Category Archives: Communications

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?

How Valuable are Personality Tests

I’m not a lover of tests.  Whether it was tests in school, medical tests or tests at work, I’m not a fan.  So why is it that when I see quick little tests on Facebook that my friends take, I’m intrigued?  Now there are many that I chuckle at… for example, I saw one this past week that would tell you what your “Old Lady” name should be.  Nah- count me out on that one.  Today was different though.

Someone I trust, fellow writer Lisa Rosendahl, posted a link to a blog by a mutual friend, Jennifer McClure.  Jennifer participated in a personality test and offered a free code for readers to participate.  I tend to feel confident that I know who I am and how I feel, but I was curious, so I participated.

The test was designed to share how others see you based on your responses.  I must admit, I wasn’t surprised by the results.  My assessment basically said the following about me:

  1. I am ambitious, focused and compelling.
  2. I provide influential leadership that leads to results
  3. I have strong opinions and very high standards for myself and others.

There were a few more nuggets, but those were the major ones in the report.  The real value for me came in the part of the assessment that told about what would not be a good work environment for me.  I don’t know that I’ve ever taken one before that addressed that specifically.  Here’s what I learned:

  1. Other people should not put me on a work treadmill and expect me to do well.
  2. If people try to over-manage my agenda, I won’t stay motivated.
  3. I like to drive my success, so I need to be in charge of my own deliverables.

As I think through those things, it really makes sense.  When I think back to jobs that were good but just not the right “fit” for me, it usually was because they were highly-controlled, over managed workplaces.  Not the ideal setting for someone with my personality and skills.

I think having the extra portion of the assessment that shares how the assesse might work best, it sets you up to really evaluate your own work situation.  If you’re like me and find this interesting, I invite you to check out Jennifer McClure’s post and get your free code/ assessment today.  It just might make you approach work differently.

The SHRM and HRCI Battle Is Not Critical to Good HR

I love HR
If you’re in the HR industry, unless you’ve been hiding in a cave the last couple weeks, I’m sure you’ve read countless posts about the fallout between SHRM and HRCI regarding HR certification.  While SHRM has always promoted HRCI as the place to go for HR certification (PHR, SPHR and GPHR), it has suddenly done an about-face and now announces that they will provide their own certification.

This whole debacle has left thousands of HRCI certified HR professionals in a bind- not knowing whether they should continue to keep up their HRCI credits or switch to what SHRM offers.  In either case, the part of the discussion, or lack of, that gets me is that there are hundreds of thousands of successful HR professionals who actively choose NOT to be certified. For those like me who have made this decision, it’s interesting to read posts by SPHR’s thumbing their noses at us, saying they wouldn’t hire us.  They say that without “demonstrating a body of knowledge” we are not able to progress and also that people like me are choosing not to stay up to date.

I have a news flash for those that think like this…

I personally know many people who stay up to date without HRCI certification.  After all, some of us are the very people that SHRM and other conferences call in to teach you so that you can get your credits.

Now, I do greatly respect anyone who has become certified.  My personal reasons for not getting it are just as valid as the reasons some people get it.  It has never hurt me from doing a good job, it has never stopped me from being promoted, it has never kept me from getting a job at a higher level at a new company, it has never prevented me from being the head of HR.  It has never stopped me from being chosen to speak at SHRM annual nor many other state SHRM conferences.  In fact, it has never kept me from being completely current in my chosen profession.

For me, the point is not to judge people who want to be HRCI certified.  It shows their dedication to being the best in HR they can be.  We also should not judge the people who are very excited about the idea of a new way to train, measure and certify HR through SHRM’s certification program.  They too have very high aspirations of being the best HR professionals.  Oh, and of course, not judge those who are doing it on our own, our own way.  We too are doing all we can to learn and stay ahead of the curve so that we can drive the profession forward.  All three types of HR pro are really going after the same result.  We want to be able to provide the best knowledge and advice to our leaders and employees.

Spend the time and energy on ensuring you are comfortable with your course of action instead of worrying about whether someone communicated something the “right” way or not.  We’ll all be better HR pros for it.

Are You Ready to Disrupt YOU?

There are only a handful of times in life that can be magical, disruptive, important moments. It could be a dramatic moment involving a birth or the loss of a loved one.  It could be one of those moments where someone says the exact thing you needed at the exact moment you needed it, good or bad.  I recently had one of those moments.

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Last week I was honored to deliver the keynote for the SilkRoad Connections conference in Chicago.  (Thank you to the folks at SilkRoad for the opportunity and their hospitality).

As I walked through the empty ballroom early that morning, I felt the twinges of nervousness. As someone who often speaks publicly, I found this shocking and delightfully satisfying. The reason my nerves were at attention was not the event, nor the size of the crowd.  It was the fact that I was sharing material that was personal — my personal story of disruption that led to life changes.  I knew I wanted to talk to attendees about personal disruption.

Disruption often gets a bad rap because it invokes thoughts of people or events that shake things up in a negative way.  I was going to talk about how disruption, whether negative or positive, can have a very positive learning outcome. To do this, I shared my story and I have never felt so vulnerable. It was almost impossible to keep my emotions in check, but I did. I then related it to the personal disruption of the audience. By the time I left the stage an hour later, something very special had occurred.  I had created my own disruption. I will never again approach public speaking in the same way.

Disruption can be a valuable influencer in terms of taking your professional or personal life to the next level.  It inspires us, even forces us, to make changes that lead to new opportunities. This is critical in any business role, especially human resources where we tend to be a little more cautious about risk.  Knowing that we are the gatekeepers of legal and compliance issues for an organization, we spend much of our time reacting to organizational issues. This leaves us scrounging for time to spend on strategic planning and leaves virtually no time to focus on our own skill development.

Until … disruption.

Proactively creating a disruption in your thinking can be just the spark that you need…

- See the rest of this post at: Human Resources Today blog

Key Ways to Train Your Team on Zero Budget

I have been adding some new material over at my Human Resources Today blog at Brandon Hall Group.  Here is a little taste.  Please click through for the entire piece.

How many of you have a good, healthy training budget for your team?  By that I mean one that allows for every team member to receive training as well as funds to cover travel or other costs? No? Well, you’re among many of the companies that still hold the purse strings tight when it comes to internal development.

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So what is a leader to do?  The best plan is to create creative approaches to training so that your team feels valued, is able to provide their own creative and innovative results, and grow their skills so they can progress to higher levels in your organization.

  • Conference session replays:  Most industries have numerous conferences, many of which are beginning to offer either live session streaming (usually for free) or recorded replays of conference sessions. One tactic I use is to ask each team member to watch a different session then report back to the rest of the team at an upcoming meeting with information on the session and the key learning points. If it seems valuable to the larger group, it can than easily be added to each person’s development plan.

- See more at: http://www.brandonhall.com/blogs/4-creative-ways-to-train-your-team-on-zero-budget/#sthash.Tau3hRUJ.dpuf

What is real? Out of Sight, NOT Out of Mind

TreesI woke up this morning and as I settled into my chair, cup of coffee in hand, I realized that I could not see my back yard through the fog.  It was moments before daybreak and I could see the thick fog settled into the woods like a warm wool blanket pulled up tight under your chin on a cold winter night.  It struck me because it is unusual for that to happen where my house is.  But, the conditions were just right so that I could not see the large oaks a mere ten yards from my window.

I know they are there.  They are always there.  I wondered if the fog didn’t lift and remained for days on end, would I ever forget that the trees are there.  No, I wouldn’t.  I know that just because I can’t see something anymore, it doesn’t mean that it does not exist.  And, as the sun rose and the rays of light became brighter, it sliced through the fog and the truth of the trees became evident.

We don’t always follow the logic at work though.  Sometimes, we think “out of sight, out of mind”.  Have you ever:

  • had an employee who works remotely that you don’t always remember to connect with, coach, or mentor
  • been an employee who works remotely and you don’t keep the team at the home office informed about your work
  • had an employee with a performance issue that you continue to turn a blind eye to in hopes that it goes away
  • known of someone with a problem (health, addiction, anger, etc) and didn’t refer them to EAP resources

There are times when we let the fog settle so thickly around us that the right thing does not get done.  Why?  Because it is WORK to be that ray of light that can address the needs of an employee or of yourself.   Waiting or ignoring performance issues or workplace issues will not make it better.  YOU must OWN it.

Get Over Yourself: Stop Focusing On Generational Differences

generationNewsflash:  There are generational differences in the workplace.  Have you heard about it? (I’m dripping with sarcasm here people)

There are articles, presentations, videos, reports, posts, podcasts, and more.  You name it and it has been talked about, ad nauseam. Like many issues that come up in the HR world, we spend time talking endlessly about the problem but not enough time on the solution.  Generational differences in the workplace are no different.

There are labels and definitions for each generation.  Are you a Boomer?  Gen X?  Gen Y? We’re told how each generation feels and thinks and why they can’t relate to all the other generations.  But you know what?  At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter.

IT DOES NOT MATTER

There have always been differences from generation to generation.  If we could spend as much time perfecting how individuals can work effectively together as we do on talking about how generations don’t, we’d have the most productive workforce ever.

So, how do we do that?  One thing that occurred to me recently was that when I meet people via social media outlets, I never even think about their age.  I have older friends, younger friends, and age is not an issue.  They are mostly HR professionals and I have had some great collaborating experiences with them and age has never come up.  If anything, any differences in our ages made our output better because we were incorporating many different viewpoints.

This social attitude needs to be brought into the forefront at the workplace. We should be designing work experiences and rewards for behaviors such as:

  • Focusing on the quality of the work, not the age of the employee.
  • Staying relevant no matter what your age. Reading, networking, sharing ideas.
  • Getting to know what works best for individuals, not their generation.
  • Refusing to categorize employees based on age or generation when building a team.

We will never be able to fully understand the events that shape behaviors of people born in a different generation because we did not live through those events.  Why not agree that although differences exist, we must not focus on them.  Instead, focus on similarities in the values and behaviors that we share. That is what will bind strong teams and build more productive workplaces.