Planning Your Annual Benefits Strategy

adpIf you’re a regular reader, you may have noticed I have not been as active on my blog.  Over the years, I’ve written for several solution providers and other websites.  I love to write, but since I’m only one person, if I am asked to write for another site, it typically means I don’t have time to write here too.  I’m excited to share that I’m writing for ADP’s Spark blog.  I’ll still be writing here at HRRingleader.com, but when I have an article for ADP, I’ll share the link here too.

If you’re someone who is involved in planning your company’s benefit strategy, I hope you’ll check out (and share) my latest post:  Planning Your Open Enrollment- It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint.  I hope you’ll click through and check it out.  I feel strongly about being prepared for benefit planning and hope these suggestions help your organization and you.

Are You the Grit of the Company?

gritI was listening to NPR this morning, as I do every morning after dropping my kids at school.  Normally, they are doing the market report when I’m in the car, but today, my timing was off and the show hosts were discussing how difficult it can be to predict the future of organizations with a former Intel futurist.  As he described the role and how he handled it, at one point he referred to himself as the “grit” inside the organization that often had to tell other leaders what no one else would say.

I started thinking about how I behave inside organizations and ultimately, how you behave too.  There are many times I’ve found myself being the grit in organizations.  Grit, or being abrasive, is thought of as a negative.  I don’t think it has to be a negative label though, it’s quite the opposite.  Being seen as the grit should mean you’re a go-to person who will be honest and tell leadership where the gaps in thinking may be.  In fact, it goes beyond that to being able to tell leaders which paths they should not be taking.

The key to being the “grit” in a positive way is finesse.  One thing I’ve learned over the last twenty of my career is that being disruptive may be fun, but it does not make for the ability to bring change on a consistent basis.  Since many people still enjoy working for one employer for a long period of time, understanding how to be influential without being completely abrasive is an art.  Those are the leaders that actually drive change in organizations.  I found a fascinating article on Forbes that details the 5 Characteristics of Grit.  I encourage you to check it out to see which characteristics you have.  Things like resilience,  endurance, excellence, conscientiousness, and courage are all important in determining the level of grit you have.

So now that we’ve determined that grit can be a positive in the workplace, how can you tell if you’re style of grit is disruptive vs. influential?  

DISRUPTIVE OR INFLUENTIAL?

  • Do the C-Suite execs avoid you because you are constantly telling them to do things differently?  Disruptive
  • Are you the first person the executives call when they have an issue?  Influential
  • Have you tried, unsuccessfully, to “sell” the same idea to every executive and can’t get anyone on board? Disruptive
  • Do you curse or swear a lot at work for no real reason? Disruptive
  • Do people eventually come around to your ideas, even if they need a little time to digest the idea before embracing it?  Influential
  • Are you honest?  Influential
  • Brutally honest at all costs?  Disruptive

Like most people, I want to change the world.  I’m sure you do too.  And while there are a few “disruptors” who make a name for themselves and get positive change in spite of their approach, most people prefer to be influenced.  I learned early on that being influential is not about your job title.  It’s all in your style and the way you bring other people over to your way of thinking.  It’s also about being open to new ideas….even if it means discarding your own ideas.

So, which are you? I’d love to hear from you…

#AmericansInLondon A Collaborative Look at HR Learning in London

I’m HUNGRY!

By Frank Zupan, Director of Talent Management at Associated Materials

12813971_10156716950515523_388711202620285107_nI hate that feeling…I was hungry. I was REALLY hungry. One of those times when I didn’t even realize how long it’s been since I’d eaten and I’m thinking, “Holy Crap, I’m so hungry, I’m dying here”. Come to find out I wasn’t really hungry for food, I was hungry for learning.

My Q4-Q1 work schedule as a corporate Director of Talent Management had been a bit brutal. A new boss, several enterprise-wide and functional initiatives on both recruiting and development sides of my “shop” with lots of heavy lifting, travel and deliverables. All leaving very little time to feed my learning needs. I was REALLY, REALLY hungry when I saw Bill Boorman’s Facebook post at the end of February about how the fast-approaching March #trulondon was shaping up. It appeared to be shaping up very nicely indeed. Over 100 registered, a very strong group of track leaders with solid topics, an “interesting” location, so of course I, randomly and without any clear strategy, clicked and registered to attend an unconference in London which was now less than three weeks away.

Of course two minutes after I’d registered Bill messaged me asking if I’d like to be a track leader. The great thing about the tru track format is that it’s part knowledge, part experience, part improv and ALL about the discussion. Suffice to say I’m now able to add “tru Track Leader” to my LinkedIn profile!

What a great decision! <patting myself on the back>. Add to the reasons listed above, I could also plan visits with friends and colleagues that I hadn’t seen since working in UK in 2006, jump on an opportunity to attend #HRTechWorld being held in London the following two days, and connect with some HR leadership pals that I hadn’t seen in some time, hence the #AmericansInLondon hashtag. #winning

Ultimately, and fortunately, I responded to an internal need that I hadn’t yet recognized or acknowledged…I was REALLY hungry for learning! And I was able to satisfy that incredible hunger with a fantastic learning experience at #trulondon and was lucky enough to connect that to extra learning at #HRTechWorld. Fantastic experiences at both events, connecting with old and new friends during a few days of serious learning and networking…WOW, did I ever need that! Add to all of this several great discussions with current technology partners to my business, and I would return to the States quite happy.

If you’re REALLY hungry for learning, you’re not alone. Whether through random circumstances from your “world of work”, or if you haven’t taken time to develop a learning strategy, my suggestion is to <continue to> connect online with the people driving the creation and development of professional and social communities. Find them, connect with them, talk to them, read their stuff, meet with them, learn from them, let them learn from you, and every once in a while, say YES to investing in your own development…or just stay HUNGRY.

 

Wake Up Kids! We’ve Got the Dreamers Disease

By Trish McFarlane, CEO of H3 HR Advisors

1545675_10156716950235523_5452239827204249531_nIf you’re like me, you’re someone who dreams about the future of HR. You think about doing things differently and shaking things up in the industry. One of the best ways I’ve found of feeding this addiction of mine is to network and learn from other dreamers in the industry. As someone who is fortunate enough to call this crazy HCM space my home, I go to my fair share of events. Each time I leave, I assess whether the time I spent was worth it or not, aka was my “inner dreamer” satisfied. Most recently, I attended TRULondon and HR Tech World. So, what makes these two fall in the “worth it” category?

As a destination, I can’t think of a single downside of attending an event in London. The only thing to keep in mind is giving yourself a little extra time to see a few of the best things London has to offer. If you’ve never been, the city is easy to navigate thanks to the Tube and trains. You can get almost anywhere in the city in a short time and wont’ need to rent a car. Add to that the numerous museums, eclectic restaurants, clubs, shopping and the ever-popular tourist attractions and it’s a great place to visit. From the dreamer perspective, there is a sense of wonderment and history that you can’t achieve anywhere in the U.S.

TRULondon

I’ve been attending the recruiting unconference for six years. It’s changed quite a bit over the years and as it’s developed, it is now one of the best places in the world (yes, in the whole world) to meet with recruiters, sourcers, talent acquisition leaders, marketing pros, solution providers and practitioners. The secret sauce for this event is that you walk in and immediately feel part of a community and a movement.

People who attend are tired of the status quo. They don’t want to do what everyone else is doing. They are there to challenge their own perceptions… and yours. They have the dreamer’s disease and they are going to make sure you have it too.   It’s a deliciously, wonderful mix of learning, networking and chaos. With Bill Boorman at the helm and the partnership of Noel Cocca and Matt Charney of RecruitingBlogs and Recruiting Daily, this is not only a great use of your time, but your money.

Track leaders managed to challenge us by thinking about how to apply the way auto dealers market to the way we market our businesses to candidates. They threw out the notion that we’ll all be out of work because the robots are taking over, well, at least the idea is that most of the recruiting function will be handled by automated systems that “learn” as they are used. Track leaders also cursed and laughed as they shared hacks for creating content. There were Tech Labs and product Show & Tell labs. It was a mash-up of all things great in the recruiting industry and the future to come.

HR Tech World

Attending my first HR Tech World was an experience. It’s a more intimate experience that provides all the learning and vendor interaction you’d expect from an event like this. From a forward-facing, dreamer lens, their solid focus on the numerous startups in the HR tech space is what drew me in. Not only were the startups available to learn about, there were specific disruptive sessions focused on the direction of the industry. Add to that a fun, informative “pitch” session by five of the startups and it made for an interesting day.

If you have the dreamer’s disease like me, check out both of these events and follow them online. They will point you to learning all year long and really help you challenge your approach.

People Talking

By Michael Heller, CEO & Founder of iRevu

1916154_10156716951180523_8415946151352119352_nI have been practicing human resources for years – practicing being the operative word. The more I learn about people, the less I feel I truly know. Therefore, I don’t expect to necessarily master the discipline as much as continue to become better at it. But along my way, I have picked up a few things: Most problems can be solved by listening sincerely and being empathetic. Throwing money at something might correct an issue short term, but rarely long term. My favorite? Never EVER judge a book by its cover. Never.

In 2015 I attended my very first TRU event. I ‘knew’ Bill Boorman from his online presence and met him for the first time in Las Vegas at a conference. He didn’t strike me as the typical HR professional, but had knowledge spewing out the brim of his trademark hat. He mentioned that he hosts an event – The Recruiting Un-conference – designed to get people talking.

“Get people talking?”

“That’s right, mate. People talking.”

What struck me was his emphasis on the ‘people’. Color me intrigued. The conferences / meetups / seminars I’d been to definitely had people talking. At the front of a room. With a slide deck and a quick wit. Don’t get me wrong, these people talking were great. They were armed with data and knowledge and technology and eloquence. But these people talking were talking TO me. Maybe at me? I don’t know, I tweeted a ton, got some great nuggets and if I stood in line I might be able to say a quick hello and introduce myself. This was my typical experience at a typical conference.

Bill told me that the TRU events are different. I realized instantly that he wasn’t joking. When I arrived to the venue this year, The King’s Head, it looked like a proper English pub. A pub?? For an HR Conference?? Walking inside, there were drinks and taxidermy. In every room, from the armed chimpanzee in the basement to the giraffes and tigers in the boudoir. I have to admit the butterfly room freaked me out a little. But, remember, don’t judge a book by its cover and: “People talking”.

So when he kicked off the event, there were a few takeaways. No name badges ensures that everyone is on a level playing field. No inflated titles, no fancy companies. If someone said something interesting and you want to meet them, by all means introduce yourself! The sessions are super topical and led by international HR A-Listers. People like William Tincup, Matt Charney, Trish McFarlane, Noel Cocca, and Stephen O’Donnell.

But the sessions (called tracks) are also different – the good session leaders are NOT there to show you how smart they are. They show you how smart and innovative YOU are. They are roundtable-esque discussions where everyone is encouraged to participate and share their experiences and thoughts. Anyone can participate, everyone learns. Everyone wins.

TRU events are extremely valuable. There’s a warmth and affability about them that draws you in, even when the discussion gets heated. In one session, ‘The Day in the Life of a Recruiter – how we spend our time?’ the leader asked as much and then stepped back while the track attendees discussed everything from sourcing to relationship building to extinguishing the fire du jour. In this session, the what wasn’t as valuable as the how. The attendees were so diverse and their approach so varied, I saw so many nodding their head and saying ‘wow, I never thought about that.’ I plan on attending TRU events for a long time to come.

This year TRU London helped me lower my associative barriers even further and I am better for it. Sure, I got to lead a track session and show and tell a software product. I got to meet people IRL I’ve only followed on twitter. But, I learned from everyone there – from the A-Listers to the regular people like me. If you want to wear a name badge and talk about what’s already happened, this is not your conference. However, if you want to be immersed in real discussion about what’s happening and will likely happen, you owe it to yourself to attend at least one TRU. Just be ready for the venue to spark as much conversation as the topics.

 

 

 

 

3 Great Resources for International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day and I’m proud to say that now, more than ever, organizations and leaders are making a real difference in how women are welcomed for their ideas, innovation and passion in their industries.  We’ve come a long way in bringing women into leadership roles from when I joined the workforce in the 1990’s.  While not perfect just yet, the number of women leaders is on the rise and the way that schools are recruiting women into traditionally male-dominated professions is increasing.  This means that as leaders and whole organizations, we need to encourage our daughters to study and enter STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers.

According to the Office of Science and Technology Policy, “Supporting women STEM students and researchers is not only an essential part of America’s strategy to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world; it is also important to women themselves. Women in STEM jobs earn 33 percent more than those in non-STEM occupations and experience a smaller wage gap relative to men. And STEM careers offer women the opportunity to engage in some of the most exciting realms of discovery and technological innovation. Increasing opportunities for women in these fields is an important step towards realizing greater economic success and equality for women across the board.”

It has been eye-opening to see some of the resources shared online via social media.  One of the first, and most impressive, celebrations of women was the Infor video I’m sharing here today.  Led by Pam Murphy, COO of Infor, the video highlights real women in HR technology and the women who inspire them.

There are still so many women who are not getting into the technology field, so it makes me happy to see that Infor encourages women in tech.  By recognizing, developing and helping these women shine in a male-dominated field, Infor guides the way on how other organizations can do better.

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 2.19.17 PMAnother resource I’d like to highlight today is my friend, Lois Melbourne.  Lois is currently the Chief Story Officer of My Future Story.  With a background as a CEO in a HR technology company, Lois is on a mission to bring education around STEM careers to more children.  She is doing this through a series of books and an app (coming soon!).  I encourage you to check out the first book here.  I know she is already inspiring my junior high aged children to think more about STEM careers.

The last resource I’ll share is an article on the Huffington Post site.  They offer up the opportunity to learn more about 11 new books written by women.  I encourage you to check them out.

What are you or your organization doing to help promote International Women’s Day?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

3 Things to Avoid on Employee Appreciation Day

*Sharing from the dusty archives…

I have to admit,  I am not a fan of fake holidays.  I always figured if anyone in my life needed to use a made-up reason to say they love me (Valentines Day) or appreciate me (Mother’s Day), then they really don’t know me at all.  I would much rather have someone tell me they love or appreciate me on a random Tuesday then sending me a dozen roses that cost $150 on one of those days.  As an aside, this cynicism likely comes from working at a florist in my teenage years and seeing men forget their loved one until the last minute, then rush in to buy said $150 roses just to stay out of trouble.

candy_jar_tootsieWell, we are on the eve of yet another made up holiday…..Employee Appreciation Day.  It’s coming to an office near you on March 4th.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a BIG supporter of telling your team and all your employees how much you appreciate them.  I am a fan of hand written notes, emails, phone calls, taking them out to lunch and more.  What I am not a fan of is the leader who never tells their employee how much they appreciate them, then only does on March 4th as a way to think it’s “all good” for the year.

There are already articles and letters floating around from various organizations telling leaders how they can recognize their employees easily and with almost no thought at all.  It is unreal.  I’m here to say right now that if you are a leader, it is supposed to be hard, not easy.  It is supposed to take time, you are supposed to give feedback and you should put thought into it.  Here are 3 things you SHOULD do on March 4th, Employee Appreciation Day to turn the tides on the “easy” approaches that are not meaningful:

  1. Form Letters-  First, do NOT send the form letters full of jargon and business-speak.  At least, do not send them in the spirit intended.  Instead, print out the letter with all the (insert employee name here, insert project here, etc.) left in.  Then, hand write a note at the bottom sincerely telling the employee how much you appreciate them and that you’d never send them a form letter like the one the note is written on.  It will be quirky and unique.  Another option is to call the team together and start reading the form letter mentioned above to them.  As they look at you completely perplexed, stop reading and tell them they mean more to you than a form letter could ever say.  Go around the room, in front of their peers, thanking them and giving examples of what each person does to bring value to the team.
  2. Donuts-  I know, you’re probably thinking that Krispy Kreme or Duncan Donuts is RIGHT on your way to work and you can grab a couple dozen from the drive-thru.  Don’t do it!  Instead, do some reconnaissance today and find out what kind of candy, gum, or healthy snack each team member loves.  Go to the store and buy each employee’s favorite thing.  It will take more effort, that much is true.  The cost will not be more though and I guarantee that a sincere thank you as you hand the person their favorite snack will be well worth the effort.  I once had a boss bring me a huge canister of Tootsie Rolls “just because” I was working hard.  Since that’s one of my favorite candies, it was a wonderful surprise and I knew she valued me.
  3. Gift Cards- We’ve all heard the expression that money can’t buy you love.  The same holds true with  a thank you.  Sure, a $5 gift card for coffee is nice, but it’s the easy way out.  Instead, do a more personal act of service.  Something like asking each staff member if they would like something to drink, then going to your company kitchen or the local store, or even coffee shop, and picking it up or making it for them.  It becomes an act of service and for a boss to do something nice that makes them go out of their way is much more meaningful to the employee.

So, there you have it.  Three ways you can make a more meaningful impact in the way you thank your staff.  Oh, and by the way….thank YOU for wanting to do more to recognize them.  It takes a great leader to want to go the extra mile!

What is Your Work Personality?

We hear a lot about office culture lately because of it’s impact on a candidate’s job selection decision as well as the employees’ decision to remain with the company.  Since the culture of workplaces are made up of a hodgepodge of personalities and each one adds a unique twist to the mix, it’s this uniqueness that keeps most of us coming back to the workplaces we love.

I recently came across a link on the National Pen website for a fun quiz that determines your office personality.  It reminded me of a post I wrote a few years ago about What You’re Known For At Work.  This quiz is along those lines, so I thought I’d share.  Are you more of a “Debbie Downer” or are you one of the most dynamic personalities in your office?

Click the link to take the quiz: What’s Your Office Personality
toy-guy

Now, fun aside, there is a serious side to knowing your own work personality as well as recognizing the personalities of your colleagues.  The reason it’s important is that depending on who you associate with or work for, it can impact the type of work you produce.  According to the 2014 Productivity Impact Study conducted by Taskworld,  of the 1,000 adults aged 18 and over who were surveyed, nearly half attributed a decline in their productivity to deadlines missed by their colleagues.  They also reported that this decreased productivity affected employee morale, satisfaction, and motivation.

Those are big claims, backed up by data.  When you think about all the people you come into contact at work, I bet you can quickly group them by the following:

  • Helpfulness
  • Knowledge
  • Work-related skill
  • Level of distraction
  • Attitude
  • Trust

So, what was your result?  Do you think your style impacts your colleagues positively or negatively?  I’d love to have you share your thoughts in the comments.  By knowing your style and those of your colleagues, it should help you all embrace your inner selves.

How To Surpass What Your Job Title Says About You

TEDx-1-e1430710475881I had a conversation with one of my friends from India and we were sharing stories about how throughout our careers we have both been known as people who can do more than what our specific job title would indicate.  We weren’t talking about being able to take on more responsibility in order to receive a promotion, we were talking about learning and using skills from another industry to help further our careers.

Breaking out of YOUR mold

I spent many years learning human resources and honing my skills related to compensation, benefits and employee relations.  It wasn’t until I reached my mid-thirties that I realized that I was compelled to learn more about technology, finance, marketing and communications, and ultimately social.  Spending my free time educating myself was some of the best time I’ve ever spent in terms of the return on my investment.  The best compliments I get now are when someone tells me I’m a good writer, a marketer, or an expert for them in social media.

What are you known for?

When I think of the most successful people I know, these are the people who continuously increase their knowledge.  Here 6 steps you can take to update what you are known for and be more than the definition of your job title:

  • Identify industries you want to learn more about-  Before you invest your time, make sure you have carved out a path that is not only going to be interesting for yourself, but one that will actually provide you improved business opportunities in the end.
  • Read as much as you can online about the topic-  The internet brings the best education to us at our fingertips.  It’s easy to find written works from experts in your chosen field as well as video to teach you what they know.
  • Interview “experts” already in that field and ask for recommendations to get up to speed in that industry- This is the time you really need to break out of your comfort zone.  You will be reaching out to people you may not know and asking for them to help you learn.  Keep in mind that many people like to
  • Listen to podcasts on the subject while driving or working out
  • Register for a course online or at a local university
  • Ask to job shadow someone already working in the industry

With a bit of time, a plan, and a desire to learn and expand, you will be able to position yourself to no longer be defined by your job title.  What have you done to change this in your career?  Share with me in the comments.

*from the dusty archives…

LIVE this Friday~ The HR Happy Hour #Oscars Show!

The 88th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 28, 2016.
The 88th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 28, 2016.

This week on a very special HR Happy Hour Show – it’s the 2nd Annual HR Happy Hour Academy Awards Preview and Prediction Show!  Steve and I will review the top movies from 2015, make some predictions on who will be taking home the Oscars, and give a HR/workplace spin on what’s going on with the movies and the Oscars this year.

I know you might be wondering what makes the HR Happy Hour crew qualified to talk Oscars? Well, we do our best to see as many of the nominated movies and we’re true fans.  I think that puts us in a great place to weigh in.  In addition, there are MANY people who love the Oscars as much as we do and we hope you all listen and call in.  It is sure to be a fun and fast-paced hour in what has become a beloved annual tradition on the show.

We hope you can join us this Friday as we break down the awards, make a few predictions, and have some fun on a Friday!  Join us at NOON ET.

HR Happy Hour Oscar Show link