Category Archives: Management

Signs and Forks: Behaving Boldly at Any Age

“Laugh at yourself, but don’t ever aim your doubt at yourself.  Be bold.  When you embark for strange places, don’t leave any of yourself safely on shore.  Have the nerve to go into unexplored territory.” ~ Alan Alda

fork-in-the-road-2-pathsThat quote really speaks to me.  Maybe it’s the idea that I should not take myself so seriously.  Maybe it’s the encouragement to take risks.  Mostly, I like the part about being bold.

What does that mean?  To me, it means going beyond what others will do or expect.  It means being willing to face my fears and go forward anyway.  Being bold means being decisive and not hesitating.

I have surrounded myself with mentors of all ages, races and genders and have taken their advice throughout my career.  For years, I have attempted to fill my skill gaps, to be a tough (but fair) leader,  and to help teach and promote others along the way.  All this time, I had a vision of what my life would be, but not a crystal clear picture.  Until now.  Now is my time to be bold.

2013 has been a year of great self-reflection.  I have been a HR practitioner and leader all my life.  I love this industry and the people who, like me, operate on the island of HR.  Sure, the pundits talk about how we need a seat at the table and how silly that is.  They criticize the HR practitioners for not understanding things like business nor technology.  But what they don’t realize is they have no idea what it is like to wear these shoes or how challenging it really is.

  • Have they ever had to sit across from someone as they are terminated as part of a “reduction in force”?  Have they heard the stories and wiped the tears?  Have they had to provide the workforce planning advice to the leaders that made the decisions for the RIFs?
  • Have they comforted an employee who just found out that a loved one died or that they have a deadly disease?  Have they had to wade through insurance Summary Plan Descriptions to determine if that illness is covered and what the employee needs to do?
  • Have they fought to ensure that companies comply with legal standards to protect the employees?
  • Have they had to work with outdated technology, or even no technology, and still be able to give leaders enough information to make business decisions?
  • Have they had to convince someone to fund their big ideas or their ability to grow their teams?

No, most have not.

All these questions lead me to where I stand today.  At a fork in the road.

There is the path to continue as a HR practitioner and leader and there is the other path which leads to helping many companies, many leaders, and many employees.

My signs were everywhere.  It was time to move boldly.

I’m thrilled to share that I have decided to leave the practitioner ranks and join one of the top research and consulting firms.  Brandon Hall Group.  Led by Mike Cooke and a brilliant team of leaders, analysts and researchers, BHG has been able to provide unparalleled research, recommendations and solutions to their clients. They have done amazing work in Learning & Development, Talent Acquisition, Talent Management and Human Resources.  As their new VP of HR Practice, I hope to bring my experience as a HR leader to guide CHROs and other executives they advise.   When you combine quality research with actual experience, the results are spectacular.

So what now?  For me, it’s all about not leaving any of myself safely on shore.  I will dive in.  I will explore.  I will bring my very best forward to you, to Brandon Hall Group, to clients they serve, to HR vendors and to the HR community at large.

If you’re a leader who wants to join me in working together in 2014, please let me know.  I’d love to help start your new year off with quality information and guidance as you plan your 2014 strategy.

2014 is shaping up to be the best year yet.  Now, go out there and be bold!

 

 

 

10 Skills Critical to Business Success in 2014 and Beyond

leader logoWith technology today, the ability to have content at our fingertips is easier than ever before.  One place I continue to look to stay on top of trends is the writing of experts in the HR and recruiting industry.  Andy Headworth, author of Sirona Says, continues to be a favorite for me.  I learn so much about the global recruiting space by reading his work.  I also get ideas from time-to-time that apply far beyond the recruiting world.  This happened last week.

Andy penned a post called Is This What the Recruiter of Tomorrow Will Look Like?  In it he outlines seven skills that recruiters of the future will need to master in order to be successful.  They are:

  • Sales and marketing skills
  • Candidate networks building skills
  • Candidate sourcing skills
  • Social media skills
  • Content production skills
  • Contractor management skills
  • Keeping up with technology

I absolutely encourage you to read his post because the details are well worth knowing.  I want to take those ideas a step further today and expand on them to show that they can be used, regardless of industry, to become a better business person.

  • Sales and Marketing skill-  No longer just reserved for your organization’s marketing department, sharing the employer brand is something that each employee does.  Not only that, they are the face of your company to the clients, to potential clients and to potential employees.  Companies that are leaders in this area ensure that all employees know the positive messages that need to be shared with the public.  Transparency is key in ensuring that your colleagues know how to put the good news about your organization out to the world. Teaching your employees how to share their excitement about your product or services now makes everyone a potential marketer.
  • Candidate networks building skills-  It’s not just imperative that your organization’s recruiting team build networks with candidates, it is important that you encourage all your employees to be ambassadors to keep growing your organization.  Their participation with potential employees can help convince candidates to join the organization.
  • Candidate sourcing skills- One great way to encourage this is to ditch the old approach to referral programs and begin rewarding for introductions.  More to come in a future post on that.  For now, suffice to say that once your employees are company ambassadors, they will WANT to tell people to work with them.
  • Social media skills-  As someone who has been using social media for over six years now, it almost seems impossible that this is still new for some people.  However, it is.  So, if you or your staff are not using social media platform to futher the growth of your business, you are now officially behind the industry leaders.  Whether for networking, recruiting, marketing, sales, etc., you need to be in the space in order to be successful.  It is not a fad, it is a method and tools for doing business.
  • Content production skills-  One of the most exciting changes in the last few years is that we can all be content producers.  This means that employees whom you least expect to wave your organization’s flag can now do so.  Boldly.  Encourage them.  Empower them.  Teach them how to refine their writing skills.  Celebrate and reward them when the share.
  • Contractor management skills-  According to CareerBuilder’s 2013 Jobs Forecast, 40% of employers in 2013 planned to use contract and temporary workers.  This is up from 36% in 2012.  This means that you need to ensure that your leaders know the difference in how to work with them vs. employees.  It’s imperative that leaders know not to create co-employment situations that put the employer at risk.
  • Keeping up with technology-  Much like the topic of social media, technology and the use in business is now “normal”.  Being unwilling to learn or even someone who does not follow general industry trends in the technology space puts you at a disadvantage.  If you want to gain success with customers, internally with communication and data, or even on a personal level, technology now plays a role.
  • Financial analysis skills-  I’ve been saying this for years now.  No matter what type of professional you are, you need to understand how the business you work for makes money.  The best way for you to gain this knowledge is to talk to your supervisor, CFO, Controller, etc.  Also, talk to the salesmen and women in your organization.  They can all give you views of how your organization makes money.  One you understand that, you can educate yourself on the basics of Finance 101.
  • Presentation skills-  I know you may be thinking you can’t do this.  That you are too afraid to speak in public.  Well, when talking about success, you will likely need to be able to share your ideas and vision of the future with colleagues and others.  This skill is key to develop.  Start small.  You can do this at home by speaking in church, for local organizations you are part of, or within your work team.  Just know that each time you participate in public speaking, you improve your ability to use persuasion to get your message across.
  • Project management skills-  Now that most of us get our “work” assignment through series of emails, you need to understand how to manage priorities.  This is always a work in progress so having some formal skills in managing projects can help you manage your day-to-day tasks as well.  You can take classes through local management associations or colleges or you can read up on the subject.

What have I missed?  Feel free to expand on the ideas from Andy and the ones I added.  What skills lead to business success?

Apologies At Work: Do We Need To Make Them?

i-am-sorryIn traveling down the worm hole that is the internet, I landed on a 2010 story in Psychology Today called The Science of Effective Apologies.  It caught my attention  for a couple reasons.  First, I hate to apologize.  I will do it and I think you should too, but I can’t think of a time when it really made me feel better.  Second, I’m intrigued by the science behind why people do, or don’t, apologize and the impact on the recipient.  All this reminded me that there are many situations in the workplace where you or a colleague may feel disrespected, under-valued or even outright wronged.  Have you received an apology?  Did it help?  If you were the person who hurt a colleague, did you apologize?

According to the author, Gary Winch, PhD., beyond the three components most of us expect in an apology (expression of regret, actually saying the words “I’m sorry”, and requesting the person’s forgiveness), “Studies have found that in addition to the three basic ingredients, three additional apology components play an important role in determining whether an apology will be effective:

  1. Expressions of empathy
  2. Offers of compensation
  3. Acknowledgments that certain rules or social norms were violated

These components were found to be most effective when they were matched to the characteristics of the person to whom the apology was being offered.”

I don’t know about you, but all that sounds like a lot of thought and work need to go into a sincere and effective apology.  Don’t get me wrong, I do believe you should do it.  I wonder though, is it the thought that apologies can be complex that keeps people away from giving them?  As a believer that it’s all about making the recipient feel better, I still wonder if some colleagues do not do this because they perceive it as them giving away their power.

We all have known colleagues or leaders who refuse to apologize, right?  According to a 2013 study in the European Journal of of Social Psychology, “Results showed that the act of refusing to apologize resulted in greater self-esteem than not refusing to apologize. Moreover, apology refusal also resulted in increased feelings of power/control and value integrity, both of which mediated the effect of refusal on self-esteem. “

So, are leaders less likely to apologize?  

Whether they are or not isn’t as important as the fact that if you are in a leadership role, it is healthier for your team to apologize when you are wrong.  It’s a balance, of course, of knowing when it will be needed and meaningful.  None the less, it’s something to consider if you’re a leader who wants to humanize yourself with your team in order to build and reinforce trust.

What do you think?  Do you apologize?  Has someone at work apologized to you?  Share in the comments…

Trends in Recruiting and Retention- What You Need to Know

(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is brought to you by Allied Van Lines®, a leader in the moving and storage industry with more than 75 years of experience. For a second year, they are championing a research project, Allied HRIQ, aimed to provide business professionals with data on current workforce trends. We also have an exciting LinkedIn group~ Allied HR IQ~ where HR professionals can network and share ideas about happenings in the HR space.  I encourage you to join today!  I have partnered with Allied Van Lines® in the past and am excited about this year’s survey results.) allied
As a HR practitioner, I know you’re busy.  You are still being asked to do more with less in your day-to-day role.  You are consistently reacting to situations coming at you.  You, like me, likely attempt to carve out some time to focus on strategy though.  That’s the real goal- to continue to push HR to be a more pro-active, strategic role.
But that’s hard.  I get it.
One way I help myself along is to look for great research in our space.  Each year, the Allied HR IQ survey continues to be a great source of information for me.  This year does not disappoint.  As Sharlyn Lauby, a.k.a. the HR Bartender, shared earlier this summer, the Allied HR IQ survey put out some great information on telecommuting.  Give her article some time and attention because we all know that this issue is still on the minds of many professionals.
I’ve been asked to look at the recruiting and relocation results.  I have to tell you, the full survey results are well worth your time to read, but in case you’re pressed for time, here are my key takeaways:

Recruiting

One of the key findings is that for a majority of companies, mobility has had no impact on their ability to recruit and hire.  Of those organizations that said it had an impact, the positives and negatives cancel each other out.  What does this mean to you?
It could mean that a majority of companies surveyed primarily recruit in local markets only, although I doubt it.  What causes results like this then?  The reason could be that employers believe that their benefits and other “perks” are enough to persuade candidates to join.  I challenge them, and you, to think about this though… how much more success could you realize if you have a strong relocation package(s) to tip the mobility scale in your favor?  My guess is that could become the key differentiator between you and your competition and it would also open up a much wider net for candidates.
Another finding is that recruiting efforts are truly on the rise.  According to the survey:
“Over seven in 10 HR professionals (72%) say that their companies’ recruiting activity over the past year (2012) was either extensive or moderate- levels a touch higher (3 percentage points) than reported for 2011.”
Why are recruiting efforts on the rise?  Likely because turnover in general is trending higher across most industries.  As the economy and job market improve, albeit gradually, people who once intended to stick it out with their current employer are now more actively looking for work.

Other notable facts:

  • HR pros tend to believe that their recruiting efforts are a success.  Danger here?  Don’t believe your own hype.  If you’re recruiting more is it really because business is booming and you are growing, or are you just replacing workers leaving for other opportunities?  Very different issues.
  • Companies who report highly successful recruiting programs are landing their ideal candidate while those without a successful program are only hiring their top candidate 60% (or less) of the time.
Based on those facts, it appears that companies view their program as “successful” if they land the candidate they want most, not based on fewer days to fill a role.

 Let’s get social….

Where does social media fit in?
 Not surprisingly, social media and HR are still like mixing vinegar and oil.  There is some brief connection, but overall, they are separate.  Based on the survey responses, LinkedIn appears to have the greatest draw for HR professionals.  They are still using job boards like CareerBuilder and Monster though.  Who knew that job boards weren’t dead?

Relocation

Most surprising to me is the number of companies that do not offer relocation.  According to those surveyed, “over one in three HR professionals report that their companies have no relocation package at all.”
It seems that companies would realize that offering relocation for key or “hard to fill” roles would be the best way to attract the most talented candidates.  Still, I think there is the fear of the unknown when it comes to offering relocation.  I’ve also known plenty of HR pros who work where plans are offered but that there is no follow up or information for spouses or with regard to education for children.  Even in my past experience, when relocation has been offered, there was never any consideration given to assisting in the sale of the candidate’s existing home.  This has to continue to be a major consideration for candidates.
As you can see, the importance of recruiting and relocation need to be top of mind for HR professionals.  Be sure to check out the full survey results HERE.  What are you seeing in your organization?  How well is your recruiting program faring?  Do you offer relocation?  Be sure to share in the comments.

Life Logging Your Organization: The Value of Performance Reviews

hrhappyrhourAs a career HR practitioner, I have been involved with many types of performance evaluations.  I’ve worked at companies where they are very important and tie directly to compensation and promotions and I’ve worked where they don’t.  Being part of the broader online HR community has also brought many discussions into my life about this topic.  It has also been a topic we’ve debated at HRevolution in the past.
Today, I want to share a new, evolving vision of performance reviews.  In our most recent HR Happy Hour podcast, Steve Boese and I welcomed Eric Mosley to the show.  Eric is the CEO of Globoforce and author of the new book  The Crowdsourced Performance Review: How to Use the Power of Social Recognition to Transform Employee Performance.  I have been a fan of Eric and his view on employees, social and performance for many years.  I remember being very influenced by him when I first heard him speak in 2010.  Check out that review HERE.
Fast forward to 2013 and he again brings forth a forward-thinking view on performance reviews.  Listen to Eric talk about the reasoning behind the move to crowdsourcing performance feedback and the benefits to your organization.

HR Happy Hour: The Crowdsourced Performance Review

 

4 Ways To Achieve Growth: Messy and Painful

“Growth is messy and painful.” ~ William Tincup

Every day I focus on trying to do things the right way, for the right reason.  The goal is to succeed each and every time on projects, in handling issues, or creating new and innovative ideas.  I get frustrated when I hear about people who want to celebrate losing; people who believe that mistakes are not only worth sharing but should be shouted from the rooftop.  Last week I learned that while I may never want to publicly celebrate mistakes, I certainly don’t give myself time, nor permission, to make them.  That is a shame because without failing big sometimes, people never learn and grow.

Achieving Growth

I spent some time with a friend last week and he said something that stuck with me.  He said that growing is messy and painful.  What does that mean?  Well, whenever things are going well, you’re not being stretched.  It feels great in the moment to be in control and have things fall into place.  In fact, it’s that state that most people strive for.  The problem is that no one ever learns from doing everything well.  We learn when we go through struggle, practice and yes, mistakes. 

  • Don’t play it safe all the time-  Next time you’re in a situation where you know you disagree with the way the status quo is heading, speak up.  Disagree.  Make it known that you have an opinion that is not the “norm”.
  • Step up to lead something you don’t know much about-  Some of my best learning came when I took a chance and led projects that I had never led before.  It feels scary and at times, like your hair is on fire, but what a great way to push yourself!
  • Attend meetings outside your area of expertise- This is a great way to get creative juices flowing.  When you hear how a department in another part of your company approaches situations and challenges, you’ll find ways to take that learning back to your own department.  It will be messy because it won’t fit precisely, but it will push you (and your team) to think differently.
  • Get honest-  Find a handful of people you can trust to be completely candid with you.  First, this will feel risky because  you are sharing parts of you with them that you usually keep private (your fears, your losses, etc.).  The growth comes from the candor with which they share how you can improve.  It may hurt.  It may seem harsh.  In the end, you’ll come out ahead.

What techniques do you use to grow and develop?  Share them in the comments.

Big Data Isn’t Necessarily “Good” Data: What You Can Do

big-dataLast week during my time at the Equifax Form 2013, I attended as many sessions as I could around data, analytics, technology, onboarding and turnover.  As I was listening to the general session on Labor Market Dynamics and the way that impacts your bottom line, I was impressed with the amount of data Equifax already has regarding competitive labor markets, voluntary and involuntary turnover by geography, benchmarking, and speed of turnover.

This made me wonder what HR leaders can do to increase the quality of data collected. Take reasons employees leave their employer, for example.  Here were a few that were shared:

  • Other opportunities
  • Personal reasons
  • Quitting without notice
  • Dissatisfied

As a HR leader, I know that if I can provide more specific reasons for employees to choose, I will have a more realistic picture of why they are not staying with the company long-term.  If you were a leader and looked at the list above, would you be able to decipher any real meaning from those reasons?

I think not.

To me, when someone leaves your company, they are firing you.  If an employee is leaving, they must be dissatisfied with some aspect(s) of your company offerings.  It could be dissatisfaction with:

  • Advancement and promotion opportunities
  • Compensation
  • Percent of increases
  • Flexibility in the work environment or schedule
  • Education and training provided
  • Healthcare benefits

If you were creating the perfect survey to measure this, you’d want to dive further into specifics on many of these items, as well as others.

Keep in mind, the more data you give yourself and your fellow leaders, the better you are equipped to make strong business decisions.  Be sure to check out Equifax for solutions to help you look at comparative benchmarks and your own data.

Make Time For Fun: How To Avoid Work Burnout

question-mark-b8c0c7This isn’t about the top 8 ways you can inject fun into your workday.  It’s not a piece on how to be more friendly at work.  No, today is a day to remind you, and myself, that it is important to completely disconnect from work from time to time.

You know how it is, there are weeks and months at work where there is so much to do that you spend all your “free” time thinking about how to accomplish more with less.  If you’re like me, I say no to as many invitations as I say yes to, all because I think I can use a few more hours getting work done.

The problem is that if you keep that pace for very long, you get burned out.

Now that you’ve made it through almost all winter of really being dug-in and focused, remember that it’s positive and needed to take a break.

Schedule it.

Call your friends.

Don’t break this appointment with yourself.

As for me, I take my own advice.  It’s Friday and I will make sure to completely disconnect this weekend and spend time with my kids.  How about you?  What’s on your agenda this weekend?