HR career thus far (now nearly two decades long….yikes! When did that happen?), I can say with certainty that there were distinct moments in time that helped to define and shape the course of my career.  These times may not have been “moments” in the context of minutes, hours, and days, but they were moments in time in the context of transformational periods – some more finite in nature, and some that were a bit more of a slower evolution.  But regardless of the manner in which they happened, the outcome was the same…they provided a crossroads where afterwards my career trajectory changed in a fundamental and noticeable way.

 

Read the full post on the SHRM Blog.


Zenefits and the Compounding Effect of Cultural Assessment

Posted on May 31st, by Rita Trehan in Business and Workplace, Workplace Culture. No Comments

Culture is one of the easiest things to blow off when it comes to organizational investment. You build it, and you just sort of place policies and procedures to make sure it works, right? When HR managers shout from the rooftops that corporate culture can be the downfall of an organization (or at the very least a huge stumbling block) if not properly cultivated and managed, we’re quite often met with an exasperated response. Not THAT again. And yet, when the company stumbles and falls over said block to the tune of millions of dollars, it’s most irritatingly a malady that could have been avoided. There is nothing that guides a company to it goals and beyond quite like a dynamic, properly-cultivated corporate culture, and a perfect example of this has recently hit the news: Zenefits.

 

This darling of Silicon Valley shot through the uprights not unlike a good number of its start-up constituents: former CEO Parker Conrad Valley’s billion dollar startups, peaking last year when he was able to raise $500 million for a corporate valuation of $4.5 billion. Announcing itself as the fastest-growing software service ever, based on a free cloud-based HR platform for small businesses around the U.S., it makes the majority of its income from commissions when clients use their platform to purchase insurance. The model was genius, and the corporate culture was constructed to obtain those sales by any means necessary.

 

There was only one big problem: they’ve been accused of partnering with quite a few salespeople without the proper license to sell insurance, and reportedly skirted quite a few laws that would make for the legal sale of insurance products. That’s not just a small pebble they stumbled over; that’s a gigantic legal boulder that’s put them under the watchful eye of the Federal government and downgraded them as an investment. Conrad has stepped down, and the former COO, David Saks, has taken the helm. One of the first things he did was address the errors in culture that led to their current state. He’s quoted in a Forbes article as having sent an email with the following text:

 

“We must admit that the problem goes much deeper than just process…Our culture and tone have been inappropriate for a highly regulated company. Zenefits’ company values were forged at a time when the emphasis was on discovering a new market, and the company did that brilliantly. Now we have moved into a new phase of delivering at scale and needing to win the trust of customers, regulators, and other stakeholders.”

 

As someone who has made a career out of designing adaptable, successful corporate cultures, I feel that they could have benefitted from strong HR. As Saks stated in the email, the culture that founded the company is very different from the one that will right the ship and keep it afloat. Where it appears the first epoch of the company’s history could be best summed as “by whatever means necessary,” it safe to assume that through careful corporate assessment and an in-depth look at their culture and the talent that supports it, it will most likely evolve to “with our shareholders and customers at the center of whatever we do.”

 

When speaking of corporate culture, a static approach is never best. You don’t just build it and let it go, letting it self-maintain with performance evaluations, retention and turnover. It must be constantly assessed against the market, customer satisfaction, internal goals, and staffing needs. While the vision, mission, and values of the company remain standardized for long periods of time, corporate culture is an ever-evolving means to accomplish your objectives. It drives, incents, connects, and deploys your resources of a human variety, and without the proper tools to monitor it — and the sense to pay attention to red flags once they’re raised —you will meet with obstacles that are unpleasant. Most important, they can usually be avoided.

 

The proprietary culture assessment tools I’ve developed from years of experience paired with recent technological advances act as a canary in a coal mine. They’re capable of assessing the culture from all aspects, and paired with market information and 11 other data inputs (13 in total), they can give you a 360-view of your company that can warn of disasters such as these along with other issues, such as turnover/employee defection, potentially derailing internal disconnects, and so much more. You need to monitor corporate culture effectively and often, and I have the tools that can accomplish this and so much more.

 

More than ever, companies must truly look deep inside their ranks to ascertain what is going on. It’s no longer sufficient to simply rely solely on client and employee engagement data to give you a view of what’s happening with your company; this type of insight only scratches the surface at best. Most employee engagement data tell us 86% of people are disengaged, which is a warning sign within itself. Don’t you want to know why before that expense and productivity issue hits your bottom line? I know I would.

 

I believe that companies need to take on the issue of culture more than ever before. Dig deep and use tools like my Capacity Framework to connect deep, disparate data for a powerful, actionable source of information: customer data, engagement data, exit interview data, performance data and metrics, talent data and more. Prioritize your corporate culture, and take action on this type of data, outlining the top strengths and challenges for your company. It’s only by connecting all the dots that you will truly paint an accurate picture of what’s going on in your organization, and armed with that knowledge, you can take action and manage your culture as you would any other asset within your company. For it is an asset, perhaps your greatest, and it must be constantly minded as if it could tear your company apart if mismanaged.

 

Because the truth is — and this Zenefits example is an illustrative example — it most certain can.

 

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.