The other day I happened upon the Fast Company article 12 Trends That Will Rule Products In 2013. The article was focused on consumer goods like phones and washing machines, but you know what? The trends listed made sense in the context of the workplace too and here’s why: your employees are consumers. It’s inevitable that their consumer purchasing behavior will shape their attitudes at work as well.
Here are four trends Fast Company listed that have implications for those of us in the human resources and management functions of our companies. These trends are driving employee expectations; a wise organizational leader pays attention to these inclinations and responds accordingly.
Customer-facing employees are your brain and your backbone. The article states, “The crucial element in any customer experience is still people, no matter how much technology has transformed the landscape.” Do not be seduced by what your company’s latest technology can do. The “gee whiz!” factor gets old fast – for both employees and your organization’s external customers.
Worth is determined by philosophy, not price. Can you say “intense, endless salary negotiations?” The Fast Company authors ask, “How do you determine a product’s intrinsic worth?” They say that rather than focusing on price, focus on alignment in values. Seems like a no-brainer, right? Then why is it that when the “product” is a talented job candidate, we often get mired in “nickel-and-diming” during the negotiation process? Either an employee will bring a talent set and corresponding values alignment, or s/he won’t. Are you willing to pay for that? If not, quit wasting your time and theirs.
Narrative is a delivery vehicle to make information stick. The Heath brothers made this point with Made to Stick many years ago, but it bears repeating, because, some of us still haven’t figured it out. For example, company policies and procedures are D.U.L.L. but they’re important to efficient business operation. Where’s the “story” behind why you must implement the new policy? If there’s no compelling narrative, maybe you don’t need that policy after all.
Human interaction has never been more precious. “Look for places to act more human.” We’re all fatigued with automated everything. Sure, we love the convenience, but sometimes we just crave an interactive experience with a real person. Like the Discover TV ad that features a customer who is surprised when an actual human answers her call, as leaders and HR managers, we must remember to value the power of a conversation.
Everyone is a specialist. The other day a colleague told me that they were consolidating job functions in the sales division; their sales reps would move from selling three lines of very complex business to eight. That’s insanity. The Fast Company article states “trying to be everything to everyone is a losing proposition.” I agree. People love to “show what they know” and that’s pretty tough when they must “know” everything.
Taking a seemingly unrelated topic like consumer behavior and applying it to workplace issues can help offer insights we might otherwise overlook. As leaders in our respective functions we can glean new insights on bringing out the best in our employees with a slight tweak in perspective.
What say you? How do you see consumer behavior outside the office influencing the way employees act in the workplace?
About the author: For 20+ years, Jennifer V. Miller has been helping professionals “master the people equation” to maximize their personal influence. A former HR generalist and training manager, she now advises executives on how to create positive, productive workplace environments. She is the founder and Managing Partner of SkillSource and blogs at The People Equation. You can connect with Jennifer on Twitter as @JenniferVMiller.
Image credit: leolintang / 123RF Stock Photo
Personal development is incredibly important for both employees and employers, yet few take it as seriously as they should. However, by making personal development a part of your office culture, you can create a company staffed with a well-trained, knowledgeable workforce eager to further their career with you. To help you increase your employees’ interest in personal development, consider the following:
One of the best ways for you to get employees interest in training or making personal development a part of your company culture is by taking your own personal development seriously. Attend trainings yourself, and be actively involved in finding your own development events and helping those around you find trainings beneficial to them. Another great way is by acknowledging that others are taking their personal development seriously. Thank employees for attending trainings or point out their accomplishment during the next staff meeting.
While it may seem like a no-brainer, many employers and managers actually overlook marketing their own training opportunities. Don’t just post a flyer on the community board briefly listing any training opportunities. Be sure to send out emails, let employees know about such opportunities during meetings, and also be sure to pull employees aside that you believe would most benefit from such trainings and give them a heads up. The more aware employees are of the trainings available to them, they more inclined they will be to attend them.
Cross-trainings are not only good for your employees, but they are good for your business too. When you have employees that can competently perform other jobs within your business, it makes promoting from within easier, and also makes the need to temp staff during an absence unnecessary. Offer opportunities for cross-trainings in both inter- and intra-department settings so that employees truly feel like they have the ability to move both laterally and upwards in your company.
Keep Opportunities Available
Trainings don’t have to only be off-site or on the employee’s personal time. Remember that while the training may be benefiting your employees professionally, in doing so it is also benefitting the productivity of your company. So provide learning opportunities throughout the office and do so on a regular basis. Create a multimedia library with relevant CDs, DVDs, and workbooks; offer in-office trainings that employees can attend on company time; and bring in guest speakers during lunch hours that employees can glean information from. The more accessible training is the more inclined your employees with be to take advantage of it.
Take Development Seriously
Many employees don’t take advantage of personal development because they often don’t know where to begin. To help employees focus on their strengths and weaknesses and how they can improve upon them, turn regular reviews into development sessions. Don’t just tell them where they can improve. Ask employees to pick out areas in which they would like to improve, and then coach them how to get there. Become a mentor to your employees or find another employee that would be better suited to do so. Also be sure to set timelines together so that employees understand that you take their development seriously.
If you want a motivated and loyal workforce, you need to make it obvious that you are interested and invested in their personal development. Provide them with frequent and adequate opportunities, demonstrate your own eagerness to improve yourself, and offer extra support where needed. Most people are eager to better themselves, especially professionally, but often get overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin. Take the time to develop your staff, and they will be more inclined to work harder and longer for you – which will ultimately, make your company more profitable. It’s a win-win for everyone.
About the author: Amanda Andrade, SPHR, CCP, GRP is the Chief People Officer for Veterans United Home Loans – Fortune magazine’s 21st best medium workplace and one the fastest growing companies in the United States according to INC magazine. Amanda has led human resource organizations in both public and private sectors, serving employees in diverse work settings, focusing on environment and behavior in the workplace. Connect with Amanda on Google+.
Photo credit: iStockPhoto
There are some things in life that truly tie us all together. I think that one of them is music!! Seriously, think about it.
We can remember a certain song or group that defined high school, college, weddings, etc. I distinctly remember the rush of emotion I would get when the High School pep band would play “Jet” by Paul McCartney & Wings during the warm up. Geeked !!
Music follows all people and when you look at that in the context of HR, there is a gold mine of tunes that resonate with all of us. Paul Smith, author of Welcome to the Occupation, gathered some great lists of HR/work related songs that we can all see ourselves in. Check out his post here: Songs About Work 3-D.
Along those lines and to get you hooked, I want you to try these:
THE song when you're thinking about the potential termination of a team member from The Clash!!
Or, when you've had one of those days that seem to drone on and on, there's the new wave classic by Trio – “Da Da Da”
My “go to” song lately has been what I see happening to employees as they come to work each week - ”I Don't Like Mondays” by the Boomtown Rats.
Those are just a few that hit me and you can probably guess what type of music I tend to listen to. What does that say about me? That's up to your interpretation. The thing to remember in this is that the great people around you everyday have music in them too!! They are full of different styles, genres, and themes that get them through each day.
Too often in HR we want everyone to “be on the same page” which really means that we want people to conform to a certain direction or movement. We often aren't looking for their input. We just want them to get in line with everyone else. Wouldn't it be better if we let them express themselves and bring their ideas, approaches and insight to situations? It doesn't mean that we won't reach consensus or agreement.
In fact, it's just the opposite. By involving the diverse reality of employees around us, we come up with better conclusions and strategies.
So, this week, let your music flow!! Let others see the great tunes you love and take in the symphony of those around you. You'll love the mix that comes from it!!
Remember, You've Got the Music in YOU !!
About the author: Steve Browne is the ultimate connector and social media guidance counselor and also works in the trenches of Human Resources. Steve is the Executive Director of HR for LaRosa’s. He has responsibilities for the strategic direction of over 1400 employees. In his spare time, he is active in Ohio SHRM and runs a subscriber-based newsletter called HR Net. Connect with Steve on Twitter as @sbrownehr and on LinkedIn.
What was once a professional networking tool used by a select few has now become a critical aspect of the lives of a huge portion of the population. Social media can be a powerful resource for businesses wanting to expand, diversify, or appeal to a wider demographic.
This starts with the simple concept of branding. Branding is more than choosing a name for your company and defining a business plan. You must create an impression that will last with your targeted audience. WordPress themes, for example, allow you to develop a website and blog that are geared toward your market and feature a branded appearance and “feel” that you can carry through your social media to establish recognition and continuity.
There are several ways in which you can improve your business through the use of social media:
Recognition as a Resource in Your Niche
If you are seen by your readers as a resource for valuable information related to your niche you will develop the reputation of being a reliable, established voice that your audience will trust and come to for information, products and services.
Social media allows you to provide information not just on your individual company, but on the actual market in which your company is involved. This will bring those with questions to you and keep them coming back to learn more. Once you are trusted even by a few, this opinion will spread.
If no one knows that you exist, how can you expect to build a customer base? Involvement in social media puts you right in front of the tremendous audience that uses social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare on a daily basis. Social media gives you the opportunity to be involved in the daily thoughts and activities of your targeted audience through creating and participating in conversations, offering useful or interesting tidbits of information, and inviting potential customers to interact with you on your social media platform and through your other forms of internet presence.
Find New Leads and Opportunities for Expansion
Being involved in social media allows you to seek out new leads, clients, and ways to expand the scope of your business. With a social media presence you can attract clients and referrals or determine if there are needs in your market that you could fulfill through new projects. Linking your social media platforms and other forms of internet presence such as blogs and websites will develop your identity as a frontrunner in your market and encourage people to refer friends, suggest new projects, and look to you for opportunity.
Your company culture is important to the success of your business because it is what will make you stand out. When your customers recognize your brand, what impression do you want it to make? Developing a social media strategy will force you to focus in on what makes you you. You must create your company personality and identity in order for you to maintain your social media involvement so that your participation on these platforms is optimized to appeal to your targeted audience.
Improved Hiring Abilities
Your company is really only as good as the people that comprise your team so you should devote attention to selecting candidates that will make a beneficial contribution to your company. Social media involvement reduces the need to sift through endless piles of resumes and generic cover letters by letting you focus only on those people that are involved in your network.
Involvement will show that they are fully aware of your company and can demonstrate their compatibility with your company culture. Social media is a prime illuminator of personality, giving you the opportunity to pinpoint those candidates you feel would be a good match so you can shorten the hiring process and improve your chances of building a strong, valuable team without need for adjustments later.
Photo credit: norebbo.com
Olga Ionel is a creative writer at ThemeFuse.com. She is passionate by WordPress, SEO and Blogging. Don’t forget to check out stunning WordPress themes (warning: no boring stuff).
Women of HR were asked, “If you were CEO for a day, what would (or did) you focus on to improve an organization's productivity, employee engagement or ability to recruit?” This is the fifth post in the series of responses.
“Wow! It is really fascinating to hear people call me a CEO of my company even if it is for a day! Let me make this a 12 hour work day for myself. I am getting one shot at this and I need to maximize my work day to make a few hard decisions and to inspire everyone in communicating why we do things the way we do!”
So, how would it be if I, an HR professional, were CEO for a day? When Lisa asked me, my mind pondered a lot of questions. What is the culture of my organization? What are the values and behavior I want to instill? What kind of behavior do I want to see rewarded? Am I rewarding and engaging the right employees so that they will continue to stay with us?
Eliminate Toxic Managers
All these questions directed me to first study my current manpower. Do I have the right people in place to do their job and help others get their jobs done? Are they engaged?
Before investing on engagement I need to know if I can rely on my employees at least for the near future. I don't want to see someone quitting the day after receiving training, monetary or other rewards. I have seen employees wait to get their pay raise or incentive only to quit and join some other organization – timing their departure to their advantage.
Having said that, I am going to rely on my experience and my HR eyeglasses to create a list of toxic managers. These are the managers who mess up the organization’s culture and values and make a bad impact on employees. So, let me just flush them out before it hurts the immune system of the organization.
Hire for Culture
To replace toxic managers and get the right people in leadership roles, I will consider the opinions of peer leaders. The people I would consider are those who consistently deliver outstanding results, are willing leaders and have the right attitude. And I would be reviewing all new pending hires before any offers are made.
This will make sure that we hire for our culture.
Although recruitment and employment engagement is an ongoing process, I do feel having been given only a day as CEO, it's necessary and critical that I gain the confidence of my employees in me. I will target a few things on this day:
- Instill our Culture. I will create a value-based culture in which employees are be truste
d to do the right things because they know what the organization stands for and believes in it. To strengthen this trust in our culture I would stretch myself to all employees by making myself accessible at every level. I am going to draw inspiration from speaker, writer and visionary Simon Sinek, who says, “Trust doesn't come from making the right decision. Trust comes from giving people an honest assessment for why the decision was made.”
- Walk the Talk. As CEO, I am actually one among our employees so I will emulate the behavior that I want to see from them. I will not over promise and under-deliver because that can poison the work culture I want to instill. And I will not put up with someone else doing that. I want people to inspire and to be inspired.
- Reward Results. I will make it obvious to everyone what good performance means. Everyone needs to understand their commitment to execution which will in turn open up opportunities for growth. I will ensure that there are career advancement opportunities within the organization for employees that will result from their effort and work.
- Seek Feedback. I will provide a platform for every employee to open up andshare their views and suggestions with me. Their suggestions don’t have to be only about their immediate work or even about the organization. I want to get their best ideas about anything in life. This will get them to think creatively and one person’s ideas could be another person’s solution. Best suggestions will be awarded and implemented.
I know it is only a day that I can use this authority and hearing this, some of you might think that it is such a short notice and so I may not be able to implement all of these things. But my answer to this is if you are a thoughtful leader you can create a big impact on the people in less than a day. If I create the foundation well then the rest will follow naturally.
Photo credit: iStock Photo
About the author: Nisha Raghavan is the author of Your HR Buddy blog. A former HR Generalist with extensive experience in Talent Management and Development, she specializes and writes about Employee Relations, Organization Development and how companies can keep their employees more engaged through Employee Engagement Initiatives. Her experience in the corporate world was as an HR Deputy Manager at Reliance Communications Limited, India.
A few weeks ago, week my constant state of being over committed caught up with me and I fell ill.
My body was telling me to slow down and I fought it with everything I had, but I lost. The result of what happened was exactly what I needed.
You see, I had an ENTIRE day to myself. No one at home. No one at my office door. No electronic device tempting me to answer it for the next great blog post, tweet, DM or Facebook note. At first, I didn’t know what to do. Honestly, I fought an amazing pull to do SOMETHING because that’s what we wired to do. Doing nothing means being lazy, nonchalant or just slacking off.
The reality of this day to myself is that it allowed me to just empty myself out mentally and get reset. I’ll be honest. I don’t do this nearly enough. Like many of my friends, we just keep adding on more and slogging through it because we have an immense capacity (or so we tell ourselves).
When I was better the next day, I was sharp, revived and ready to face things once again. This time, however, I didn’t do the mad jump into the rush. I sat back and thought about how the tidal wive of commitments I’ve chosen could very easily come back and jump up to attempt to drown me once again.
So, I thought it was time to get back to what works for me – feelin’ groovy!!
The phenomenal duo of Simon & Garfunkel had many memorable songs, but one of my faves was The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy) because the lyrics and the feel from the song give you perspective. Look at this:
“Slow down, you move too fast. You got to make the mornin’ last. Just kickin’ down the cobblestones, Lookin’ for fun and feelin’ groovy. Ba da da da da da da, feelin’ groovy.”
It may seem naive, or even a waste of time, for folks. That’s a shame. I know that when I woke up to head back into work and heard this song, I thought let’s try something renewed today. So, I was kinder to my family, excited to get to work, and geeked to see my friends and co-workers. I called some of my friends from the “social media space” just to check in and see how they were doing, etc.
The groove hasn’t left and I hope it doesn’t. As you approach your day, your work in HR and life in general, remember – HOW you approach it makes all the difference in the world.
I need to go kick some cobblestones now . . .
My company is growing very fast right now and we’re starting to rethink our organizational structure.
I have been with the company for over 2 years and have always reported to the President. But with all this restructuring going on, my boss started talking about maybe having HR report to the CFO. I agree on the fact that he has too many direct reports and that he needs to make changes … but not HR! Please not HR!
Before I continue, I need to clear a few things up:
Don’t judge me for what I’m about to say because I really am an open minded person. I embrace change. I have been in HR for over 15 years and reported to CFOs as much as to Presidents so I know what I’m talking about. I actually really liked the CFOs that I reported to; they were great people. When it comes to reporting however, it’s about the function and not the people.
I am a true believer that HR should always report to the President or the most senior level in the company and I will work hard to make sure that this is where I report. Here are my top 4 reasons why:
People v. Money
If your company says that its most important asset are its people, why would you have HR report to the CFO as the person who controls the money and who will be evaluated on the bottom line at the end of the year? How can this be well perceived by employees? For me, it’s telling them that what we say and what we do is very different. How can HR be well represented by the head of finance when finance and HR priorities are clearly very different?
Reporting to any executive other than the President can limit the HR department’s effectiveness. HR must have a direct line to the President. When you have a delicate situation like a political issue between 2 departments, a sexual harassment case or a termination of a C-level executive, HR must be free to report this directly to the President without having to go through a chain of command.
HR needs to report to the CEO because this is the person who shapes the company culture and HR is the best representative of the culture. If you don’t have a clear understanding of your company culture and both the President’s vision of how this plays out in the day to day and the expectations of all employees, how can you do a good job at promoting and developing programs and decisions that support it?
Reporting to the CFO, or any other position below the President, moves HR one step further away from where the strategic decisions are made. If HR is considered a strategic partner, shouldn’t they be seated at the same table with other strategic functions like finance, operations, research and development, and sales?
And if we are seated with the executives, why are we still calling ourselves HR Directors and not Chiefs of HR? OK, that’s another discussion.
So what do you think about this?
Photo credit iStockphoto
Do you like a challenge? Where other people see a mess of pieces, do you see a puzzle that needs to be sorted out and put back together?
If so, you are probably the type of person who likes working for companies that are broken. Processes that don’t work, goals that aren’t being met,or a toxic work environment — name the problem and you want to fix it. It’s the challenge and excitement that comes from taking something broken and turning it around. More than any paycheck, that is what really motivates you to work hard.
Companies always say they want this type of employee — one who can come in and make a difference. And why not? No matter how well run a company is, there is always something broken or something that can be done better. There are a lot of nails sticking up out there and look, you have a hammer.
Sounds promising, right? All you have to do is find those “nails” and start pounding away. Career and company success is assured! You should already know nothing is that simple. Why? I’ve seen the greatest minds of my generation destroyed by the madness of their own company’s apathy. It’s tragic really. And a little emo. But that is beside the point.
Does this describe your company?
- There is no planning, there is only crisis.
- Blame is easier to find than accountability.
- Feedback, even when solicited, often falls of deaf ears.
- Employees have to go through several layers of approval for even the simplest decisions.
- The only ones with the authority to make changes don’t think anything needs to be changed.
- The only “process” employees follow is the work-around they have created in order to actually get things done.
Companies like this aren’t really interested in employees finding or fixing anything at all; all they want is for employees to maintain the status quo, even if that status quo is broken. Companies saying they want one thing in an employee when they really want another? Sounds like a frustrating mess to me. But hey, it’s surprising how many companies can be successful in spite of themselves.
Well, only for a little while.
Successful companies need problem solvers. Problem solvers need challenges they have a chance of successfully overcoming, not ones that are doomed from the start. When they realize how the company really operates they will move on and maybe some day they’ll be back … as consultants.
Photo credit iStockphoto
A company’s greatest asset is its human capital.
In the book, In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best-Run Companies, Tom Peters shares the merits of taking interest in the office water cooler discussions and caring what employees really think about the company and their work. When executives actually listen to their employees, the difference in the company’s culture, respect for each other and performance is measurably different.
When the management doesn’t care, you can sense the difference in the company when you walk through the door. I have worked for companies where the employees felt no more important than the pawn in a chess game. They knew it, their managers knew it, and the company knew it.
If you really do value your employees – great! But how is this reflected in your workforce? I am not referring to health care benefits, 401(k) packages, stock purchase plans, bell-curve salary hikes or even the niceties denoted in quarterly and annual reports. These are simply the tickets to entry in today’s world. I am talking about the stuff that really drives employee loyalty and over-the-top performance.
Be genuinely interested.
The best leaders I have worked for took an interest in my life. Not just what I could do for them or the company, though that was critical for my job. But as an individual intent on doing the best job I could for them with dreams of my own. They did what they could to help me succeed and never asked me to do more than what they would ask of themselves. And in return – I worked like a Trojan for them and remain loyal to them to this day. I behaved as if I was their greatest asset. This approach costs no money, no increase in salary or stock options. Yet, the investment of sincere interest pays huge dividends. The next time you are with one of your team members, ask them: What is the greatest hurdle you are facing right now? And then be quiet, let them talk and LISTEN.
At the end of the day, people choose to work for people.
Whether it is a first level individual contributor working for a first line manager or a senior vice president working for the CEO, they are all individual people. Each person has his or her own individual needs, insecurities, challenges and dreams. Creating an environment where people are truly valued as the company’s greatest asset starts with the individual. That individual will set the tone for his or her team, organization or even a large Fortune 50 company.
To know if you’re fostering a culture where people are the company’s greatest asset, ask yourself the following questions or bring them up at the next HR staff meeting:
- Are our employees truly our greatest asset? If so, do we treat them as such?
- What are we doing to bring out the best in our employees and equally the best for our companies?
- Are our intentions fully aligned to support the individuals who make up our company?
When you can honestly answer, address, and align yourself and your company to those questions, you will have found the secret to getting the most for and from your greatest asset – and deliver the greatest value to your organization.
Brand matters. It really does. At the beginning of the year, I accepted a learning and development role with a major not-for-profit brand here in Australia.
I happily took the significantly reduced pay to work for an organization that had such a fantastic public profile. As I started my role, I was filled with pride and wanted to let everyone know that I had ditched the corporate world for a kinder, better place to work.
That lasted about 3 weeks.
I then began to realize that something was horribly wrong. I remember at my induction being somewhat overwhelmed by the guiding principles of the organization. There they were on the wall in the boardroom – large plaques with explanatory notes of each principle underneath. A significant amount of time was spent explaining these during the induction process and I wondered how the principles would be upheld internally.
As I said, it took about 3 weeks for me to find out that the principles were not upheld very robustly internally. In fact, if I am brutally honest, this organization has a pretty poor track record of treatment of its internal people. This shows in the retention rate (I won’t name a figure here but the number of people who resign in the first year is extremely high) and the general day to day conduct of some internal employees.
I personally experienced some of this first hand, where I had some very challenging and highly unprofessional interactions with several people. The end result of these experiences was my resignation after 6 months in the role. It doesn’t really end there though.
At the moment I am still grieving for the organization I thought I had joined, I am coming to terms with being let down by people who I assumed were better than they turned out to be. The whole experience has left a bitter taste and has impacted the way I see the not-for-profit sector.
While I am professional, amongst my friends I am not exactly singing the praises of the organization I worked for and I would never recommend the organization as an employer of choice.
My point in telling this story is to draw attention to organizational branding and to share that it is possible for an organization to have a brilliant external brand while internally they are struggling. This is unfortunate for those potential employees who are drawn to an organization based on its external brand (which would be most of us).
Now, consider your own organization and think about the following questions:
- How do your external clients see your organization?
- How do your internal employees see your organization?
- Do your internal and external brands match?
What do the answers have to say for your organization? How would current and past employees answer the same questions?
Photo credit iStockphoto