Tag: Human resources

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

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. 1 Comment

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.

 

 

 


The Interview – Part 1: Remember When?

Posted on February 24th, by Jacqueline Clay in Business and Workplace, The Funny Side of HR. 3 comments

Welcome to another edition of

The Funny Side of HR from the Desk of a Woman of a Certain Age

 

It is nothing short of amazing how the business of human resources has changed overall during the last 25 years.  And…certainly, if we look back at the job search and interview process 30+ years ago, there is less and less recognition of the art as we know it today.  (Remember, I am a woman of a certain age, so I can discuss this aspect quite thoroughly).  Both the job search and interview process has changed for the HR professional as well as for the candidate.

 

As I mentioned in my introductory piece last month, HR has its hand in a myriad of responsibilities and understanding the job search process from the candidate’s perspective is a key element in the attainment of the ideal candidate.  Given the amount of time it takes to conduct a candidate search, however, many organizations utilize agencies to expedite the process.

 

Today, I am going to do a backstory and take a look at the job search and interview process through the eyes and actions of a candidate seeking a job in years gone by.  This is almost cathartic for me since I have had many experiences job searching.  I will use the pronoun “you” to refer to all of us because we all have been in the job search marketplace at one time or another.

 

So…..walk down memory lane with me…

[Picture a blurred dreamy screen…Yes, I am also budding film producer!]

 

It is the 1980’s, back in a time when you could work your way up the corporate ladder and in essence, were expected to do so.  Many of us started somewhere near the bottom and made it to the top or very near the top.  (If only our boss would have left,  we could have made it to the top!)  Anyway, some of us made our way via education, certification, preparation, dedication, determination, innovation, recommendation, motivation and perspiration.  Some others made it by perpetration, falsification, association, relation, expiration, degradation and quite possibly, incantation.  However you made it, the force was with you, so congratulations are in order!

 

In any case, at the beginning, you found yourself in a situation to seek employment.  What kind of job?  Let’s see.  You have some experience and some education in your field of choice.  Most importantly, though you can type and know how to use a word processor, IBM computer.  You can type 60 words a minute.  (Actually you can type 70 words a minute…but unfortunately, only 60 words are correct).   You know how to use the arduous “cut and paste” and “find and replace” options.  You do not get a headache by looking at the word processor screen that has a dark green background with day-glow green print.  You know how to operate a fax machine and use a calculator.  You have the basics locked and sealed!

 

Now…let’s get started.  First things first.  Living in the Northeast and looking for work in New York, no job search could be launched without getting the job seekers bible…The New York Times.  How could you possibly be serious about any job search effort without thoroughly, eye glazingly (not sure glazingly is a word…but it IS the word needed here!)   reading the opportunities listed in the one and only New York Times.   You had to make sure that through hell or high water, you were able to get your copy of the Times.  This was so important that many people left their warm beds in the middle of the night, pajamas under raincoat, on Saturday evening, to make it down to the corner store to get their copy before it sold out.  Some stores would (somehow) just sell the Classifieds section so that you would not have to lug the entire 3 lb. Times when you only needed or wanted that part of the huge paper.   You still paid for it, but a reduced price.

 

Whew!  You got your copy!  Now to the Classifieds Section.  All you see are job advertisements from agencies, agencies and more agencies.  You circle the jobs most in line with your skills and qualifications.  Most of the jobs listed give short, fragmented descriptions, so it is difficult to determine whether you meet the qualifications or not.  You circle them anyway.  Some are listed with contact numbers, but when you call, you are not provided any additional information,  just told to come in.  “We don’t take appointments.  Just come in between 9 and 5 and bring several copies of your resume” was the mantra.

 

Resume!  Ok…you have a few copies printed on nice, expensive paper.  You prefer not to waste providing an agency with a resume printed on expensive paper.  But…alas…you may never get to the company interview if you don’t show a well written, professional resume and providing a copy on expensive looking paper may give you a minor edge.  You check to make sure there are no errors.  If there are, you have to retype the resume from scratch and take it to a printing company to make copies (unless you have a word processor and printer at home).  But…thanks to the resume gods, your resume looks good.

 

Ok….back to preparation.  Now…what to wear.  There are only a few acceptable choices.  A dark skirt suit (navy, black, brown, gray), a white or light colored shirt, low heeled shoes and flesh tone stockings.  Low heeled shoes were key because you never knew how far you would have to walk to get from agency to agency.  Accessories could be a string of pearls, a pin or a bow.  Simple, clean, professional.  We followed the Dress for Success rules to a tee.  One of the old adages routinely applied was, “don’t dress for the job you have (or in this case, going for), dress for the job you want”.

 

Finally, you have to decide the route to take.  (I am only going to speak from the perspective of seeking jobs in New York City and the subway, since that is where my experience is founded).  Most of the agencies were located near the 40th  midtown street location….although there were also numerous agencies in the Wall Street area.  Since you needed to keep your travel expenses to a minimum (in the 80’s, there were no metro ride all day for one low price cards), you made a list of the agencies in the same general vicinity knowing that you would, if lucky, only be able to get to two…maybe three agencies in one day.  Why?  Because you would have to wait…and wait and wait to be interviewed, especially on the Mondays and Tuesdays after the Sunday classifieds were published.  I recall walking into a “just come in” agency and seeing tens and tens of people just waiting.  Once you were called to move from the waiting room into the main room…you thought you were finally going to see someone to discuss the job…but no!  You were led to a room to take endless tests.   Typing, computer, spelling, math, calculator, etc.  Take a test…then wait…take another test…then wait.  Hour after hour.  At long last, some kind soul would call your name and usher you into the kingdom….the place where you would finally be interviewed for the job you circled.  You feel as if you had won the lottery!  It’s my turn!   Off to see the agency rep.

 

The agency representative, let’s call her Ms. Smith (very original, I know).  Ms. Smith scans your resume and reviews the mountain of tests you took earlier.  She asks about your experience and you regurgitate the speech you so diligently prepared.  Ms. Smith tells you about the position, but says that the agency has sent several candidates to the company already and waiting for a call back from them (the company).  Ms. Smith thanks you for coming and says, she will be in touch.  The entire interview took less than 5 good minutes.  Be in touch??  After several hours, you are told, “will be in touch” and given a polite good bye handshake???  At that point, YOU want to reach out and “touch” someone yourself!

 

Ready, set, go….. on to the next agency.  Never discouraged, you trot off to the next agency in your low heeled shoes with your New York Times circled classified section under your arm and your expensive resumes in your briefcase instilled with the confidence that you will eventually find a job.

 

Good Luck!

 

Next month….Interview – Part 2: How technology and social norms have changed the job search and interview  process for the candidate.  

 

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.


Should HR Follow Finance in Innovation? 

Posted on February 10th, by Rita Trehan in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment

We all know that HR technology threatens to make many in our function obsolete. We’ve heard that HR tasks can be outsourced or that systems can take the place of people. What I don’t believe anyone has pointed out is that Finance weathered this storm beautifully a long time ago, stepping in front of their transaction-based business into the role of core management, disseminating and becoming indispensable as advisors who use the tools to make the business faster and more agile. We’ve never tied these two departments together in their migration from transaction-based to innovation-based. I think it might make for a good read.

 

 

As HR professionals, we’re often threatened by obsolescence. We hear threats of outsourcing, that we’re mere paper pushers, that we can’t keep up with our internal business partners, nor do we speak the language of the business. Many of us seek our own counsel, gathering together to figure out what best practices could lift us into higher esteem with our C-suite, breaking our organizational structure and twisting our business models to appear more productive and current. But there’s a simple solution not many of us may have considered, another division who was much maligned for years until they rose to prominence over the past few years: why don’t we ask our friends in the Finance department?

 

Those of us who’ve been around for a couple of decades or more can remember how maligned our financial partners were: seen as necessary number crunchers who just ran reports, they suffered much the same threats as HR does today: outsourcing, deconstruction of the department, reengineering because they didn’t understand the business. But one look at the transformation of the Finance department of today, and they’re some of the most respected individuals in the business. Why not follow their lead?

 

Before we go further, I understand in many organizations the Finance and HR departments might be at loggerheads. Where Finance sees HR as the defender of decisions that might be better for the workforce than the bottom line and where HR may have issue putting return on investment on their activities for the needs of their Financial partners, I argue that a closer partnership is invaluable, and that we can learn a lot from our math-savvy teammates.

 

We’ve suffered many of the same failed reorganizations, by the way. Massive IT overhauls, shared service centers, process reengineering, etc. But where Finance has evolved is the focus on what the team can offer their clients versus how they offer it.  Back office transaction processing is virtually invisible to the internal client, and the most client-savvy among them are front-facing with their C-suite and management team, offering analysis and decision support. They operate with a clear vision of the activities which create value and drive business outcomes and those that don’t. Finance understands the skills and competencies their staff needs now and in the future in order to build stronger talent capabilities in areas of weakness. They evolve as a service provider. They keep their eye on how their processes and tools can help their clients succeed. They mind the bottom line, and they speak the language of the business.

 

The evolution of the back office of the Finance department is a critical example of what is possible if you maintain a client focus during a transformation. Both Finance and HR have undergone massive technological revolution. The differences between these processes is simple: HR technology brings HR processes to the desktops of the masses, while Finance technology brings the mindset of the masses to financial processes. Their job is to make it easier to enter data and run reports. General ledger information is rarely visible when filling out an expense report. Can we say the same about HR desktop technology? Are benefit, compensation and performance management desktops that fluid? We could learn something.

 

But the most crucial item to come of the evolution of the Finance department is their migration into the C-suite as consummate business partners. They know their businesses, and they’re able to forecast where the business wants to go and what it will take to get them there. They’re quick to suggest process improvements, technological advances, and tough decisions that will lead to the fortitude of the company. They’re one of the first to be pulled into a crucial decision-making meeting. They’re involved in all the major moves of the business because they’re seen as a trusted advisor and a crucial aspect of the business. It’s admirable. It’s also repeatable for the HR side of things.

 

I believe strongly in HR as the business partner that Finance has become. We must evolve and use our tools to solve the problems of our corporate clients. Align with Finance and follow their lead. Where their success has taken them, we only have to follow and surpass.

 

About the Author: Rita Trehan is the Founder and Principal of Rita Trehan, LLC, a change management and leadership advisory firm focused on corporate leadership, emerging technology, and cutting-edge organizational design. As a seasoned top executive that has successfully transformed organizations at the Fortune 200 and beyond, she has extensive experience working with CEOs and top corporate management on process and organizational improvement for maximum profitability. A soon-to-be published author, Rita regularly speaks at industry conferences around the world. You can contact Rita on twitter at @rita_trehan and connect with her via LinkedIn. Rita’s blog can be found at www.ritatrehan.com.


On The Lighter Side of HR? From The Desk of a Woman of a Certain Age

Posted on January 26th, by Jacqueline Clay in Business and Workplace, On My Mind, The Funny Side of HR. 1 Comment

Editor’s Note: Please welcome Jacqueline Clay, our newest contributor, with a new feature for 2016.  Each month, “From the Desk of a Woman of a Certain Age” will take a light-hearted look at HR of yesterday vs. HR of today.  We hope you enjoy it!

 

Hello HR Professionals!

 

We Are Still Here…..
Office Management, Personnel, Human Resources, People Management, Business Partners. We have lasted decade after decade. We are like the watch, “we take a licking but keep on ticking!” Yes, our name changed, but we are still the same folks that interview, hire, fire (aka terminate, layoff or downsize), listen, coach, counsel, advise, train, write policies, procedures, rules, regulations and stand as the target on the firing line when things go “left”. We are the keepers of the flames of objectivity and provide the ethical, moral, “do the right thing” barometers’ that helps to develop, strengthen and maintain the best practices company acumen. We have walked, strolled and skipped hand and hand with our business leaders for many years…sometimes tripping over bad behavior, falling in the hole of subjectivity or stepping over the grate of ethical concern. Sometimes we have had to go “undercover” and operate in covert ways to make sure that our HR badge of honor, trust and credibility did not become tarnished. We start our profession bright eyed and energetic like Mary in the beginning stages of the Mary Tyler Moore Show and later look like the mature Aunt Bea from the Andy Griffith Show if we don’t come to realistic terms about what we can and can not do. (Yes…I said I am a woman of a certain age).

 

Life Literally Abounds In Comedy…
Don’t be dismayed though. Personnel, HR, Business Partner….it is a great opportunity and through my many, many years of HR experience, I have encountered and been a part of a ton of humorous and thought provoking observations. We deal with people and people can be unpredictable and very funny. We handle relationships between prospective employees, current employees and the employer and trust me, often times these relationships can fall unexpectedly into the pit of comedy.

 

Who Am I?
I am a senior level HR professional and have worked my way up the HR ladder to Director/Chief HR Officer for a myriad of companies in my over 20 year career. I have seen it all and trust me, sometimes I wish I hadn’t! From the 1980’s through the decade of the 2010’s, HR has had to make and made tremendous adjustments to stay viable. With some of these changes, we kicked, screamed and were dragged to the change table. Sometimes we just sat at the table of an executive meeting and thought to ourselves, “they know not what they do”. (I must add this one note… once when I was asked to attend an “Executive Meeting”, I noticed that my chair sat lower than the other executives. My chin was not far from the top of the table. There were no other chairs available. I felt like a little kid at the Thanksgiving table! Were they trying to tell me something? However, at the time, I was just happy to have the always desired “seat” at the Executive Meeting., albeit it low). I digress. More on having a seat at the executive table in a future article. In any case, we HR folks stayed afloat.

 

Going Forward…Please Don’t Shoot The Messenger
Now understand, the upcoming articles, just like this one, will be opinion pieces. I want to make it clear…it is just my opinion…my view. These may not be your experiences…so don’t ask for my SHRM (Society of Human Resources Management) card back! I have lived a very observatory life. I am always looking, seeing, questioning, analyzing the whys and why nots of the full realm of this business. The good, the bad, the ugly, the funny.

This series will be an observatory view comparing some aspects of yesteryear HR to today…with some comedic undertones. Or is it overtones?? I love to laugh and hope you will join me on a trip down memory lane as it pertains to all things HR. I am so thankful that I am old enough to take the trip and young enough to still remember!!!!

See you next month!

Regards……..

An HR Woman of A Certain Age!

 

About the Author: Jacqueline Clay is a freelance HR business consultant working with small and midsize organizations to assist them in meeting the challenging responsibilities associated with the full realm of HR management.  With  over 20 years leadership experience in all aspects of the HR business, she has helped organizations in a myriad of areas, including  on boarding, labor/employee relations, policy and procedure development, organizational effectiveness, coaching and training.  She holds a BA in Psychology from Fordham University.