Category Archives: Employee Coaching & Development

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.

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.

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.

Making Talent Data Actionable- HR Happy Hour # 178

Recorded Friday March 21, 2014

On the latest HR Happy Hour Show, Steve Boese and I sat down with Mark Brandau, Vice President of Solution Marketing at SAP, responsible for Cloud Solutions including SuccessFactors to talk about talent management, Talent Reviews, and how some of the latest developments from SuccessFactors including the new ‘Presentations’ capability are helping to make workforce and talent data accessible and actionable.

If you have been in HR or line management long enough, you know how tedious, manual, and downright painful traditional Talent Review meetings can be. Lots of paper, lots of manually created PowerPoint decks, lots of people trying to make some of the most important talent management decisions for the organization but spending too much time on executing the process and not enough making the important, strategic decisions that the business demands. Modern technologies for Talent Reviews have come light years from where they were just a few years ago, and the modern HR organization can now have advanced capability to rate, review, align, and develop talent all in one place.

You can listen to the show on the show page here or using the widget player below:

Check Out Business Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Steve Boese on BlogTalkRadio

Additionally, you can subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show on iTunes, or for Android device users, from a free app called Stitcher Radio. In both cases just search for ‘HR Happy Hour’ and add the show to your podcast subscription list.

This was a fun and informative show and we would like to thank Mark and SAP for being a part of the HR Happy Hour Show.

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.