Category Archives: Communications

Don’t Blame HR for Making all the Bad Policies

policymanualPolicy manuals have been a topic of contention for years.  There are those firmly in the camp that they are not needed.  There are those who believe in a minimalist approach, only including what is absolutely legally necessary to add clarity (I fall in this camp).  Then there are those organizations who have a policy for everything.  I’ve worked in all types of organizations and no matter if the manual exists or how long it is, I’ve heard employees comment that they do not like “HR’s policies”.
I can tell you from experience that HR is not writing all of your organization’s policies.  In fact, the most senior leadership often comes to HR to add specific policies, thus they are sometimes more operationally focused or financially focused.  Those that HR truly creates tend to be more compliance and legally driven.
So why does this matter?  I think it represents just one way that HR gets a negative reputation.  I’ve been called the HR police more times than I care to admit.  The truth is that as human resources, we love NOT to be the HR police.  We’d love nothing more than not needing a policy manual.  The reality though is that someone has to ensure there is some standard of behavior in an organization and HR is often the group that leads that.
So, the next time you’re unhappy with a policy, try to think past the standard idea that HR created it.  Try to imagine that at some point, a leader thought it was necessary.  HR is often the group responsible for carrying out the enforcement of policy.  In addition, if you disagree with a policy or feel it could be improved, don’t hesitate to speak up.  Collaboration in policy making can actually lead to happier employees.  Take a chance…

What’s Killing Creativity in our Students?

HRevolution Official Logo blackIt’s been a week since #HRevolution 2014 wrapped and I’m just now coming down from the high of being around such brilliant people.  It is always the one event that I can’t write about immediately because there is so much information to process.  While there is great value in each session, one that touched me personally was “Sally Can’t Doodle and it’s Your Fault” led by Lois Melbourne.

Lois, Chief Story Officer at My Future Story and thought leader in the industry, has embarked on a career path where she helps students learn about various industries and careers.  This is something Lois has been passionate about for many years and she’s now putting that passion and her knowledge to use by writing books targeted at students.  These books will help them as they determine which career their studies will support.

In this session at HRevolution, several discussion topics emerged:

  • Do schools kill creativity in our students?  Lois encouraged all attendees to watch the TedX talk by Sir Ken Robinson on the topic as a way to get them thinking.  Discussion centered around the current state of the public school system in the US and whether it needs to change.  There was mention that US businesses need to partner with the school system in order to ensure that students are prepared to enter the workforce.  Another discussion was around the fact that we do not have a “business system” in the US so it is hard to partner with the school system.  Since each organization has to decide whether to reach out to schools, then come up with it’s own approach on how to partner, there is a lack of consistency.
  • Do jobs currently posted as “degree required” really need to have applicants with a degree?  Several in the group mentioned that it’s a way for recruiters to single people out of the hiring process.  Others started naming jobs that are traditionally degree-required that would not have to be.
  • What are Maker Faires and what is their impact?  When Lois mentioned Maker Faires, most attendees were not familiar with them so this was a definite learning point.  According to their website, Maker Faires are, “Part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new, Maker Faire is an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors. All of these “makers” come to Maker Faire to show what they have made and to share what they have learned.”  I’d encourage you to check them out.
  • What does it means to have tenacity?  She then talked about tenacious inventors and how without them, we would not have many of the innovative, creative solutions and products we have today.  This made me wonder how people become tenacious.  Is it a characteristic you’re born with or can we learn tenacity?

All in all, the session was nothing short of amazing.  It’s not often that I walk out of a conference with more questions spinning in my head then I walked in with.  It’s an energizing feeling.  I’ve spent the last several days using my free time to listen to the TedX talk and to research more about our education system and what we can do to find a new way to prepare students for the future work world.

I don’t have many answers yet, but I know that these themes will emerge in my writing as I think through them.  What do you think?

Is our current education system adequate for preparing our students?  If changes are needed, what needs to change?

Do our children even know how to be creative anymore?

How can we send our children through the same system we went through, yet expect different results?

Share your thoughts in the comments.  I’d love to keep this conversation going.  

*Special thanks to our sponsors: Mercer, Symbolist and Small Improvements for making HRevolution possible and for all your personal and professional support.

 

HCMx Radio- My New Podcast Brings Research to HR Pros

BHG-HCMx-Radio-Logo-1400Today is an exciting day at Brandon Hall Group; it’s launch day for our radio podcast, HCMx Radio. It’s the only podcast in the HCM arena that weaves current market research, HR technology, and industry leaders into each episode.

As the show’s host, my goal is to bring something unique to the HR industry. When I was an HR leader and practitioner, one of the things I always needed was data and understanding how to use it. Now, with this show, that is what we’ll be giving to our listeners.

HCM practitioners such as CHROs, CLOs, CTOs, VPs, directors, and managers will find value in the show’s ability to provide current research data laced with rich perspective that they can use in discussions with their internal organizational leaders. They will also benefit from hearing solution providers describe their product roadmaps and how their solutions can benefit organizations.

Solution providers will gain value by being able to interact with analysts as well as by showcasing solutions that are advancing the HCM market.  Finally, industry influencers will find value in being able to get information quickly that they can turn into compelling content.

New episodes will be shared at least twice a month and will be available on Blogtalkradio as well as www.brandonhall.com and iTunes. In the first episodeStop the Insanity: How to Get Different Results with Your Employee Engagement,

I welcome my colleague, Madeline Laurano, VP and Principal Analyst of Talent Acquisition for Brandon Hall Group, who will discuss her recently completed research on employee engagement and how organizations can leverage the power of their relationships to drive business results.

Other topics in the coming weeks include Recruitment Marketing, Performance Management, and Planning for HR Technology in 2015. I hope you’ll join us and I welcome feedback on each episode as well as what you’d like to hear about in future episodes.

 

The Importance of Getting Someone’s Name Right

a-640-whats-in-a-nameSometimes when I write, it’s because I’m frustrated with things that happen.  Today is one of those days.  I seem to get bombarded with requests from strangers who do two things:

  1. They are asking me to do work for them for free (write, speak, etc.)
  2. They use the wrong name when they contact me.

I’m all in favor of using someone’s name when you reach out to them, especially if you don’t know the person and you’re trying to make the email or message more personal.  However, I do not have forgiveness for sales people who take the step of using my first name and then get it wrong.  This shows that I am not important enough for them to pay attention to the details in their message.  If that is the case, then I already know we would not likely make a good business partnership.

We all love to hear people use our names.  It gives the impression that we matter and that they are paying attention.  When the opposite happens and the wrong name is used, the negative effect can be far greater than had they not used the name at all.

My advice to all the sales people out there is a) only use a person’s name if you’re sure you have it correct and b) if you don’t have time to make it personal, just start your message with something like “Good Morning” or “Good Afternoon”.

Have you had this happen to you?  How have you handled those messages?  Do you reply?  Delete?  Share in the comments.

Why Rebuilding a Relationship Always Means Rebuilding Trust

trustI read a good post from Seth Godin today called Two Elements of an Apology and it reminded me that when rebuilding a relationship, as we all have to do from time to time, is more than just saying you’re sorry.  Rebuilding anything takes time, care, attention and planning.  You have to be willing to look at the whole picture and accept that you have done things wrong.

This is where it gets hard.

I know that none of us like admitting that we could have handled something better.  It’s like being called to the teacher’s desk or principal’s office in elementary school.  You get this feeling in the pit of your stomach because you have to face something about yourself that you don’t like.

I think the older I get, the more I realize that if a relationship of any type (home, work or friendship) is not working, it’s not about the other person.  It’s all on me.  It’s about putting aside my own pride and owning how I could have treated that person better.  How I could have met them where they needed me.  How I could have been more helpful or supportive.

In the end, if you’ve done someone wrong and damaged a relationship, you have to demonstrate to that person that they can trust you again.  That may mean showing your vulnerable side to make it happen.  I think it will be worth it….

What do you think?

Be the HR Brand Ambassador for Your Organizaion

who-are-you11I’ve been thinking about human resources and, specifically, each individual that works in the department.  For years, you’ve been bombarded with people telling you to rebrand yourself and the service you provide your organization.  I’d like to take that a step further and give some suggestions of things that you as a HR leader or practitioner can do to make a meaningful difference.

HR is often a faceless part of the organization.  We often operate behind the scenes with few employees understanding our value.  When you think about what percentage of your employee population knows you are the person supporting them, would that number be high or low?  If you think that number is low, what is the reason?

I believe that every HR pro should be a visible, integral part of the business. Employees of all levels should know who you are and that you are a trustworthy source they can seek out for advice and assistance.  YOUR face should be the one that employees think of when they think of HR in your company.  If I were asked to describe my “ideal” HR department, it would be one in which every HR pro would:

  • Know the business: Speak the language of the particular industry they support.
  • Understand the financials:  Financial knowledge is key to being able to strategically advise leadership on people issues.
  • Be honest: HR should not sugarcoat what is going on. The only way to really make things better is to examine the issue at hand.
  • Encourage innovation: Include HR at all levels in brainstorming to truly challenge the traditional ways of doing things.  Some processes will remain the same.  Others will be taken to new and better levels.
  • Be recognized publically (internally AND externally): Other work teams publicize their “wins.”  So should HR.

How do we get to the ideal? We RISE to a new level of awareness:

  • Reduce or outsource administrative functions where possible
  • Innovate to come up with fresh approaches to HR
  • Spread the word about what HR is and what it isn’t, and really publicize HR “wins” and successes
  • Engage all levels of the organization.  You do this by creating, attending and participating in grassroots efforts to help HR evolve.

Most importantly, don’t tear down your own field.  Don’t be the part of HR that tries to slow or stop the momentum of the people who really are trying to expand the reach and understanding of HR. Live what you’re preaching.  Get involved. Make it happen.  Good things don’t happen overnight, so do your part every day to encourage change.

The benefit of thinking about how HR is currently viewed and ways to consciously brand the department and HR pros is that you will actually put yourself in the position of being a barrier to exit for employees at risk of leaving.  Think about that.  One of the best ways HR can create business value is by reducing voluntary turnover of solid performers. By being someone that employees trust, you’ll hear about any issues as they arise, not as the employee is walking out the door.

Tell me what you’re doing, or have done, to build a brand of trust with your employees.

- See more at: http://www.brandonhall.com/blogs/become-the-hr-brand-ambassador-for-your-organization/#sthash.p6RWPIMF.dpuf

Disrupt HR? Disrupt YOU!

disruptI recently had the opportunity to participate in an event called DisruptHR Cleveland.  This was one of the most amazing experiences I have had in many years.  If was an event pulled together by Frank and Tammy Zupan, Lauren Rudman and Michelle Salis in an effort to bring HR professionals together in Cleveland to think about HR differently.  The format was Ignite-style which means you bring together numerous presenters and give each one 5 minutes to present on his/her topic.  The 5 minutes is made up of 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds.

As someone who speaks publicly, a LOT, my biggest fear was that I would not be able to shut up after 5 minutes.  Luckily for the crowd, I stayed on task and on point.  I invite you to watch my presentation here.  My topic was “Disrupt YOU” and in it I talk about why and how HR pros can disrupt your own career.

DisruptHR Cleveland

Feel free to share and if you’re interested in hosting a DisruptHR event in your city, you can get more information here.

HR Decision Making Through the Lens of Pricing Psychology

MoneyI was reading an article on the Conversion XL blog, Pricing Experiments You Might Not Know, But Can Learn From and the insights shared were fascinating.  I started thinking about how these concepts can be applied to HR.

Here are some of the basic premises from the post:

  • What people say and do with regard to pricing are two different things
  • When given 2 options, people find it hard to distinguish between the 2
  • When 3 options are given, it is easier for people to compare the options
  • The Anchoring Theory suggests that if you give someone a number as a starting point, they will use it to estimate an unknown quantity

If we are to take each of those concepts and apply them to employee behavior in an organization, there are many hypotheses that come forward.

What You Say vs. What You Do

According to the article, what people say they will pay and what they actually are willing to pay for something are often two very different things.  Take for example, buying a car.  We all know that there is some range of stated pricing on new cars.  Since car buying is actually about negotiating a price, though, depending on your negotiation skills, the value of any trade-in vehicle, and other variables, you may drive away paying far less (or more) than another person who just bought the same car.

In the workplace, leaders know that what employees say they are going to do and what they actually do are often quite different.  It’s not that a majority of employees are trying to be deceptive, it’s just human nature.  Sometimes they over-promise, sometimes schedules change, and sometimes they truly have no intention on delivering what they say they will. The lesson is that just because someone says they will do something, it’s not necessarily true.

The 2-Option Approach

The idea with pricing is that if you offer two options, you would think it would be easy for someone to make a decision between them.  This does not prove true, though, because people often have a hard time distinguishing between them.

I have seen this come into play many times in the HR world.  Think about how many benefit plans your organization offers.  I have worked at places that offer two and it can be challenging for employees to choose.  In this case, they often just keep whatever plan they chose when they began employment.  Even if you throw an active open enrollment in the mix, it is still hard to compare.

The 3-Option Approach – The Decoy

The way to make the decision-making process easier is to add a third option.  In the article, the example used is choosing between a trip to Paris with free breakfast (Option A) and a trip to Rome with free breakfast (Option B).  Both cities are wonderful and have many good attributes, so people had a hard time choosing between the two.  When a third option was added, a trip to Paris without breakfast, it was much easier for people to choose and a majority chose Paris with breakfast.  The reason it works is that you offer a third option that is fairly similar to one of the choices and it makes that option stand out.

Go back to our benefit plan example and if you add a third benefit plan that is similar to one of the original two, employees should actually have an easier time deciding.

Anchoring Theory

The last thing I found intriguing was the idea of price anchoring.  The theory was developed by two psychologists, Tversky and Kahneman, in the 1970s. The theory is that if you give a person a number – any number – and then ask for a cost estimate of something, the person will use the number as a starting point for the estimate.

In HR, this could come into play in hiring and forecasting.  If you have a group of managers who are asked to forecast their hiring needs but they are not sure where to start, by giving them a number (maybe from prior year, from another division, etc.) you may be doing more harm than good.  It could influence their thinking in such a way that the number they decide to go with is close to the number provided.  This is one reason it’s helpful to use HR technology to provide many points of business data to leaders.  By using real data, decisions will be clearer and more fact-based.

Feel free to challenge the ideas or tell me you agree.  What have you seen in your organization?