Category Archives: Leadership

Workplace Observations for 2015: The Year of Employee Aptitude

queens-winning-horseOn this final day of 2014, I’m making some observations about the workplace for the coming year.  Why observations and not predictions?  Recently, I talked with Steve Boese about predictions and trends on an episode of HR Happy Hour.  I am very particular when it comes to using those terms.  I think those words are powerful when backed up by research or data that leads to the prediction and I’ll leave that to my work with my colleagues at Brandon Hall Group.   That research viewed over several years can possibly become a trend.  But without actual data, I don’t give much credence to predictions.

Since I’m thinking about just one year ahead, I prefer to make some observations based purely on what I have seen and heard in 2014.     

I think 2015 will be the year of focus on employee aptitude.

Why aptitude?  Well, by definition, aptitude is about capability, talent and readiness and speed in learning.  I think all that boils down to employees taking control of their own careers and not expecting organizations to do all the work when it comes to keeping them engaged or trained.  How might this play out?  In several ways:

  • Upskilling for retention.  Instead of approaching it as training the company provides (or forces), employees today are taking responsibility to improve their skills in non-traditional ways.  One example is online training through sources such as Kahn Academy, MIT, YouTube, etc.  With greater availability of free or inexpensive courses and information, employees can stack the deck in their favor when it comes to promotions.  The faster companies recognize and reward these types of efforts, the better retention rates will be.  
  • Wearable health and wellness-  The last year or two, wearable technology has seen an uptick.  Why?  There are several likely drivers.  First, with an aging population, you will see more people start to monitor their health in order to live longer with better ability.  The other factor could be the focus on national healthcare and people fearing that employer-provided healthcare could be coming to and end in the near future.  Either way, there is a greater focus on personal health and wellness and it’s easy to get sucked in.  Personally, I joined the FitBit ranks.  Being able to track my health habits on my phone or computer has been an eye-opener.  I think we’ll see this become even more common in 2015.
  • Empowerment-  If you’re looking for your leadership team to have the ability to focus more on strategy in the future, you’ll need to provide a culture of empowerment for the managers and staff.  Employees like having more control over their work and if empowered to make more meaningful decisions, they will become better collaborators and more willing to stay with the company.
  • Availability of usable data-  Organizations have an abundance of data, but it is not typically usable because they have no means to gather it together in an effective and efficient manner.  With HR tech capabilities today, it makes it more easily accessible and able to be combined.  What this can mean for employees is they will be able to see where they stand in relation to other employees, they can make better business decisions and they will have the ability to make those decisions faster than ever before.

Those are my observations.  What do you think?  Do you have other observations of what 2015 will bring?  Be sure to share them in the comments.

 

What Gave You Pride in 2014?

2014-pale-blue-beautiful-clip-art-reflection_0Well, there is no getting around the fact that as the year draws to a close, it’s a time of reflection.  I like to look back to see what I did that was expected and what changed.  I’ve been blessed this year to have more good than bad, and even with a few health setbacks, I’m proud of what I have been able to accomplish, participate in, and the people I’ve been able to help and collaborate with.

I’m grateful to have tried a new aspect of the HCM profession, to have the ability to travel to too many locations to list, and to meet and spend time with some of the most interesting people.  I’m proud to have a career that is not only challenging but gives me the opportunity to work with people I really like and respect.

Two HR-related things that continue to make me proud are my involvement with HRevolution and HR Happy Hour radio show.  Both have been part of my life for over five years and I have grown as a person because of my interactions through both ventures.  

I have the best partners in both projects.  In 2015, I expect that both HRevolution and HR Happy Hour will take on new direction and that is an exciting feeling I can share with my collaborators Ben Eubanks, Matt Stollak and Steve Boese.  We hope you’ll continue to join us for the ride.

From a work perspective, the thing I’m most proud of is taking on new challenges.  One of those, HCMx Radio, has been some of the best learning for me.  Brandon Hall Group leaders decided we wanted to start a podcast in the HCM space that is different from all the rest.  HCMx Radio accomplishes that by incorporating research into every episode.  We’re the first to make that commitment.

If you haven’t checked out the new show, I hope you will and then add it to your favorites.  We post shows twice a month so it’s the perfect way to add small bites of HCM learning to your month.  Here are the recent episodes:

I am excited to see what 2015 holds.  In the mean time, tell me what you did that made you most proud in 2014….

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.

 

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.

4 Ways HR Can Operate More Like a Profit Center

*Sharing one from the dusty archives that is still relevant today…

**Disclaimer** I am not an accountant and don’t even play one on tv.  That said, I am not implying that ideas in my post meet the generally accepted accounting principles.  You’d have to talk to your accountant for that kind of advice.  The post is intended to explore ways HR can communicate the value of services in a way that is understood by the leadership team in terms of ROI by considering ways to operate more like a profit center and less like a cost center.

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How much would you pay for a real competitive advantage when it comes to the people knowledge of your company? 

That is a question we should be asking the business leaders in the departments we support both as HR generalists and recruiters. Honestly, I am tired of hearing that the human resources department is just a cost center.  Why?  Because we add value, we support our internal clients, we are often proactive on business strategies to help the “real” profit centers succeed, we make sure you get paid, get your benefits, are able to relocate, provide your training, and more. Why aren’t we treated like the internal consultants that we are?

Now let me tell you that I talked to an accountant about this and had an hour long debate (ok, borderline argument) on why companies are not able to treat the HR department as a profit center.  In layman’s terms, it’s because a company cannot generate revenue from itself, however, it can offset expenses or offsetting revenue.  I realize that for those who are familiar with accounting this is greatly oversimplified, but it gets the point across.  Revenue and profit can come from external sources.  So, being internal, HR does not turn a profit.

Got it.

I’m not saying we throw all the accepted accounting principles and practices out the window.  My idea revolves around the way we “sell” HR and recruiting services internally.  Even though it technically does not turn a profit, why can’t we set up the way the profit centers use HR in a way that “charges” (ie. distributes the share of the expense for the HR department) out to the profit center based on the type of HR usage they have?

What if HR departments set up a fee schedule for all the ways that HR departments and recruiting teams add value to the company, then “charge” our internal clients by tracking our time spent on projects like external consultants would.  Maybe then they would place more value on the services they receive.  Here are some ways I think the department could operate more like a profit center:

1.  Charge back other departments for their use on:

  • Training courses offered
  • Recruiting and sourcing
  • Succession planning for their team
  • Conflict resolution
  • Coaching services
  • Compensation analysis
  • Employee surveys

2. Focus on expense reduction. Since HR cannot actually make revenue, the biggest impact they can have is to creatively reduce expenses.

3.  Review how vendor procurement is handled. This is an area where the HR department can take steps to being more involved.  It is usually handled by the finance department, so why not help in those business decisions if you are a recruiter or HR generalist?

4.  Use social media to aid in reducing external recruiting costs. Bring the knowledge and leadership of the sourcing process internal.

So, tell me what you think.  Should we take steps to operate more like a profit center and less like a cost center?  Share your views in the comments.

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