Category Archives: culture

Becoming a HR Influencer- 4 Skills to Help You Do It

puppet_masterI’ve been called a HR Influencer.  I’ve been called a lot of things.  In fact, there always seems to be confusion in the HR industry about what we call people: influencer, blogger, expert, guru, advisor, analyst, leader.  The list goes on.  In reality, you can (and will) wear multiple hats and titles in your industry as you interact with different groups of people.

I thought I’d share my thoughts on what it really means to be an influencer in the HR space, or in any space really.  First, you need a common definition of what being able to influence really means.  Being an influencer definitely does NOT mean being the puppet-master.

I  like the definition that Dorien Morin (@MoreInMedia) gave in her recent article on Social Media Today.  In her article How to Increase Your Influence on Twitter, Dorien said, “An influencer affects someone. As in- the power to cause changes without directly forcing them to happen.  So without telling people what to do exactly, or without specific instructions, the actions of the influencer affects the actions of the person being influenced.”

I see many people trying to influence other people to buy things, to start or stop doing something or to be part of something specific.  I’m guilty of all those things.  It’s not bad to do that, but that doesn’t mean you are influential.  I think the fine line you walk in becoming influential involves several less-tangible skills:

  • Sincerity- Being able to tell people what you like and really meaning it.  Not promoting things, products, vendors or people that you don’t believe in.
  • Sharing- In order to be considered an influencer, you must share content.  This means that you not only have to share links to content, but you also need to share your analysis on what the stories mean for your industry.  Whether you read an article then incorporate that into your own blog or whether you just add comments to the article and via sites like Twitter or LinkedIn, you must be sharing your opinion.  Another point that helped me gain status as an influencer is that you have to share (give) more than you receive.  You do this for free, any chance you get.
  • Constant curiosity- You need to ensure that you read a TON on other industries.  When people ask me how I do it, I recommend reading science sites, psychology and/or sociology journals, design books, magazines on specific cities or other areas of interest you’d never naturally connect directly to HR.  You need to start thinking about how your curiosity about other topics impacts your approach to HR.
  • Consistency- This is the most important skill in my opinion.  You MUST be visible consistently.  You must share your knowledge and opinions consistently.  You must give back to your larger community and be helpful consistently.  If you do any of those things on an inconsistent basis, you will either never gain influencer status or if you have it, you will lose it.

If you approach connecting with other professionals in your industry in a manner that is helpful, sincere and consistent, you will gain friends and followers organically.  These relationships will lead to business opportunities as well as true friendships that you would have never made otherwise.

I encourage you to read all of Dorien’s tips in her article because they can be applied to building your influence skills on Twitter as well as other sites.  Good luck and let me know if I can be helpful as you create your own influence in our market.

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

Get Rid of Birthday Parties at Work

Happy birthday to you!  You’re fifty-two!

What? 52?

workYes, believe it or not, this kind of song happens in many workplaces each day.  I don’t know when organizations decided that  reverting back to a practice we all had in elementary school would be a good thing.  Maybe some “expert” told them that it would engage the employee.  Maybe they felt that planning employee birthday parties, complete with cake, would be a good use of the HR pro’s time.  Either way, I say enough is enough.

Frankly, I never liked walking in the kitchen at work only to have people gather around the monthly birthday cake to sing.  Why not put that energy into celebrating something that employee did that was work-related?  Why not celebrate teamwork in the department?  Personally, I’d rather have a boss recognize me on my annual anniversary with the company. I’m all for recognition, but let’s get real, unless you are 10 years old, I don’t know that we need a birthday party at work.

I know I’ll anger all those employees who start telling you several weeks in advance that their birthday is coming.  I just think that celebrating them at work is becoming less popular as our workplaces become more diverse.  Many employees do not celebrate due to religious or cultural reasons.  Singling them out either by celebrating them without understanding their beliefs, or by having to exclude them is not a good way to build engagement.

What do you think?  Do you celebrate your birthday at work?  How do you handle employees that do not celebrate birthdays?  

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.

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.

Should Your Workstation Be Luxurious?

Earlier this year I started working from a home office.  While I’ve worked from home a day here or a day there, I’ve never had a role that was 100% from a home office.  One of the first things I did was set up a desk stocked with all the supplies I needed.  I then added a couple new paintings for inspiration in addition to some fun desk accessories I surely consider splurges.  The last purchase was an office chair that was comfortable and attractive.  In the end, it turned out more effective and comfortable than any workspace an employer has provided.

I wondered if I would be tempted to work from my living room couch but to my surprise, the new home office was just what I needed to be able to have a highly-focused workday.  I find myself hating to leave it.  Now that it has been a few months, I am already thinking of ways to improve the space.  I came across this article 14 Stylish and Luxurious Workstations.   If you’re in the market for some cutting-edge workspace, be sure to check it out.  There are some creative and futuristic ideas.  Personally, I like the one below although I don’t know how long I could work sitting in that chair.  Which one do you see yourself most likely to use?

surf-chair

Are There Any Benefits to Force Ranking Employees?

13_F_041_110501_ranking_cp`I’ve been heads down working and have to admit that means I am not keeping up with reading some of my favorite blogs.  I do a little each day but missed this one from Rachelle Falls over at Corporate HR Girl from about a month ago.

I encourage you to read her take on Microsoft ending their stack ranking, or in old Jack Welch terms, rank-and-yank.  Overall, it sounds like Rachelle clearly falls into the camp that this is not the way to motivate your employees and that there are few benefits in adopting the practice.  It hit me personally though because I was raised for over half my career in this type of work environment and believe it can work in certain situations.

What is the vitality curve?

To get you up to speed, what we’re talking about here is using the vitality curve to evaluate performance.  This means, in most basic terms, that the organization uses a type of forced ranking (or forced distribution) to evaluate where each individual falls compared to the rest of the organization.  In the case of GE, Welch adopted the 20-70-10 model in which 20% of your employees were the top performers, 70% were still very vital to the organization getting work done, and 10% were just not cutting it.

I’ll say that in my opinion, this is not the best way to evaluate performance in all organizations.  However, in consulting organizations for example, this can be a very effective method.  Growing up in Big 4 public accounting, we used this method.  Left to their own devices, many managers or partners would have let low performers or marginal performers hang on years longer and ultimately, hurt our revenue and profitability.  By being asked to identify the low performers in an open forum with other managers, it called out the low performance and those employees had a very short amount of time to improve whatever behavior caused the poor performance or he/she was exited from the firm.

In that situation, it worked fairly well because we were hiring type A, driven employees for the most part.  We also had continuous hiring so that there was always another group of new hires coming in that were chomping at the bit to prove themselves.  You can see that this competitive environment could adapt to the vitality curve fairly easily.  In other industries I’ve worked in, like healthcare, I can’t see this as an effective way to manage performance.  Really, if your organizational culture is one striving for collaboration, this model can certainly hamper your efforts.

Benefits of using a Vitality Curve

There were some benefits to managing HR in an environment like this.

  1. I was always able to have frank, open discussions with employees about their ranking and specifically what the employee needed to do to fill any skill gaps.
  2. It allowed HR leaders to be completely transparent about compensation.  I could tell someone where he/she stood in relation to peers and how that equated to their place in our compensation strategy.
  3. It forced managers who tended to be soft or who would beat around the bush to actually tell lower performers when they were not meeting expectations and specifically why they were not meeting them.

My point is this….like anything, you can’t throw the baby out with the bath water.  Organizations that are highly competitive or want to drive certain behaviors are still using or adopting the curve to evaluate performance.  Not too long ago, Yahoo announced that they are adopting the practice.  Most people are saying that is just another nail in the coffin of Marissa Meyer as she kills morale at Yahoo.  Time will tell.

I will share that as an employee who was raised being evaluated by this model, when you go to work somewhere else it can be frustrating to see low performers left “hanging on” in the organization for years without consequence.    Also, regardless if you use this practice on a regular basis, wait until you have to go through a RIF and your leaders will quickly be ranking their staff to determine who to cut.

Just the other side of the coin.

What do you think?  Too harsh, acceptable, effective?  Have you ever worked in an environment that used the vitality model?  Share in the comments.