Tag: Human resources

Disciplined Work, Lifelong Learning and Tikkun Olam {HR Leader Series}

Posted on August 24th, by Rowena Morais in Career Advice, Leadership, Personal & Professional Effectiveness. No Comments

Editor’s Note: Women of HR contributor Rowena Morais will be writing a series of posts over the coming months featuring successful HR leaders who talk about the habits made the biggest impact in their professional lives.  Today’s post is the first in that series.

 

Self-described kibitzer on all things enterprise HRM and HR technology, Naomi Bloom is well-known for having built the only vendor-neutral HRM domain model and application architecture “starter kits”. Her IP has been licensed across the industry from 1995 through 2013 and has been considered a primary contributor to many of today’s best practices in HRM enterprise software.  Her early start was as a Programmer at John Hancock Life Insurance in the 1960’s where she was trained in programming, software design and systems analysis.

I got in touch with Naomi to talk about the habits that led to her success because the research I had done indicated that she was renowned in the HR technology industry. With more than 17,000 Twitter followers, Naomi is a frequent speaker at HR conferences and the author of Human Resource Management and Information Technology : Achieving a Strategic Partnership.  Her industry contributions have been recognised with the IHRIM’s Summit Award and in 2011, and Naomi became a Fellow of  the Human Resource Policy Institute at Boston University.  Naomi’s BA is from the University of Pennsylvania, with a major in English Literature and a minor in natural science.  Her MBA is from Boston University.

In discussing the most powerful habits that Naomi has relied on, in running her solo practice over the last two decades, it was clear that the experience of her early years was impactful. She found the questions on habits particularly useful because it is important to see the distinction between habits and KSAOCs (Knowledge, Skills, Abilities and other Characteristics) – they are not the same thing.

 

Habit #1 – Disciplined work

The first habit Naomi drew reference to was her habit of disciplined work.

Her mother passed away when Naomi was young. However, she was surrounded by three generations of family and her grandmother proved to be a big influence on her.

“This early life taught me about the value of hard work, living up to commitments and about sticking to a schedule. I am smart but I’m not a genius. If you add good work habits to your normal habits though, this becomes a force magnifier,” she shared.

 

Habit #2 – Critical thinking  and lifelong learning

 This second habit is an interesting one for the fact that it’s a two part combo. It’s a challenge in itself to develop the mastery associated with thinking critically, let alone the dedication or quest for lifelong learning.

As Naomi puts it, “Lifelong learning is really about a commitment to always be vesting yourself in your skills and your knowledge.”

To never stop learning is a skill that may take a lifetime to develop and certainly, one that needs to be worked on with dedication, ambition and relentless energy.

Combined, this would mean being on the lookout to gain alternative points of view and  teaching yourself all kinds of new things. But where it all comes together is when you apply critical thinking to that whole process.

 

Habit #3 – Tikkun Olam

 Tikkum Olam is a Jewish concept which literally means “repair of the world” and is being interpreted by modern movements in Judaism as a commandment for people to behave and act constructively and beneficially.

Naomi explained it as representing a moral obligation, in every Jew, to leave the world a better place than they found it.

Overwhelming as it sounds, this may be achievable by ordinary folk because you are expected to do what you can.  You can do this by raising your child properly, by embarking on a recycling initiative or even doing volunteer work.  It would mean that if you had a dollar, you would give part of it away. If you could teach, you would devote some of your time to teaching someone else.

 

These were the three primary habits that Naomi referred to.

 

Were these habits consciously developed from when she was young?  She did not think so. Naomi was greatly influenced by the adults around her as she grew. Her father was an early riser – he worked hard and for long hours which meant Naomi did not get to see very much of him. She spent a lot of time with her grandmother, who being religious, imparted strong values  in her.

 It did not mean, however, that everything she was taught, was accepted so easily. There were things Naomi resisted.

For example, coming from a modest family, Naomi grew up at a time when there was a lot of anti-semitism in the air – you learned not to call too much attention to yourself.

Yet, Naomi couldn’t help crying out against the injustices she saw. As she put it, “I didn’t know it when I was a young kid but I realised in my late 20’s that I was a feminist from my earliest days. I rallied against the discrimination I saw; I just called it out”.

She almost got fired for asking too many questions, when early in her career, she discovered that men received more pay for the same work. She protested the Vietnam war, much to the chagrin of her family.  But the point Naomi made about all of this is that you are in charge of and responsible for your own life.

You get to a point in your life when you realise that you cannot blame your parents for where you are in life. You get to a point where you begin to accomplish things and – happily – you give yourself credit for that.

The habits you choose however – because it is a choice – are what will set you apart. And while Naomi considers herself fortunate for having picked up some really good habits along the way, you and I both know, these were choices she made for herself that have led her to where she is today.

What habits do you aspire to build that you believe will make the difference in your life?

 

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Connect with Naomi Bloom on LinkedIn or Twitter

Read Naomi’s blog, In Full Bloom in particular, Reflections on a Long Career – a four part series of posts.

 

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

 


Develop Our Future Workforce with Community Outreach?

Posted on August 9th, by Lois Melbourne in Business and Workplace, On My Mind. No Comments

The future of our workforce should be very important to you. It is critical to your employer and should be considered very strategic to individual businesses and your industry. I want you to look at the incredible investment you can make for you, your staff, your business, your industry and especially the young people in your community. This is a call to action.

 

While attending the U.S. News STEM Solution conference, it was a constant theme that we need to encourage kids to explore their interest, even as early as elementary school to enable them to make the critical education decisions they need to make by high school and beyond. Many of the specifics were around the encouragement of STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Math) but by no means were the needs exclusive to those disciplines.

 

So I ask you to engage in your community’s youth beyond the resume reviews or mock-interviews. I have some ideas that could help:

 

Internships – Internships can be paid (I hope), or attached to the school where the student gets course credit, or both. The key is to make these real learning experiences, with hands-on practice applicable to the business. These are not very valuable if they are stuffing envelopes and making copies all day. That would be a clerk job, not an internship.

 

Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day – Officially these are April in the US, October in Canada – but they can be ANY day. Make these events meaningful exploration for the kids. They are not about the little ones having movie day in the conference room. These days should be real exploration for the kids. Create panels that explain your world of work, the jobs in your office, the skills your employees use and why do your customers care that you exist.

 

Scholarships – Can your business or your industry create scholarships to college or trade schools to help students in need, pursue the training and education they need to be part of your future workforce? Looking for a way to make a mark with your local industry association chapter – spearhead this committee! With student loan debt surpassing credit card debit in this nation, this is a service to EVERYONE.

 

Volunteer Opportunities – Many organizations targeting career and skill development in our youth need volunteers. Some opportunities need a steady commitment, such as an adult leader coaching a team for FIRST Robotics where kids compete in the development of robots that must achieve specific tasks. This isn’t only an engineering need, these kids create marketing plans and presentations to present their solution. Other groups like Boys and Girls Club need volunteers in the afternoon to help with homework. Several organizations need one-time judges at their competitions. These competition include a wide variety of  trades. People are need to judge or assist with events ranging through culinary arts, to welding arts, to business plans. There literally is something for everyone.

 

Career Open House – Can you open your company for career tours for groups as small as a Boy Scout Troup or as large as a national gathering of Junior Achievement leaders? Create a tour that showcases your employees, your work environment, the skills used in your business, the impact your business has on the community or the world.

 

School Career Days – Volunteer at schools near your office or anywhere in the town, especially the underserved schools whose parents may find it more difficult to take time off work for career sharing. Help your employees create their age- appropriate presentations. Can they bring an exercise that showcases their job? Can they bring a poster board with the logos of your customers, if the kids will recognize the logos? Every age group has different needs, be mindful of these differences. If your employees come to you with a need for time to represent your business at career day – celebrate it. Don’t make them take PTO – incorporate it  into your corporate outreach programs.

 

Sales Training – Can your sales team develop training for the high school students that need to sell advertising space for their newspaper, yearbook, theatre program? Can they take the student on a sales call with them – or help them do phone calls to their target? Why not provide sales training to the students? Remember that the teacher is often learning the most, while they teach.

 

What are you doing to develop your employer brand while you open the young minds of your community to the possibilities they can pursue as they plan their education? This critical, strategic, giving and can be joyful. Consider me a resource to discuss any of these options. I challenge you…

 

About the Author:  Lois Melbourne, GPHR, is co-founder and former CEO of Aquire Solutions, mom to one terrific young son and wife of co-founder Ross Melbourne. After entering a bit of a sabbatical life phase, she is authoring a series of children’s books about career ambitions.  She maintains a strong personal commitment to career education and small business development and is a speaker, author of industry articles, and an occasional blogger and networker. Connect with her on Twitter as @loismelbourne.


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.

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 


#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.

 


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.


Organizations vs. Humans – Are We At Odds? #WorkHuman

Posted on May 20th, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace, HR Conferences. 2 comments

The sign of any great conference is when you continue to mull over the ideas with which you’re presented and the concepts you learn even after the event itself is over.  It’s now a little over a week since WorkHuman 2016 wrapped up, and I’m still contemplating much of what I heard.

The event closed on Wednesday afternoon with a keynote from business thinker and author Gary Hamel, in a session titled “For Human Being to Thrive at Work, Bureaucracy Must Die.”  The closing keynote spot at any conference can be an unfortunate place on the agenda, as many attendees tend to cut out early to catch flights home.  That just did not appear to be the case for most at WorkHuman, and we were treated to an energetic, entertaining, and very relevant message.

The overall theme of Gary Hamel’s keynote was that the design of most of our organizations is in direct conflict with human nature.  He offered the following three truths:

  • Humans are creative, most of our organizations are not
  • Humans are adaptable, most of our organizations are not
  • Humans are passionate, most of our organizations are not

And because of these truths, most of our organizations are less human than the people that work within them, and therefore waste more human capacity than they use.

A pretty sad state of affairs, isn’t it?

Hamel went on to suggest that our roles as leaders is NOT to get the people within our organizations to serve the needs of our organizations, it’s to build an environment with such a compelling purpose that our people voluntarily bring their individual gifts to work every day.  And when they do that, if we utilize those gifts appropriately, they will contribute to the overall success of the organization.  He then promised us seven ways to change the realities within our organizations (but actually only got around to five – probably because he was just so passionate about each one that he spent more time than he expected to on each).

The five ways he touched on were:

  • Get Angry – that our workplaces as so designed that our people are forced to show up but leave their humanity at home
  • Load Up On data – if you want to inspire and lead change, you need to speak to the head as well as the heart
  • Find the Fringe – and then push the boundaries
  • Develop a New Set of Principles – whether it be meritocracy, more collaborative decision making, finding and developing the natural leaders in your organization, or embracing the wisdom of the crowd
  • Reinvent the “How” – enlarge the scope of decision making and embrace the idea that irregular people doing irregular things in irregular ways create irregular successes

Each of these probably each deserve their own post, and perhaps at some point I’ll revisit them, but for now I’ll leave you with this takeaway…

As HR leaders, we cannot be the champions of bureaucracy and the status quo, especially when that status quo runs contrary to the very nature of human beings.  And for many HR professionals that can be a challenge; many by nature and training tend to want to preserve the status quo at all costs.  But that is no longer a sustainable way to approach our businesses and workplaces.  We have a duty to challenge these constructs that really don’t serve long term sustainability or promote great workplaces and bring out the best in our people, the people who make our businesses what they are.

That’s no easy task, and certainly we can’t do it alone, but we can be the ones at the forefront of the change.  The “how” is the difficult part, but these five ideas for changing our realities are a good starting point.

 

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.


Change, Resilience, Choice and Gratitude via Michael J. Fox #WorkHuman

Posted on May 17th, by Jennifer Payne in HR Conferences, Personal & Professional Effectiveness. No Comments

I grew up knowing him best as Alex P. Keaton and Marty McFly.  I was a fan of Family Ties and even bigger fan of Back to the Future.  Full disclosure: I’ll still stop and watch it any time I stumble across it on TV.  Hey, what can I say, I was a child of the 80s and that was one of the movies that defined my childhood.  What I never could have anticipated watching Michael J. Fox in the mid-80s is that I would have the opportunity to hear and see him speak live thirty some years later.  And not only would I have that opportunity, but that it would be one of the most genuine and inspiring keynotes I’d experience to date, centering on a story that I’m sure even he could have never anticipated back then.

Michael J. Fox had the entire crowd at WorkHuman on last Wednesday morning completely captivated.  In a keynote that was more like watching a conversation in someone’s living room, he chatted with Globoforce’s Julie Zadow and shared his journey that began when he failed drama class and dropped out of high school, but yet still chased his dreams and the future he knew he wanted by moving to Hollywood to pursue his acting career.  He guided us through his journey of his Parkinson’s diagnosis and how he came to terms with it.  He left many without dry eyes, and all walked away realizing what an outstanding human being with which we had the honor of sharing an hour of our lives.

Michael touched on a number of topics and ideas and he took us through his journey, but a few really stood out to me.

 

Change Happens Quickly, But…

Michael talked about how quickly his life changed once he got his big break.  The Family Ties and Back to the Future roles came around the same time, and propelled him into the fame that would shape much of the rest of his career.  But they didn’t come without a heck of a lot of hard work, preparation, and struggle leading up to them.  And he certainly didn’t stop working hard when they did come around – he filmed Family Ties during the day and Back to the Future at night so that he was able to take advantage of both opportunities.  The lesson here: keeping plugging along and pushing through the struggles, because you never know when the opportunity to propel you to your own version of stardom may come along and change your life forever.

 

Choice & Resilience

Life is all about circumstance and choice: you find yourself in a circumstance, and you have a choice how to react to it.  You can accept it, or try to deny or ignore it.  Accepting something does not mean you are resigned to it; what it means when you accept something is that it become a truth that you can now manage.  And when you accept that truth it begins to take up a very finite space in your world, allowing you to deal with it and move on.  When you refuse to accept a truth, it takes on a life of its own and can begin to infiltrate your entire life, making it much more difficult to manage.  Michael has accepted his Parkinson’s diagnosis as a finite truth in his life, something he can manage, does not fear, and has used for the greater good in his activism and work with his foundation.

 

Gratitude

One of the final ideas Michael left us with was, “Just love life and be grateful.” So simple, yet so powerful.  We all have struggles we deal with in our lives.  We all have our ups and downs.  But we are here, we are living, we have the ability to contribute to life and the world.  We have a choice – to focus on the negatives we deal with and dwell on what we don’t have, or to embrace all of the positives and to be grateful and love what we do have.

 

Lessons for HR Leaders?

How do these ideas apply to our roles as HR professionals and leaders?  I’d say if we want to lead effectively, and if we want to build great workplaces that encourage the best in our people, we can’t do it without embracing these ideas.  We have the ability to create great changes, but it can’t happen without the leg work behind it.  We will inevitably face challenges and struggles, and we have a choice how to react to them and a responsibility to be role models for choice and resiliency.  And we are certainly never going to nurture great workplaces without a culture of gratitude – for each other, our teams, and the hard work and accomplishments we achieve.

 

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 #WorkHuman Day 1 – Happiness as a Business Strategy?

Posted on May 10th, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace, HR Conferences. No Comments

I’m here in sunny Orlando, FL this week for the 2016 edition of the WorkHuman conference.  Now in its second year, WorkHuman is a concept developed by the folks at recognition company Globoforce, and it’s slowly taking on a life of its own.  Focused on topics like happiness, engagement, and recognition, WorkHuman is all about creating great workplaces that are built to bring out the best in people and harness the power of social connections to drive positive business results.

Right from the moment of arrival on site, it became apparent that this is a different kind of HR conference.  The agenda includes (optional) time for yoga and mindfulness, the colors in the space are bright and cheerful, there was a “cookie wall” (yes, an actual wall covered in cookies for the taking), and the opening event was actually called a “Happy Hour” and not an “opening reception.”

Some might say that sounds a little too “warm and fuzzy” or “Kum Bah Yah” for them, but as we launched into the opening general sessions this morning, there were certainly enough stats and stories shared to prove that focusing on happiness and creating great cultures isn’t just some warm and fuzzy “HR speak” concept with no connection to the reality of the workplace.

The morning kicked off with Globoforce’s Derek Irvine, Vice President of Consulting Services, sharing among other things the following stats:

 

Only 20% of employees have received some kind of recognition within the past month, and that percentage only goes up to about 30% when stretched to a six month time period.  Yet 78% would work harder and 83% would feel more engaged with even a simple “thanks.”

 

Seems like a huge missed opportunity there, huh?  And let’s face it, without engaged and productive employees, no business can be successful in the long run.

We were then treated to an opening keynote with Shawn Achor, renowned Harvard professor, author, and “happiness researcher” in which he dove into some of the science behind happiness, helping to create a business case for the importance of caring about it in the workplace.  He touched on the following points:

 

The power of impact – don’t focus just on how happy an individual is, but rather on their potential to create happiness around them.

There’s a difference between pleasure and joy.  Focusing on pleasure is short-sighted, where focus on joy takes a longer view.  It’s possible to experience overall joy in what you do, even if not every moment generates pleasure.  And happiness is the joy you feel working toward your potential.

Happiness does not necessarily equal success.  The flaw in that thinking is that our brains constantly recalibrate the definition of success.  The greatest predictor of long term happiness is social connectedness, not achievement or success.  The keys to happiness, potential, and great leadership is making other people around you better.

Nurturing a culture where people not only receive recognition, but also willingly give it creates a powerful force for positive change.

 

I’d agree that he offered some great ideas and wisdom, but our challenge as HR professionals and leaders is figuring how to take these concepts and weave them into the realities of our individual organizations.

I’m looking forward to hearing more thoughts, ideas, and success stories as WorkHuman continues over the next couple of days.  Stay tuned for more updates, including highlights from tomorrow’s highly anticipated keynote from Michael J. Fox!

 

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.


Do Employees Leave a Company or a Boss? 

Posted on May 3rd, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace, Employee Engagement, Workplace Culture. No Comments

 

There are various schools of thought on what drives employee retention.  Some expert sources like Gallup place an emphasis on the importance of the manager’s role in engaging, motivating and retaining employees.  Other sources suggest that employees rarely leave a job solely because of the boss since there are many other contributing factors such as a compelling strategy, company culture and meaningful work.

Either way, businesses of all sizes are increasingly concerned about employee retention and realizing that high engagement is critical to reducing turnover.  The best employees will leave if they’re not engaged, while the lower performers often stay.  When this cycle continues, businesses struggle to achieve results and retain customers.

According to the 2015 ADP Midsized Business Owners Study the level of concern about employee engagement spiked 25 percent in 2015 after remaining flat since 2012, with two of five midsized employers expressing high levels of concern. So how can companies more effectively engage their top talent?

Here are three tips to help deepen employee engagement and avoid common pitfalls:

1. Nurture a strong workplace culture. Organizations that create a culture defined by meaningful work, organizational fit and strong leadership often outperform their peers and outpace competitors in attracting and retaining top talent.  Key components of a strong workplace culture include diversity and inclusion, a common purpose and a sense of community.

As stewards of company culture, HR leaders should strive to create – and actively promote – an inclusive work environment that champions collaboration and a connection to the local community.  Offering volunteer opportunities to give back to the community and employee recognition programs can help employees develop a sense of companionship leading to stronger feelings of engagement.

 

2. Empower employees to grow their careers. Uncertain career paths are a common pitfall that can result in low employee engagement.  Companies that keep career development top-of-mind by offering employees clear career paths, challenging assignments, mentoring programs and training to nurture their professional skills are more likely to retain top performers.  Ensure employees understand the diverse career opportunities available to them company-wide and the steps they can take to grow within the organization.  And, whenever possible, offer flexibility in how employees chart their individual career paths, such as with job-rotation programs and job shadowing.   Career growth comes from creating opportunities for employees to learn new skills and experiences.  It doesn’t need to be offering opportunities to ‘climb the corporate ladder’.  The ladder has been replaced with a lattice demonstrating the importance of lateral moves in order to grow professionally.

 

3. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Employees need to hear from their leaders.  An absence of communication leads to a lack of trust in leadership.  Communication is critical to ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of the corporate strategy and how their work contributes to successful achievement of the company’s goals.  Having clarity around their company’s strategy and vision becomes the motivation for employees to make the discretionary effort that defines engagement.  Businesses that create frequent opportunities for leaders to communicate with employees – via email, Town Hall meetings, one-on-one interactions or social media help inspire trust.  Ongoing communication needs to honest, real-time, and authentic so that employees understand the bigger picture and feel comfortable sharing innovative ideas to help themselves and their employers grow and thrive.

 

Because employee engagement is strategically linked to retention, HR leaders need to take an integrated approach.  This includes fostering a collaborative work environment with trusted leadership, work with a purpose, and diverse growth opportunities.  Investing in employee engagement ultimately delivers benefits far beyond the bottom line with increased productivity, reduced turnover and long-term retention of highly skilled staff who directly contribute to achieving business goals.

 

 

About the Author: Emma Phillips has more than 20 years of experience leading the design and execution of strategic HR initiatives. As vice president of human resources for ADP’s Major Account Services business unit, Emma and her team focus on attracting, developing and retaining top talent, succession management, performance management, leadership development, change management and associate engagement.

 


How the War for Top Performers Can Be Won by Redefining Success: Capacity and the Definition of Talent

Posted on April 19th, by Rita Trehan in Business and Workplace. No Comments

Talent. The War for Talent. Those two terms are the headlines that strike fear into the hearts of companies and create top-line action items for HR groups across the globe. The major fear for us all is what skills will be needed to ensure corporate longevity and success, and how will you get to them before anyone else does? Well, let’s also add to that the ability to attract and retain them. It’s a large problem to solve, that’s for sure. But I’m not entirely sure that it’s an external job. I think it starts with searching internally first, and that means a long, hard look at your leadership and competency models.

 

This is not to say that more traditional competency and leadership models are failures. Quite the contrary: these frameworks have succeeded in providing the qualities/attributes previous leaders and employees required for daily operational and long-term success. Built upon the success profiles of the past along with proven business acumen, these models have sparked development programs, helped forge career paths, laid the baseline for promotions and compensation rates, and crafted the means through which staffing is performed. The issue isn’t that they’ve never been successful; it’s that they may not be what’s needed moving forward.

 

We live in a global business world that is filled with daily disruptors, things that come flying at the business before anyone could conceivably see them coming. Technology advances every day, the customer is closer and more vocal than ever, cloud-based services are revolutionizing the way the workplace runs as well as how products are delivered, and it seems our entire lives can be run from our phones. Virtual technology is coming faster than we think, and with artificial intelligence and robotics working its way from the factory floor to self-driving cars and home-based products such as Amazon’s Alexa, the ebb and flow of product delivery and customer contact is getting faster than the speed of imagination. Does your leadership model work in the same way? Maybe it’s time to take a look.

 

When you review a traditional leadership model, you’ll notice they all have one great similarity: all competencies apply to all leaders, irrespective of their role, division or market. The premise has always been that a central set of leadership behaviors, traits, and competencies must be applicable across all leaders, that everyone must be held to the same standard, and that in order for the company to be successful everyone in management must march in the same direction in the same way. Before maybe five years ago, that worked. But in today’s rapidly-changing world of business, I’d argue that it’s a static, antiquated approach that might get you smashed against the windshield of oncoming change. It’s coming fast, so you must be adept and adaptable, which means rewarding a new set of leadership principles.

 

Let’s also explore the new prevalent population of the world, the Millennials, and how they affect more traditional role descriptions and success models. This generation isn’t driven by the same cash and prestige rewards as were Boomers and Generation X. They thrive on social causes, they desire to make more global impact, they demand work/life balance, and they require constant feedback. They’re also the most swiftly-adaptable generation in history, they solve problems more efficiently, process data more quickly, and can utilize technology better that their predecessors.  We must consider how we look at where these skills fit into the world of work, how to attract and retain their ranks, and how to measure success against present and future corporate needs.

 

All these points direct us to one overarching point: we must change our leadership and competency models. Question is, how do we do it? I have some thoughts.

 

First, I don’t believe we should scrap the entire thing. I think it starts with understanding which baseline aspects of leadership must be required based on your corporate vision, mission, and values; you have to start with performance aspects that point to corporate DNA. What does it take to achieve your corporate goals and move your company forward? What does that look like? Those are your baseline leadership aspects. Describe them and attribute them to everyone.

 

Next, look at your overall goals against market data and understand what it would take to achieve success in each individual role. Adaptability, social change, market expansion, innovation, customer acquisition and satisfaction, the ability to do whatever it takes to ensure customer and market success (also described as leadership brand) — all these things describe what it takes to be a leader. Then you must differentiate at different levels and within different divisions. Growing businesses require leaders with strong entrepreneurial skills. Manufacturing business may measure excellence by production floor innovation and cost savings. Goods-based services might reward the expansion of the business through contract labor. Internal efficiency in companies with large amounts of data such as banks and law firms might be a tremendous measure of success. Every company may financially reward the ability to positively impact the local community or to reduce the impact on the planet. These skills are leadership based, and can (and should) work their way into competency models all the way down to the lowest level of the organization. Once these differences are implemented, you have leadership and competency models that have a similar baseline for success, but reward for individual roles and performance. That is the way to progress to a brighter, more profitable future, and it is the way to win the global talent war in any market in which you play. The same truism applies to the different skills needed to manage a turn-around or a merger.

 

The difference with this approach is the models remain dynamic. Outside the baseline core, as the needs of the company change, the attributes of the model continue to shift with it, continually updated and reflective of where the business is in its life cycle. It is where corporate capacity lives, breathes and grows, and it is where the game of business is won.